Since its introduction to the world in the 1980's, 3D printing is now revolutionising the way we can design and make things. Like magic, a design is taken from a computer model built on 3D modelling software and then printed in a variety of materials.
For coloured polymer, an additive process is used by where successive horizontal layers of powered nylon are laid down and fused to the previous layer by selective laser sintering. The material that is not set by the laser is built up around the model during printing and acts as a support to allow for complex and interlocking forms. Once allowed to cool the loose powder is brushed away to reveal the finished print. Printed with white nylon powder the model is then dyed to the desired colour and finally cleaned and polished.
3D printed in wax using photo polymerisation, a container of liquid polymer is exposed to computer guided lighting causing the exposed liquid polymer to harden. As the build plate moves, the liquid polymer is each time exposed to light. The process repeats until the model is complete. The liquid polymer is then drained from the container, leaving a solid wax model. The wax model is then cast in plaster and using the ancient lost wax process the wax is melted out leaving a cavity to pour in the liquid precious metal. Once the precious metal has hardened the plaster is removed to reveal your finished design. Cleaned and polished, 3D printing in precious metals combines a modern advanced approach with a traditional craft technique.