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Shapeways launch their 14k gold
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Shapeways gold bars
UPDATE: Shapeways have now published a video of the finishing processes used to make their 14K gold sparkle check it out above.
Now that 3D printing is so embedded into the public psyche it's important for the layman to understand this is not one technology to rule them all, but a new tool that can enhance old manufacturing processes rather than detract from them.
Shapeways are leading the way in terms of the amounts of materials they are able to offer on their 3D printing marketplace, but what many won't realise is just how many steps are involved for the New Yorkers to offer their new 14 carat gold service.
Not including the pre-print cleanup and design there are a total of five steps in manufacturing an item of jewellery in gold from Shapeways:
- The model is printed in a high resolution wax.
- The model is placed into a container and plaster is poured over to make a negative mould.
- The wax is then burnt out in a furnace.
- Molten gold is poured into the negative and allowed to set
- The model is then polished and cleaned by hand before being sent to your door.
The 3D printing aspect is just one step of five. The other four steps are processes that have been around, in the shape of Lost-Wax Casting, for almost 6,000 years. What 3D printing adds is the ability to create complex shapes and not worry about having to be able to sculpt said object.
You might be a wizard in CAD but absolutely useless with you hands, meaning you'd need a human to manually make the positive to create the negative. This is not only costly but time consuming, with 3D printing intricacy is free; a user does not have to worry about how to manufacture jewellery, just how it looks.
With Shapeways' unique business model a designer never has to think of the manufacturing process, they only have to worry about how appealing their product is - all of the dirty work is done by Shapeways in either New York or Eindhoven.
This gold on offer however is not cheap the first picture in the gallery above, Droplet Pendant by LIFIC, is $86 in Premium Silver - the second most expensive material - and a whopping $900 in the solid 14k gold offering.