Falling on the second Sunday of May every year, Mother’s Day usually arrives amidst the hustle and bustle and promise of spring, with high school and college graduations looming, and exciting summer plans in the making. Much of this business usually includes the mothers of the world who give themselves tirelessly, pouring their time and love into their families. Mother’s Day is a time to honor and offer deep respect for the moms, the step-moms, and those who may be on the precipice of becoming one.
The old stand-bys are there for a reason; after all, who doesn’t love a luxurious bouquet of flowers or a great luncheon or dinner at their favorite restaurant? But make her proud by thinking outside the normal Hallmark holiday box, and treat her to something she would never expect. 3D printing is not only a great way to get a big reaction, but it is also a wonderful opportunity to show off your creative side with gift-giving–especially if you are uploading your own design for 3D printing.
Jewelry is almost always a safe choice, but 3D printing adds extra flair, and in many cases sophistication too. At Shapeways, jewelry is made with the wax casting method. Put very simply, 3D printed wax molds in the shape of the desired structures are filled with molten metal to set and ultimately reveal the jewelry. This type of technology is used for innovative products and high-end jewelry, usually with metals like gold, silver, platinum, copper, and brass.
Here are a few unique businesses that work with Shapeways to 3D print exceptional jewelry designs—many of which would be just perfect for May 9th.
Female Engineers Make Jewelry Designs from Children’s Artwork
Coming together to form Sprout Design Lab during 2020 (as COVID-19 began to force many changes throughout the world), a small team of female engineers has been working together ever since to offer a valuable service in preserving children’s artwork.
“Shapeways has been pivotal to the prototyping of our designs and to the founding of the company,” says Jade Brown, founder of Sprout Design Lab, headquartered in Charleston, SC.
When they mention on their website that the artwork is drawn by children but designed by engineers, that couldn’t be more true as Brown holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Duke University, and was able to draw more of her peers to work in the business. As is the case with numerous other Shapeways customers, Brown discovered 3D printing while on the job after college.
Working at Boeing for five years as a Repair & Design Engineer, Brown not only learned about the concept of 3D printing, but she learned how to use the technology—making it easy for her to put her home 3D printer to work to make a last-minute Mother’s day gift. The defining moment came as she realized she could use her niece’s jewelry design to make a 3D printed pendant as an heirloom. Not only that, but word began to spread regarding Brown’s design and technology prowess, and soon she was in high demand to produce more.
The response to Brown’s work was so positive and overwhelming that she reached out to Shapeways for help with a more polished look, and materials beyond the plastics she was using on her at-home printer. During that time, she was turning Sprout into a full-time business too, along with developing a proprietary system for morphing children’s artwork into clear designs—not always easy considering kids don’t really design for fine jewelry.
“I began working on Sprout full-time right at the beginning of the pandemic. I spent the first six months creating the website, branding, packaging, etc.,” said Brown. “Around August 2020 I reached out to my old engineering co-workers to ask if they might be interested in doing some 3D design work for me once we launched in October.”
“They were on board and I began virtually teaching them the tools and techniques I use. I gave them example children’s drawings to practice with. We now use Hive, a project management system, where they can pick up a design on their own time and track it every step of the way from drawing to jewelry.”
Customers request 3D prints of items like family portraits, children’s first pieces of artwork, their first ‘signatures,’ and more—all of which are converted into family treasures in silver, gold, or platinum.
Not only is the quality and capability of Shapeways jewelry manufacturing on full display with custom necklaces from Sprout, but it’s a great way for parents or grandparents to treasure—and show off—the creativity of their kids.
Find out more about Sprout here.
Architect Turned Jeweler Creates Commemorative 3D Printed Pieces
Lori Steenhoek founded Love, Lori Michelle to make jewelry and also customized pieces that truly mean something to her customers; for example, she recently designed a cuff bracelet in the shape of a gavel for an individual who just became a judge. Steenhoek has a background in architecture and design, and for 16 years, her ‘day job’ has involved creating 3D renderings for architecture and real estate.
Based in Washington, D.C., Steenhoek is very politically inclined and enjoys making customized DC-themed work, as well as designing any types of pieces that promote a good cause or movement. Moving into 3D jewelry design was both enjoyable and intuitive because Steenhoek was already so familiar with making 3D models for her job.
“I got used to making digital 3D models, but felt like something tangible was lacking, and I always wanted to be able to physically manifest some of the designs I was creating,” said Steenhoek. “I started channeling some of my creativity into making small pieces of jewelry for myself and for my family as gifts. I was using the same software and skill-set for modeling buildings, but with jewelry it was on a much different scale and for a different purpose.”
Steenhoek found that her new passion wasn’t without challenge as she really had to re-train her brain in terms of designing to think about new proportions, in millimeters instead of feet or inches, and she had to learn how to master concepts like how big a loop needs to be for a chain to slide through it for a necklace.
Steenhoek’s first piece of jewelry was a small map outline of D.C. with a loop on the back for using it as a pendant. Although she was thinking about purchasing her own 3D printer for home, instead the new designer began reading about Shapeways.
“It seemed like the perfect solution to turn my design into something I could hold and eventually wear. I uploaded my design and decided to test it out in stainless steel first,” said Steenhoek. “Once I held it in my hand, I was hooked!”
“I realized the endless possibilities of creating custom, one-of-a-kind pieces, and things that are meaningful to a specific person.”
Working with Shapeways, Steenhoek began prototyping—often using plastic for testing shapes, and then also stainless steel to examine the weight of a piece of jewelry.
“After that, I switched over to wax casting for the metals, and have expanded my designs into a line of jewelry, as well as custom orders for clients who are looking for something specific.”
Dutch Design Duo Mixes New Technology & Hand Craftsmanship in Jewelry
Amsterdam-based design firm Groen & Boothman specializes in a wide range of industrial design wares, including exquisite jewelry which they create—and Shapeways 3D prints in a variety of materials. In their latest bracelet series, Elements, designers Hanno Groen and Joanna Boothman knew precisely which material they would be using:
“I saw the possibility for 3D printing with wax and silver at Shapeways, and it motivated me to launch this project,” said Groen.
In one of their latest series, the Water and Cosmic bracelet designs, they use computer algorithms to create fascinating patterns like flowing water and crystal shapes to capture the spirit of nature on your wrist.
“Our goal is to manipulate and play with the algorithms to take design to a new level,” says Boothman.
The designers used Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] for prototyping, and then once Shapeways had also 3D printed the wax molds and then cast the silver bracelets, Groen & Boothman took over, displaying high art in putting the finishing touches on with impressive hand craftsmanship in polishing.
Both designers have been working with Shapeways for many years, and while they are meticulous about their designs, they are also very willing to experiment with new material and technologies. For both the Water and Cosmic bracelets, they knew 3D printing was the avenue to pursue for manufacturing such complex geometries.
“There’s an aspect that is more subtle,” said Boothman. “You’ve got this high-tech 3D printing process which gives us these beautiful raw silver parts that we finish by hand.”
“This integration of craft, the marriage of handicraft and the 3D printing, gives that quality you expect from fine jewelry.”
Find out more about the Elements jewelry series, and Groen & Boothman’s products here.
As a global manufacturing partner, Shapeways enjoys working with these extraordinary businesses created by jewelry designers who share a passion for innovative design and quality products. There are so many great pieces of jewelry and ideas to choose from for amazing Mother’s Day gifts, but we encourage you to upload your own designs too. It’s as easy as creating an account, uploading your model, and receiving an instant quote as well as printability analysis.
Enjoy the benefits of advanced technology and a wide range of materials from Shapeways for 3D printing your creations with accuracy, complex detail, and no minimum or limits in terms of mass customization or single part orders. Shapeways has worked with over 1 million customers in 160 countries to 3D print over 20 million parts! Read about case studies, find out more about Shapeways solutions, and get instant quotes here.