3D Printed Jewelry

The 280 Billion Dollar Jewelry Business

Customizing Made Easy

In the business of jewelry-making, two techniques define the industry: handcrafting and lost wax casting. Handcrafting refers, of course, to the process fashioning a jewelry piece by hand; and the lost wax casting is when a duplicate metal sculpture is cast from an original sculpture. They both require real expertise, are very time-intensive, and mistakes here can cause a lot of money. 3D printing changes all that. Digital techniques bring new possibilities in design and production to jewelers, as well as exciting new customization options for clients.

3D printed jewelry production augments the principles of lost-wax casting with the advantages of a digital design and manufacturing process. In the traditional way lost-wax casting is done, jewelers hand-carve the original pattern in wax, place it in a mold to be burned out, and pour precious gold or silver into the mold to create the cast piece. Designers polish and finish the cast piece to shine. If done digitally, CAD software tools create the designs and a 3D printer produce the patterns that can be cast in the mold. After burnout of the positive pattern, the process follows the same traditional casting. No longer is this time-intensive manual labor and the design itself is easy to preserve, modify, and recreate.

Jewelers and customers benefit from the technology. Customizing a unique design shortens the time discussion between the parties; the customer can hold and try on a real, physical model of the jewelry, such as a 3D printed ring. The piece can be redesigned and reprinted again according to client’s wishes. Moving from design to production is easier and faster also.

The technology allows for freedom of design, enabling jewelers to make even very difficult and intricate design details with amazing sharpness. Jewelry also becomes easier to mass produce, using room temperature of high temperature molds. Some techniques can produce smooth-surface pieces that need less finishing and polishing. 3D printing jewelry can make independent jewelers competitive as well.

Unlike before when 3D printers were high-maintenance and required skilled operators, it has become much more affordable, offering unique opportunities to independent jewelers. The lower cost and higher-quality technology have made the digital workflow a viable method of manufacturing. Soon smaller jewelers adopting these technologies and becoming less centralized will be seen.


Looking to a Sparkling Future

Custom jewelry is an exciting field 3D printing has made inroads lately and it won’t be long you’ll find your favorite jewelry designer is using the wonderful technology of 3D printing.

Stem Cells: The Future of Organ Printing

A Brand New 3D Printed Heart

3D printing may well be the refuge of thousands of patients all over the world needing life-saving heart transplants. A start-up biotech company, Biolife4D, has developed the technology to print human cardiac tissue by collecting blood cells from a patient and converting them to a type of stem cell called Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells.

The technology intends to bioprint a human heart viable for transplant coming from a patient’s own cells. This will solve the issue of organ supply shortage and eliminating the rejection. The iPS cells can be converted to heart cells and used as “bioink” in a 3D printer. Recently, this technique was used to 3D print a semi-functioning miniature human heart. And so what has been the usage of such a mini-version of a heart?

The tiny heart has the same structure as a real heart with its four chambers. The reason is that it can be used for cardiotoxicity testing for drug companies and medical researchers to test what happens to the organ when it has issues with the muscle or with heart beats. The miniature heart is partially functional, designed to provide a scaled-down version for testing. It was not designed to be able to survive in an animal or human long-term, but to provide a better predictive model for cardiotoxicity testing as compared to animal models. This is already an impressive feat, but there are still challenges to face.

Firstly, the bioprinting process must be scaled up to make production of a full-size heart possible. The bioink used must closely replicate the natural extracellular matrix of the heart that provides the scaffolding of proteins providing the strength in the organ. There’s also optimization which is improving the efficiency of the cell reprogramming process. All these are working to make the heart survive in a test animal. It also requires finding a way to keep the organ alive after printing so it must be provided its own blood supply network.

For now the Biolife4D team is confident that given time these challenges will be surpassed. They say that probably, a full 3D printed heart will be available in 3 years.

The Future of Organ Printing

The future indeed looks bright for 3D printed hearts with all the leaps and bounds bioprinting is making. Soon a patient’s own stem cells can recreate his own heart.

3D printed skull shape

Amazing Things 3D Printing Has Accomplished

3D Printing Features You Might Have Missed

You might think you are pretty savy where 3D printing is concerned, but the technology has come to accomplish a lot more than you think. Here are some amazing developments in the technology.

Budget 3D printers can produce solid metal parts. Metal is much sought-after material in 3D printing and many ways has this been done already. However, it needs a company to do this and not for your regular budget 3D printer. Hence, even for small metal parts the price is very hefty. There are only a few options for direct metal 3D printing but most require extremely high temperatures or high-power lasers. Full-metal parts using a low-cost printer is possible using a process called lost PLA casting. The object is formed into a molded plaster, the plastic is burned out in a very hot furnace, then melted metal is poured into the plaster mold. After cooling, the object is removed and polished.

3D printers can produce iridescent surfaces. Molten plastic is deposited on a diffraction grating surface of the object (diffraction gratings are tiny optical elements that can redirect and separate light into various colors). The molten plastic conforms to the surface, making a reverse copy of the grating. This technique has been used both with diffraction grating film and CDs with the foil layer removed.

3D printing is coming under more and more scrutiny from federal regulators. The popular technology raises questions on safety, reproducibility, and whether or not strict regulation should be placed on those who own 3D printers.Three areas are being looked at – civil liability (who is liable if a 3D printed product causes injury?), – defence (what happens when 3D printed weapons becomes legal in the US?). – in medicine (what if an implantable medical device approved by the FDA has potential flaws that could cause undue harm to a patient using it?).

3D Printing can produce amazing, even “impossible” shapes. For example, optical illusions. Such as those found in Thingiverse: Word illusion that says “black” and “white”, permanently right/left facing arrow, Penrose triangle 1 and 2, the Squarcle. They are fun, challenging and, importantly, easily printable. There are fixed optical illusions and moving optical illusions.

Other amazing things than can be 3D printed are soft robots that have soft and flexible parts, usually with embedded sensors, to replicate the function of human hands and limbs performing surgery. Also 3D printing can make water filters using the chemical properties of plastic, optimizing the quantity of fluoride. Finally, did you know can 3D printing can replicate fingerprints, potential for investigative purposes.


3D Printing: The Meat of The Matter

New Meat Alternative: From Printer to the Plate

A 3D printing startup company, based in Israel, is developing a technology to 3D print meat that is plant-based. The company, Redefine Meat, has recently announced that it was able to raise $6 million in seed money from a variety of investors. The company will use its new capital to finalize its alternative meat 3D printer. It also aims to hit its release goal by 2020. By this period, Redefine Meat will begin to sell its 3D printer and the ingredient packs to a handful of meat processing partners and restaurants.

It was only recently that the company conducted its first public tasting of its 3D printed meat at a restaurant full of diners who had no idea of what was served to them.

The ingredients of the company’s meat are quite simple – three plant protein sources, fat, and water. The secret is in the printing production method, yet they are not telling. While extrusion or pressing is the usual method, Redefine Meat uses 3D printing to give their meat a more realistic texture and mouthfeel. The fibers of the meat are almost real and the way fat and water are trapped in the meat matrix give it the real meat taste.

The company initially plans to sell its meat to restaurants and eventually develop their own retail brand. However, now they plan to sell their 3D printing machine and shelf-stable plant protein ingredient packs to meat companies, In turn, these companies will print their own products to distribute to retail and restaurants. At $100,000 each, Redefine Meat’s 3D printers come exclusively with the company’s suite of protein packs. Starting with beef at first, the company intends to eventually expand to pork and tuna. They will go full blast by 2021.

Redefine Meat is not the only company that’s in this market. Novameat is cutting into the pie as well and is raising its own funding. With growing interest in meat alternatives 3D printing is really inviting serious investments.


Human heart graphic illustration

3D Human Organs with Blood Vessels

A Step Toward a Fully Functional 3D Printed Heart

We’ve heard about 3D printed organs – brain, kidney and heart – so-called “organoids” created by researchers and engineers in their labs, revolutionizing medicine and healthcare. While that is really great news, the real problem is that these organs are still tiny. They have been grown in labs for the last decade in order to be used to study diseases like dementia, cancer and heart attacks.

Additionally, the mini versions don’t have their very own blood vessels. It looks like they are still far from the life-saving organ transplants they were meant to be, needed by more than 100,000 people on US waiting lists.

Due to a critical ceiling, those organoids remained small, up to the size of a lentil. They lack tubes that mimic blood vessels and so researchers have struggled to get oxygen and nutrients into the organs’ core. How could they become full size transplant organs right in the lab, fashioned from patients’ own cells and not subject to rejection?

The answer came from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Researchers there came up with an ingenious way of creating tubes like real blood vessels meandering through the mini-organs. By making organ building blocks from human stem cells, they become mini hearts and brains mixed and compacted at low temperature to form a matrix of cells with the density of human tissue.

A 3D printer using red dye and gelatin will deposit its contents through the cell matrix according to a certain branch pattern. Once printed, the network is heated to 37 degrees Celsuis. As the ink melts it will leave channels lined with human endothelial cells. Through these channels the researchers perfuse the mini-organs with a liquid rich in oxygen and nutrients. In the end, the team was able to keep a 1.5cm mini-heart beating on its own for more than a week.

This development proved to be a huge step toward creating functional human organs outside of the body. The study appears in the journal Science Advances.