Most of us are familiar with 3D printers, but we typically limit the use of technology to gadgets, DIY tools, and decoration pieces. While 3D printers are excellent, certain lesser-explored areas have great commercial benefits.
You may think we’re talking about large-scale construction, but things are not as advanced on that front. Thus, this article will discuss 3D printed jewelry, an aspect of 3D printing that does not offer as fierce competition as others. You have the opportunity to capitalize on this growing market and make your brand a household name.
In this article, let’s talk about the benefits, creative possibilities, and how to get started with 3D-printed jewelry.
Advantages of 3D Printed Jewelry
3D-printed jewelry is undoubtedly the future of the industry. Start-ups and established jewelry makers have incorporated 3D-printed designs in their inventories. Papa+Belle, Titan Jewelry, Melorra, and Mizaroh are some such brands. The reason why brands are turning to 3D-printed jewelry is that it is advantageous; some of those benefits include the following;
1. Freedom of Design
Designing jewelry via traditional methods is complex, which puts a cap on creativity. 3D printers work around it by allowing designers to express their creativity through modeling applications.
Furthermore, there are no technical barriers to materializing 3D models that are otherwise impossible with traditional methods. You can create complex jewelry designs using master pattern material, castable resins, and print-in wax from advanced 3D printing systems.
2. Ease of Customization
Customization is one of the most challenging aspects of manufacturing jewelry via traditional means. You must redesign molds and use various instruments to create a customized design.
However, it becomes simple when you use 3D printers. Some tweaks on the digital designs will create customized designs according to the client’s requirements. Since it does not take much labor, instruments, and other resources involved in traditional manufacturing, the overall cost also comes down.
3. Direct Manufacturing and Finishing
Traditional manufacturing typically involves the creation of mold in which material is cast to adapt the shape. While 3D printers allow you to create a mold, they also enable direct manufacturing from the jewelry materials such as silver, bronze, and brass.
Thus, you no longer have to create the molds first to create a design. It saves you time and money, which is vital for small businesses trying to find their feet in the industry.
4. Reducing Manufacturing Time
The traditional manufacturing of jewelry is time-taking and quite complex. You must create the mold and pour metals inside it to create a rough shape. It is then subjected to different machines for finishing and incorporating luster into the pieces.
On the other hand, you only have to feed the metal to a 3D printer and design the jewelry on CAD applications to get jewelry that would not have as extensive post-production as its traditional counterparts. It will shorten manufacturing time and reduce expenses, enabling you to price your products more competitively and generate more sales.
The Creative Possibilities of 3D Printed Jewelry
3D printers put no cap on creativity; whatever you conceive can be materialized by this technology. You can experiment with different shapes, designs, and materials to create unique designs that stand out. For example, with traditional manufacturing, there is no sure way to assess whether a design is feasible until you create it.
Often, new designs undergo extensive post-production and lose their uniqueness in the process.
With the 3D printers, things are in complete contrast. You can create a design in CAD applications and simulate it to determine its feasibility. Furthermore, traditional manufacturing is not experiment friendly, requiring you to repeatedly use the same designs with small changes.
Again, 3D-printed jewelry is quite the contrary because you can create a different design for each piece of jewelry in a batch.
Typically, jewelry is created via mold, which warrants mass production of one type of design. Since 3D printers eliminate the need for mold, you can create unique and different designs without revising the mold’s design. You can also experiment with other materials to find the right blend for your jewelry designs.
Lastly, the primary area that 3D printing changes entirely is the design. You can create all sorts of designs without having to take the manufacturing expertise into account.
The Future of 3D Printed Jewelry
3D-printed jewelry is an exciting and profitable prospect, precisely why established and new businesses invest in them. According to Forbes, a small firm makes $250,000 using 3D-printed jewelry. Jewelry is a $275 billion industry, and before 3D printers were mainstreamed, there was not much room for innovation and creativity.
Thus, the companies that had established themselves in the sector largely had a monopoly. The space was cramped for new businesses, but 3D printing technology has changed the landscape.
It enables new businesses to create new designs that are even more appealing than the offerings of established businesses. Furthermore, the prices of 3D-printed jewelry are significantly lower than that designed via traditional means, which makes them more accessible to consumers of all classes.
Previously, jewelry was considered a luxury because only a particular class had the resources to purchase them. Thanks to 3D printers, prices of such pieces have fallen significantly, enabling more people to access jewelry. Furthermore, 3D-printed jewelry is equal to traditional pieces because both use the same materials.
What brings the prices of 3D-printed jewelry down is the process used to create it. Unlike traditional jewelry, it does not require expert workers and takes a very short time, reducing the overall manufacturing cost. Thus, manufacturers can price the pieces competitively without using substandard materials.
3D-printed jewelry is also the future because innovation in the traditional manufacturing processes has almost plateaued. Whereas 3D printer technology is getting started. Companies are introducing new machines and accessories daily to make printers even better. The quality of 3D-printed jewelry will only improve, and it would not be a surprise if it overtakes traditional manufacturing.
How To Get Started With 3D Printed Jewelry
While 3D jewelry manufacturing is more straightforward than traditional methods, certain factors must be considered before starting the 3D printing of jewelry on a commercial scale. These include the following;
Types of 3D printers
There are various types of 3D printers based on the technology used in them. However, resin-based printers are ideal for jewelry because of their high resolution and fine detailing. It must be mentioned that these printers do not work for direct manufacturing. So, you must figure out how you want to manufacture before purchasing a 3D printer.
Typically, the things you must look for in a 3D printer for jewelry include high resolution, fast speed, compatibility with a range of materials, and the overall cost of the printer. While at it, you must also look for exposure, volume, and compatible accessories.
3D Printing Software
The second most crucial aspect to consider with 3D printing is printing software. There are several types of 3D printing software, each about a specific industry. Some work better for designing mechanical parts, while others are great at creating stationery items. You need to get software that specializes in designing jewelry and enables fine detailing of each piece.
The things you should look for in printing software include interface, capabilities, and the purpose you need it for. Be mindful that CAD apps and those that convert them into G-code differ. So, you need to be familiar with the basics of 3D printing software to make the right choices.
Move Your Way Up
While there are 3D printers that enable direct manufacturing, the options are limited and expensive. If you are starting the business, starting with resin-based 3D printers and moving up would be wise. The room for error is narrow with direct manufacturing, and when you work with expensive metals like titanium, gold, and silver, it becomes even riskier. Thus, get those printers only when you have mastered the art of 3D printing.
Similarly, do not start with expensive metals straight away. Instead, create inexpensive pieces and a brand image before using expensive metals like gold and titanium.
Invest in Post Production Equipment
Although 3D-printed jewelry does not require as extensive post-production as traditional jewelry, you must invest in some post-production equipment. It will improve the finishing of designed pieces and make them more appealing to customers. Furthermore, the accessories required for post-production are not expensive, so there is no point in not buying them.
3D-printed jewelry is the future of the $275 billion industry. The use of 3D printers is growing in the industry, and with the advancement in technology, it is likely that it will replace or at least reduce traditional manufacturing. Investors looking for uncompetitive horizons should examine this aspect and capitalize on the opportunity.
That said, it is important to understand the basics of 3D printers before investing in one to make the right choice.