3D printing in the jewelry making industry is reaching new heights thanks to increased throughput, new materials, and above all, the quality and detail of 3D printed wax casts. From luxurious statement pieces to custom wedding rings, 3D printed jewelry is more exceptional and accessible than ever before.
What we wear says a lot about who we are—especially when it comes to our high-end jewelry. Traditional metal casting is a skilled jewelry making process that dates back centuries and results in truly unique and precious pieces, yet somewhere along the way, we as consumers came to accept mass-produced and standardized goods that say little about who we really are.
3D printing technology is helping to bring us back to the era of one-of-a-kind, artisanal quality goods, but with a distinctly modern twist. Providing extremely high resolution real wax models with crisp details and smooth surfaces, the ProJet MJP 3600W 3D printer allows for fast and precise custom jewelry models, and is elevating and personalizing the jewelry industry like never before.
Complete customization control
The idea behind ‘mass customization’ is that consumers are tired of generic, mass-produced goods. They demand mass personalization instead.
Charles-Olivier Roy, industrial designer and entrepreneur, recognized this trend, and saw that 3D printing was the key to making personalized goods both scalable and sustainable. In 2014, he founded Vowsmith, an online jewelry shop that, using 3D printing technology, allows customers to create custom wedding rings stamped with their beloved’s most unique trait: their fingerprint.
Through Vowsmith, customers can select the ring’s size, shape, type of metal, and even add a diamond or custom engraving. For the fingerprint, they simply make an ink print (using a kit delivered from Vowsmith), take a photo, and upload it to the Vowsmith website. The entire process is done from the comfort of their homes, yet they are in control of the customization every step of the way.
From this point, the data is imported into Vowsmith’s proprietary 3D modeling program. A high-resolution STL file is created and sent directly to the 3D printer, where the cast is additively manufactured from real paraffin wax.
“Most jewelry is bought to express emotion, which brings with it a higher price,” says Roy. “We provide our customers with total control so they can dictate the design, choose the metal and diamond, and create something unique that fits their budget.”
High speed, high precision, 100% RealWax™ casts
From the beginning, Roy knew that his jewelry making business would benefit from 3D printing. Yet it was the ProJet MJP 3600W Max, a professional additive manufacturing machine from industry leader 3D Systems, that helped turn his vision into reality.
3D Systems’ MultiJet Printing technology provides the highest fidelity, truest-to-CAD parts of any jetting 3D printing process. With a build volume of 298 x 185 x 203mm and remarkable print speeds, the MJP 3600W model allows Roy and other jewelry making professionals to enhance their productivity without compromising quality.
In fact, thanks to its ultra-high resolution output (694 x 750 x 1600 DPI; 16μ layers) the 3600W actually improves the level of detail of traditional wax casts.
“The ProJet MJP Series is the keystone of our manufacturing process,” says Roy. “First, it’s a real wax printer. This means that there is no possibility of casting faults due to ashes or a cracked shell due to thermal expansion.”
The VisiJet M3 Prowax material used by the ProJet MJP series can print sharp edges, extremely crisp details and smooth surfaces. Another major advantage is its easy post-processing. Rather than scraping away support structures by hand, or using water jets or chemical baths that could damage delicate details, finishing MJP 3D printed parts is as easy as melting away the paraffin wax.
“We don’t have to spend a second designing support structures for the 3D-printed rings,” says Roy. “We don’t lose productivity due to an unprinted part caused by badly supported areas. We don’t lose time repairing broken support surfaces.”
A Movement in Jewelry Making and Beyond
Mass customization is more than a trend, it’s a movement. Consumers aren’t just interested in being unique for the sake of it; they want their goods to be meaningful and to have a positive impact on the environment. Because each Vowsmith ring is made to order, there is no wasted inventory. Additive manufacturing also uses less material than most traditional methods. What’s more, all of these benefits can expand beyond 3D printed jewelry making to fashion, auto parts, medical devices, collectibles and more.
Currently, Vowsmith can produce a custom order within one week, and Roy expects to sell between 4,000 to 5,000 rings in the next year—but with fine tuning, he believes the process could be cut down to just 72 hours.
Put quite simply: “The ProJet MJP 3500 CPXMax (now available as the ProJet MJP 3600W Max) has a massive build volume, delivers extremely high-resolution prints throughout the build bed, and can print at a speed with which no other equivalent 3D printer can compete,” says Roy. “We compete with mass production where every second counts, so we rely on the ProJet to deliver extremely high-detailed models with consistency at an unmatched yield.”
The benefits of 3D technologies in the jewelry industry are many, from 3D scanning complex geometries, to using 3D modeling software to carefully sculpt unique shapes and textures. 3D printing, however, is where the magic happens and mass customized goods come to life.
The full range of professional and desktop 3D printing options, including those offered by industry leader 3D Systems, is helping to make mass customization a more sustainable and accessible reality for all, one precious, personalized print at a time.