Digital manufacturing could "reshape the jewellery industry," says designer Lionel T Dean, who has created a collection that is 3D printed in 18 carat gold.
Dean designed the pieces as part of a project called Precious, a collaboration between five companies including software provider Delcam and precious metal supplier Cooksongold, which is aiming to modernise the UK jewellery industry.
The first range, which includes items by Dean and other designers, was unveiled in August at Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery.
"We’re here today to launch our collection of 3D-printed gold artefacts to demonstrate to the UK jewellery industry the potential of 3D printing," Dean explains in the movie. "Additive manufacturing with metal allows you to create forms that would be almost impossible to create by conventional means."
While the jewellery industry has used 3D printing to create moulds for a long time, Dean says it has been much slower to take up printing directly with metal.
"The jewellery industry was one of the early adopters of additive technology, using it in an indirect sense," he says. "So printing waxes and casting from those waxes. It’s been more reluctant to adopt direct metal processes."
One of the reasons for this is the high value of the raw materials. Initially, Dean tried using a regular laser-sintering machine to produce his jewellery, but the wastage was too high. Cooksongold provided a laser-sintering machine called the Precious M080, which it developed together with 3D printer manufacturer EOS specifically for use with precious metals.
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