For our industry, it’s hard to imagine what could be more inspiring than writing about lives miraculously changed through 3D printing. With the advent of many significant new innovations in medicine, and in 3D printing, we see small products like titanium spinal implants making an enormous difference for patients, as well as the use of medical models and guides used for assistance in surgeries—and often allowing procedures that were not possible previously. We see stunning breakthroughs for the aerospace and automotive industries, as well as in research labs that really are teetering magnificently on that cutting edge, using technology to create everything from bioprinted capillaries to human organs that may one day help save people from those perilously long transplant waiting lists.
Those are all incredibly important topics that we never want to miss knowing about, as well as highlighting; however, sometimes we just need to kick back and enjoy something refreshing like oh…jewelry! From the most inexpensive to those bearing precious gems and made with precious metals, the 3D printing industry in regards to jewelry can be a fascinating place in which to work—and if you are a consumer, just dwell. With the acceleration of 3D printing into the mainstream, the jewelry industry overall was one of the first to embrace it—and firmly so.
And while the US has certainly remained at the top in terms of 3D printing and certainly in areas like jewelry, it hasn’t taken long for the rest of the world to sit up and notice. From 3D printing service bureaus that offer stylish, elegant designs, to 3D jewelry printers wowing us with speed and a range of features—there are few limits in what you can make from the desktop, or order out for. You can even use fun and simple jewelry apps that allow you to make something in mere minutes, and personalize it as well.
We see new designs as well as software, hardware, and apps coming from nearly every corner of the world, but it sounds as if Australia is really hitting the 3D printers hard lately when it comes to making jewelry prototypes—and especially in the boutiques. These manufacturers have found a high-tech way to produce high-quality engagement and wedding rings on the high end.
As 3D printing allows for the maximum in customization, those shopping for jewelry are seeking out designers and jewelers who can both create and produce the rings—and other pieces—of their dreams. There’s been an increase in this type of activity over the last five years, according to industry analyst IBISWorld.
The client base for this jewelry isn’t exactly budget seeking either. Those earning higher incomes in Australia are seeking out ways to find quality jewelry that they can have personalized. Designers and jewelers who can offer more intense customization services are the ones who are staying on top in a competitive market.
“That’s basically due to increased consumer demand for handmade unique products particularly for engagement rings and wedding rings,” said IBISWorld analyst Nick Tarrant.
3D printing works to the advantage of both the jeweler and the consumer in the areas of speed and customization.
“It allows them to produce a prototype in a short time frame and they can mold it to their design. They can adapt and refine that easily for the customer,” said Tarrant.
While prototypes do aid in and speed up the process, they may not always make it more affordable. In any case, revenues in jewelry manufacturing are continuing to rise. According to IBSWorld, they have been growing at a rate of about 3.5 percent per year, currently sitting at $2.3 billion. The high numbers come into play due to less mass production and more expensive, fine jewelry produced on the smaller scale. Most Australian manufacturers in the costume and fashion jewelry sector have to rely on boutiques as their strong point, as the alternative is highly challenging.
“With a lot of manufacturing industries in Australia, they’re facing a lot of import competition from these low-cost overseas manufacturers in China and throughout Asia that have lower overheads and can mass produce products for much cheaper than they can in Australia,” said Tarrant, explaining that many have left the industry due to pressure from other companies like China.
It’s expected that because of the strength other manufacturers show overseas in pumping out lower-cost, high-production pieces, jewelers in Australia will continue to flounder with traditional practices. The depreciation of the AUD has allowed for more exports, and time will be a telling factor in how that revenue continues to grow, with an almost seven per cent year-on-year growth over the past five years. IBISWorld expects to see Australian jewelry revenues increasing by 2.2 per cent over the next five years to reach $2.6 billion.
“I think, even with the low Australian dollar, the manufacturers of fashion/costume jewellery will continue to be under significant price pressure from firms from overseas,” said Tarrant, explaining that tariff reductions due to free grade agreements with China will help significantly as well—and especially in diamond jewelry.
It will be interesting to see how the use of 3D design and 3D printing are emphasized further in the coming years within Australia as more manufacturers—of all sizes—realize the benefits to be gleaned from 3D printing, from the self-sustainability and customization angles, to that of speed and versatility in materials. Discuss further over in the Australia Jewelers Use 3D Printing forum at 3DPB.com.[Source: aap]
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