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Software Mask Party
I was looking at a bunch of 3d software and it seems there are a couple programs that are just masks for another piece of software kinda like a plugin. Is this true or am I imaging things?
- David

I am too old for this. I do not even understand your question. give me a block of wax, some knives and picks, and a wax pen and I can make you whatever your heart desires. good thing i am retired.

I learned wax carving first. At the same time I started learning 3D CAD software.

But some of the popular 3D jewelry programs look like they are addons to other programs. I have been looking for a Solidworks jewelry addon but have not found anything interesting.
- David

The terminology may vary, but yes, essentially some of the most popular jewelry 3D CAD software are plugins or front-ends for 3D engines or kernels.

I do not know if you remember or know what Windows 95 was, but Microsoft made an operating system called MS-DOS, and they made a front-end for it called Windows 95 that had pictures use of the mouse and such instead of just text.  This is not apples to apples but conceptually it is similar.  Linux and X Windows is kinda similar to this as well.  Apple uses a BSD Unix kernel for their OS.  Android is it's own distribution of Linux.  With regard to jewelry specific software, the companies that are producing plugins or front-ends are taking what may be a rather large piece of 3D software and simplifying the interface for Jewelers and usually they create a library of jewelry parts/findings.

If you know how to use Rhino, you *may* be comfortable enough there to not need any Rhino based front-ends, but using the jewelry specific front-ends would still simplify some tasks for you.  This then creates the question if some of these front-ends or plugins are worth the cost.  Rhino 7 is currently around $1,000 for a single-user license; one time purchase.  MatrixGold has a $6,000 price tag for a single-user.  Stuller, the owners of MatrixGold, charge $700 per year for a subscription, it gives you 10% off software upgrades and some other stuff as well.  In this instance, $1,000 one time versus $6,700 plus $700 per year forever plus 90% cost on upgrades ...  you decide what is best for your shop.

Jewelry CAD Dream is a Front-End for the ZW3D Engine, by ZWSoft.  I forget which version of ZW3D they are currently using.

2Shapes is Rhino based.  I do not know which version of Rhino 2Shapes is currently using.

3Design uses their own engine.

FreeCAD uses their own engine ... I think their kernel is/was based on Open CASCADE Technology.

ZBrush uses their own engine.

AutoDesk is ... well, AutoDesk.  They use their own engine, and they made their own kernel as well, ShapeManager.  They also own a bunch of other software companies.  They own TinkerCAD, Numenus (only mentioning because they use NURBS), Instructables, SoftImage, Moldflow Corp, Maya, and a bunch of others.

Matrix and MatrixGold are apps or plugins or front-ends for Rhino.  MatrixGold uses Rhino 7 last I checked.

SolidWorks uses their own engine, which was/is based on the Parasolid kernel.

As I mentioned above, you do not have to use these front-ends to make jewelry.  You can use the main engines themselves, but just know it will take a little extra effort to get started.  If you want to go the free route, you could just go with FreeCAD (instead of MatrixGold, etc.), Sculptris (instaed of ZBrush), and Blender for rendering.  It will take some dedication to get setup with these free 3D software solutions, but once you have it all in place you will be in a great spot, and you will be saving money every year.  I do not recommend this option for the vast majority of jewelry designers.  For most jewelry designers, using these jewelry specific solutions is a better option.
Take care, and God bless.
Javier Odom - Walt's Jewelers

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