If two people can make a trend, then designing and 3D printing cufflinks for groomsmen gifts is officially a hot item. After we posted about Dan making silver cufflinks for his groomsmen, Michael Schur reached out to show us the cufflinks he created for his wedding party. The designs were so popular, he now sells them as part of a side business Cffs!
Naturally we had a few questions for him.
What inspired you to make cufflinks for your groomsmen?
I designed custom monograms for each of my groomsmen and had them made as a way to ask the guys to stand up. To continue the theme for a day of thank-you gift, I wanted to make something personal they could wear at the wedding and also wear again and again. Cufflinks seemed liked the right accessory, but I didn’t want to go back down the monogram route. After playing around with different ideas I landed what is now called the “Profile Collection.”
I used my friends’ silhouettes to create the shape itself. Each groomsmen sent me a picture of their profile and I created a silhouette that I then revolved 360 degrees to make the front part of each of their cuffs. The result was an understated front face with the rich detailing of their profiles as the edges. To tie the design together I took their silhouettes and used it two-dimensionally as the backing.
What brought you to 3D print them with Shapeways?
I used a personal desktop 3D printer to refine some prototypes, and then went to a jeweler to have him cast them in silver. The result was underwhelming. He wasn’t able to provide the resolution I needed and was prohibitively expensive. I turned to Shapeways in a last ditch effort to save the idea and the results were stunning. The quality, detail and resolution of the final product was unmatched, and it cost 55% less to make them than what the high-end jeweler had charged.
Did you have experience creating cufflinks or jewelry prior to this?
I started 3D modeling all the way back in 2002 during my first years of architecture school but prior to this project I had not designed cufflinks or jewelry. I’ve found designing such small objects to have its own set of challenges and opportunities, but it has been extremely fun and exciting to work at this scale with such an array of materials.
How did this evolve from a wedding gift into a business?
My groomsmen absolutely loved the cufflinks and so did all of the professionals (planner, dresser, photographer, etc.) we had helping us at our wedding. One of those professionals helps style wedding magazine spreads and asked to use them in a shoot soon after our wedding. Having made 10 different sets for the bridal party, I was confident in my design process and knew it could scale nicely into a business.
How is the business doing?
Business is currently growing and we are looking forward to what is shaping up to be a busy wedding season!
What advice do you have for other people who want to turn their hobby or design into a business on Shapeways?
The thing I love most about fabricating and manufacturing through 3D printing is that I am able to test ideas and designs very rapidly and then get them into customers’ hands without worrying about the costs of scaling the fabrication technique and having to sell a large amount of inventory. This allows me to design and make a lot of different things, put them all out into the world, and have the consumer decide what they like best.
If I were to give advice it would be to just continue to design and make and put your designs out there. If you don’t sell anything you are only out your own time, and even that can’t be a total loss because I am sure you learned a lot along the way that can be applied to your next design.