When you think of common applications for CNC machines, you probably first think of industrial plants such as woodworking shops and auto parts factories. In woodworking shops, CNC lathes are sometimes used to make stair railings or dining chair legs. On the other hand, an auto parts manufacturer may use a CNC milling machine to produce spare parts for an aluminum or steel engine.
While CNC milling machines, robotic machines, and lathes are by far the most commonly used machines in industry, there has been a recent upsurge in the use of CNC machines in the unusual field of jewelry making.
Traditionally, jewelry has been made entirely by hand. In the case of a precious metal ring, such as a gold engagement ring, a mold must be made to cast the ring, and patterns and designs must be carefully engraved on its surface.
However, with the use of various CNC machines, modern jewelers are able to streamline the process. This is especially true for the production of molds for gold and silver jewelry, as well as the polishing and machining of metal rings. Visit also: CNC Machine Parts
CNC Machines for the Jewelry Industry
Small jewelers are always looking for ways to improve their processes. For many, incorporating CNC machining technology into their creative process means broadening their offerings. The following are some of the CNC machines used by jewelers
CNC milling machines
While large industrial CNC milling machines are too large to play a significant role in jewelry making, smaller milling machines can be used for more delicate metal work. Some manufacturers have special mini-mills that can process more than 4 axes. CNC milling machines can also be used to cut wax for textiles.
CNC Routing Machines
Routers have a lot in common with milling machines, but they are usually used to process soft materials. For this reason, CNC routers are ideal for finishing molds for casting metals such as gold and silver. Wax patterns can also be formed with CNC milling machines.
CNC milling machines are not usually used directly for jewelry making, but there are exceptions. As the popularity of wooden jewelry has increased, typical tools for woodworking have been introduced into jewelry workshops. A wood router is a CNC router that has been modified for woodworking. Depending on the cutting tool used, it can also be used to cut mixed jewelry and acrylic.
CNC Engraving Machine
CNC laser engraving machines are widely used in the jewelry industry. Outside of traditional jewelry manufacturing by artisans, many of the patterns and details commonly found in engagement rings and other jewelry are created using CNC jewelry lasers.
Laser engraving machines are also used for DIY jewelry making. These machines are much less expensive than other CNC machines and are ideal for home jewelry making.
Most jewelry, from rings to bracelets, are round in shape, so CNC lathes are ideal for jewelry making. The latest mini CNC lathes allow experienced jewelers to cut and engrave fine patterns on metal jewelry. These lathes can handle a wide range of metals, from precious metals to stainless steel, and even aerospace alloys and exotic combinations of wood and metal. This is an excellent application for CNC machines, which provide a level of precision and smoothness that cannot be achieved by human hands.
Advantages of CNC Machining Jewelry
There are many advantages to using CNC machines for the manufacture of complex jewelry. The biggest benefit is increased efficiency; using a CNC machine eliminates much of the human factor, allowing the craftsman to achieve more consistent results and make fewer mistakes. This in turn saves valuable time and resources. This is especially true when dealing with precious metals, where waste can be very expensive.
In addition to efficiency, jewelers use CNC technology to achieve a certain degree of automation. While shapes made by hand will always have imperfections, CNC cut shapes can be made exactly the same every time without the need to reprogram the machine. Jewelers can also use CNC technology to repeat old designs or recreate old favorites.
CNC technology cannot replace a jeweler’s decades of experience and craftsmanship, but it can provide them with new tools.