Imagine designing a piece of jewelry that really gets you excited. Most jewelry designers have had this experience. They know the feeling of elation from creating a piece that has that ‘it’ factor, and they know the piece will be popular.
Now imagine producing a prototype or even a piece of jewelry within an hour or two of the initial design. This is the power of 3D printing! With today’s technology, it’s completely possible.
Desktop 3D printing offers everyone from hobbyist to professional jewelry designers these possibilities:
- produce prototypes
- conduct comparison studies
The best part is, the technology doesn’t require a budget-busting investment. Many 3D printers operate directly via a laptop or tower computer you already have in your studio or workshop.
Traditional jewelry-making is an involved process.
Here are the Cliff’s Notes for making a cast:
- The jewelry designer develops ideas for a piece of jewelry.
- Then the designer makes a master model with modeling clay or other sculpting material, a time-consuming process.
- Next, the designer makes a press form from the master model.
- Then, using the press form, the designer makes an intermediate form. This intermediate form generates the casting mold.
- Finally, liquid metal is poured into the mold to make the final piece of jewelry.
As you can see, it’s an involved process that requires a lot of manual work. This is where 3D printing helps jewelry designers who can now spend less time in the development stages of production. Less time in production leaves more time to set up and produce the final piece or pieces of jewelry.
Let’s take a look at how this technology fundamentally changes jewelry-making.
With 3D Printing, You See Your Jewelry Within Minutes of Design
One of the drawbacks to jewelry-making is that the designer must construct a prototype after completing a design. The time to complete a prototype lasts anywhere from hours to a day to several days. If you are working with a client, this means several steps and meetings:
- Designing the piece with the client
- Making the prototype
- Meeting again with the client to review the prototype
This process not only takes more time, it is inconvenient for the client. With 3D printing, though, it’s possible for a client to sit with you as you design the piece. You can collaborate and make adjustments as the client wants, then create a 3D model of the piece for them to approve.
With the 3D process, the client makes an informed decision about the jewelry, and you can give them your input about design and structural integrity. You can also provide a more accurate production timeline.
3D Printing Builds Stronger Pieces of Jewelry
Some of the most beautiful jewelry in the world is also very intricate. The delicate structure of the jewelry makes it eye-appealing, but it may not be a wearable article.
3D printing allows you to design very intricate pieces of jewelry, print them out, and test the strength and integrity of the piece. Before you invest in expensive and time-consuming mold making, you can see what parts of the design are weak and adjust your design or material accordingly.
Instant Creation of Ideas
Sometimes inspiration hits in an instant. It’s one thing to sketch the idea out and revisit it later for reconsideration, but imagine the ability to create a piece within an hour or two of your initial inspiration.
Instead of having spending hours or a day or more constructing a complex master model, you can 3D print a master model. This saves you time and cost.
Although it is a more costly process, you can also print a metal master model or even a piece of jewelry directly from the printer.
Creating The Right Textures and Finishes
Creating the right textures and overall finish for a piece of jewelry is critical to its success. 3D printing allows you to experiment with different textures and finishes. You no longer have to guess which one would look the best. You can print them out, do a side-by-side comparison and choose the best one.
Rapid Repair of Small Pieces
If a customer damages a piece of jewelry, you can reproduce the mold to make the replacement piece with your 3D printer. You can also print out the replacement piece and fix the jewelry. Since you will generate the replacement piece with the same mold as the original, you won’t have to worry about crafting and fitting a tiny piece of metal.
If you choose to 3D print the replacement piece directly, alert the customer to the cost. If the piece is less than 2 mm, it’s not recommended.
In general, 3D printing is the best choice for more delicate or intricate jewelry. 3D printing is additive, building layer upon layer of material. This means even the smallest variations in jewelry can be reproduced exactly as designed.
Here’s An Example of How One Company Used 3D Printing Successfully
Cameron and Rebecca Stern are professional jewelry designers. They produce thousands of pieces of jewelry through their company, Stern Design Works. In this video, they explain how 3D printing helped their design work and business.
You can do the same kings of things they do with their machine whether you’re a seasoned professional or just starting out in the business or a hobbyist.
3D Universe offers a complete line of 3D printers, accessories, and supplies for jewelry-making. Our goal is to make these versatile printers accessible to everyone.
If you would like to know more about using 3D printing in jewelry making and many other fields, such as art or manufacturing, take a look around our website. Read our blog, and check out the different types of equipment we offer.
Our Ultimaker 3D printer line is a favorite of many of our customers, and we offer a wide variety of accessories and material for jewelry making. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
More informative 3D Universe blog posts:
Get started with 3D printing here.
Check out our post on 3D printed fashion here.
Image attribution: Irwikilord [CC BY-SA 4.0