Where do we start?

The holidays are now over, but before that, we had time to have fun with friends and family; part of which could have been to catch a movie. Mine was Ocean’s 8 (2018) which is about a bunch of 8 criminals who plan to steal a Toussaint Cartier necklace worth $150 Million, during a fashion gala. Spoiler Alert! They profited twofold and in a complete turn of events, it was a Makerbot 3D printer that was at the core of the heist’s success.

The Misconceptions

Just before you go out shopping for a printer to make jewellery here; even though you can do it here, I would like to point out a few misleading suggestions. 

  • Jewellery can be 3D Printed 

This is not a myth. As a matter of fact, 3D Printing is used by jewellers, watchmakers and craftspersons to bring to life their ideas and creativity. You can find Kuunda 3D Jewellery Solutions or write to us to find out how the industry is taking advantage of the high customization and design freedom capabilities associated with 3D Printing.

What the myth is, as depicted in Ocean’s 8, entirely related to the ornament’s manufacturing process. There are two approaches to using 3D Printers for jewellery making: Direct and Indirect Manufacturing.

Indirect Manufacturing involves printing patterns used for investment casting. The choice of 3D Printing Technology depends on the availability of the technology; the level of design detail; and of course budgetary consideration. For smooth patterns with sharp detail, Castable Wax Resins; through Stereolithography are photocured to create the models. Once ready, the patterns are covered with a heat-resistant material like plaster then put in an oven. The wax melts leaving a negative of the model on the hardened plaster. The molten precious metal is then poured, producing a cast object with the shape of the mould.

This method is particularly beneficial to the industry as it enables jewellers to save valuable time and effort associated with traditional curving and sculpting of patterns. Additionally, it allows the adoption of mass productions techniques. If this sounds like something your company needs, Kuunda 3D is happy to do a site scan to identify ways in which 3D can save you money and guarantee ROI. If we can’t, it is free.

On the other hand; and this is where the misconception lies, Direct Manufacturing is where the jeweller creates the ornament straight from the CAD file. This could potentially be done using Selective Laser Melting (SLM) or Direct Metal Laser Sintering. Due to the high cost associated with Metal AM as well as the cost of R&D on precious metal powders, their applications in the jewellery industry are limited. Additionally, the surface finish produced is rough meaning that there is additional post-processing.

Ocean’s 8 were able to print Zirconia using a Makerbot Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) 3D Printer. Adding another layer of complexity, achieving 2715 °C to melt Zirconium in FDM 3D Printer is not technically feasible. CAD sculptor and jewellery designer Morgan Morey, winner of the 2017 3D Printing Industry Awards trophy design competition,  explains “3D Printed stones wouldn’t reflect /refract right even if you foil-backed the stones” 

Further rubbing salt into wounds, printing such a model wouldn’t be successful without the use of support material. That is Learning 3D printing 101. Speaking of learning, if you are a teacher, don’t let the program below pass you.

  • 3D Printing is Expensive

On to the next one, and straight to addressing the elephant in the room. My love for elephants never lets me go without mentioning these enormous creatures.

Every time I get asked, “How much would this 3D printed part cost?”, my immediate answer is usually “Whatever you want it to.” The surprising truth about 3D printing is that the cheapest option is not always poor quality. The same can be said about the heaviest part guaranteeing strength. With Fusion 360 and other 3D Modeling software, the designer is able to do Simulation, Computational Flow Dynamics (CFD), Generative Design to enhance design-workflow.

With proper applications, global companies such as Heineken and Volkswagen have realized up to €300,000 in annual saving through optimization of their production processes. What I can guarantee is that there is value-addition at every stage between prototype and end-use products.

Book a meeting in our Anniversary Towers office and we can explore more opportunities and challenges within the 3D Printing industry. Sometimes looking at matters 23 floors high gives a whole new perspective. 

  • 3D Printing Increases Crime

We can all agree that the accepted social and religious doctrines all consider the act of stealing as an undesirable character. Even the black market 3D printed gun dealers go against societal expectations by their criminal acts.

In truth, none of them has contributed to a statistically significant rise in crime. 3D printed guns would shatter into pieces within the first shot, and that is if they get to successfully fire. Don’t ask how this conclusion was drawn, but take it as the gospel truth.

We can all have tolerable morals at the bare minimum


Watch Ocean’s 8 purely for entertainment purposes.

A lot is being said, but it is best heard from the horse’s mouth. This and more could be better discussed over a cup of coffee. RSVP An Evening of 3D Printing Nairobi: Meet and Greet to get to share and learn from each others 3D Printing experiences.

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