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  1. #1
    Technologist
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    Best 3D Printers for jewelry making

    I am planning on getting another 3D printer. I wanted your guys opinion on the most suitable 3D Printer to make specifically jewelry and highly detailed objects. The material should be reliable and hopefully aesthetically appealing.

    The printer does not have to be a metal 3D printer. It just has to be able to create great prototypes. The size of the build platform is not as important as the quality and materials. I am thinking about getting the new Replicator, Cube Pro or a Form 1, but this is a huge decision because of the cost. I am looking at the price ranges between $2000-$4000. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by squadus; 02-17-2014 at 03:31 AM.

  2. #2
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    Jewelers usually have pretty stringent requirements for surface quality, and none of the FDM-style printers are anywhere close to meeting them. If you don't mind striations across the surface of your pieces, which I suppose have some artistic interest as "marks of process" then maybe they'd work for you. The Form1 is a SLA printer, and it builds in finer layers, but they are still pretty evident. I'd suggest sending some files out for printing on any machine you're interested in before buying one, so you get a realistic idea of what to expect.

    Are you planning to burn out the resin and cast metal parts, or are you making plastic jewelry? If you want to burn them out, it's critical to use a material that doesn't produce ash residues in your mold, which will show up as holes in your castings. None of these printers uses a material that burns out cleanly in a normal investment, so that's another thing to consider. Have you looked at the B9 creator? It's a little out of your price range, at about $5k for an assembled unit, but you can save money by building it yourself from the parts supplied. It uses resin that burns out cleanly, and can give good detail with little striation.

    Andrew Werby
    www.computersculpture.com

  3. #3
    3D Systems recently introduced a device for micro-casting for under $5,000. The ProJet 1200 is designed for low volume jewelers who want to make high quality casting patterns. The ProJet 1200 is an all-in-one device, so you don't need special facilities and additional equipment to make the models.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by awerby View Post
    I'd suggest sending some files out for printing on any machine you're interested in before buying one, so you get a realistic idea of what to expect.
    Going to start doing this right now. 3D Hubs is great for this

    I am not sure what striation is but I am going to become familiar with it. Definitely checking out the B9 and the ProJet. For the immediate future, it looks like I will have to create jewelry using 3D made molds.

    I guess there aren't any consumer priced metal 3D printers yet or on the horizon?

  5. #5
    Check out this article on the mini metal maker at 3ders.org. It's an FDM printer that extrudes a metal paste - metal powder with an organic binding - that you then fire in a kiln, ending up with a metal piece. They're aiming this printer at the jewelry-maker market. Print resolution is about the same as a run-of-the-mill FDM printer at 450 microns but they're trying to get it down to 200 microns.

    From the looks of things, they've taken the idea of a clay extruder, which has been around for a while, and married it with readily available metal clays like this silver clay from ebay.

    It would theoretically be possible to build your own by building a standard reprap, building and installing this paste extruder from thingiverse and loading it with metal clay (although I understand the consistency of the clay needs tweaking).

  6. #6
    A little bit more googling shows you can actually buy metal clay in a pre-loaded syringe with a 0.4mm tip. I'm sorely tempted to build the paste extruder, buy one of these syringes and see what I can come up with. http://www.metalclay.co.uk/categorie...-Clay/Syringe/

  7. #7
    PMC shrinks somewhat unpredictably when fired. Even more unpredictable when diluted to work in this device.

  8. #8
    Staff Engineer Davo's Avatar
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    We've been printing with PMC on the Hyrel printers since last summer, but here's the concern: the medium itself (PMC) does not lend itself to very think layers, or very small features, due to its thickness. It's not a matter of the precision of the printer, but the viscosity of the goop you're printing with.

    You want a big, round amulet? Good choice.

    You want an engagement setting for a diamond? Bad choice.

  9. #9
    Hi squadus, I just came across this thread. I am searching for good 3D printing service providers for my jewelry project too. Can I ask how did your foray into 3dhubs turn out? I am based in Malaysia and so far I did not find anyone there who was able to help me at the right price. I am now turning to sourcemake.com - do you have experience printing through them? It seems like they have a variety of non-FDM printers and materials (aluminium etc) to print in and so far the prices I got are alot more cheaper than 3dhubs or makexyz.. Hope to get some insights here, thanks!

  10. #10
    Technologist bford903's Avatar
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    Being a jeweler and having experience with multiple printers, I'll tell you what I've found.

    *Modern extrusion printers (ABS, PLA, etc.) - Not for jewelry use. Very low resolution (for jewelry). Not castable. For larger objects.

    *Projet 1200 by 3D Systems - This is the printer I use. DLP, High resolution prints, fast build time (sub 2hrs), built-in UV curing chamber, however this printer uses only one kind of material and is only castable if you're set up for platinum casting. Platinum casting is expensive. I make rubber molds from the prints and cast in wax.

    *B9 Creator/Form 1 - This is the printer I want. DLP, High resolution prints suitable for jewelry, can use different types of resin, cannot comment on castability but heard good things. Contacted multiple people on the B9 Creator forums requesting a sample print and received many replies but haven't received any prints to date. I put the B9 and the Form 1 together because they are both DLP printers that can use different types of resin. I think the B9 is more customizable than the Form 1 however.

    *Metal Printers - Just put them out of your head for the time being. Very bad surface quality. You'll spend days cleaning it up and will be disappointed at all the detail lost.

    *Solidscape - This printer is the standard for the jewelry industry IMO. This printer has the resolution and the castability required by the jewelry industry. But the cost is significant. 50K or higher. This machine will also make you tear your hair out. The machines are notoriously finicky, requires constant maintenance, replacement parts are crazy expensive, print times are slow, and the material is extremely brittle. But the quality and castability are there.


    PMC does shrink. It shrinks by about 50%. Very significant. Usable for only certain projects like Davo said. Would like to see a PMC Printer though. Is there such a thing?

    As far as printing services go, Shapeways has been very good to me. Wide array of materials including a castable wax (from the Projet 3500 CPX) I've tested myself. Prices show up instantly after uploading the CAD file. I like the ease of use. Sent in a signet ring and it cost me $27 to have it printed in castable wax. My friend with a Solidscape would charge me $50! 3D Systems has a similar program called "Quickparts" however be prepared to spend a lot of time on the phone. They don't reply to emails so you have to call and be pushy. This is what the head of Quickparts at 3D Systems told me when I met him recently. Call and be pushy. Cannot comment on the cost. Shapeways replied the same day I sent in my CAD file; 3D Systems took almost two weeks to get back to me so I went with Shapeways. I like not having to worry about it.

    Hope this helps.

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