- Pros and cons of 3D printing in jewellery production
A unique millegrain ring, jewels inspired by nature or the engagement ring of your dreams, all in silver, gold, titanium or platinum. Nowadays the demand for tailor made jewellery can be met because of innovative 3D printers. Such highly detailed jewellery or works of art are often difficult or even impossible to realize, even for experienced jewellers. 3D printers are an interesting alternative for this purpose.
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3D printing has a hard time in the worldwide trade
But the technology of 3D printing still has a catch. Consumers have not yet embraced this innovative technology, and not without reason. In contrast to traditional craftsmanship, where each piece of jewellery has lovingly made by hand, 3D printing has the feel of mechanical mass production. Also, at the moment, the price of jewellery made using 3D printers is still too high. However, you can find various collections online which showcase the new possibilities this technology has to offer.
According to the suppliers of 3D printed jewellery, 3D printing primarily appeals to jewellery lovers who want to create their own unique piece of jewellery. However, the demand is still too low. For this reason, some 3D printing companies have collaborated with well-known designers, models and YouTube stars, to sell their 3D printed jewellery collections.
Retail chains as competitors for 3D printers
The companies that originally specialised in printing jewellery have changed the way in which the technology is used. Now, the finished jewel itself is not printed, but rather a prototype of said jewel. This prototype is then used to make a mould, in which the molten precious metal is poured to cast the actual jewel. The prototype can serve as a template for all the similar jewels to follow.
This way, fast-moving trends can be picked up immediately and even the most difficult designs can be realized.
Completely new designs are now possible
A different way of making jewellery is the so-called DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering). In this process, a laser beam is used to remove layer after layer of precious metal, until an actual piece of jewellery is formed. The company EOS in Krailling near Munich is currently regarded as a leader in this field.
The company also cooperates with the automotive industry, the aviation industry and the medical industry. In the display cases of the EOS showrooms you will find teeth, injection nozzles for engines and millegrain jewellery, among other things.
Lighter and cheaper - 3D printed jewellery
Jewellery pieces made using 3D printers can be produced much cheaper, lighter and, above all, more resources-friendly, as the jewel can be made hollow inside. This also has a certain disadvantage, because in contrast to classical production, this can create structural weaknesses which can affect the durability of the jewellery.
Using 3D printers, special design ideas such as movable and hollow jewellery, can be created, which would not be possible with conventional working methods. In mass production, on the other hand, the process currently fails due to its high costs.
Overall, 3D printing is an interesting innovation that enriches the jewellery market but cannot be seen as a long-term replacement for traditional jewellery