HOW TO GROW A RING: Green Lake prints jewelry in 3D

January 26th, 2012
Categorized under: CAD Modeling, Jewelry

A recent TED Talk on trends in how things are made from Digital Forming’s CEO Lisa Harouni discussed the future democratization of 3D printing:  Digital data-fed machines that rapidly ‘grow’ physical replicas of virtual models microscopic layer by layer. Beyond the purposes of prototyping product innovations and scale models, 3D printing technology is enabling the quick and efficient production of designs-on-demand; creating totally custom, ‘just-one-of,’ personal creations.

And we’re not just talking about configuring something out of predefined parts and assemblies to somewhat reflect a personal style, as is presently done with cars and sneakers – we mean things that are made one time only, for really just one person only, and done so at a reasonable cost and convenience.

Grown in batches, X,Y, and Z axis information is formed with intricate exactitude.

Jewelry is an especially personal object, and as such, this kind of product customization continues to thrive in the industry. As Green Lake was originally founded in the idea that fine jewelry can (and should) be completely customizable at a reasonable cost,technology has been integrated and leveraged greatly within our shop.

Green Lake employs state-of-the-art 3d printing technology to create one-of-a-kind jewelry with unmatched detail.


How rings are made: Traditionally, blocks of wax were carved by hand into ring shapes and encased in plaster that was exposed to heat, where the wax was melted out to reveal hollow spaces with matched complexity. Those spaces were filled with hot metal to cool, and then finally a ring in precious metal would be revealed. Lost wax casting is ancient art used in very much the same way today.

Redefining the way things were made, especially jewelry, 3D computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technologies allowed for fast transfer of digital data detailing any given X,Y,and Z axis of a 3D model to a milling machine, which essentially removed excess material from a block of wax to reveal a shape in the same fashion an old-world craftsmen would have – only with significantly more precision and efficiency.

Still, contemporary CAD/CAM set-ups can only get so detailed in their carving of materials like hardened wax, and only so minute.  Rather than removing material, this new wave of growing models layer by layer in a 3D priniting environment achieves a crispness of detail and complexity that an artist may otherwise only be able to accomplish in a virtual environment – and let alone offer for a reasonable price.

Palladium ring featuring a black diamond and Nouveau raised patterns. The delicate detail in this piece that was cast from a grown model is evident in comparison to its demure dime-sized stature.

Assuredly, at Green Lake we take on projects that call for all types of wax model creation – from the old time-tested hand carving method to the efficiency of CAD/CAM technologies. We do it all. But 3D produces unprecedented precision, making some ideas that could have only existed in the mind, just as beautiful on the hand.

And while something so finite and mechanical can surprisingly produce pieces so romantically nuanced, we still have a hard time believing the dinner that might be printed in the future will be romantic at all…