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NASA Engineer Designs an Original 3D Printed Engagement Ring for a Very Personal Proposal

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3D printed jewelry is such a big hit because it’s customized and personalized — adding much sentimental value to something that is already pretty sentimental. If you think about it, jewelry is used for many occasions: to recognize a special right of passage, as birth month stones, for graduations, and other special occasions. But by and large, engagement and wedding rings have the most significance in our society. They are expected to be special, unique, andring2 represent the marrying couple’s love in a unique way. There can be a lot of pressure to pick out the “right” wedding ring!

When NASA engineer Nghia Vuong decided to propose to his girlfriend and get her a ring, the scientist in him had many questions. And the Internet wasn’t answering them to his liking. As he explains in a blog post, he wanted to know:

“How much should the ring cost? 3-months salary?!?! Of course, this is just one opinion, probably originated from the companies that make these rings. I understand; I’m not going to judge marketing effectiveness and corporate manipulation. I had to get above it somehow. 3-months salary? Is that before or after taxes? After all, if an object is suddenly fixed at percent of earnings, then it might as well get thrown into the tax calculations.”

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Vuong grew frustrated with the store selection process as well, and reasoned that, since he’s an engineer and already designs spacecraft and computers, he shouldn’t have a problem designing his fiancée-to-be’s engagement ring. And after researching all aspects of what makes a ring a ring — light and the gem’s radial size — he came up with a formula for the stone’s specifications for cut, color, clarity, and carat.

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Having already been well-versed in Solidworks, he decided to use the program to design the ring. He found out his girlfriend’s ring size, and the next step was to know how the ring would be manufactured since that decision effects the ring diameter. Here he explains why he decided to go with 3D printing:

“Seriously speaking, the only way that I was going to avoid having to buy a rather long list of equipment for a very short term use was to utilize 3D printing technology. Let’s just say I shopped around and looked at a lot of printing sources. The one I ended up using was Shapeways. The reason for this is the technical information. If I was going to design my own ring, I needed data on the printing process. This site has the data for me to do that kind of planning. Price was a factor, and it became a trade-off as to what I wanted to pick.”

So Shapeways it was! As he explains in his blog post/technical memorandum, the design process had many challenges, and he learned a ton in the process.  It appears that he never quite expected that designing and 3D printing an engagement ring would be such an arduous task. But it was.  As you can see from the final product, my guess is that it was well worth it. I’m sure it made his now-fiancée very happy to know he was that committed to designing her something truly special.

“I hope that it helps others get the ring that they want!” the designer told 3DPrint.com. He went on, telling us, “Here are CAD models for a baseline prototype ring that you can upload to your site for others to use to jump start their own project”

Vuong’s design files for the base prototype are available here if anyone is interested in crafting their own ring.

What are your thoughts on this very unique and personalized engagement ring? Let us know in the 3D Printed Ring forum thread on 3DPB.com.ring3

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Test print using blue tanzanite stones

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[Photos: Nghia Vuong]

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