Aug. 7, 2014

More companies in Asia are beginning to embrace 3D printing as the price of 3D printers drop dramatically. Early 3D printing was used mostly by manufacturers and designers to build prototypes. Over the past couple of years, the technology has begun to spread to the service sectors.

Back in April this year, JewelDistrict, a Seoul, Korea based startup launched its 3D printing service specializing in printing precious metal jewelry. To work with JewelDistrict, you first upload your 3D model and select your desired material and finishes. JewelDistrict will then review your 3D model to make sure it can be 3D printed. Your 3D model is then printed using wax for lost-wax casting. The 3D printed wax model is turned into a rough casting in silver or brass. JewelDistrict offers also different options in terms of surface finishes, plating, and stone setting.

According to the company's CEO, Sungdo Lee, 3D printing technology has the greatest potential to dramatically change the jewelry industry. This is because while most 3D printed products are limited to decorative purposes only, 3D printed jewelry is readily wearable. Jewelry designers can create geometrically complex designs that can only be achieved by 3D printing.

This week JewelDistrict launched a molding service for customers who require batch production of their models in a cost- and time efficient way.

"Molding and Casting" is a widely used process in jewelry making. JewelDistrict explains that producing wax models of your designs using a rubber mold is faster and less expensive than 3D printing each wax model individually. It also provides better surface quality of your jewelry.

"Making a piece using a mold costs 25~50% less than making it through 3D printing." notes JewelDistrict. " The savings in unit production costs cover the cost of making a mold when you produce more than 3~5 pieces of the same model."

"3D printing 5 pieces of highly polished silver jewelry (volume 1.0 cm3) costs you $335, while molding costs you only $244.50, i.e. 27% less."

Here is an example of the cost of making 5 pieces of highly polished silver jewelry (volume 1.0 cm3) using different methods:

  • 3D Printing: 5 x $67 = $335.00
  • Molding: $47.5 for moldmaking + 5 x $39.40 = $244.50 (27% cheaper)

How JewelDistrict makes a mold

JewelDistrict first makes a fully finished original master using 3D printing, casting and polishing. Then they make a rubber mold from the 3D master. Customers can place orders to make their pieces using the mold. To those who are eager to try out the molding service, JewelDistrict offers a 10% discount on all molding orders until 15 August. Discount code: Molding10

The company says that they will soon offer a variety of stone setting options, including genuine birthstones, Swarovski gems created stones and crystal pearls by Swarovski elements. JewelDistrict is also planning to launch a marketplace for 3D printed jewelry where designer can sell their design directly to customers and JewelDistrict will take care of production and shipping.

Posted in 3D Printing Services

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