Autodesk University is a great way to connect with people. Though it is possible to watch the keynotes and audit classes remotely, attending in person allows face to face contact that is the ultimate way to collaborate. While at #AU2016, I met with Johnny van der Zwaag who is a Project Manager of Research and Innovation Projects in our Digital Manufacturing Group and Kelvin Hamilton who is a Technical Consultant in that same group. We discussed how our teams could work together on fabrication-related projects now and in the future.
I thought one of their past projects (when they were part of Delcam) was so hot (it's temperature can only be measured in Kelvin), I said to myself "Johnny be good." [Yes, I have just pegged this blog' s pun-o-meter to the max.] Their project involved 3D printing in gold. My first question was "Did you get to take home the test prints?" "No" was the answer.
Here's a 3-minute video that shows the process from end to end. [I really could use a pile of that gold powder.]
This project was a success because it furthered our knowledge and experience with DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering). DMLS is very dependent on the material being used, in this case, gold powder from Cookson, the process followed, and the machine that does the work, in this case an EOS M080 3D printer. This project was completed in 2015 and showed that jewelry manufacturing could leverage additive manufacturing as part of their production processes because:
- Autodesk software had been sufficiently developed to support such a process.
- Mass finishing techniques can be applied to precious metal additively-manufactured pieces.
- The process can be used to design and make jewelry in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Kelvin pointed out that this work had been covered before:
- dezeen.com: "3D-printed gold collection aims to transform the jewelry industry"
- tct mag: "Delcam showcase the software developed for the 3D printing Precious Project"
but it was new to me, which is why I am sharing it with It's Alive in the Lab readers. IMHO, this project was pure gold. [OK, now I just need to stop that.]
Back in the day, Product Line Manager, Chris Jones, shared his thoughts on the project internally:
Delcam concluded a collaborative project called Precious — a project focused upon the jewelry industry and the supply chain for extending the design experience of customized 18 carat gold jewelry and its manufacture that included 3D printing. The project paid particular attention to how printing directly in gold could reduce the amount of sacrificial fixture supports required, thereby reducing amount of scarring and the time for its removal.
The consortium, led by Delcam, was simple in its makeup with 5 partners that loosely represented a supply chain. We had the:
- designer — Lionel Dean (Future Factories)
- CAD and additive manufacturing (AM) software providers — Delcam
- gold supplier and AM machine supplier — Cookson Precious Metals Ltd
- polishing company — Finishing Techniques
- educationists — Jewelry Industry Innovation Centre, Birmingham City University.
The Delcam team included the PartBuilder development. PartBuilder from the outset has been fundamentally aimed at providing a simple user interface to manage the process of metal printing. PartBuilder demonstrates Delcam’s know-how enabling additive and subtractive manufacture of production quality metal parts. This made Precious and printing jewelry a useful stepping point in the development schedule as jewelry usually requires high surface finish and less concerned with the parts’ integrity, reproducibility, and precision since there is usually no subsequent processes like milling needed.
Reverse alchemy is alive in the lab.