Jun 11, 2014

Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has won the top prize of S$10,000 (US$7,900) at the 2014 Singapore International Jewellery 3D Printing Competition organised by NTU Additive Manufacturing Centre (NAMC), the institute said Monday.

In this competition, NAMC was looking for orchid-inspired jewellery pieces that are distinctive and pleasurably wearable. Vanda Miss Joaquim, a hybrid orchid cultivar, was chosen in 1981 to be Singapore's national flower. In this competition, jewellery is defined as small decorative items such as necklaces, bracelets, bangles, rings, earrings, and head or hair accessories.

There were a total of 71 entries submitted from seven countries. The top prize is awarded to the ITRI team for their "Orchid-Spirit" hairpin which features elegant gold 3D printed petals and a delicate pin with silver tincture. The pin can be transformed into a bracelet while the flower buds contain oil that releases fragrance over time.

"Representing Taiwan to win the prize for the first time is truly an honor," the ITRI said in a statement, adding that it is the first time Taiwan's 3D printing capability has been recognized at an international competition.

The 3D printed "Orchid-Spirit" hairpin weighs 66 gram. The design was built up layer by layer using direct metal laser sintering, an additive manufacturing technique that uses a laser as the power source to sinter powdered material. The "Orchid-Spirit" hairpin was printed in titanium, steel, cobalt, chromium and other metal materials, and each layer thickness was set at 20 to 30um. The whole printing process took about 10 hours to complete. After 3D printing, the final product was coated in gold.

"It is a very surprising piece... The craft is stunning, almost at the same level as jewelry design by international brands," said the jury.

Organized by Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, the annual International Jewellery 3D Printing Competition aims to promote awareness and showcase the potential capabilities of 3D printing as an enabler technology for various applications.

The hairspin can also be transformed into a bracelet.

Professor Chua Chee Kai, the Centre Director and Chair of NTU's School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said the theme of jewellery was chosen because of their potential for complex and intricate designs, and that they are the upcoming industries which 3D printing is now making inroads into.

"Through the competition, we want to show the true potential of 3D printing, how it can be used in real life for rapid prototyping and actual products, and not just for toys and plastic crockery as commonly perceived," said Prof Chua, the world's most citied scientist for 3D printing.

"As more low-cost printers come onto the market, 3D printing is now more accessible to the public and this enables people to see their ideas and design become reality, something they can see with their eyes and hold with their hands. This is what true engineering is about – creative and practical innovations that will benefit society."


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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