What do you need to 3D print jewelry?
3DBaz – Actually, there is no single, easy answer to this, since ‘3D printing’ includes many different technologies. While some printers work with filament, others use powder, and yet others work with liquid resin or wax (we’ll talk about which one we think is most suitable for jewelry below).
However, all 3D printers have one thing in common: they need a 3D file. This 3D file holds the information about what object the printer is supposed to print. These 3D files are generated with special 3D modeling software. These programs range from beginner-friendly free modeling apps like Tinkercad to high-end programs especially designed for jewelry makers, such as RhinoGold.
Once the 3D file is generated, the printer can use this information to print a real physical object. Using online 3D printing services like i.materialise, the designer does not even need to own his/her own 3D printer. When we receive the 3D file via our website we know exactly what the client expects.
Which are the latest 3D printing technologies used in the jewelry industry?
For creating jewelry in gold, silver, bronze, copper and brass, we use Lost-Wax Printing and Casting. This technology builds upon modern 3D printing technology as well as traditional metal casting.
It all starts with 3D printing your 3D model in wax. The 3D printer uses a wax-like resin as printing material. Next, one or more wax sprues will be attached to your model. Then your model will be attached by the sprue to a wax ‘tree’, together with several other models. The tree is then placed in a flask and covered in a fine plaster. When the plaster solidifies, it forms the mold for casting the metal. The plaster mold is then put in an oven and heated for several hours to the point where the wax is completely burned out.
What are the benefits of this technology?
The process described above is a mix of 3D printing and traditional jewelry making. So far this is the best and most economical way to create 3D printed jewelry. It will produce a real, solid piece of jewelry with a smooth surface. Depending on your wishes, the object can also be finished manually with post-processing (see more about this below).
- The biggest advantage for jewelry designers is that they no longer need to worry about production. Once the 3D file is generated, a specialized supplier & online 3D printing service such as i.materialise can take care of producing the jewelry. With a 3D file, we have all the information we need to get our 3D printers going. Printing jewelry without an online 3D printing service is much more difficult, as this typically requires industrial 3D printers and does not work on common home printers.
- Another big advantage is that 3D files can be easily edited. A 3D model can be printed as a plastic prototype first to check if the quality and design are correct. Changes can simply be made in the 3D modeling software. The final design can then be printed in the desired metal.
- Last but not least, 3D printing comes with an incredible amount of detail. Word can hardly do justice to this, simply take a look at the stunning designs below. The first one is a zoomed-in picture of a ‘Frog Ring’ designed by Peter Donders. The second image is a zoomed-in ‘Tree in a Cross’ pendant by Desmond Chan. We printed both designs in gold-plated brass.
Source : i.materialise