3D printers for jewelers: Formlabs applications
April 18, 2016 in Case study
Isaac’s Fine Jewelry
In Isaac Cohen’s workshop, there are tools for every part of the jewelry-making process: sketches pile on his mahogany desk, a desktop 3D printer (Form 2) and an electroplating machine sit on a nearby table, and finishing tools clutter his workbench. The tiny room is brimming with evidence of the hard work that has made his business a mainstay in Boca Raton, Florida for over 30 years.
Engaging the Client with 3D Printing for jewelers
At 4 am, Isaac is still working in his studio, adding the final touches to a custom ring. For each piece, he begins by hand-sketching the client’s idea and transferring the concept to CAD. With his Form 2 SLA 3D printer, he prints multiple rings at once so that the client can try on the same design in different proportions. These try-on rings give Isaac’s customers a deeper sense of ownership over the design process.
He explains, “You’ve got to have the right size ring for the right sized hand. If it’s well-proportioned, it looks way better.”
Before 3D printing, Isaac was limited to hand-carved waxes or expensive prototypes from service bureaus.
Hand-carving was tedious and imperfect; it was impossible to achieve a consistent, symmetrical shape by hand.
Now, 3D printing with Castable Resin on the Form 2 has made it easy for Isaac to create flawless jewelry.
He explains, “You have to offer your customers the highest degree of quality on your products. The only way to achieve that is by giving them perfection.”
In pursuit of this perfection, Isaac is involved in every step of the design process. But for him, it’s all worth it: “I have a passion in this business. I like what I do. And they say if you like what you do, it’s not really work—it’s enjoyment. 3D printing has brought that to a new level.”
ORIGINAL ARTICLE ON FORMLABS.COM
Golden Century Casting
Not every family business adapts to new technology. Unlike the typical family-owned casting house, Golden Century Casting uses modern technology to make its tried-and-true services even better. For over 30 years, Golden Century has offered a full range of jewelry production services, including CAD design, casting, finishing, and setting.
They specialize in fine custom jewelry for clients ranging from independent retailers to private designer labels and international brands.
When General Manager Jacob Yoon and his team first began to cast 3D printed rings, they had mixed results.
“Casting photopolymer resin was definitely a monkey wrench that was thrown into the manufacturing process.” For fine jewelry, it’s essential to find materials that completely leave the mold during burnout. Because some photopolymers often fail to work as claimed, Jacob didn’t have high expectations for Formlabs resin. However, he says, “I was really pleasantly surprised about Formlabs resin performance when it comes to casting. It burnt out very well.”
Beyond producing professional results, working with Formlabs 3D printers for jewelers, resin expands the number of clients that casting houses like Golden Century can serve. Jacob says, “Technology has forever changed this industry. I would say 99% of the stuff we create now has been 3D printed.”
Now, jewelry designers working with Golden Century can produce their own castable designs on Formlabs 3D printers and send them in for casting, gem setting, and finishing.
With throughput of over 50 rings every 10 hours, the Form 2 brings a new level of automation and efficiency to the jewelry manufacturing industry.
Jacob explains, “The advantage of using 3D printers for jewelry manufacturing is that when you design something, you press print and have it the next day.” The benefits include not only speed and quantity, but also quality. He says that with traditional wax modeling, “you can never make the right side of a shank look exactly like the left side of the shank by hand.”
Whether for one piece or a run of a thousand, 3D printing brings detail and consistency to a new generation of jewelers.