I asked my fiance to marry me and gave her a ring made of reeds on a beach and she already said Yes but I wanted to get her a custom geek ring. She's into board game RPGs, steampunk, off-roading, and working on trucks. She watches online shows like The Guild w Felicia Day and Journey Quest. I contacted a few geek ring makers but no response so I made my own. This Instructable will show you how to design your own ring using Google Sketchup and then send the files to a 3D print company (I used Shapeways) that will 3D print a wax model and cast it in the metal of your choice. Design time varies on your ability but production took a week from order and files sent to delivery. I was going to 3D print the ring in wax and try my hand at vacuum casting it myself but went this way instead. The design software was free for a month trial and the ring was cast in solid white gold cost $250. I bought a loose diamond from Blue Nile and set it.
This ring is a slider ring that tells time by using the sun. The middle slider part has the numbers 1-20 on it representing a D20 die used in Role Playing Games that my fiance likes to play. But it also has a hole in it, that when aligned to the month of the year on the sides of the ring and held vertically in sunlight, casts a spot of light onto the inside of the ring where it will tell the time of day.
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Step 1: Incorporating a Working D20.
I wanted the ring to be functional vs. a D20 die sitting on a ring. I found a few D20 slider rings online that I liked. There were a few slider rings that had the numbers 1-20 on them. I ordered those and cut them apart to see how they worked. This design didn't work for me because it was too wide and was pressed into place by a machine which I didn't have so I went with another design that was more modular and I could 3D print and assemble myself.
Step 2: I Added a Sundial Element.
In researching slider ring designs I found a modern version of a design used in medieval times. The brass band ring from medieval times was made by putting a brass band around the inner channel and crimping it. I didn't want an extra knob sticking out in addition to the diamond so I went w the modern design. I cut that apart and saw that it's made of three parts. One is the inner ring with a middle channel cut down for the slider ring and a thinner outer channel cut out to connect w an outer ring that gets pressed on tightly to make the other edge of the channel. The inner ring has the times of the day inside it, a channel cut out for the sunlight to shine through once it passes the hole in the slider ring (the channel allows you to adjust the slider ring for the month of the year), and 6 months on one side. The slider ring has a hole in it. That casts a light spot on the time of day on the inner channel. I added 20 sides to the slider ring to act as the D20 die. The slider ring fits over the middle channel of the inner ring. The outer ring fits over the outer channel of the inner ring and has the other 6 months of the year on it. This looked doable since I could 3D print all the parts and simply assemble them.
Step 3: Astrophysics Time
The issue with a sundial ring is the sun is higher or lower at different latitudes. So I had to set it for Arizona. Luckily the modern sundial ring had three latitude bars on it so all I had to do was know the current time and cast the light spot and turn the ring so it matched. Whatever of the three marks was pointing vertically up was my latitude. The sundial ring already adjusts for the months of the year and the change in position of the sun bc you adjust the hole in the slider ring to the 6 months on the outer edges of the ring. After knowing the right latitude mark I got to work tracing the months and times of day down and measuring the angles out.
Step 4: Drawing the Inner Ring
This is the busiest ring. Since she's also an off road gear head I made the inner ring's outer edge an off road tire. Since I wanted a thinner more delicate ring, I moved the 6 months of the year from the outer circumference to the side of the ring. I then transposed the angles for the times of the day on the inside. I calculated the text size for the months and times of day. The letters and numbers had parameters in 3D printing that couldn't be exceeded bc if the text was too close to an edge it may break.
Step 5: Drawing the Slider Ring
The slider ring had to just barely clear the middle channel of the inner ring so that it would slide but also not be too loose. I measured the tolerances of the modern ring I took apart with precision digital calipers.
Step 6: Drawing the Outer Ring
The outer ring seals the project shut. Since she likes steampunk, I made it a cog. The fit had to be tighter to make the outer edge of the finished ring. The 3rd picture is a cross section of how the three rings fit. I wanted to mount a diamond so I ordered a 1ct princess cut diamond and measured it. The diamond location will be the area most vertical to align to use the sundial and where the slider ring number lands to call the die roll. I initially designed talons to hold the diamond in place but they were too thin to 3D print it turned out so I printed the prongs at 0.8mm thick and worked them down by hand.
Step 7: Simplest First: the Slider D20 Ring
I downloaded a trial of Google Sketchup for free. It's free for a month but I re-trialed for free again somehow. It's exceptionally easy to use. There are tutorials, almost all of which I needed and a few things online like YouTube. I made a ring w 20 sides and made numbers in 3D and then sunk them into the ring and subtracted the excess. I made the hole by pushing a cylinder through and deleting the extra parts. What was left over was a hole. U can use this program to sort of "carve" models. I saved the files as Sketchup files and converted them to .dae files and sent them to Shapeways. You can choose from a lot of different metals. I made the set in silver first to see if it all fit together, and it did. Silver was too soft to practice carving the prongs and setting the diamond, however. I went w 18k white gold. It took a week to arrive already polished.
Step 8: The Outer Ring
After seeing that the slider ring came out perfectly, I went w the outer ring to see if the prongs would print. I made the prongs 8mm long to cut down later.
Step 9: The Most Complicated for Last: the Inner Ring
Google Sketchup is a push pull design program. To make a ring, you draw a circle then another circle inside that in 2D. You erase the inside and are left with a 2D ring. You click on the ring and pull it out into 3D while designating how think to make it. If you keep adding rings in it, you can pull out a stepped ring like the inner ring. To make the channel for the light dot to go through, I could draw it and subtract the part I want removed. I did it faster by making a 3D rectangle and merging it w the ring and then erasing where they meet. Instant channel.
Step 10: Inner Ring Tire Tread Design
Since she loves off roading, I designed the outer edge of the inner ring with off road tire tread.
Step 11: Inner Ring Inside Inscription With Times of the Day
I made 3D text, which is just pulling normal already available text, and sunk it into the inside of the ring. The X Ray feature made alignment much easier. Then I merged the text w the ring and deleted the difference leaving etched numbers.
Step 12: Putting It All Together
I could put the pieces together to make sure they fit. You can even animate parts. In this case I set the sundial ring function to 6:30pm in July. The slider hole is aligned to the J for July and the light dot produced by the sun is cast through the slider hole and through the inner ring's channel and falls on 6:30. Google Sketchup allows you to choose the time of day and year and latitude somewhat so architects can plan landscaping and energy efficient buildings. I used it to cast a light dot. The finished pieces fit and the sundial worked.
Step 13: Time to Solder
The outer cog ring has to be soldered on to keep the slider ring in place. This is tricky because they touch each other but you don't want the solder from the outer ring to grab the slider ring as well. To isolate the two I painted the slider ring and the inner ring's channel for the slider ring with water soluble kid's tempura paint. I used tempura bc once the outer ring was soldered in place I could just wash the ring off in water and the tempura should wash off and allow the slider ring to slide. I watched a few YouTube videos on how to solder jewelry. First I cleaned the outer ring in what's called a pickle. It's an acid that chews off dirt. Then a rinse in water. There are many options but to solder a very thing seam where essentially you are soldering two rings together, I went with the thin and flexible and sticky white gold solder paste. There are a few different consistencies: soft, medium, hard. I went with medium. You just squeeze it out of a syringe and heat the piece up until it's red hot, not the solder. Let the solder sink in. I didn't use a jewelry block, just a metal shot glass. I used a small pen butane torch to heat the ring which worked great. One application of solder wasn't enough and adding more might lock up the slider ring but I did it and it worked and filled in the seam well. Not super cosmetic but I was just happy it held in place. I tested the one application of solder and it came loose. The heat from the butane torch created a scale on the ring so I put in the pickle for 15 seconds and rinsed it in the water. A few turns of the slider ring and it was free.
Step 14: Polishing the Ring
The came from the printer already polished but the soldering created scale and excess solder. I used tiny jeweler's files to file down the solder and polished the file marks off and the entire ring w a solder compound stick and a Dremel snake pen attachment and a little buffer wheel. I heard you can also use toothpaste but I didn't try it.
Step 15: Filing the Prongs Down
I bought a jewelry Dremel set from my local hardware store. I needed to figure out where the corners of the diamond were gonna go on the prongs so I marked the diamond on four sides w a marker and held it in tweezers. I used jewelry pliers to arrange the prongs and checked the alignment with a nail and digital calipers. I used a tiny v file to notch the marks on the prongs so I would know where to dig a hole for the corners of the diamond. As an aside, this is where I broke a prong off. That really stunk. I had to get another ring printed and start again.
Setting a princess cut diamond only by its corners and totally floating makes it look better and far more sparkly but it's weaker and far harder to do. The idea is to use a tiny ball burr grinder and grind a scooped out hole on the inside of the prong. The scoop has to be deep enough for the prong to bend over the diamond later but not so deep the prong snaps off. I kept the diamond in place using a small ball of clay. The corner of the diamond goes in the scoop and then you carefully use jeweler's pliers to bend the prong over and onto the diamond to secure it. You bend the prongs over working on opposite sides one at a time. Once the diamond is set and the prongs all pushed down you can file the edges down and sand then with 3000 grit paper. I just used my Dremel snake attachment buffer wheel and compound and done. Thanks for looking this over and I hope it inspires you to make your own. If you get bored and want to see the wedding, check out I Must Be Dead.com and look at Slavik and Spring's wedding.