Jewelry has been one of the key markets to see substantial benefit from recent advances within additive manufacturing technologies. Whether it’s the fabrication of polymer based jewelry created by children, or full scale manufacturing of intricate pieces via 3D printing combined with lost wax casting, there is no doubt that these technologies are allowing designers to expand their imaginations.
There has already been a major market for jewelry created with the help of 3D printers. With 3D printing services like Shapeways, some of the hottest selling products are within the jewelry space. With that said, they are not actually 3D printed, but instead, the design is 3D printed in wax, at which point liquid plaster is poured around it. Once the plaster sets, they heat the plaster until the wax melts out, and then use it as a mold for creating the actual jewelry pieces.
Things are changing though, as technologies are improving, while also becoming more efficient. Today, it was announced at the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair 2014 that Cooksongold, which is part of the Heimerle + Meule Group, has teamed with EOS, one of the leaders within the additive manufacturing space, to launch the PRECIOUS M 080 Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) system.
The machine, equipped with a 100-watt fibre laser, which has been designed around the needs of the jewelry and watch industry, promises to change how designers create, and jewelry is fabricated. With additive manufacturing, complexity is free, meaning that it costs just as much to print out a brick of gold as it does an interwoven lattice of thin twirling branches, making up a piece of jewelry. Below are some of the general specifications of the new machine:
- Build Envelope: 80 mm x 100 mm
- Scan Speed: up to 7.0 m/s (23 ft./sec)
- Focus Diameter: Less than 30 μm
- Power consumption maximum 2.3 kW
- External Gas Supply: 4.000 hPa; 50 l/min (58 psi; 1.8 ft³/min)
- Dimensions (B x D x H): 800 mm x 950 mm x 1850 mm
- Printer Weight: 580 kg
Dr. Adrian Keppler, Chief Marketing Officer at EOS states: “This AM process introduces an innovative, paradigm shifting technology to the luxury goods industry. With Cooksongold we found the perfect partner for the extension of our technology into this industry. Additive Manufacturing paves the way for a completely new approach towards design and manufacturing, enabling design-driven manufacturing the industry has long been searching for.”
The PRECIOUS M 080 DMLS system uses special gas atomized alloys developed specifically for their machine, but can be adapted to work with any laser sintering machine on the market, according to Cooksongold. One material example is an 18k gold alloy consisting of 75.10% gold, 12.48% silver along with copper, which is offered by the company. Such a material allows for complex gold jewelry and watches to be created without the delays associated with casting and molding techniques of the past.
“The DMLS technology challenges a designer’s imagination and enables the creation of jewellery and watch components that previously would have been impossible to successfully manufacture,” stated David Fletcher, European Product Manager, Cooksongold. “AM will change the economics of producing watch and jewellery products by offering a streamlined manufacturing process that dramatically reduces the time required from design conception to final part realization. DMLS will also enable the production of design driven pieces that are not limited by the restrictions of conventional production techniques such as lost wax casting.”
Cooksongold is also working diligently to develop materials in addition to gold, which can be utilized by designers to fabricate a variety of creative jewelry pieces. Along with dealing directly with clients to sell and install the PRECIOUS M 080, they will also partake in training their clients on the machine, selling the materials used within the machine, and providing the licenses and software required.
Let us know what you think this new 3D printer could mean for the jewelry industry as a whole. Discuss in the PRECIOUS M 080 forum thread on 3DPB.com. Below is a short video about the Precious M 080.