Sunday, 8 January 2012

3D Printing Jewelry

3D printing has touched upon quite a few industries across the globe. Some of these industries include the consumer world, electronics, medical, architectural, engineering, and various product development worlds. This technology is going to inadvertently touch upon almost every industry that exists if it involves any form of manufacturing. Through 3D printing, various shapes, curves, and parts can be manufactured, while other forms of manufacturing can't compete in some situations. The possibilities of this technology are endless, and I want to tell you how.

First off, to understand how this technology is significant, you must know the basics about 3D printing. Prior to anything happening at all through this technology, a computer image must be created. An artist, designers, or engineer - whatever you'd like to call it - will have to create a model that will be used in the 3D printing process. This model will be developed in one of various softwares, and sent to a 3D printer. This printer will use a computer aided manufacturing (CAM) system to manufacture the model. This CAM system involves the computer within the printer telling the extruders, jets, lights, or various tools, where to shoot material. Shooting material? In 3D printing, products are made layer by layer. Through various methods, layers of material much smaller than the diameter of a human hair will be laid down in accordance to the blueprint, or 3D model.

One interesting aspect to 3D printing and the 3D models used as blueprints - almost anything can be made. Due to the layer by layer process, various shapes can be created which can't be made through other forms of manufacturing. This means that various curves, hollow spaces, organic shapes, and functional parts can be manufactured through 3D printing. Crazy feats such as a ball within a ball can be made through 3D printing due to the possibility of hollow spaces. If it can be designed on a computer by an artist or engineer, it can likely be manufactured through 3D printing.

Tons of possibilities come through this technology. Just think about this - almost anything can be manufactured through 3D printing. If it can be designed on a computer, it can likely be created. This means that we have access to some seriously intricate models!

Artists are creating beautiful works through the design capabilities. One industry I want to highlight on would be the jewelry industry. Quite a few possibilities in the jewelry world are coming into existence. Due to the various materials jumping into the 3D world such as stainless steel, Inconel, gold, silver, and platinum - some cool jewelry is coming about! In order for a jewelry piece to be made in precious metals through 3D printing, a design must be mocked up. This manufacturing technology will involve the creation of a wax piece. This piece will resemble the model 1:1. This wax piece will then be used for casting purposes. Molten material of gold, silver, or platinum will run into the wax piece, and will take the shape. The wax will burn out, leaving a model of silver, gold, or platinum! That's it!

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