Launched during Stockholm Fashion Week in 2013, Swedish jewellery brand, Lumitoro, combines artistic design with technical skill to create unique and thought provoking pieces with CAD design and 3D printing. Led by founder Roberto Chaves these statement pieces fuse art and technology to deliver finished 3D printed pieces in a range of high-quality materials. TCT spoke to the man behind these inspiring collections to find out why 3D printing is proving itself as the perfect manufacturing tool for up and coming jewellery designers.
“I had been sketching all different design ideas for 15 years and following 3D printing technology for about that time and decided I wanted to launch something," Roberto told TCT. "I wanted to find a way of manufacturing things which was more environmentally aware. It took me a lot of research to see what can be done. 3D printing lets you do lots of things but it still has limitations also.”
Lumitoro’s designs are created using Fusion 360, an affordable yet powerful and easy-to-use CAD software from Autodesk. Designing in 3D allows for very complex designs to be optimised for manufacturing and Fusion 360 is able to generate organic designs as solid forms that are ideal for 3D printing.
“I think CAD is starting to get more user friendly," Roberto commented. "Now it’s getting where you either have mechanical CAD parts for construction or you have more organic 3D software that’s been used for games or special effects and things like that. For many years they have wanted to get closer to each other to have the freedom of organic design as well as having the technical control. There’s still stuff I want to do that no software has yet but I think it’s moving in the right direction and that is also being pushed by 3D printing as that becomes more accessible.”
Though the brand has been in existence for the last two years, Lumitoro considers itself to be in the startup phase of its lifetime. Roberto insists the growth of technology and accessibility of CAD design software and 3D printing have played a major role in giving startups like themselves the chance to position themselves in the industry with the right tools to move forward. Suddenly the need for major investment or backing from a big company has been displaced by the demand for technical skills and desktop prototyping equipment.
“It’s getting more accessible to smaller designers and the tools are also getting more user friendly so you don’t need much training," Roberto explained. "We have four different 3D printers which all have pros and cons but that allows me to do a lot of prototyping and send off to the more expensive machines. Even if you have companies that can offer 3D printing for you it still might be several weeks lead time before you can actually see it is producible. But if you actually have your own machines to start up then you know the chances of it actually working on other machines. I think that’s important.”
Roberto says his design process usually starts with traditional paper sketches which he will then reproduce in Fusion. Some ideas go straight to 3D which is then followed by prototyping on either an FDM printer for quick visual reference or an SLA printer for smaller details. The final prints are usually created in a range of sterling silver, steel and bronze materials.
Roberto says he finds inspiration absolutely everywhere. From different cultures to the behaviour of a fallen Q-tip in his bathroom providing the basis for some of his collections. Really.
“I had a lot of Q tips that had fallen on the bathroom floor that was actually the inspiration for making something that has the feeling of randomness and how physically things are placed on top of each other,” Roberto explained. “I have sketches and prototypes of 10 new collections so I get ideas from all sorts of things.”
As a photographer with over a decade of experience, Roberto has perfected the art of macro photography, an extreme close up technique which focuses on exploring areas of an object that you wouldn’t normally see.
“A lot of my photography has been interested in exploring and showing the beauty of things that you might not normally notice,” Roberto commented. “I try to do the inverse of that when creating my designs by making a design that invites exploration so you want to figure out "okay how are these put together or how is it connected".”
Though technology may be on his side for creating these strange and complex pieces, Roberto ensures he keeps his trusty notebook close by when travelling to capture those little sparks of inspiration.
“Travelling is a great way of finding inspiration seeing how things work in other countries. I always try to keep a notebook nearby to do drawings in because even if I think an idea’s really great – a week will go by and I will think “what was that great idea?”. That’s really what I’ve been doing and now the times have matured, the technology is there so I can actually start producing some of it.”
Tubii pendant raw bronze.
Jewellery might be Lumitoro’s current area of expertise but Roberto has some bold ambitions for homeware. Starting with 3D printed ceramic vases, mugs and lamps which should be ready in the not too distant future, the designer says that with the right tools he plans to move onto even bigger projects.
Roberto commented: “I have ideas for furniture that would be awesome to 3D print – I hope to find companies that come up with new technologies.”
Jewellery is a major sector in the 3D design and 3D printing industry and developments in materials and machines mean that the technology is becoming an increasingly popular way of getting designs to market. As machine prices become more accessible and traditional jewellery benches make way for smaller additive manufacturing machines, 3D printing is helping to introduce a new wave of pioneering designs. Roberto thinks development in materials and post processing are key to improving the industry.
“Being able to get more materials is interesting and maybe mixing materials. I think surface finish is something - there are metal printers that can print directly in gold or silver but they still have to polish because you want a nice surface and you can’t print that," Roberto explained. “I would like to have 3D printers that are maybe a combination of 3D printers and CNC machines that could print a layer and polish it right away then print the next layer. I think there is a lot to be explored there. It’s finding that balance between what can be done now and how can I work with the limitations to create something hopefully unique.”