3D Printed ‘precious metal’ Jewellery

A 3D printing technology will be a “shape changer” for the jewellery industry, according to the leading UK supplier of precious metals to the trade. The technology, called laser sintering, is being employed by Cookson Precious Metals to produce jewellery from computer designs. Stella Layton, chief executive of the firm, said as a result, high-street shoppers could expect to see more personalised jewellery offered by retailers. But others say the approach is relatively expensive, and the pieces produced still require significant work before sale. Inside the highly secure Cookson factory in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter many machines hark back to the firm’s long heritage. Large mechanical rollers shape pool-cue sized rods of silver, there’s the sound of metal being worked, and the smell of gas in the air. Laser sintering is different. The machine that Cookson currently use looks like a large piece of office equipment and sounds like a photocopier. Behind a tinted glass panel 18-carat gold powder, laid down by a robot arm, sparkles as a laser fuses the metal into complex three-dimensional shapes, layer by layer. Cookson believes the sintering process, “puts the power in terms of the computer-aided design rather than the bench skills”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21754924

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