3D technology is nowadays used in several fields of construction. The jewellery sector is among the first to use it for their various production processes. This has already been the case for a few years now with the arrival on the industry of the jewellers’ 3D printer.
This solution allows the printing of rings, necklaces, pendants and bracelets with precious metals in 3D prototypes. As a result, many jewellers and jewelers have specialized in this digital process for the design of their jewellery.
3D printing for jewellers and jewelers
An additive manufacturing solution, 3D printing allows to perfect the know-how of jewellers and jewelers as well as their jewelry creation process thanks to a 3D printer. Three-dimensional printing accompanies from A to Z the manufacturing of jewellery, gems and all kinds of ornaments using metals in particular, gold, copper, silver, bronze, platinum, brass, etc. However, it needs human hands for the finishing touches in order to obtain the most beautiful object possible. It supports any material compatible with a 3D printer. Therefore, 3D printing is the technology par excellence to create custom-made jewelry at a low cost and fully similar to the precision and quality of those handcrafted by a professional craftsman. Thanks to the considerable advantages it brings to manufacturers, 3D printing is revolutionising the jewellery industry.
Operating principle of a 3D printer
A 3D printer for jewellers and jewelers is a device with extreme technology to quickly and easily produce precision jewelry. It is in fact a solution proposed to ornamental jewelry manufacturers to help them work with ease, especially to reduce manual production which is exhausting and time-consuming. Thanks to this device, all they have to do is carry out the 3D prototyping using CAD or Computer Aided Design software. Then, thanks to an application called slicer, they cut in very thin slices the STL file produced by this software. It is the slicer that will display all the indications to the 3D printer, in particular the layer by layer deposit of gold or bronze, for example, which will be welded together in order to obtain the desired object. More practical than the rudimentary method, this device brings more precision and can easily produce an incomparable and personalized model according to the customer’s expectations. Aware of the interest of the 3D printer, the actors in the sector do not hesitate to get one in their workshop to accomplish their prototyping. Hence the democratization of 3D printing.
3D printing techniques
3D printers are generally based on SLA (Stereolithography) or DLP (Digital Light Processing) technology, which uses liquid resins as the printing material. These technologies effectively produce parts with smooth surfaces combined with very fine details. Today there are many 3D printing techniques available for jewellery. The most popular is the lost wax method or mould technique. Especially ideal for gold, silver, brass and bronze, this technique consists of creating a 3D prototype printed in heat-sensitive wax using CAD software. From the model obtained, a resistant mould identical to a plaster cast is created, which will be heated at a high temperature to completely consume the heat-sensitive wax. As soon as this condition is achieved, the material can be poured directly into the mould. After some time of cooling, a polished object is obtained, ready to be cared for by the jeweller in order to have the perfect design but also to adorn it with precious minerals or fine pearls. Some materials such as steel or titanium do not require the wax prototyping stage but directly the printing stage. On the other hand, it uses metal powder, arranged in layers, which is then melted or welded to produce the final version of the jewel. This second technique is still complex because it requires the use of a 3D metal printer, which is a very expensive model. As a result, customers use a professional 3D printing service to have their jewelry created in precious metal.
Advantages of 3D printing for jewellers and jewelers
A method that adds to the traditional methods of jewelry and gem making, the jeweler’s 3D printer is indispensable for the craftsmen of the trade. Its main advantage lies in its ability to assist the jeweler during all stages of the manufacturing process, from 3D prototyping to the creation of the desired piece. Economical, it also allows a reduction in production costs but also a considerable time saving because with this tool it is possible to finish prototypes, then choose the desired design and produce it directly in manufacturing, all in reduced time. Another advantage is that this innovation offers high precision, clean finishing work, whether for simple ornamental objects or for the most complicated jewellery. Above all, it allows for the production of unique works of art, while at the same time giving the possibility to personalize the precious objects according to the wishes and needs of each customer. The latter could even sketch the 3D model of his dream jewel at home if he has a 3D printer and the software. In this case, they will only have to send it to the jeweller for more or less immediate production. Moreover, manufacturers are more attractive because they offer cheaper services to their customers. If previously the purchase cost of 3D printers was unaffordable, today they are accessible at a reduced price. This is another advantage.