Desktop Metal has qualified 925 sterling silver for 3D printing on its Production System platform, including both the P-1 and P-50 – offering jewelry and luxury goods manufacturers one of the fastest ways to directly 3D print high-quality jewelry and accessories such as watches, belt buckles, decorative hardware for handbags, etc.
Desktop Metal is also fast-tracking the development of additional precious metal alloys this year, including 18K yellow gold, with active research and development underway on rose gold. Desktop Metal and its ETEC polymer brand have a long history of partnering with major jewelry producers around the world such as Cartier, Stuller, Shinola, and Swarovski.
“The qualification of precious metals for direct 3D printing on high-speed binder jetting systems is a major milestone for the jewelry and luxury goods industry,” said Ric Fulop, Founder, and CEO of Desktop Metal. “All the design freedom and customization of 3D printing can now be delivered directly at high volumes without all of the labor associated with traditional manufacturing processes. What’s more, this new direct 3D printing innovation builds on the established legacy of our ETEC brand, which has been a leader in 3D printers for lost-wax casting models for more than a decade — making us the unparalleled leader in comprehensive additive manufacturing solutions for the jewelry and luxury goods market.”
To advance the technology and materials needed to bring world-class 3D printing quality, productivity, and economics to the demanding luxury goods and jewelry market, Desktop Metal is partnering with two leaders in precious metals powder and parts production: Formula 3D Corporation, founded by Christian Tse of Christian Tse Designs & Manufacturing Inc. for the U.S. market, and Neoshapes for the international market. Both of these collaborations aim to enable the luxury goods and jewelry markets to adopt metal binder jetting processes to produce end-use parts in precious metals, steels, and more.
Formula 3D Corporation offers designers and manufacturers an end-to-end solution for 3D printing precious metals (now including sterling silver) – from the designing to the finished pieces, using the Desktop Metal Production System P-1.
“Desktop Metal’s Production System adds extraordinary value to our existing jewelry manufacturing processes, increasing efficiency of production, getting new designs to market faster, and offering our customers greater versatility and multiple styling options. We can actually print in precious metals in two hours what we do in two days with casting,” said Christian Tse. “In addition, creating jewelry with binder jetting is allowing us to consider new options to circumvent some of the supply chain challenges facing the fine jewelry industry. We can bypass shipping delays and mounting costs, as well as avoid duties, by printing the precious silver directly, as opposed to shipping the physical metal.”
Neoshapes, a Swiss company based in Geneva, founded by experienced executives in the luxury goods industry, offers everything from the production and supply of powder, to the printing and post-processing of precious metals components, as well as consultancy services to enable industry players to easily transition their production processes to binder jet technology.
“Binder jetting opens up new perspectives for the luxury industry, even more now with the qualification of precious metal alloys, giving further leverage to develop and produce creative products from a single file, leaping forward into the digital supply chain. The time to market for new creative products is also reduced considerably, allowing brands to better meet demand while maintaining minimal inventories,” said Stéphane Vigié, co-founder of Neoshapes.
The Production System’s Single Pass Jetting (SPJ) technology, enables jewelers to adopt an entirely digital and agile manufacturing workflow thanks to its high-speed metal 3D printing. Jewelers have greater design flexibility and control, allowing designers and manufacturers to scale new designs, that were previously impossible or difficult to produce, without significant manual labor, for example – chain link bracelets or necklaces, where the links can be 3D printed in place as one piece instead of being manually assembled one link at a time. Jewelers can also leverage AM for localized production of gold, copper, sterling silver and other precious metal jewelry, decreasing the reliance on long lead-time global supply chains.
The benefits of AM for luxury goods and jewelry applications include: customization and design freedom at high volumes (up to tens of thousands of jewelry pieces can be 3D printed on the Production System per day, and manufacturers can produce the same pieces or customized, unique pieces – in a single build), digital inventory offering greater production flexibility (by eliminating time-intensive techniques like casting, manufacturers can iterate and scale new designs easily – once a design is finalized, printing and production can begin immediately. Manufacturers can also establish digital inventories, storing design files digitally to be made on demand, reducing working capital requirements), and significantly reducing waste material through recycling and reusing (the loose powder recovered during the printing and depowdering process can be recycled and reused for subsequent prints, driving further cost efficiencies and reducing material waste).