Want to learn how to 3D print jewelry? Read our easy guide for beginners to get started.
Jewelry making is one of the oldest professions. For the ancients, jewelry had a very different value than it has for us today. They believed that jewelry had a magical meaning, that is, it protected them from evil spells, chagrin, and even physical attacks.
In part, this tradition has survived to this day.
Nevertheless, even in such traditional areas of production, digital technologies have started to be applied.
If you want to learn how to 3D print jewelry, this article is for you.
How to 3D Print Jewelry
As always, when it comes to 3D printing, the first step is to create a 3D model.
Many jewelers create digital 3D models in specialized programs, such as Rhinoceros, Magics and ZBrush. We will not dwell here in detail on the features of each of these programs. However, it is important to understand that these software require some training to get started with them.
You can also make 3D models by reverse engineering an existing piece of jewelry. In this case, a 3D model is obtained by scanning, revising and then creating a new model. Reverse engineering comes into play at different times. For example, if you lose one of your two earrings and the need to create a copy of the original model, you can apply reverse engineering.
While you may have one earring, you don’t have its 3D model. This means you have to create the model from scratch. A 3D scanner can help with this.
You can use a 3D scanner to scan the earring, process it, and then print the model that you will use to make a casting from.
he complexity of making the earring from scratch is thereby significantly reduced. In addition, you can be sure that even small parts will be accurately printed.
There are several 3D printing technologies. The technologies are different in the way they form the 3D model and the material they use for printing.
The technologies best suited for jewelry making are resin SLA/DLP/LCD 3D printing and MJP 3D wax printing. These two methods allow you to create models with high detail and accuracy.
With SLA/DLP/LCD technology, a liquid photopolymer resin hardens under the influence of a light source to form a model. The difference in the name of the technology reflects the way this process takes place:
- SLA – using a laser
- DLP – using a projector lamp
- LCD – using an LCD matrix
Each technology has its pros and cons. We will not go into detail on the technologies are there are already many good articles on them.
Best Resin for 3D Printing Jewelry
The most popular materials for jewelers are fired resins. If you want to use this resin, pay attention to the percentage of ash after burning and the original purpose of the material. This is because there are burnable resins for dentists and jewelers. The resins used by dentists are harsher, and the resins used by jewelers often contain wax.
When buying a resin 3D printer for jewelry, keep in mind that after printing, the models need post-processing. The first step is to rinse them in industrial alcohol to remove resin residues. This can be done manually in a bath with alcohol. However, we recommend using a special ultrasonic cleaner, which copes with this task as quickly and efficiently as possible.
A UV camera is needed to re-illuminate the model after printing. This gives the model additional strength. If you don’t have a UV camera, you can place the model in the sun or in a household nail drying chamber. However, the disadvantage of this is that the process can take from 12 hours to a day. On the other hand, in a UV camera, the process takes 10-15 minutes.
One of the UV cameras we recommend is the Wanhao Boxman-1 UV camera.
AVAILABLE ON WANHAO
Another option is the UNIZ UC-4120 ultrasonic cleaner.
AVAILABLE ON ALIBABA
At the same time, perhaps, the main advantage of resin 3D printers is their relatively low price and high performance. The cost of resin for printing is also affordable.
If you want to 3D print jewelry with wax using MJP technology, then you will get a higher degree of detail for geometrically complex models that have a layer thickness of up to 16 microns. However, you will still need to post-process the models.
With the help of a special solution, the supports are removed, and then the model is dried. When printing with wax, there are two types of materials used:
- harder (melting at a temperature of about 70 ° C) – a model wax for printing a product
- softer or fusible one – to create supports.
An example of a printer that prints using wax is FlashForge WaxJet 400.
AVAILABLE ON FLASHFORGE
Here are examples of jewelry printed using wax.
Choosing a Jewelry 3D printer
When choosing a 3D printer for jewelry, you should pay attention to various things. These include the construction area, printing speed, the ability to use different resins, and the slicer.
A slicer is a program that converts a 3D model into a print file. This file contains information that tells the printer how the model will be physically printed, its layer thickness, how long each layer will be exposed, and how the slicer will form the structure of the supports.
Supports are additions to a 3D model that allow it to print normally. The final print result will largely depend on the quality and number of supports.
Before buying a printer, you can download various slicers and see which one is more intuitive for you. Each manufacturer supplies its own slicer. However, the slice provided may not always be the best option. You can use another free or paid slicer if the printer manufacturer allows it.
If you are a beginner in 3D printing, you can choose a 3D printer based on budget. Apart from this, calculate the cost of subsequent ownership (i.e., the cost of resins, print tanks, replacement films and LCD matrices that the printer will use).
In skillful hands, a budget 3D printer works wonders. In inexperienced hands, even the most sophisticated machine will only be a beautiful addition to your workshop or office but won’t provide the results you expect.
Best 3D Printers for Jewelry Making
In this section, we’ll look at the best 3D printers for jewelry making.
To begin, we have the Phrozen Shuffle 4K, which is equipped with a 4K sensor and is capable of creating models with high detail and high-quality of the finished surface.
AVAILABLE ON TOP3DSHOP
There’s also the UNIZ Slash 2 3D printer, which combines high printing speed with a 4K matrix and a host of additional functions, such as auto-refilling of resin, a built-in webcam and a large print area.
Also worth noticing is the FormLabs Form 3 SLA 3D printer , which, together with additional options and specially created resins for jewelers, is a complete solution for this industry.
Best Wax Resin 3D Printers for Jewelry
Among wax printers, two American companies stand out. First, there is SolidScape, the pioneer of this industry, and its SolidScape S300 and S500 series. However, keep in mind that this equipment is not very productive.
Next, we have 3D Systems and its ProJet MJP 2500W. This printer is more productive but it is also more expensive. Before purchasing such equipment, make a series of test prints to get familiar with it. Also, make estimates of the cost and quality of the final product.
The above is an overview of how to get started with 3D printing jewelry.