3D-Printed Jewellery: A Thing of Beauty and a Wonder of Technology
- Feb 11, 2016
3D printing is an Additive Manufacturing (AM) process. It synthesizes an object layer-by-layer. The concept is same as that of a stack (FILO- First in, Last out). Each layer can be imagined to be a 2-Dimensional cross-section of a 3D object. These two-dimensional layers are stacked on top of one another to finally give the form of a 3D object. Using 3D printing, we can create complex designs. These complex designs can actually exhibit fine details, meshes and movable parts. The fashion industry has inculcated the use of 3D design and printing technology to create or re-create everything from lampshades to crockery. Watchmakers use this technology on the basis of the precision that it provides to synthesize intricate mechanisms. The precision and the mind-boggling design possibilities associated with this technology were enough to draw the attention of the jewellery industry. Hence, 3D printing has gained immense popularity in the jewellery industry.
Let's have a look at some features of the 3D- printed jewellery.
- Any Design: You name it, we have it!
With 3D printing, you can virtually create any piece of jewellery ranging from a gold pendent to a diamond necklace. But that's not all. This technology is not limited to traditional or any pre-programmed design. You can create or re-create any jewellery using designs that you can actually fashion. 3D printing is a never-ending process in the jewellery industry. Customization options are open to the shoppers to create any design that they wish to have. The finished product reaches their doorsteps within 3 to 4 days.
- Impossible designs come to life
3D design and printing enables designers to create jewellery pieces that are virtually impossible to create by hand. Avant-garde jewellery designs are now possible to create using this technology.
- Longer life-span
The jewellery manufactured using 3D printers have longer life spans even though they exhibit complex, extravagant designs. The joints are manufactured from one metal piece which is continuous in the product. Separate pieces are not soldered together and hence, the finished product is much stronger and enjoys a longer life.
- Low margin for errors coupled with low labor costs
3D design and printing reduces the margin of errors considerably. The customization features that come along with this technology reduce the labor involved in manufacturing the jewellery piece. In case of production of any defective piece, the defective part is easily replaceable. Therefore, it reduces the labor costs involved in this product.
How does it work?
The simple combination of CAD (Computer Aided Design) and 3D printers is enough to achieve this great feat. It is possible to print the precious metal directly, using Three Dimensional printers that eject delicate layers of gold or any metal dust to form a solid item. But the process is quite expensive. The jewellers opt for a different method, a minor improvisation with effective results. They use the printers to make resin or wax moulds of the same models that they design using CAD. These moulds are then cast into the metals using the process called lost-wax casting. The wax moulds are placed into a cast made of plaster of Paris and the molten gold or metal is discharged into it. This process causes the wax to dissolve, leaving the metal object behind. Popular jewellery companies say that they see their CAD designers as electronic goldsmiths. The technology is making their tasks easier but it's still necessary to retain the human touch. So basically it can be said that if the two technologies are used properly, the only limitation that remains in the field of crafting jewellery is imagination.
Some jewellery companies opine, ‘CAD and 3D printing are tools. You have to be a jeweller to know how to put those components together into a piece of jewellery.’
A few readily available 3D jewellery samples by Shapeways, a pioneer in the field of 3D design and printing jewellery market.
Vessel Pendent - A fine mesh of vessels is present on the surface of this necklace. It resembles a network of veins present on the surface of a leaf.
Cat Ears ring - A ring bearing adorable cat ears. It's available in a number of sizes.
Dove's Nest - It is made in the structure resembling a dove with a mesh of structures interwoven together.
Man of Steel Pendent - This piece resembles the Superman symbol from the latest movie “Man of Steel”.
DNA Earrings - This piece of jewellery is made in the form of a DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) structure.
Celtic Knot Heart Bracelet - The material used is gold-steel coupled with a lustrous finish.
The number of available choices are numerous. You can go through all of these designs at Shapeways. The best thing is, there's also the option to customize each piece as per your choice.
3D printing has brought a revolution in the field of jewellery. It can be deemed one of the greatest feats of digital technology. The best thing is that you can actually manipulate any design as per your wish. That's the actual beauty of this technology.
Futurite aims to bring high quality STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education to school students in India. Our mission is to use cutting-edge technologies such as Robotics and 3D Printing to impart a thorough grounding in STEM subjects and concepts to school students while making their learning experience fun, engaging and hands-on. Futurite has been operating in Dubai successfully (as Premier Genie) since a number of years, working with over 25 of the top international schools and teaching 1000+ students. Futurite has been founded by alumni from IIT, IIM, JU and HEC Paris.
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