3D printing is a pretty cool buzzword going around these days and it has some huge implications for everything that we do. People have found really cool ways to revolutionize all kinds of industries using 3d printing from construction to biotechnology to aerospace engineering and of course our favorite: Fashion and jewelry.
It all starts when we’re ready to make a new ring. First we have to design the new piece which is kind of like having a blank canvas for any artist. We come up with a basic idea or sketch and then we begin to build a 3d model of it inside a 3D program. Using a 3d program is really similar to creating any other kind of computer artwork. We use all kinds of lines or shapes to build the design we want, but I think the real key is that we’re not restricted in any way except by our own creativity and style -- which is a really beautiful part of the entire process. We can push the boundaries of design and convention because we’re not trying to overcome the same limitations that designers might have if they were using a different method to create their work. This is also where we want to devote the most time to because this is the real artistry behind it. We think about the overall look of it, but also what we want it to represent and how we can make it meaningful. Once we’ve built a 3d model that we’re happy with we can get ready to print.
The printing process itself is pretty interesting. There’s all kinds of ways it can be printed. Some of them make your object look kind of like liquid terminator being slowly pulled out of a puddle, others allow you to print metals directly by manipulating metal powder. The printing process we use is kind of like a traditional printer except instead of just printing once on a flat surface our printer prints lots and lots of layers stacked on top of each other over and over again until we get the shape we want. We can choose from a ton of different materials, but generally we opt for either plastic to test, or wax when we’re ready to create the final version.
Plastic is the perfect material to allow us to prototype new designs. If we create a plastic version of the ring, we’re just testing to see if the overall design works for us. If the ring is designed to have a stone we can even test if the stone will fit properly. If it has letters or other types of images we can see that they are clear and legible. It gives us a great idea of what the final product will eventually look like, and how it will fit.
Once we’re ready to move to a final product, on the back end, the design is printed in wax instead of plastic. From there it’s basically the same as the traditional method of making jewelry where the wax model is molded, casted, then plated and polished. To you, the wearer there’s actually no difference from a traditionally handmade piece and a 3d printed modern piece.
At Ora & Ren we actually use both handmade and 3d printed methods to create jewelry. We’re all about coming up with designs we really love and then finding the best way to bring those designs to life whether they be more traditional, or more modern. Although, we’re really proud to be pushing the boundaries of the industry by embracing technology and utilizing all the modern tools out there to accomplish that, in the end it doesn’t matter what tools any artist uses to create his or her jewelry -- it’s about how they make you feel when you wear it -- and at the end of the day we hope to make anyone who wears our artwork just a little bit happier.