Like many other industries, additive manufacturing technology is also disrupting the jewelry design and manufacturing sector. From goldsmiths to custom jewelry designers, everyone is in love with the technology that gives them creative freedom like no other. It is expected that the global 3D printed jewelry sector will grow at a CAGR of 26% in the next three years. Already other industries are trying to make the most of this futuristic technology. If the assumptions are correct, designing and manufacturing jewelry will reach an all-new level with the integration of 3D printing.
However, it is not metal printing that these designs are utilizing but other methods, e.g., wax casting, which is being primarily practiced by jewelers. Advanced CAD software is being used to design casting patterns digitally, which are then 3D printed into molds. It reduces the time and efforts to create casting designs manually, as well as enhance customization.
To understand this, you need to know all about jewelry castings and the types of mold that are used to create bespoke patterns in the pieces of jewelry. Let us give you an idea about the process.
Step 1: First, a master design needs to be created using clay or special wax
Step 2: Once the master model is ready, it needs to be filled with a liquid and left to harden. After that, it should be cut to create intermediate models for the casting process.
Step 3: The casting is made by covering the intermediate model with gypsum.
Step 4: Once the gypsum gets hardened, the liquid metal is poured into the casting, thus replacing the wax.
Step 5: In the end, the final piece is taken out carefully and polished to create the jewelry piece.
Are you wondering how and where 3D printing can be used to ease the process? Well, it can simplify these steps and reduce the time to create pieces of jewelry quite effectively. Complicated and exclusive designer pieces can be created easily with this advanced technology. Scroll on to know the details.
Printing the master model
Additive manufacturing has come a long way with new and improved devices (3D printers) to streamline the process of 3D printing. Today’s jewelry designers find numerous applications of technology to enhance the speed and quality of the finished products. One of these applications is 3D printing the master model using resin instead of traditional wax. Firstly, the designer can create a digital master model and 3D print it using SLA/DLP printers. These devices can mold and solidify resin perfectly, layer by layer, and develop complicated designs in a jiffy. The 3D printers available these days can seem a little expensive. But in a few more years, they will get more affordable, as well as efficient, thus meeting every need and budget.
Improving customization benefits
Once the creation of master models gets easier, time, and cost-effective, the jewelers will be able to provide more customization benefits to the buyers. They will then be able to suggest changes in the master models, which can again be digitally designed and 3D printed without wasting much time. Such trends will help the customized jewelry industry reach new heights within a short time. Further, the 3D printers will improve detailing in complicated designs without additional costs. As a result, the end designs will have striking features that manual processes may not be able to accomplish. Last but not least, creating the press form and intermediate models will also get easier with additive manufacturing.
Enabling mass production
Less time is taken to design and manufacture pieces of jewelry with 3D printing, thus increasing mass production. No more do the master models need to be hand-carved, which takes a lot of time. Advanced 3D printers can be used to create vulcanized rubber molds at room temperature. Coming to the quality of the end product, i.e. the master model, it has an incredibly smooth surface, thus requiring less finishing. You can directly use them to create the wax parts for mass jewelry production.
The competitive advantage of small-scale jewelers
Using 3D printing technology, even the small-scale jewelers can have a competitive advantage over the industry biggies. With some initial investment, they can make customized jewelry to an all-new level and improve their brand reputation and make a place among the big brands in the market. As the costs of 3D printed castings will be way less than those obtained through manual processes, the overhead costs will be lowered. Hence, integrating the additive manufacturing technology in small-scale jewelry designing will bring high returns on the investment.
It brings us to our next section-
How 3D printing can help jewelry start-ups
The best thing about customization is creating a premium product that is both unique and exclusive. Most jewelry designers have the personalization factor in mind while developing the castings. Many a time, the manual processes hinder their creativity and limit their imaginations. But with 3D printing, such hindrances become obsolete.
If you are a jewelry designer, you can let your imaginations take flight and create the designs digitally. Let the 3D printer take care of the rest. Even the minor details will be recreated exactly as you imagined through an advanced SLA printer. All you have to do is approve the designs from the customers and incorporate their suggestions to create the final castings.
Jewelry designs are closely linked with people’s emotions and aspirations.
Most customized pieces of jewelry are highly-priced, especially the ones that are made on prior orders. You can take the business to a new level by offering to create jewelry for special occasions with personalized detailing. Most millennials are in love with the idea of customization and prefer it over readymade goods in the stores. Hence, these benefits will not go unnoticed, and your business will flourish through word-of-mouth promotion. As 3D printing with castable resin is getting more affordable day-by-day, you can easily create your line of unique designs with this technology.
The future of 3D printing in the jewelry industry
At present, the jewelry industry is focused on creating master models with additive manufacturing, but things will not be limited to that. Soon it will transcend prototyping and move to 3D printing complicated jewelry pieces with more advanced printers. Using real wax printers to reduce casting faults are already on the talks. Once available, they will replace the resin-based system efficiently. It will improve the costs of production and lower energy waste, leading to sustainable jewelry manufacturing processes. With more advances in technology, it will be possible to create rings that were ordered in the morning by the evening to increase the satisfaction of the customers. International shipping will take lesser time, and prices will be reduced, thus helping customers invest in personalized jewelry without breaking their banks.
Direct metal printing is still in its nascent stages, but it will improve in the coming days. Once the system is in place, it will be easier to 3D print precious stone jewelry pieces without much hassle. Highly-customized old, silver, platinum, and even diamond jewelry will be printed using additive manufacturing. Besides jewelry, the technology will also find its way into related sectors, like watch-making, accessory designing, and more.
One can print precious metals directly with the help of Direct Metal Laser Sintering and Material Jetting technologies. But the process is quite expensive at present. Platinum is one of the most difficult metals to be cast, as it has a high melting temperature and even higher reactivity. With the help of advanced technologies and equipment, jewelers will be able to create customized platinum jewelry, thus opening better channels for mass profitability. That day isn’t far when a designer will be able to sell unique designs for thousands of dollars to lead a self-sufficient business. However, the sintering process of metal powders needs to be improved first to bring about the change.
How Additive Accelerator can help
At Additive Accelerator, we understand and acknowledge the immense potential of the 3D printing technology to help businesses make the most of it to drive revenue. We help business owners from different sectors to identify scalable and profitable additive manufacturing solutions to take their businesses up the success ladder. We can help them integrate the disruptive but incredibly-profitable technology to improve their bottom line and stay on par with the latest trends.
Our extensive experience in the field can help designers and manufacturers to adopt scalable additive manufacturing solutions to make way for innovations and increase mass production. With our help and advice, you will be able to invest in the right technologies and applications to help your business grow at a pace like never before.