3D Printing : Oh my gold!!

Fancy designing your own jewelry? 3D Printing is giving a whole new dimension to the jewelry industry. Now, anybody and everybody can become a jewelry designer. To start with, the material that is available for making this dream come true is 14k solid GOLD! 14k solid gold is solid gold mixed with an alloy such as copper for hardening for longer ware.

With each passing day more and more companies are using the concept of 3D Printing in the process of making 3D printed gold jewelry. The giants of the 3D printing industry are planning to include gold to the list of materials available for 3D printing. So how exactly 3D Printing is used to print Gold objects?

The widely used process for gold 3d printing is something like this: Wax 3D printing and lost wax casting are used to build the design. The wax printing process is a type of stereolithography that uses a wax like resin. The support structures are also printed with the model to make sure the model does not fall apart. These support structures are generated automatically and can be removed manually after the printing process. After the removal of structures and the model is cleaned, the model can now be prepared for casting.

Firstly, one or more sprees will be attached to the model. Then, it will be attached with the spree to a wax tree, together with a bunch of other models. The tree is then placed in a flask and covered in a fine plaster. When the plaster solidifies, it forms the mould for casting the gold. The plastered mould is then put in the oven and is heated till the wax is completely burnt out. Then the molten gold is poured in to fill the cavities left by the wax. Once the gold has cooled and solidified, the plaster mould is broken and the gold model is removed by the hand. Finally, the model is filed and sanded to get rid of the sprees. It will be sanded, polished or sand blasted for the desired finish. There are certain limitations in this process such as structures such as ball within a ball cannot be made and also links of chains are not possible to be made by this process.

This process is being used by many organizations as well as designers. One of such designers is Ross Lovegrove who has recently designed a collection of 3D printed rings called “Foliates”. The series has six rings are made out of 18carat gold, each of which will be produced in an edition of ten. To create intricate detailed surface on the jewelry Lovegrove used direct metal laser sintering as well as combining 3D printing with lost-wax casting for wax-like patterns. These exceptionally creative 3D printed rings will be officially launched in Art Basel Miami by Louisa Guinness.

A U.K based company; Cookson Precious Metals is using the laser sintering technique to develop these magnificent designs which were not possible earlier. The best feature of this machine is that unlike wax printing and casting process, complex designs can be made rapidly, and can be quickly altered and produced as per the needs of the consumer. The other benefit of this machine would be that solid metal can be manufactured as hollow shapes, reducing their weight and the amount of precious metal used. As all things have some boon as well as bane; the bane of this technology is that the finished product would require finishing before sale and the cost of the fashioning would be expensive. The process requires a lot of gold powder, more gold than which might be required initially to make a model using traditional methods. The ‘toner’ used in the laser sintering process is relatively more expensive than that found in a laser printer cartridge.

A French 3D Printing company, Sculpteo has announced its plan to move on from plastic into precious metals. The company has made a lot of models in plastic but now its all set to place a firm foot in the jewelry industry. Sculpteo is creating objects in gold and silver. They also plan to give their customer the liberty to log on to their website and create their own jewelry for themselves or their partners in real silver and gold. With this new development Sculpteo will hopefully change the way customers purchase jewelry.

On similar stands various others companies plan to set into this new field of gold 3D Printing. Shapeways, a 3D printing firm that is very famous in the 3D business is also planning on introducing 3D printed gold in 14 carat. Earlier Shapeways has designed and manufactured jewelry made out of brass, silver, bronze and steel but with the increase in the demand for metals that are more precious. The items that are going to be manufactured by Shapeways include rings, cufflinks, pendants, earrings, charms, or whatever the customer wants. Shapeways has planned to introduce this into the consumer market.

In order to promote this new development various companies are coming to participate in the Hong Kong Jewelry and Gem Fair. This fair is going to feature some beautiful, cutting-edge 3D printed pieces along with a very special Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) 3D printer. The exhibitor of these pieces is Cookson Precious Metals, who plans to show off their new line of 3D printed jewelry. Apart from jewelry they would also showcase their new EOS Precious M 080 3D printer. Some of the items that would be showcased by Cookson Precious Metals will be the “Towe Bracelet”, the “Nervous Systems Ring” and a laser sintered watch case and pendant. Cookson Precious Metals along with EOS have partnered to offer their DMLS 3D printing service to jewelry designer all over the world. The Hong Kong Jewelry and Gem Fair gives them a perfect place to show off the service, the printer and the products that they can provide their consumers.

Another recent development in the gold 3D Printing industry – a 3D start up firm named Makoo used 3D printing to create a replica of the Russian Crown Jewels and it allows its users to design 3D printed jewelry of their choice.

2014-05-20T07:34:21+00:00 May 20th, 2014|3D Printing Insights|0 Comments

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