Introduction: Filament Earrings
I found a fun idea while browsing on Reddit that involved threading filament into grooves designed into a 3D printed vase. I thought that idea was great and made some 3D printed earrings that use the same technique. I'll go through my process and you can use it to design and print your own!
While I ended up fighting with glue a lot while making this, I like the concept as you can add many different colors to one print as well as add a little depth to it.
Step 1: Inspiration
One of the many times I was browsing reddit, I came across this post of a 3D printed vase that had groves designed into it that would fit pieces of filament. As per my usual reaction to fun ideas, I decided to try to find a way to do this with jewelry. I had a lot of hit and miss with this project but I'm fairly content with the final results. More than anything, i hope you can take this technique and do what you want with it :)
Step 2: Supplies
- Filament+ filament for threading - it's a good way to use up scraps, but it can also be fun to use 3D pen filaments as you can get a wide variety of colors in one pack - if you do get the pen filaments, make sure you get the right type and size
- Jewelry Findings - Jump Rings and Earrings
- Clear Sealing Spray
- E6000 Glue - you can use your preference, but in the end this worked best for me
- 3D Printer
- Jewelry Pliers
- Flat Edge Wire Cutters - the flat or flush edge is going to make it easier to trip the excess filament when you are done
- Toothpick or pointy tool for applying glue - I'm using a straightened ornament hook
- Small Spring Clamps - optional, I find them handy when gluing things
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Step 3: Testing
I wanted to try to do this technique with both straight and curved cutouts. I had a lot of issues trying to get the curved ones to work for me, but I think it was the tightness of the curve that was giving me trouble and the limitations of Tinkercad.
Step 4: Prepping Filament
Because of how small these parts are, I recommend prepping your filament ahead of time. If the filament is curved, which it usually is, it will try to curve when you thread it and cause you trouble.
The way I did this was cut off a length of filament you want to use. Hold it carefully and apply heat using a hair dryer or heat gun. Carefully pull and move your hand as it softens and straightens. You don't want to use too much heat or it will stretch and distort the diameter of the filament.
I find you just have to practice and by the time you are almost done, you should know what you are doing ;)
Step 5: Design
I'll be using Tinkercad to make my designs.
The first thing you can do is decide on your basic shape. I'm using an upside down long diamond shape that I like to use.
Add a hole at the top (or loop) for attaching to your jewelry findings later. I usually do about 1.7mm - 2mm in diameter.
The thickness of your earring will depend on your cylinder size and if you are going to do this double sided. You don't want the base behind the cutout to be too thin (1 or 2 layers) or it will bend. Mine is 2.40mm or 12 layers thick.
Now you need your cylinders.
Size the cylinders from your tests. I did 1.8mm diameter both ways.
When it comes to placing them, you want them sticking up enough that they will show, but not up so far they'll want to fall out.
From here it's all a matter of design preference. I spaced mine out so I had enough for rainbow colors (ROYGBPP).
If you are going to do your earring double sided, go onto the next step.
Step 6: Making It 2-Sided
I decided to make my design 2-sided because I like when things have a design all around and not just on the front. This ended up being a little bit of a problem as the cut outs in the bottom of the print seemed to lose some of their definition when the bridging infill when it over the top. This caused just a little dipping that got in the way just enough that the filament didn't want to slide in.
To fix this, I just decided to make the cutouts just a little bit wider, but gave myself more room going up and down. So these were 1.85mm in diameter side to side and 2.2mm diameter up and down.
Once you have them ready, print them off! You need 2 for each earring pair.
Step 7: Rounded Cutouts
To make the rounded tube cutouts, I decided to use the Helix from the Shape Generators menu. It was a little difficult to use as you can't resize it or you'll lose control out of how wide the tube is.
I wanted to use the mobius but it was segmented and I had a hard time actually controlling how wide the tube was.
I eventually got a print using the helix, but it was a lot of effort and I didn't really like the result.
Also, if you decide to do a curved cutout, I recommend dipping your filament in hot water first so it's a bit more pliable and slides into the curve better.
Step 8: Threading the Filament
Once you have them all printed off and your filament straightened, you can start measuring out your pieces.
After a lot of tests, I found it easiest to cut all your pieces to size, and then glue them into place.
You can just cut a bunch of long ones, or measure them all out one color/piece at a time. I find glueing difficult and messy, so it's best to have all pieces cut ahead of time.
Once you have all of your pieces cut to size, you can get ready to glue. I tried a variety and for best results I decided on E6000. It's messy but as long as you don't touch it too much, it should dry okay.
I got special tips to try to make it easier to glue but results are debatable. I find it helps to have a toothpick or other stick item (I'm using an ornament hook straightened out) to help apply the glue.
Carefully apply glue to the groove and thread your filament in. If excess glue comes out the other side, carefully wipe it off if you can, but I find the less you touch it the better and you can scrape it off when it's dry too.
Do this for each groove. I recommend doing the top first as the pieces should fit more snuggly and stay in place.
With the top done, you can do the bottom. These grooves will probably be looser. Glue them all in place and let it dry. If some of the pieces aren't straight, you might need a little clamp to hold them down while they dry.
Once the pieces are dry, use your flat edged wire clipper to trim all the access. Make sure everything is glued in well. If any ends appear to be pulling up, I recommend adding more glue and clampint it down again.
Step 9: Spray
I found, with all the glue issues I had, giving it a good finish spray can help with the overall look.
Spray it a couple times on each side and let it dry.
Step 10: Adding Earrings
Once you are done, add whatever jump rings and earrings you need.
Step 11: Enjoy!
Here is just a look at some of the base and filament color combinations I tried out.
I really enjoyed the black + rainbow, but silver with metal filament colors was nice too.
Step 12: Other Options
Here is a look at some of my other tests.
I tried a criss cross design that I think would work well if you could get just the right angle cut on the filament.
I thought a see through base would be fun, but I'm not sure if I'm happy with the results.
Lastly, I tried some with fewer filament slots but I liked it with more.