Introduction: Silver Jewelry From 3D Printed Molds
In this Instructable we’d like to show you how we created a collection of silver jewelry from 3D printed molds. You can also download source files and make one of these pieces yourself.
The process shown at the infographics can be applied to cast various objects from metals, rubber and other materials too. It’s similar to professional services offered by websites like Shapeways, but can be performed in your own workshop much quicker and at a lower cost.
Step 1: Tools and Preparations
We used ZMorph 2.0 SX multitool 3D printer and a set of tools for cleaning and post-producing plastic objects (pliers, files, sandpaper, acetone, etc.). For our project, we also needed a spool of ABS filament, two cans of two-component rubber, and 45 g of silver.
If you don’t have an access to a foundry, then you’ll have to ask a professional jeweler for help. The cost of such services should be low, especially when you provide him with materials.
Step 2: 3D Printing
Three types of 3D prints need to be made at various stages of the manufacturing process.
Jewelry prototypes should be printed with ABS filament from 3D models with layers set from 0.05 to 0.1 mm (depending on the object) to achieve the best possible level of detail. After printing use basic post-production techniques to clean and polish their surfaces.
[You can also try 3D printing the prototypes with Machinable Wax filament. These can be attached directly to a wax pole and skip Step 3 of this Instructable.]
Rectangular forms, 5 x 5 x 4 cm each, were designed to fit jewelry pieces inside, so they can be flooded with rubber.
Jewelry boxes are optional and can be printed at any given time. Use PVC foam for filling.
All 3D prints in this Instructable were made on ZMorph 2.0 SX.
Step 3: Creating Molds
Put your 3D printed jewelry prototypes in plastic forms and close them tight with screws. Next, pour the two-component rubber inside. Do it instead of vulcanization because the high temperature would deform the ABS material.
Two-component rubber hardens in a room temperature after mixing it in an exactly 1:1 proportion. It requires about 20 hours for the process to complete.
Once the rubber is solid, open the forms, carefully cut the rubber molds in half to extract the plastic prototype, and put the rubber back inside the forms - your molds are ready!
Step 4: Casting Silver
The rubber molds need to be injected with wax. Then attach the wax objects to a wax pole in order to create a jewelry casting tree. On this tree, you need to place the exact number of pieces you want to create.
The wax casting tree should be dipped in plaster next. After the plaster is solid, the entire cast should be turned upside down and put into a furnace, so the wax melts and comes out leaving a plaster mold.
Pour liquid silver into the cold plaster mold. You’ll need a small foundry to do that or a help from a professional jeweler who usually create wax models, plaster cast, and cast silver.
Step 5: Post-production and Finalization
Get the jewelry tree out of the plaster and cut off your silver pieces. Objects cast in any kind of metal are always covered in various impurities that require further post-production.
Regular files and sandpaper should be enough to grind all bubbles and clean the silver. You can polish it until the surface is clean and bright or leave visible 3D printing layers for a unique feel.
Although you can do it yourself, it’s best to ask a professional jeweler to rivet the zirconia stones and add metal clips to the earrings.
Step 6: Project Summary
Packed in custom-made boxes your own collection of jewelry have this unique feel and can make for a very chic and memorable gift. For us, the entire costs of materials and manufacturing closed at 150$!
Desktop-size ZMorph multitool 3D printer was used here as an alternative to more expensive tools and services and proved to be a useful machine for DIY makers and artists.
The entire process described in this Instructable can be adapted to manufacture various objects from a variety of metals, rubber, ceramics, chocolate and other materials too.