Creating jewellery with digital manufacturing tools such as 3D printing sounds either futuristic or unfamiliar to most customers, but in essence only a few steps differ to the traditional ways. Let’s have a look at my typical process journey from design to final jewellery piece so you know what it’s all about.
Ideation and CAD drawing
Before going digital everything starts with a few doodles on paper. If the doodles become interesting, I draw them up in a CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. This software allows me to create any three-dimensional shape of my choice and allows alterations at a later stage. This is really helpful for adjusting ring sizes or adding and editing elements.
3D printing / Lasercutting
After drawing up my idea on CAD I am curious to see what it looks like in reality. The dimensions and details are easier to grasp when a physical shape is in front of you. So I upload the design onto the 3D printer or laser cutter. Fortunately, I work at Formlabs, a company that developed and produced the Form 2, a special kind of 3D printer. The printer cures liquid resin with a laser so that it becomes a solid object through multiple, paper thin resin layers.
The print usually is ready in a couple of hours; or in case of the laser cutter the piece is done in a couple of minutes. Now I can check for size, fit, look and do the necessary adjustments.
Prototyping can take a couple of iterations, but my digital fabrication tools ensure a quick turnaround time.
Casting House / Manufacturing
The prototype looks good in resin and now I’d like to see the piece in its actual fine metal dress. I send the digital file to the casting house where the traditional “lost wax casting” technique is used to cast my jewellery piece. First, the casting house prints the file in wax or uses my already existing resin object. The caster then adds the wax piece to a “casting tree”, a wax tree with multiple jewellery pieces from different customers. The caster then immerses the tree in a first liquid and later solid investment mass. Now the object burns out at very high temperatures leaving a negative mold. A machine quickly pours in liquid metal and cools the whole mold right after so that the metal becomes solid. The caster cuts the raw metal object of the tree and polishes the jewellery piece ready for use by you!