A breakthrough technology originally used to create prototypes in the manufacturing industry has made the giant leap to precious jewelry design, according to webpronews.com. It's not inconceivable that the fabulous, free-flowing 14-karat gold pendant you receive during this holiday season will have been born in a 3D printer.
It's hard to believe, but 3D printers now have the ability to convert a CAD file into a three-dimensional object by "printing" and fusing layer upon layer of precious metal powder. Each layer is liquefied and fused using a focused laser beam in a process called laser sintering. The layers are typically 20 micrometers thick (.00078 inches).
This process allows for highly complex geometries to be created directly from the 3D CAD data, fully automatically, in hours and without any special tools.
Making a strong play in the jewelry 3D printing arena is the London-based Cookson Precious Metals, which has developed a process called Precious M 080. The process allows jewelers to submit any design, no matter the complexity, and the device will create the final product in less time, more accurately and less expensively than any traditional method. The device also can be used for the mass production applications.
The future of "e-manufacturing" can extend as far as one's imagination and initiative, and if you believe the futurists, this nascent technology has the power to spark the "third industrial revolution" and "change everyday life as we know it."
As more applications emerge and the cost of the equipment comes down, more industries are taking a closer look. These include footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering, construction, automotive, aerospace, dental, medical, civil engineering and many others.