Tips for smooth collaboration with your CAD Modellers


Offering custom design is a vital element in a manufacturing jeweller’s basket of services, and in this modern era, many clients expect digital renderings of their item. However there’s no need to invest your precious time and money in software and training to become proficient in this field in-house, especially when outsourcing the finicky mock-up of your concept to a computer-aided design (CAD) operator is a great way to free up more of your time for conceptual work and sourcing more business. To get it right the first time – on time – CPM have put together some tips to developing and maintaining effective communication and a great working relationship with your CAD designer:

Meeting with the client:
First up, make sure you get a comprehensive brief. Not everyone is able to visualize like creative professionals can, so sketching during the meeting or having a catalogue of designs at the ready can help when discussing the design with the client. Importantly for your relationship with your CAD artist, make sure you get all the important details down and don’t overpromise on the delivery date before checking what their current workload is like. If it’s a rush job, there should be an additional fee and you will need to decide if this will be charged directly to the customer or absorbed into your quote. A non-refundable deposit from the client is good practice in all cases, but especially when you’ll be responsible for paying an independent contractor for their work. Outline the steps involved to the client and discuss how and when they will sign off on the design before it goes into production. Explain that any changes down the line will delay completion as well as incur extra charges, and that certain aspects of their design may need to be adjusted to make the item durable and wearable, or – in the case of an urgent or hard deadline – some detail may need to be left out in order to make the delivery date. This will help to set realistic expectations and make them feel more involved in the design process, and minimise potential mistakes arising from miscommunication.

Details, details…
Detailed information is key but try to keep it concise and in point form rather than long paragraphs. Your list should include due date, metals, and all relevant dimensions including stone size and finger size (if relevant). Ours is a visual industry and lots of text can be overwhelming. Rather provide clean sketches from different angles that highlight important detail and show necessary heights and widths, as well as any photographic reference material. It goes without saying that you should double check all measurements, and make sure your stone count is correct. If you’ll be incorporating an unusually shaped stone, you may want to trace it to design the setting. This can be done using a flatbed scanner, or by photographing the gem from directly above.

The CAD process:
When viewing the render, remember that CAD images look ‘larger than life’, and are not a 100% true indication of proportions. The modeller will get as close as possible to reality, but an exact match to the finished item is unrealistic. In order to double check all sizes you can request a line drawing from the CAD operator that shows relevant dimensions, and trust that these measurements are correct, even if the render looks bigger and heavier than you anticipated. Bear this in mind for client approval too – you may want to meet with the client in person to approve the render before the wax is produced, and show them a similar inventory piece for reference.

Final tips for working with a CAD modeller:
All successful working relationships involve understanding and mutual respect. It’s a good idea to meet with the CAD operator when you first hire them to get a full understanding of how they quote, their work process and what they can produce so you know your expectations are realistic. Do they specialise in the kind of jewellery that you design? Let them know your preferences when it comes to the weights and details of items you may be ordering often. If you find that you’re ‘on the same page’ and communicate well with each other, it’s likely that your commercial projects together will be smooth and successful with as few back-and-forth emails and phone calls as possible.

Check if their wax resins are castable or if they can also handle the casting and finishing, or recommend someone who does. Expect that detailed or organic pieces will take longer and cost more. Always try to allow enough time plus extra for issues like load shedding and don’t make a habit of only ordering rush jobs. Nobody likes stressful relationships – work or otherwise. In instances where the deadline is tight, make sure to pick up the item as arranged, or your future ‘urgent’ requests may not be taken seriously. Understand that if you’re constantly negotiating their price, your orders will probably not be prioritised.

Did you know?
CPM offers a finished casting service
You can legally accept jobs that require a permit by outsourcing your casting to us. CPM has dedicated and experienced casters who can even handle all the finishing, giving you more time for creative work. We cast in gold, silver & platinum.

All we need from you is:

  • The finger size (for rings)
  • Stone size/s
  • Reference photos and/or basic sketch or wax or rhino design
  • Written description including all relevant measurements

Chat to your sales executive and discover just how easy it is to order a casting job!




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