i.materialise takes their gold very seriously. A precious metal held dear by those who both make and wear jewelry, as well as a highly valued currency held in esteem for centuries, it is a resource to be handled with respect.
Dense and incredibly malleable, gold is a versatile metal also often manipulated into other hues, such as white gold, but this is not done without some complexities, as i.materialise is currently tackling while they continue to refine their own gold program within their 3D printing marketplace. Famous for the many options they offer their users in making 3D printing accessible to everyone whether they are designers or customers, the Belgian company began expanding their gold inventory earlier this year with 14K gold. The use of gold is extremely popular in the 3D printing industry as a finish, along with its variations.
Presented along with their existing 18K options, i.materialise has made it a goal for the materials to be pristine, as well as affordable. Not without challenge, they’ve taken feedback upon releasing the 14K gold option and as the best businesses will do, they have used it wisely in terms of their white, red, and yellow gold options.
“When it comes to gold, i.materialise always was a forerunner,” says the team in their blog. “In February this year we announced the launch of 18K gold next to our existing 14K option. In June we reduced prices and managed to make production two days faster.”
The title of the i.materialise blog says it all: “We listened to your feedback.” It’s what we want to hear as a fairly immediate response from a vendor, and makes a world of difference not only in customer perception but also in sales. Jewelry is built around not just artfulness and style–but primarily quality, and the status resulting therein.
As they worked to integrate new options, i.materialise also began working with an age-old issue: white gold. Also measured in karats and composed of gold and another alloy, white gold offers a variation on the precious metal at a more affordable price usually. While the previous white gold options met with success, the team was aware that a number of customers were not pleased with the original white gold option, so they searched for something better.
White gold is generally achieved through the use of rhodium plating, but i.materialise wanted to use a different process to reach a higher quality of white gold that would endure without requiring maintenance. Settling on palladium, the team has been able to produce a better finish for 3D printing, also allowing for a white gold that is actually white.
With palladium, the use of nickel–a source of irritating allergic reactions for many–has been eliminated as well. Their current gold material offers solid gold mixed with the alloy.
“This is not a thin veneer, but rather your entire jewel will be made of 14k or 18k solid gold,” says the i.materialise team on their materials page specific to gold.
Old formula for white gold
- 14K white gold contained 58.5% gold, 34.04% silver, 4.15% copper, and 3.32% zinc.
- 18K white gold contained 75.2% gold, 21.6% silver, 1.2% copper, and 2% zinc.
New formula for white gold
- 14K white gold now contains 58.5% gold, 17.43% silver, 10.79% palladium, 9.13% copper, and 4.15% zinc.
- 18K white gold now contains 75.2% gold, 10.42% silver, 6.45% palladium, 5.46% copper, and 2% zinc.
If you are a designer interested in working with gold, i.materialise also invites you to enter their current design contest. This challenge, running through September 30th, invites designers to use RhinoGold, a CAD software developed specifically for 3D design of jewelry. Those entering the Jewelry Challenge in Collaboration with RhinoGold can submit as many 3D jewelry renderings as they would like, for rings, pendants, earrings, cufflinks, and any other pieces of jewelry.
Winners receive their designs in 3D print (in silver or gold), as well as a subscription to RhinoGold, a goody bag from i.materialise and a free ticket to the 3D Printshow in Paris from October 16-17.
Discuss your thoughts on using a gold finish for your 3D printed items in the i.materialise New White Gold Options for 3D Printing forum thread over at 3DPB.com.