Tuesday, April 7, 2020

another new post

So just to talk a little bit about my new gig. I have been doing some work for a small Mom and Pop jewelry business to help them create one-of-a kind engagement rings and other jewelry. Because the company is using a specific workflow I had to learn new software (not from scratch mind you). That software is Matrix 9 and I have been using it for about seven months now. For the record... I have been telling students for years....yes you can get a job doing this....yes it pays very well. Now that I have first hand experience doing it I have found both of those things to be true. 

Here are a few thoughts.  First if you are going to create "fine jewelry" Matrix does this VERY well. It has a lot of shortcuts for things that would take me a long time to do in Rhino.  Honestly the more I use the software the more I understand why it is so dang expensive (I think around $7,000 a seat).  It will calculate the weight of the metal in multiple alloys, making pricing a breeze. It is linked up with Stuller so if you want to order the metal and the stones you can just link up your account with them and press a button. They will also 3D print and cast the ring for you. It has a lot of parametrics built in so prongs re=populate themselves, you can change a ring size after the fact so you don't have to completely remodel a ring.  It does so many "jewelry" things I often forget that it is working on top of Rhino. 

I will say it is buggy.  Really buggy. At least the version I have at work. It crashes at least once a day, sometimes more. I am not talking freezing or stalling, I am talking about a total hard reset, loose all of your work, crash. This sucks. I have been saving a lot lately so it is not that big of a deal but I have lost hours of work if I don't remember to save (No the autosave does not work for some reason).  Also the Rhino tools are hidden. I often just type in the tools in the command line. 

Another drawback is that here are not a lot of resources online to learn Matrix. Sure there are a few videos here and there on Youtube etc but you need to pay for the Matrix Academy subscription to really get what you need if you want to do it yourself.

So just a few tips for people that want to get on the Matrix band wagon. First: take notes. Luckily I have been working for someone that doesn't mind the mistakes so much. I make mistakes. These mistakes are not necessarily something I could have prevented. When I first started I would model something and I thought it would be fine at that thickness or length.... it wasn't. I started taking notes on all the things the stone setter wanted (pre cut seats) or the casting company recommended (White gold shrinks!). No one tells you these things. Second: Matrix customer service is not great. To this day they still have not fixed my crashing problem.  I have wiped the computer and done a fresh install twice now. Third: If you are a Rhino user, you can turn on the Rhino tools in Matrix so you are not totally a fish out of water. Forth: When in doubt ask someone.  I am happy to help, if I can.   

In classic fashion I am putting together a cheat sheet for the software in hopes that it might help me remember all the rules specific to this type of jewelry and what our basic tolerances are.  Overall the rules are the same for most casting companies.  Just for the record we are printing on Solidscape machines and casting the parts. Most of the stones we are setting but sometimes if the pave is insane or if the stone is a custom cut we shop it out.