High-tech 3D printers can create beautiful custom designs for you – for a fraction of the cost of handmade jewellery
Today’s rapid rate of technological change is bringing science fiction to life. The idea of creating complex physical objects at the touch of a button used to the preserve of Captain Picard and the Starship Enterprise’s replicators. But now as 3D printing technology develops, that far-fetched dream has become a reality, inspiring a whole generation of jewellery designers.
3D printers are computer-controlled machines that work a bit like your home or office printer. But instead of printing out one thin layer of ink onto a sheet of paper, they build up many layers of plas-tic or metal to gradually create intricate objects with width, height and depth
.By making the manufacturing process as simple as printing a letter, 3D printers are revolutionising jewellery. Manufacturers are able to create digitally designed, precision-made moulds to order, then quickly cast them in precious metals.
One major benefit is of this process is to make customisation easy. Manufacturers just need to tweak a few details in their design software according to your preferences and press ‘print’. Changes can be big or small: whether it’s simply adding a personal monogram or creating a complete customised design to help remember a special moment in your life.
Making a unique piece of jewellery like this is now quicker than ever. Companies are offering to de-liver your bespoke design within three or four days, instead of waiting weeks for a craftsman to complete the work.
The new technology is also unleashing a wave of creativity among young designers to create new styles of jewellery using innovative materials. The intricate, sinuous forms being created by 3D printing are bound to turn heads among admirers of contemporary design.
Because they are so much quicker to make, they are much better value too. Naturally, precious met-als and gems never come cheap, but some manufacturers estimate their 3D-printed designs would cost more than twice as much from traditional jewellers. Value, convenience and beauty is a combi-nation that’s hard to beat.