3D Printing is Poised to Shake Up the Jewelry Industry

3D Printing is Poised to Shake Up the Jewelry Industry

3D printing is changing the way we think about manufacturing in many industries, and now it seems Jewelry is no exception to the trend. Lionel Theodore Dean, a designer whose projects range in subject from cars to motorcycles to light fixtures, has made the first-ever line of precious-metal jewelry that was created wholly via 3D printer.

His collection, called Precious, was designed by Dean and brought to life by a printer known as the Precious M 080. The collection is made with 18 carat gold, and is the product of a collaborative effort between Dean, a software company called Delcam, and precious metals supplier Cooksongold. The project was recently unveiled by Birmingham City University’s School of Jewelry.

When asked why he’s chosen to shift gears into jewelry design, Dean has said that it’s nearly impossible to duplicate the type of designs that he has produced using the old method of wax or metal casting. While many jewelers use 3D printers to print the casts used to create their jewelry, very few of them are directly printing their work in precious metal.

Since the metals used to print Dean’s pieces are so expensive, even in their dust form, it’s important that the printer and the operator work gently and precisely to create the pieces. So, Dean and his partners built a printer specifically for this project. They didn’t want to run the risk of any gold dust getting lost in the machine’s crevices or getting blown away by accident!

The collection features sculptured pieces and lattice-work that would be difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate in a cast. He also likes to work with customers directly to recreate pieces that meant a lot to them in the past, but need updating in order to be fashionably worn in the modern world.

Dean and his partners created a software program that allows a user to render jewelry designs that can then be 3D printed.  Both Dean and Delcam, the software developer who consulted on this project, hope that the software will be available to consumers someday. Wouldn’t it be cool to design your own jewelry at home, and then have it printed in the precious metal of your choosing?

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