Feb 4, 2017 | By Julia

Pittsburgh-based maker Jeremy Burnich has created a 3D printed Apple Watch cover that’s as quirky as it is dependable: built from 3D printed and finished copper, the watch case has a resounding steam punk feel, effectively intertwining low-tech and high-tech sensibilities.

Inspired by the iconic technology of the industrial age such as 19th century steam boilers, turbines, electrical transformers, and dynamos, Burnich’s steam punk watch cover heralds a world that may be lost but not forgotten.

The distinctive watch cover has a logic to it: beginning with the idea that the Apple Watch runs on electricity, Burnich decided to model his cover after an old school boiler. The boiler would hypothetically convert steam to reciprocating motion, which would generate sufficient electricity to power the watch.

The design unfolded accordingly. “Since one side had the digital crown and a button I decided that would be the control area of ‘the machine,’” Burnich says. “The bottom quarter would house steam fittings, the left quarter would be the gears and a connecting rod, and the top quarter and bezel would have electrical related things. And the whole case itself would be the boiler.”

For the 3D printing process, Burnich collaborated with i.materialise to 3D print in copper. The maker selected the material for artistic reasons, noting that the metal gains character as it ages, and looks lustrous after polishing.

3D printing in copper is also a clever choice for its nostalgic, industrial age feel, while still invoking the contemporary allure of 3D printed metal.

For the watch band, Burnich decided to go with green leather, which he purchased online. The maker says he could hardly contain his excitement when all the components arrived.

“When UPS drove up I pretty much ran out to door to get the package and ran back inside to open it up.  I was really pleased with what I saw. Every other detail looked perfect. I especially liked how the little ‘control hood’ over the button came out – it’s my favorite part of the cover.”

Initially bright and shiny, the watch cover underwent a prominent surface treatment after being 3D printed. “I waited a few days then said ‘What the hell’ and dumped it in a solution of liver of Sulphur and hot water,” Burnich explains. “The surface changed pretty much instantaneously from shiny coppery orange to a matte charcoal black. There was no going back now.”

The newly oxidized watch cover required some precise Dremel work. Burnich wanted the case to look aged but also well taken care of, like a real piece of industrial machinery would be back in the 19th century. Once satisfied with the amount of tinkering, Burnich applied some Renaissance Wax to the cover in order to protect the patina.

The result is a unique watch cover that showcases Burnich’s quirky personality alongside his passion for art and technology. Whether you’re a steam punk or just an Apple Watch owner looking for something different, Burnich’s creation offers an old world charm that is both memorable and captivating.

The 3D printed watch cover can be purchased on Burnich’s Etsy shop. More details are available on the maker’s website.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Jeremy Burnich wrote at 2/4/2017 6:22:15 PM:

Hey, thanks for the writeup on my Apple Watch cover!

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