In the following text we would like to discuss the topic of design and making patterns using 3D modeling and printing. This text is mainly addressed to people producing jewelry – but we hope that others will also find something for themselves. Are you curious what are the most common types of 3D printing used in jewelry production? Are you interested in the pros and cons of individual types of 3D printing? Why use 3D at all? You couldn’t find better. We hope that in this short article we will be able to answer the most common questions of skeptics who shun new technologies – and secretly would like to know what’s going on with all this 3D.
Advantages of computer design.
3D design will facilitate and improve our work on a new collection or personalized jewelry. Making a full size rings, rescaling the necklace on the earring, full control over the weight of the target product, the possibility of perfect stone arrangement – this is only the beginning of a long list of 3D advantages.
The 3D model allows us to prepare patterns with a high level of detail – often in a faster time than using a traditional workshop. Modeling in the program also eliminates the element of randomness (destruction of the wax mother by slipping a file or cutter) – and if something in the design does not suit us, it’s easy to go back to the previous version and expand it in another direction.
This is a file usually saved in .stl format – if you want to use the 3D printing service, you will need such a file. How to get it Preferably from a person providing 3D design and modeling services, who will make a model for you based on an interview or a drawing. It is worth making sure that we are not a layman here – this will avoid problems with the later incontinence of the size of the ring, too thin and non-castable elements or unmatched stones.
| Curiosity |
Not everyone knows that .stl files are used not only for printing, but also for milling on CNC machines, which by cutting material layer by layer, will recreate the model in wood, aluminum or wax.
As we mentioned earlier, there is a lot of 3D printing technology and each will work on slightly different types of projects. I would like to focus on those types of printing that are commonly used in the jewelry industry.
Wax printing used by Solidscape printers.
This is the most popular 3D printing technology. Solidscape has in its offer printers using the SCP (Smooth Curvature Printing) method. Printing is done with the help of two materials: a supportive one that can be dissolved at the next stage and a second one that builds the right part of the model for us. The model we receive will be made of wax, which ensures perfect burning during casting and at the same time prevents the mold from being removed from the printout itself. If I had to determine the undoubted advantage of this prototyping method, then there is no need to manually get rid of the printing support material (so-called support) and high printing accuracy. It is also an ideal technique if the pattern we make is to be used once (we do not expose ourselves to the costs associated with making the molds). The main downside of this method is time – which translates into price.
Print in photosensitive polymer.
Another printing method is the one that uses polymer as the model building material. Depending on the manufacturer of the printer, it has different names (this involves branding the technology names with a trademark). The main rule is based on the SLA (StereoLithography Apparatus) method and consists in fixing the resin with a light beam.
ASIGA is a popular printer that uses various types of polymers for printing. Individual materials differ not only in colors, but also in properties. The great advantage of this technology is good quality and fast printing time. The downside may be the need to manually remove the supporting material – which in the absence of practice may damage the model. However, if the design is not complicated in printing, and there are few additional supports – this technology is a pretty good alternative to the Solidscape mentioned earlier. We are able to remove the form from polymer even in dedicated vulcanization rubbers. This material is rather not suitable for direct casting – the exception is a polymer specially created for this.
Printing directly in metal.
The last and actually the least popular due to the relatively high costs is the direct metal printing method, i.e.DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering). However, it has advantages that cannot be obtained by printing + casting techniques. We can print an object that will be empty inside; an object with moving elements contained in one another; items that are too small to be cast by lost wax. With the help of this technology, we can print in gold, silver, titanium and platinum.
Gold 3D printing process of creation:
- first, the model is printed in SLA technology (stereolithography) from wax, in the form of a properly prepared resin; stereolithography ensures high quality of the model
- then the printed model is put into a container where it is poured with plaster in a suitable way, creating a mold for casting
- the mold is heated, as a result of which the wax dissolves, leaving the walls of the model perfectly in plaster
- molten metal is poured into the mold, which then cools down
- at the end the form is broken up and the newly created model is subject to subsequent production stages in the form of a suitable finish.
Machine vs Man.
3D printing is a tool that is designed to improve our work, save time and help in the implementation of projects that would be impossible to perform or highly unprofitable in the case of, for example, manual carving in wax. Contrary to the opinions of people who have nothing to do with new technologies, the computer does not carry out the design for the designer. The 3D program is a set of functions whose skilful use will be associated with a specific effect. Just like using the same stylus – two people will do work at a different level, so with the same modeling program, two designers will get a completely different effect. Let us remember that in all of these, man is the most important thing – not a machine.
You can check how our personalized jewelry is made here
All our prints includes jewelry are printed by iMaterialise