Objective: Learn how to go about printing jewelry, specifically custom wedding rings, and hear my experience with doing so.
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Step 1: Why You Should 3D Print Your Wedding Ring
At first I didn't even consider 3D printing, however my wedding band shopping experience was so unsuccessful that it led me to 3D print a ring. I had looked at dozens of stores in person and online but could not find anything that I would want on my hand everyday, for the rest of my life. I wanted to have a ring that was unique, symbolic, simple, geometric, fit my style, and something I felt attachment towards. I found a store that did custom design and became interested in going that route. It was then that I realized that instead of paying someone else $600 to design a ring that they would 3D print, that I could do it myself.
So within about 30 minutes I had created a custom design ring using Blender, drove to a jewelry store, and it was ready to be 3D Printed and completed in a day. I saved $600 in design fees, have the ring of my dreams, and it is more special to me because I am the creator of it. Also I should mention that I still had not found a ring days before my wedding, so being able to complete the whole process in less than 24 hours was a huge plus. And most importantly, it is awesome.
Step 2: How to Actually 3D Print It?
Designing Your Ring The first step is to come up with the 3D model, which can be done with free software such as Blender or Autodesk 123D Design. For most ring designs, anyone can quickly learn enough of these programs to create their dream ring. So I highly recommend looking into designing the ring yourself no matter what level or skills you have in 3D modeling. If you don't want to design the ring yourself, then you can hire someone else to design it for you (animator, engineer, industrial designer, etc. should have the capabilities).
The next step is the harder one which is to make sure your model can be printed. Or in other words that it is manifold geometry. See these posts for more detailed information:
Step 3: Finding a Printer
The last step will be finding a place to print your model. For most printing companies they will print your model in plastic first and then make another mold using that plastic part. This new mold will then be injected with the material, for example, gold will be melted down and ejected into the mold. Lastly the mold will harden and then be put in a tumbler/ polishing device in order to make the ring look good.
You will be surprised how many businesses nearby will be willing to do this. When I made mine I was in Reno so I choose http://www.bvwjewelers.com which I would highly recommend. But you could also find a company online such as Shapeways that you can email your design and have your ring mailed to you.
Step 4: How Much Does It Cost to 3D Print a Wedding Ring?
- Design Cost For me it was free (or 20 minutes of my time), otherwise this will depend on the designer. The store I went to charged $600 to design it, but as I mentioned earlier, I believe most people should and can design it themselves.
- Material Cost The price here varies greatly. I love yellow gold and knew that was the only material that I wanted. So for me the material cost was about $650, however if I was to print the ring in Silver it would have been only $40. If I choose platinum then the cost would have easily been in the thousands.
- 3D Printing Cost This will depend on the company, my cost to print the ring in plastic and make the mold was $125 Company
- Charges & Tax There may be some other charges for service, polishing, and taxes which may add a couple hundred onto the cost. Total Cost As many of these categories greatly vary, I believe the cost is anywhere from $150 to $2000, mine was about $900 due mostly to the cost of gold.
Step 5: What Materials Can I Print In?
Gold, Platinum, Silver, Aluminum, Rubber, just about anything you would want.
Step 6: What I Learned and Would Recommend
- Go to a store in person and try on various rings because what you want changes when its not just a picture and actually on your finger (Weight, Size, Color, Material, Thinkness, etc.).
- Make sure the 3D Printer can handle the detail. Most printers will charge the same cost to print 1 ring or 10 rings, so print as many as you can or perhaps different rings all at once to save money. Print cuff links, earrings, etc.
- Look up ring design tips. For example, I knew I wanted a comfort fit so I beveled the edges of my ring.
- Don't make the ring too thin.
Step 7: Contact
Please leave your comments.
and as always thanks for visiting,
The 3D Printing Ninja