CadBlu Revolutionizes Jewelry Production in LA

Posted by Editor On April - 6 - 2017

CADBlu Revolutionizes Jewelry Production in LA

3D Systems may very well have perfected 3D printing in wax

By Gregory van Zuyen

Up until now, 3D printing in wax has been an unreliable event. With too many narrow margins, servicing a 3D wax printer over and over again was a foregone conclusion.

Things are different now. 3D Systems has launched their ProJet MJP 2500 Wax Series and CadBlu — one among a few companies representing 3D Systems in Los Angeles with other branches located nationwide— hosted a launch of the MJP 2500 at the Los Angeles Athletic Club on Wednesday, April 5.

Sandi Kirwin, a jewelry designer and a student in 3D printing at Santa Monica College Continuing Education joined me to see if what 3D Systems was saying was true.

Stephanie Barberree of CadBlu greeted us and escorted us into the conference room where the ProJet MJP 2500 was in full operation. JP Velasco, applications engineer for CadBlu, was on hand to process the printed wax rings as they were removed from the print bed tray.

For those unfamiliar with the Los Angeles landscape, downtown LA is a warren of industry districts — flowers, toys, garments. The Los Angeles Athletic Club is a remarkable hotel in the heart of what is LA’s jewelry district. Where else, of course, would you display this printer capable of producing a 11-inch by 8-inch tray of rings in three hours. All of this with a 16 micron resolution. The wax prints looked great, even under a loop.

CadBlu was offering leasing options at $1000 a month for five years and jewelers were showing up and talking deals. If ever there was an industry in need of this development, it’s the jewelry trade. This is big money, with big security concerns and no funny business. Investments here are only made wisely, if ever. Moving 3D printing in-house for jewelry only makes sense, and what impressed Sandi was the value of her education in CAD design for 3D printing. There will be more jobs out there for people like Sandi, and only the highly-trusted will be working in this district.

CADBlue Revolutionizes Jewelry Production in LA

JP explained to us the printer’s support material. The purple wax rings could be seen in imbedded in a white, softer wax. JP carefully removed each ring and placed them in a bath of 91% isopropyl alcohol for several minutes to dissolve the softer wax. As each ring was relieved of its support material, JP fished them out of the bath and set them to dry before carefully bagging them for guests. He told us how delighted he was with the printer and you could tell he was. The MJP 2500 was designed for this job. It was designed for this industry. To do this. At least 30 rings at a time, some the size of Superbowl rings.

The ProJet MJP 2500 works on binder jet technology, misting each 16 micron layer with wax that cools immediately in the ambient air. Each ring, in terms of material cost, is about a dollar. Not bad for items clearly intended for thousand dollar price tags when they are jeweled. This would explain the hushed tone of the questions from the prospective customers attending yesterday’s event in the jewelry district. JP noted that the museum-like atmosphere of the launch was to be expected from this gathering.

“These guys play everything close to the chest,” JP confided. “They even manipulate our software to create special effects, and then refuse to let us see what they did.”

For more on CadBlu, visit their website at http://www.cadblu.com/.

For examples of how 3D printing is influencing jewelry design, please see our article on the Baselworld 2017 jewelry design awards.

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