Is 3D Printing The Future Of Fine Jewellery?

Is 3D Printing The Future Of Fine Jewellery?More and more often we can hear about printed in 3D jewellery. Which of you would not like a ring or a pendant to be personalized and even unique in the world. As long as incremental technologies did not gain popularity, the only way to make “personal” jewellery was to go to the jeweler – the artist. Today, the situation looks a bit different, a designer may come to help us (a graphic that deals with 3D modeling, which is definitely more than artists’ jewels on the market), 3D printing and a goldsmith.

What is the way and how does the jewellery making process look with the help of 3D printing? How a printed ring is made of precious metals (such as gold or silver). Probably the first thing that comes to our mind are incremental technologies based on metal powders (SLM, EMB), nothing more wrong. The vast majority of jewellery with the help of 3D printing is done with the help of the so-called lost models, whose method of obtaining may be twofold – direct (made of wax or resin intended specifically for firing) or indirect (first model model, on the basis of which we will make a soft form, and then duplicate it with the material to be burned).

The idea for jewellery from a 3D printer!
The first step that is necessary to create an individual 3D jewellery is of course the idea. Thanks to incremental technologies, we can let the imagination run wild and offer even very geometrically complicated creations, impossible to do with conventional methods. Printed 3D ring or pendant should certainly introduce not one person in astonishment.

The model is designed for 3D printing!
Due to the nature of manufacturing in incremental technologies without a 3D model, we are not able to move with the next stages of work. Most often, he chooses one of two ways: design the jewellery yourself – for example using free tools and guides, or commission a graphic designer / designer. In the second case, to make it easier for a specialist to have a well-prepared outline of your idea, whether in the form of a description, photos or even hand-sketched sketches. The more input information for the designer, the more accurate will be the valuation of the 3D model preparation work.

As soon as we have a ready model, it should be exported to STL format (or other ones intended for 3D printing) and we can move on to the next stage of works related to the production of 3D printed jewellery.

3D print jewellery!
This is the stage in which our idea takes on real, material shapes. If we are not sure if the project will look good in reality, we can pre-make a model from cheaper materials (standard) to make an attempt or appraise its appearance. So we print a 3D ring or a bead made of plastic material and then we try, watch or even consult people from outside. Thanks to incremental technologies, we are able to minimize the risk of an unwanted end result!

It is also a step in which we must ask ourselves whether our proverbial 3D jewellery is to be a single copy (or up to several pieces) or a short series (up to several dozen pieces). A good habit before building elements is to add so-called an infusion system in the place where it is easiest to remove it and to work it. Depending on the chosen path it is possible to:

The direct process – designed for single copies (e.g. a unique personalized engagement ring), even with very complex shapes. 3D printing in this case is made of materials intended for single-use firing, these are usually special resins (using technologies such as SL or DLP) or technical wax (using DODJET technology). In the case of materials made of resin, we can make a mechanical pre-treatment to reduce the time spent on finishing from the target material (gold, silver, etc., which are harder than the plastic).
Indirect process – intended for short series, due to the nature of manufacturing, there will be greater restrictions as to the proposed geometry of the jewellery. 3D printing in this case is made of standard resin materials (technologies such as SL, DLP or PolyJet are used for this). The model has been pre-machined and will then be used to make a mold (usually soft), in which we cast a series of materials for firing / gasification (e.g. from technical wax).
When we already have the so-called lost models can go to the last two stages of work, which usually takes place at the goldsmith (Note: Not every jeweler is a goldsmith).

Finishing “printed 3D” jewellery!
The last stage of the work in which our 3D ring or other jewellery takes on the character of a jewellery salon is a finish. These are works related to:

  • Removal of imperfections.
  • Sanding and polishing.
  • Embedding stones.

After this work, our product is ready, just pack it in a box, then put it in our offer or give to the nearest person, an additional effect wow of course, will add information that is to the jewellery printed in 3D!

Printed jewellery made with the help of the Form 2 device!
The fewer steps separating us from the CAD3D model to the final product, the more reliable the quality and the accuracy of the mapping, therefore below we describe an example of such a direct process. In the offer of materials offered by Formlabs, we find a material with the trade name Castable Resin, which suggests that it is intended for casting using the lost model method.

The 3D model in STL format was provided by the client, therefore the first steps of the idea and the design are omitted in the example below. The design is two bead patterns to hang on a bracelet. The target material was silver. Then the manufacturing process was carried out in the following steps:

1) Before the 3D printing of the bead, a modified infusion system was added to the model, making it easier to remove it after casting.
2) 3D printing of 4 beads (in order to reduce the unit cost of production) on the Form 2 device using a Castable resin at the best possible resolution, i.e. a layer height of 0.025 mm.
3) Removal of support structures, pre-treatment and final curing in the UV chamber of the printed elements.
4) Handing over the elements to the goldsmith who, in accordance with the above diagram, carried out the process of casting from silver and the final finishing of the elements, where in this case it was above all polishing.
5) 3D jewellery – The product is ready!

Picture Credit: vulcanjewelry

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