Delcam jewellery renders
The British jewellery industry is set to benefit from a £471,000 research and development project headed up by CAD/CAM software and 3D technology expert Delcam.
Entitled PRECIOUS, the initiative began at the beginning of this month with a meeting at Delcam's headquarters in outer-Birmingham, mere shouting distance from the heart of the UK's jewellery-making sector in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter. The project is managed by Delcam and will make a definitive step change to how 3D printing for precious metal jewellery is used through an empirical set of trials, benchmarks and demonstrators making it easier for the entire jeweller supply chain in the UK to design, manufacture and retail to adopt the technology.
The PRECIOUS project is being undertaken by a consortium of five organisations that, in addition to Delcam, includes Cookson Precious Metals, Lionel T Dean/Future Factories, the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC) and Finishing Techniques. Delcam, Cookson Precious Metals and the JIIC all feature in this month's edition of TCT Magazine in a dedicated jewellery series.
The project is receiving a £212,000 support booster from the UK's innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). It is aimed at rapidly bringing to full commercial maturity the process of additive manufacturing of precious metal jewellery items that is currently at varying stages of partial readiness at a small number of UK companies.
Project Manager Jan Willem Gunnink from Delcam stated: "The UK is an internationally recognised and important supplier of quality jewellery to the world's markets but is constantly threatened by cheap imports from low labour cost economies. The PRECIOUS project is intended to offer a viable alternative manufacturing option to those who supply jewellery at the middle to higher end of the bespoke and personalised jewellery market. New online business models that exploit additive manufacturing are expected to be created and should add innovative design driven impetuous to the more traditional high street retailing sectors."
To achieve this goal, a number of important research and development elements will be required:
- An assessment of the current "State-of-the-Art" of both additive manufacturing-related hardware and software tools
- Identifying the supply chain requirements for the introduction of additive manufacturing
- Developing business models for jewellery companies wishing to use additive manufacturing
- Improving the efficiency of pre-processing and post-processing activities within jewellery additive manufacturing.
- Creation of demonstrator projects to promote the technology to jewellery companies.