The Ultimate Guide to Jewelry 3D Printing
3D printing has given wings to entrepreneurs and industries looking to reveal the real potential of the fastest growing technology.
The reason that it offers speed and accuracy is one of the most cost-effective choices, leave no room for confusion.
The same goes for jewelry making companies. There is no doubt that technology has reached millions of businesses worldwide and is penetrating even deeper as the economies are becoming synced and demanding.
There are a variety of spaces where 3D printing has instilled its importance becoming the major reason for the profit curve going upward.
From casual visual prototype printing to serious prosthetic manufacturing, 3D printing has been the key to many new developments happening across the globe.
Understanding the same, businesses offering new designs and capabilities through their 3D printing machines have also surged.
While a few years back 3D printers were sufficed to the hardcore industrial environment, today it has reached even small outlets offering customized pieces of jewelry.
Isn’t that a big leap? The obviousness is because of the benefits the technology shares.
Starting a Jewelry 3D printing business would have sounded like a dream a few years back, but now, people are already using the technology to make maximum profit.
Because the difference between handcrafted jewelry and those printed from a 3D printer is hard to point, the day is not far when 3D printers for jewelry making would become mainstream.
However, there are certain things that you must equip yourself with before joining the league of 3D printing entrepreneurs.
One should never forget that whatever if your skill level, you must face a certain set of complications when thinking of jewelry business.
3D printing has definitely made things easier and faster, the lurk isn’t over until you have learned to consider all the pitfalls before facing it.
Introduction to 3D Printing Jewelry
At its initial stage, 3D printing aimed at creating prototypes. As the demand and creativity surged, the versatility of the technology has widened the scope of its application. And, jewelry 3D printing is among those many possibilities that are accessible through 3D printing.
Many start-ups may feel a nudge to dive into the evergreen and in-demand niche of jewelry making.
Or those already in the business for a few years may feel a need to scale the business involving the latest technology and tools. 3D printing is the answer to both of these categories.
Steps Involved in Jewelry 3D Printing
Like any other 3D printing processes, jewelry 3D Printing works in similar basic steps.
For designing jewelry, specific CAD software are available. The CAD software is used to design various different jewelry and specifications.
If you are not familiar with the software, you must feel a need to complete a crash course before planning to start a business. The software isn’t difficult to learn and uses simple pick and drop features to create designs.
- After the CAD file is designed and one knows how the jewelry would look like, the file is exported to STL format. This is done using scaling software.
- Later the 3D printing starts using 3D printers for jewelry printing. Layer by layer, the printing completes.
- The last step involves removing support material which usually is made of wax. There are various steps involved in the post-processing step depending on the jewelry finish and design such as setting stones or polishing jewelry pieces.
Why 3D Printing for Jewelry Making?
Jewelry making and designing is usually a hectic process when carried out using traditional methods. From carving to finishing, the steps involved may make jewelry makers less interested in the overall process. But, not with 3D printing. It is not only creative but cost-effective as well.
Create Complex Designs: Certain designs are complex and some are even impossible to carve with the help of traditional methods.
However, 3D printing can make every complex design possible without much of a hassle. The limitations of CNC machines that made traditional jewelry making a challenge isn’t going to hamper the processes involved in 3D printing.
- Print Multiple Design: One can easily print multiple designs simultaneously using 3D printers. No longer wait time and the results are astonishing.
- Cost Saving: Because one can easily print different patterns at a time, the cost is highly reduced. The process is cost-effective and saves a huge sum of the amount involved in jewelry making using old methods.
Techniques Involved in Jewelry 3D Printing
3D printing is a well-known technology around the world now. No more confusions remain when it comes to choosing between the old techniques and 3D printing.
In common, there are two techniques famous for designing jewelry: One is investment casting and the other is direct printing.
This is the widely used technique for jewelry making. This is completed in 8 steps.
Step #1: Formation of Different Patterns
Before 3D printing was brought to practice, the patterns were made by pouring wax used especially for casting inside a metal mold.
However, with 3D printing, the mold is prepared directly using resin or wax.
Step #2: Assembling Mold
The next step is to prepare the casting tree. The aim of preparing this tree is to be able to cast multiple parts simultaneously.
Step #3: Building of Shell
The tree is then emerged in a slurry multiple times and is left to dry. This solidifies after a while leaving the outer ceramic coating over the pattern.
Step #4: Meltdown
This pattern is placed inside a furnace which results in the melting of wax, leaving the hollow design behind.
Step #5: Pouring
After the wax or resin used to form the pattern has been taken away from the hollow ceramic mold, the casting material is poured inside the mold.
This is left to solidify after cooling. These are usually done with the help of brass and finally coated with metals of choice during the finishing stages.
Step #6: Removal of Ceramic Mold
The ceramic mold is then removed or knocked off by force. It is either achieved by vibrations or literally knocking off the ceramic wall.
Step #7: Cutting Parts
The final parts are cut out from the casting tree to take off the different parts attached to it.
Step #8: Final Touch
These casts are further treated with traditional finishing methods to get the final jewelry ready for selling.
These can further be coated with precious metals or can be joined if in the beads form to make bracelets.
Being expensive, direct printing is less popular among jewelers. In these methods, the jewelry is directly printed using precious powder.
3D Printing Processes for Jewelry Designing
Among all the major 3D printing processes, three are commonly used for jewelry designing.
- Stereolithography (SLA): This 3D printing technology is based on curing liquid resin with the help of light.
- Digital Light Processing (DLP): DLP is similar to SLA, however, it uses a projector instead of a laser beam.
- Material Jetting (MJ): Material jetting with two print jets is used where one print jet deposits the wax-like material and the other one is used to print the support (made with dissolvable material).
- Selective Laser Melting (SLM): This belongs to the powder bed fusion family and is used for printing metal parts. This is usually opted by those looking for direct printing techniques.
Challenges with Jewelry 3D Printing
Either you choose any of the techniques discussed above, there are certain challenges that you might face and must be ready to overcome with the right design strategy.
❌ Problems During Meltdown:
When carrying the meltdown during the investment casting, one should make sure that the meltdown does not happen too quick.
This is made sure to ensure that the resin does not expand from its expected size.
This can severely damage the investment surface and thus the final casting.
Moreover, if the process isn’t taken under the required temperature, it can leave ashes inside the final casting. Hence, the process is the most critical among the investment casting stages.
❌ Removal of Support:
Few 3D printing processes allow dissolvable support while others need to be taken off manually.
If the support is in contact with the surface of the cast, one must have to include further post-processing methods to smoothen the surface in contact.
Jewelry by: 3D Printing vs Traditional Methods
Traditional methods for jewelry making still make up for most of the percentage of business around the world. However, there has been a huge demand for 3D printers and its adoption is surging with time.
Reasons Restricting the Adoption of Jewelry 3D Printing
As we have discussed how amazing 3D printing technology is, it is imperative to question: why the adoption is still limited to a few jewelers.
#1 Losing the Handmade Touch:
Many jewelers feel that 3D printing will eliminate the feeling of handmade touch that is highly valued across the continents.
Jewelry making has been with us from the last many eras and has been worshiped as one of the holy professions.
Those carving metals to make jewelry are attached to their skills deeply. The introduction of 3D printers would take away the privilege of using their hands to cast the metals.
The emotional quotient attached to the industry resists most of the jewelers from adopting the new technology.
#2 Technical Know-How Challenges:
3D printing comes with its own know-how techniques and learning how to operate the 3D printer is a must before indulging into 3D printing.
To realize the maximum benefit of the technology, one must understand its limitations and how to work around it to compensate for the challenges.
A need for such skills makes many jewelry designers neglect the idea of adopting 3D printers.
#3 The Initial Set Up Cost:
3D printers come with a cost. Fear if the new setup would work or not, compel jewelers to stick to the old style of jewelry designing.
How to Fight the Challenges Restricting Adoption of 3D Printing
As discussed above, there are quite a few challenges that restrict jewelry designers from choosing the new technology quoted as 3D printing over their traditional methods.
However, the good news is that there is a solution to every confusion one has regarding 3D printing.
First of all, there are humans who are involved in designing the 3D models of jewelry that is finally printed.
This means that the inspiration is always passed by a human and not the machine. The printing machine is only a way to make the work faster rather than stealing the human touch.
Moreover, the steps involved during printing as well as post-processing required manual intervention.
There is no step that goes without human supervision.
Credits: Elizabeth Landis
Not just that, the new software and tools are enabling the jewelry design skill to reach to masses.
Because of the ease of design using CAD tools and other software, a greater number of people are involving in jewelry designing, passing the skill from one to another.
Also, those who fear the change or worry about learning to operate 3D printers can find many useful courses for beginners as well as experts available online.
It is easy to learn and practice at the same time while going through these online courses. Once that fear of the unknown is eliminated from the equation, it would become easy to move on with the new and latest technology.
Finally, the set-up cost can be also minimized using different strategies. One can either choose to opt for a crowdfunding website or can outsource the printing requirement for the first few orders. If the returns are noticeable, funding can be taken seriously.
Above all, if setting a jewelry business is your aim, you must find the best way to suffice your goals as well as those of your customers.
Benefits of Using 3D Printer to Make Jewelry
Jewelry making has always been a huge market and the niche is evolving rapidly making room for newer technologies to take over the older ones.
The need for better designs and fast service has left the industry with no choice but to adapt as per the changing demand.
With time, a greater number of designers are joining the league of 3D printing. And, there are various reasons why 3D printing is being worshiped so much:
✔️ Production Worries are Over:
The best part about 3D printing is that it has made production easier. Once the STL file is generated, there is no longer a need to follow up with the workers and designers for the final part.
There is no difference between the jewelry designed with the same STL file. However, when handcrafted, there is always some or the other difference between each design.
Production aftermaths are reduced greatly when designed with the help of 3D printers. The manual error can also be completely eliminated when using 3D printers.
✔️ Easily Customizable:
Once the CAD file is designed, one does not need to create new files for slight changes.
One can easily customize the already existing file to make changes and create designs with few changes. And, printing is equally easy.
3D printing has given options for designers to print designs that were completely impossible with traditional methods.
Why start from scratch when you need a few changes to the original design to come up with a new model?
Many won’t realize how fast the industry is growing. Customers do not like to wait for weeks to buy the chosen designs.
Also, the hard work involved in traditional methods won’t count when it comes to customer satisfaction. The faster the better.
With this, the time has always been the game changer for those who have been able to serve their customers at the earliest.
So, 3D printing is very much an edge for those looking to build a customer base and win over competitors.
✔️ Easy Prototyping:
Without wasting time and material, one can create prototypes easily with 3D printing.
Think of the changes that you may require after the first prototype is ready. With traditional methods, you are required to go through each step from the start.
However, with 3D printing, you only need to make changes to the CAD file and get the plastic prototype ready right away.
It is cheap and economical as well. Moreover, you do not need to spend extra working hours on another prototype that may again need changes.
This guest post was originally published on pick3dprinter.com blog site. The content in this guest blog is for informational and educational purposes only and may contain copyrighted material from pick3dprinter.com.
One of the best 3D printers for Jewelry is the Formlabs' Form 3, an SLA desktop 3D printer with industrial capabilities that delivers a flawless and high quality prints in an affordable price. To know more about this 3D Printer, feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us directly to any of our social media sites.