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Best part of 2016, right here. [Image: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]

I won’t argue that 2016 was not the most splendid year. While no year – or month, or day, even – is exempt from violence and tragedy across the world, there seemed to be an excess of it last year. Politics reached an absurd level in more than one country, and every good celebrity died. Okay, not all of them, but 2016 seemed especially brutal, neatly bookended by the losses of David Bowie and Carrie Fisher. Come on.

While the media and general Internet community (often hilariously) ran with the theme of “good riddance, 2016” as the New Year approached, I also noticed the appearance of multiple opinion pieces urging us all to think of the good things that happened in 2016, because for many people, there was still a lot to be thankful for. I can personally point to a few highlights, and one of them was that my beloved Cleveland Cavaliers won the world championship for the first time in history.

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[Image: Cleveland Cavaliers]

If you’re not a sports nut – or an obsessively resentful Ohioan – you may not know just how long it had been since a major Cleveland sports team won a championship, but it had been a long, long time. Half a century long, as a matter of fact, so the Cavs’ comeback victory over the Golden State Warriors was a huge deal, and a brilliantly shining bright spot for Cleveland.

And speaking of brilliantly shining, have you seen those championship rings? They’re mesmerizing – and gigantic. In fact, they’re the heaviest NBA championship rings ever made, at 165 grams, and there are over 400 diamonds on each one. A piece of jewelry like that takes a lot of work to fabricate. I never gave any thought to how championship rings were made before (having no reason to, in my entire lifetime), but the process that Baron Championship Rings uses to fabricate their glittering jewels is a fascinating one, and one that relies heavily on 3D printing.

cavs-twitter-ad-67ddea73773c87239670e89bffeb64a7_originalThe company recently released a video showing how the Cavs championship ring was crafted; you can watch it below. Creating a championship ring is no simple task; there’s an immense amount of detail in the design. Not only does the design include the year and the team name and logo, it’s customized to each player with name and number, and includes numerous other details like the etching of the city skyline.

So how do you get all of that meticulous detail into one piece of jewelry – and in a reasonable amount of time? By using 3D printing, of course. Once the design is sketched, it’s then turned into a 3D model and printed in wax, which is used to cast the final metal piece. Baron has been using 3D printing in their manufacturing process for a while now, and the technology has numerous benefits, the company explains.

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According to Baron, 3D printing speeds production by 30% without compromising the detail or integrity of the design. While older processes require that rings be crafted in multiple pieces and in standard sizes, resulting in the need for resizing and a tendency for the shape to warp. With 3D printing, each ring can be manufactured in one piece and in custom sizes, with no limit to the level of detail and customization that can be offered.

“Through the last few years there’s been some great leaps in the technology, and…using 3D printing really allows you to get off the standard even more than before,” the ring’s designer explains in the video. “It allows you to make basically anything that comes to mind now. You’re not restricted to just attacking the design from one dimension anymore. You’re allowed to spin it; you’re allowed to think upside down, inside out, whatever it takes to get the perfect ring made.”

And the Cavs’ championship ring is pretty perfect, in my opinion. Discuss in the Cavs Championship forum at 3DPB.com.

 

 

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