May 12, 2014

Online 3D printing services propose many materials. You can 3D print your design with silver, brass, bronze, and steel, but since 3D printed jewelry is advancing so quickly, Shapeways has decided to add 14 carat gold to its offering. Gold is the oldest known precious metal used in jewelry. With 3D printing, jewelers, designers and makers can design intricacies and geometries that are not possible through traditional mold making.

Shapeways' process is a mix of old and new manufacturing techniques. Like other cast metals (silver, bronze, brass), your designs are 3D printed in wax. It is described in five steps:

First, the model is 3D printed in wax using a specialized high-resolution 3D printer. It's then put in a container where liquid plaster is poured in around it. When the plaster sets, the wax is melted out in a furnace, and the remaining plaster becomes the mold, leaving a negative space where your model was, ready to become 3D Printed gold. Molten Gold is then poured into the mold and set to harden. The plaster is broken away, revealing your new product, which is then carefully cleaned and hand-polished to give it the trademark Gold luster.

This process is not the same as metal 3D printing. But the hand-polished 14k Gold is simply stunning.

Nevertheless, gold's high-shine look is so beautiful and more compnaies have developed special processes for making 3D printed gold. Nervous System, a Somerville-based design and art company that makes jewelry and accessories, has recently 3D printed their latest Kinematics piece in 18k gold.

Nervous System's Kinematics jewelry is based on interlocking components. It is a system for 4D printing that creates complex, foldable forms composed of articulated modules. Kinematics produces designs composed of 10's to 1000's of unique components that interlock to construct dynamic, mechanical structures. Each component is rigid, but in aggregate they behave as a continuous fabric. Though made of many distinct pieces, these designs require no assembly. Instead the hinge mechanisms are 3D printed in-place and work straight out of the machine.

Working with 3D printing consultancy company A3DM and 3D printing company Cooksongold, Nervous System has printed out a Kinematics piece using Direct Metal Laser Sintering technology of Cooksongold. Cooksongold in partnership with EOS have developed the Precious M 080 Laser Sintering Machine designed for the jewellery and watch-making industries.

Nervous System says it is working on developing a special kinematics piece for DMLS gold printing later this year.

Another 3D printing company, Shootdigital has produced 3D prints in nickel, black nickel, silver, copper and rhodium (platinum) finishes, and now they have also added a proprietary process for 24k gold precious metal finishing. Watch below a video featuring their post-processing procedure for a 3D printed human skull.

For now only consumers in the U.S. can place an order for 3D printed gold jewelry, Shapeways promised it will expand the offering soon after its two month trial period. But the price is not cheap, a pendant of 1 x 1 x 1 inches / 25 x 25 x 25 mm costs almost around 1000 dollars.

Posted in 3D Printing Services

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shootdigital | full-color 3d printing wrote at 5/13/2014 4:31:33 PM:

Thank you so much for featuring our 24k gold skull. As beautiful as it looks in photographs, it looks even more incredible in person. I encourage others interested in custom 3d printing in 24k gold (or any other metal) plating for 3d prints to check out our web site. We're doing great things in the jewelry category as well: custom four-finger rings with intricate and beautiful typography, brass knuckles, chain link necklaces with pendants, etc: The timeframe and cost for the Shapeways process is very prohibitive. It's great, I think, for tiny objects. But for larger objects, our proprietary process wins — especially the nickel and black nickel options as they're durable and extremely beautiful. 24k gold is extremely soft by its very nature, however our proprietary process allows for maximum durability without any compromise in its aesthetic impact. We made a video here at shootdigital to highlight the differences between our high-end 3d printing equipment and cheap plastic printers such as the makerbots and fakerbots: Enjoy! For anyone in the NYC area, I encourage you to come by for a chat and a cappuccino — our barista is the best in the city. Just ask for me, Curtis, and I'd be happy to show you around and discuss the possibilities.

AMnerd wrote at 5/12/2014 2:48:46 PM:

I want to work at the university that is capable of funding such research

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