Carving material into a piece using a cutting tool
Jewellery machining is a manufacturing technique that consists of sculpting in the mass using cutting tools.
In practice, technicians enter a digital programme into a machine. This programming allows a tool made up of cutting edges to move in space to create complex shapes on a piece.
This is done using machine tools otherwise known as CNC machining centres.
We have a number of 4 and 5 axis machining centres.
Machining a part is done in three steps:
Machining in images
Thinking up the piece
At Pichard-Balme we work with precious and base metals, and our teams are specialised in the machining of these materials.
As a reminder, this technique uses a spindle that moves around in order to machine the surface of the material.
However, before handling the piece, our machinists use a digital file provided by the client or produced by our digital modellers.
This step is essential to determine the lines that define the surfaces of the piece, i.e. the piece in volume to be produced. This is followed by the generation of the toolpath, which enables the correct parameters to be selected for processing the piece. This is primarily a matter of determining the appropriate machines, material removal, the tools to use, thickness, feed rate and cutting speed. The point of this process is to analyse every detail so that the piece produced corresponds as closely as possible to the client’s expectations.
Managing speed and space
The machinists then control the machine using specialised computer software. This is a complex operation, as our teams work on what can be described as “micro-machining”, so microscopic tools must be used, requiring great rigour and attention.
Depending on how fine the work is, they also have to adapt and regulate the tool feed and spindle rotation.
Indeed, the smaller the cutting tools, the faster the spindle must turn. It is important to note that this “control software” is subject to numerous updates and at times requires additional maintenance operations.
This is why our employees are regularly trained in order to ensure that they are able to work in the best possible conditions.
A promising workshop
Every part leaving the machine workshop must have an impeccable surface finish. To achieve this, we are subject to strict standards in order to guarantee the conformity of the pieces. We check the product’s mass, dimensions and visual appearance.
Since its opening in 2015, the machining workshop has been in constant evolution. We invest in research and development in order to produce ever more ambitious and high-quality pieces. We have a strong desire to develop this technique, as it is particularly well suited to meeting the new requirements of our customers.