Category Archives: Jewelry

Designer Spotlight: Sonia Verdu

Shapeways designer Sonia Verdu hails from Madrid, Spain – and she embodies the creativity of the city she calls home. “I was born in a very creative and not too conventional-minded family,” Sonia told us, adding, “I think this helped me follow heart rather than my head.” Her Shapeways shop captures that spirit, with designs that run the gamut from an intricate star-shaped locket to a series of adorable phone stands to fully articulated doll and robot figurines. We talked with Sonia about how she got started, and what inspires her.

How did you learn to design in 3D?
I’ve always liked sculpting and painting, and although I did not see many career opportunities in the world of art, I decided to get a Bachelor of Arts at university and study Artistic Ceramics in an art school. I learned digital modeling in 3D mainly on my own. At university I learned only traditional techniques of painting and sculpting, as I considered it very important to have that base. Later, I worked as a designer, and since I was really interested in digital modeling, I started to watch tutorials on the internet and fell in love with Blender, a professional-grade, open source software. I’m still learning to model with this program and I think I still have a lot to learn. 

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
A friend, Gianluca Owen, an expert in 3D printing, suggested it. I listened to him and started to share my designs here. I think this is a fantastic website where you can find a huge number of interesting designs, and it’s a great source of inspiration – besides having the possibility to test different materials to print my designs.

In terms of who has served as an inspiration, well, this question is very difficult to answer because there are many designs that inspire me. Some of the designers are Brian Chan, Nervous System, and Rustylab.

Your smartphone holders are adorable. How did you come to that idea?
My idea was to create several mobile holders in the shape of animals, that were cute and childish and at the same time very simple.

What inspired the two tiny robots in your shop?
The idea of designing these robots came up after designing toys for my children. I wanted to create cute robots and, like the above mobile holders, with a childish appearance and rounded corners.

Lantea the Jointed Doll is incredibly well-designed. Was it a challenge having to keep assembly in mind when designing for that model?
Yes, Lantea was a great challenge for me and, although it took me a long time for the complexity of the assembly, it was a lot of fun. Besides, in every new design of a jointed doll I learn new things, and that encourages me to do more and more.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
Since I left university, I’ve had in mind the idea of making sculptures and combining them with water, and I believe 3D printing could be a great tool for this project. I would like to make it come true someday.

We hope Sonia does realize her dream of multimedia 3D printed sculptures. We’ll make sure to share them when she does. Do you have a project you’d like us to showcase? Leave a comment below!

Brand Spotlight: ALEPHba Jewelry

Structured, minimal, and personalized are just a few words that describe ALEPHba jewelry. ALEPHba was created by an architect and a scientist who both needed to find a perfect present for a mutual friend. The initial ring transformed into an entire collection and with that, the team grew twofold. ALEPHAba now includes Morteza, Kylee, Tommaso, and Efthymia. We were lucky to get a chance to speak with Morteza and the team this week about their experience opening ALEPHba and where they see the brand heading.

The ALEPHba team includes Morteza, Kylee, Tommaso, and Efthymia. How did you all come together to create ALEPHba?

I think it started about a year ago when Efthymia and I wanted to get a gift for a common friend and I remember I just had heard of Shapeways at the time and I really wanted to try it out. I work as an architectural designer in New York and because of that I’m fairly familiar with 3D printing and 3D software in general. So we quickly modeled what we could now call ALEPHba’s first prototype ring, and that was about it. It was only after that first prototype was very well-received in the design community that we thought of making ALEPHba jewelry a thing.

Render of the collection by ALEPHba

I was very lucky to have such talented friends like Kylee and Tomasso who offered their help to make ALEPHba become a reality. Both of them bring a lot of new ideas to the table and helping us grow as a brand. It’s a new experience for all of us, and what’s important is that each of us learns something new along the way.

M prototype in strong & flexible

Your ring designs are elegantly minimal and personalized. Where did the inspiration for the core design come from?

What really inspired us in the first place was the alphabet itself, the fact that so many words with so much meaning come from putting a limited number of letters in a specific order.

We wanted to make a collection that is not just about the jewelry piece itself, but rather about the person who’s wearing it. We designed each letter of the alphabet elegantly to both stand on its own as a unique piece and complement others when paired in endless combinations.

Our work is an expression of alphabet in a three dimensional form, similar to the art of calligraphy that is the expression of alphabet in two dimensions.

 Your shop is beautiful, complete with custom renders and photos. What is your process for creating these designs and the overall brand? Does each member focus on a different feature?

One of the main goals we had launching the new collection of ALEPHba jewelry and the new website was to focus on building a brand identity, and all of us contributed to envisioning what that is. Beautiful renderings and accurate photos are an essential part of this effort. Another option we wanted to make sure we give our customers was sizing.

We knew the combination of different sizes and different letters of alphabet would be plenty. So we took advantage of parametric design tools to expedite production of different options and sizes.

The sizing chart you have created is not only beautiful but functional. Could you tell us a bit why you found a need to create it?

ALEPHba size guide

Our size guide is part of a bigger effort we made in making the online shopping experience for jewelry a bit easier.

We knew that the fit is extremely important for a person buying a ring or bracelet, but unfortunately there’s a gap between the customer and the physical product in online shopping experience. We wanted to help bridge that gap with our size guide.

Business cards double as ring sizers

We designed it to be beautiful and serve a purpose. It is made in the form of a bracelet so it can be worn like one. On the surface, there are ten circular holes, each representing a ring size. You can find your ring size by trying each of the holes around your finger until one fits perfectly. That would be your ring size.

Our collection currently only includes rings, but we are already working on bracelets and other items. The size guide can also help finding your bracelet size. Just wear the piece around your wrist as you would with any cuff bracelets. If it’s a good fit, then your bracelet size is Medium. If you find it very loose around your wrist, you’re probably a Small. But if the fit is too tight, you should probably go with the Large.

Shapeways’ inexpensive option for plastic prints and quick turnaround was a key factor for us deciding to make something like this. We’re hoping the turnaround time is even shorter in the future.

Looking forward, where is ALEPHba headed?

We’re very excited to launch our new website that’s integrated with Shapeways and see what the reaction is from the community.

3D printing has a lot of potential in jewelry design, and we’re happy to be part of this movement. We are already working on adding new products to our collection and have a lot of cool ideas that our fans should expect to hear about on our Instagram and Twitter.

We would really love to get more engaged with our customers and hear what they think and how we can improve our products.

We are working on setting up a small pop-up store in Brooklyn with samples of our products to engage with more people and give them a chance to see and try the products for themselves.

If you would like to learn more about ALEPHba or pick up your very own ring, check out their Shapeways shopInstagram, or website.

No Snow? Here’s How to Make Your Own

Snowflakes have always captured the imagination. And, in a winter where even Chicago has (mostly) gone without snow, our imaginations are now more important than ever. Snowflakes also happen to lend themselves well to parametric design, a method of creating around parameters that can turn one design into many.

Today, we’ll learn how to turn one design, a simple snowflake, into multiple products in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. We’ll start with simple low-res 3D prints and prototypes on desktop FDM machines, and eventually level up to printing in Nylon and Plated Rhodium at Shapeways. Along the way, we’ll have to consider ways to optimize for 3D printing on different types of machines, and how to print affordably with different types of materials. The snowflake design we’ll be working with was created with code in OpenSCAD, and can procedurally generate over a billion unique snowflakes. Let it snow!


3D Printing Snowflakes at Home

Each winter, we make a new 3D-printable snowflake design. Back in 2013, when we didn’t know very much, it was a set of simple Snowflake Ornaments created from extruded SVG images. In 2014 we leveled up to a customizable Snowflake Cutter that used symmetric image maps to mimic the way snowflakes are cut out of folded paper, and in 2015 it was a full-blown Snowflake Machine that uses OpenSCAD code to generate over a billion unique snowflakes in different styles from random seeds.

These flexible digital designs can create many different types of snowflake models, including large decorations, small ornaments, and even cookie cutters, all of which we initially printed on a consumer-level Ultimaker desktop 3D printer:

     

We’ll talk soon about how we converted these designs for printing in SLS Nylon and Metals at Shapeways, but first let’s talk about the parametric design itself.

How to Code a Blizzard

The Snowflake Machine was created in OpenSCAD, a free design program that allows you to use simple code to create and export 3D-printable STL meshes. The power of designing with OpenSCAD is that it is “parametric,” which means that you can construct your designs based on variables and parameters that control the behavior and features of your models.

In real life, snowflakes grow outwards from a core center as they fall through different temperatures, humidity levels, and other atmospheric conditions. These conditions add “plates” and “branches” of various sizes and configurations to the snowflake as it falls. The code for the Snowflake Machine mimics this process, using a random number seed to create many random number sequences that determine the algorithmic creation of plates and branches. Sizing and style parameters allow you to influence the random sequences to create snowflakes with more or fewer plates, fuller or sparser shapes, and so on.

You can make your own unique 3D-printable snowflake designs using the customizable interface of the Snowflake Machine that we uploaded to Thingiverse. Go to the link and click “Open in Customizer” to get started, then change the starting seed and style parameters until you get the snowflake you want. By clicking “Create Thing” you can download an STL of your custom snowflake and then 3D print it at home or by sending to Shapeways.

If you want to have more design flexibility with your snowflake models, then you can download and modify the “Snowflakerator” code from our Hello OpenSCAD one-page tutorial document. For more information on getting started with OpenSCAD, check out our recent Shapeways Tutorial Tuesday post Using OpenSCAD to Design With Code.

Printing Snowflake Ornaments in SLS Nylon

Last year, we decided it was time to level up and 3D print snowflakes on some big-girl machines, with fancy materials like SLS Nylon and even jewelry-quality silver. Of course we don’t have the equipment to do such things from home, so it was time to visit Shapeways!

Of course, printing with industrial-grade machines is different than printing with desktop filament-based machines, and the requirements for things like clearances or minimum thickness can be very different. For example, in SLS Nylon we can print much more detailed and delicate snowflakes then we had printed before. By changing parameters in our OpenSCAD code, we created two dozen new snowflakes optimized for printing at Shapeways in White Strong & Flexible material, a set of Small Snowflake Ornaments and a set of Large Snowflake Ornaments:

To save on per-part costs (which in White Strong & Flexible would be $1.50 for each disconnected piece of our print job), we used Tinkercad to arrange each dozen snowflakes on a thin rod, as shown in the pictures below. The rod can be easily snipped off after printing and shipping. Check out this past post for more tips on how to make models less costly. Tinkercad is a great tool for such simple modifications; for more on that see our Shapeways Tutorial Tuesday post Beginner 3D Design With Tinkercad. For more technical design tips on converting filament designs to SLS Nylon designs, check out our Hacktastic post From Prototype to Product: Snowflakes.

Printing Snowflake Earrings in Multiple Materials

Since holiday trees are only around for a little while but snowflakes can be fun all winter, we also decided to make some snowflake earrings. Earrings are basically just smaller ornaments, but if we simply scaled down our designs from above then their features would be too small, especially for printing in metals.

In the end, we decided to completely remake the flakes with different OpenSCAD parameters and seeds, and made six new designs. We tried to make them as delicate as possible while still having enough minimum thickness for printing in a wide variety of materials. The six designs we settled on were Flurry, Frost, Powder, Ice, Crystal, and Blizzard, shown here printed in six different materials:

Of course, we also need some hooks! After some experimenting we settled on what are called “Kidney wire” earring hooks, because the dangly snowflake prints can just slip around and onto the hooks without us having to deal with opening or closing any metal loops, as shown in the photo below left.

As a final step we altered our designs to be printable in metal; this involved closing up some of the smaller holes in each model so that it would pass the Shapeways Printability Checks for Precious Metals. With Shapeways’ new Variants feature, we were able to add new files to our existing product pages that would be used only when customers opted for printing in Precious Metals like Plated Rhodium.

Okay, that’s enough snowflakes for this winter! Let us know in the comments if you’ve used the Snowflake Machine to make any 3D-printable designs, or if you have questions about Variants, Printability Checks, design tips, or anything else. Or, leave a comment if you’ve ever turned one parametric model into a flurry of different prints and products; we’d love to see what you made.

Trendspotting at Capsule

This past weekend, the team took a field trip to Capsule, a fashion and accessories trade show that’s more like a curated collection of incredible accessory microbrands. It’s basically a trendspotter’s mecca, and a great indicator of what accessories are making a splash this season and next. There was an endless variety of designs, but we spotted some solid trends that we thought might spark some serious inspiration.

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The team made sure to accessorize with 3D printed bling for this adventure – special shout-out to STONEDALONE’s Cassiopeia Ring (top left) and Noa’s Geometric Rhombus Ring (bottom).

Chokers

While chokers have been definitely having a moment (for a minute), we spotted some gorgeous, unexpected iterations of the classic style. Below are some great grown-up versions for any fans of the tattoo choker necklaces from the ‘90s (I’ve recently brought mine back out).

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The Leandra Necklace by One Six Five

 

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Roped In by Alter Ego Adornment

Snazzy rings and hand bling

We’re all about people thinking outside the box when it comes to rings (see office favorite the Cassiopeia) so we were particularly excited to spot some stunning statement pieces that are sure to make every gesture unspeakably fabulous. The accessories below deserve a hand (or two). And yes, every pun in this piece is 100% intended.

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Ring by Tamarzizt

 

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Turquoise Hand Bracelet by Estee Mila

 

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Snake-Branch Ring by Paula Hagerskans

Earcuffs

There’s always going to be something exciting about earcuffs because they lend themselves to the illusion that you have more piercings than you actually do. As a girl who nearly passed out from a cartilage-piercing experience at a mall (I know, it’s so bad), really love these little jewelry hacks that let me look tougher than I am.

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Catch earrings by Alter Ego Adornment

 

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The Eyelash ear crawler by One Six Five

These trends are already well-reflected across designers’ shops on Shapeways, so we’d encourage you to snatch up the 3D printed chokers, rings, and earcuffs that will keep you ahead of the curve.

Is There Anything This Designer CAN’T Make?

Fashion has always been a rich breeding ground for design innovation, and 3D printing has ushered in new ways of creating for designers from every discipline. Rarely, however, do we see a single designer whose work spans fashion, industrial design, miniatures, and much more. Bilal Khan of BMK Design, whose Shapeways shop reveals only one facet of his incredible range, let us in on a groundbreaking jewelry project that he completed for his client TooShoes. Using Shapeways to iterate and test his design, Bilal developed a gorgeous, elegant shoe adornment designed to withstand daily wear — and turn simple pumps into statement-making, one-of-a-kind footwear. For a glimpse inside the mind of a truly versatile designer, read the full interview below.

Heel jewelry created for TooShoos

Heel jewelry created for TooShoos

In your Shapeways shop, you focus on amazing figurines. Normally, we don’t see designers cross over from fantasy characters to jewelry, so I’m particularly interested in how you came to design the gorgeous heel jewelry you shared with us. Outside of Shapeways, do you focus on jewelry design?

I’m basically a design enthusiast with experience in varying design fields and contrasting skill sets as far as modeling tools and design methodologies are concerned. By profession, I’m a mechanical engineer, and I’ve been independently developing products for clients for the past four years. My urge for design — and being inspired by all types of designers — from digital sculptors to industrial designers and fashion designers, led me to learn and develop skill sets away from my core expertise. To date, I’ve developed products in consumer, mechanical equipment, automotive, medical, fashion, and footwear. I also spend time developing interior designs for building spaces and front end web designing.

One heel jewelry option, designed for TooShoos

One heel jewelry option, designed for TooShoos

The Shop

I have been blessed to have been introduced to these varying fields by my clients for whom I take the challenge of developing these novel products in various segments. The miniatures you saw at my shop were the result of an offshoot of the skills I developed while creating board game miniatures for my client. But, I did not want to stop at just that project and decided to enhance my skills and extend it to the physical desktop toys that you see at my shop.

Jewelry for Heels

Similarly, this jewelry design project regarding heels was also a brainchild of my client who did not know how to approach it to make a complete working product out of the idea. I was eventually able to design this latching mechanism with a clamping, modular jewel holding option. The process of developing the product required some engineering, loads of brainstorming, and a few iterations of prototypes to perfect the fit. Obviously, the prototyping was possible because of Shapeways. I printed most of the prototypes, developed during the project, from Shapeways, and for the final piece, we produced the product with gold-plated brass from Shapeways.

From TheBMKdesign.com

From TheBMKdesign.com

Focus on personal jewelry designs

In the past I’ve developed jewelry for my family and friends. I’m currently working on developing my line of jewelry focusing on Mughal and traditional styles alongside contemporary and modern art pieces. You can find a few pieces on my website, though they’re still a work in progress. When it’s ready, you’ll see these and many other designs up on my shop at Shapeways.

A gorgeous work in progress

A gorgeous work in progress

Tell us a bit about the heel jewelry you designed. This seems like a completely novel way to approach shoe adornment, but it’s also lovely, practical, and feels like a natural evolution in footwear accessories. How did you come to the idea?

Indeed it is. To be honest, the idea was brainchild of my client. My part of the job was to make it real and develop a mechanism that would work and yet be aesthetically pleasing. Initially the client wanted a single piece of jewelry that somehow clings on to the heel and the embellishment can give a new look to the shoe every time. The real task was to make sure that the latching mechanism clings on to the heel somehow having minimum visibility of the latching mechanism and maximum visibility to the jewel, keep the cost low and make it durable.

After critical design analysis, I realized that the best way to cling to the heel would be via the bottom, other approaches considered included a Velcro based approach that basically hugged the heel just like a cloth would but that and a few other options were quickly disregarded because of lack of durability and ruggedness. Eventually we decided to go for a metal approach, where the jewel and the latching base were both made out of metal.

I also realized that making the product modular would save our customers cost and would provide the same effective product. This was the reason why the jewel and the base latch were developed as separate components.

A brief on the development process can be found here.

Now, these designs are on the shelves at TooShoos, a UK-based jewelry company. Being a designer of the product, it gives me great sense of achievement that my client was able to generate a business through the product.

A heel jewelry attachment designed for TooShoos

A heel jewelry attachment designed for TooShoos

What’s next for you? Any other projects you’d like to share?

There are loads of ideas and personal projects I am working on in parallel. One of my upcoming lines is called pencil heads. I will be featuring those on my Shapeways shop too. These are cute little animals (coated full color sandstone) which would act both as a paperweight and a pencil head. I have already ordered them from Shapeways and as soon as I receive them and complete my tests they will be up for grabs at my shop.

Another project is a tool for craftsmen and armatures alike called happy thumbs, it will also be up for grabs on Shapeways soon.

The upcoming Pencil Heads project

The upcoming Pencil Heads project

Thanks for letting us in on your design process, Bilal! If you’ve worked on an amazing product you’d like to share, or have any questions for Bilal, make sure to leave a comment below.

Introducing: Making Good

Posted by in 3D Printing, Jewelry

We live in a fascinating time when, increasingly, technology enables everyday people to make their voices heard. From the Ice Bucket Challenge to Kickstarter, you, me, and our friends and family can very easily jump online and find a resource that could help us raise money for a cause we care about, fund a new product, raise awareness, and more.

Shapeways has a unique place in this new world: We bring products to life. That means that you can turn your passion for a cause into a product for sale — a source of fundraising — with zero investment. And Shapeways designers are doing just that. Designing keychains, pendants, rings, and objects that have a special meaning to their makers and their causes. In our new series, Making Good, we’ll tell the stories of those who are leading the way. Today, we’re excited to kick things off with three Shapeways designers who are already making (for) good on our platform.

pink ribbon

When Marjolein van der Vleuten and her family faced the challenge of her mother’s breast cancer, it inspired her to go beyond the boundaries of her family’s struggle and help raise funds to find a cure. Not only did she work with Shapeways designer Debbie Claxton to design swag like this gorgeous Pink Ribbon pin (benefitting Pink Ribbon), she and her Shapeways-sponsored team tackled the toughest cycling course in the French alps in support of the Dutch Cancer Society.

Taking a broader approach to philanthropy, LikeSyrup is a longtime Shapeways shop owner who channels all of his proceeds to a range of causes. Scott Denton, the designer behind LikeSyrup, explains that he’s “decided to donate all of the funds from purchases on Shapeways to charities in line with furthering our common goal to peace and prosperity.” Scott makes lovely, imaginative everyday jewelry pieces that each make their own statement. And now, behind the scenes, they also make a statement in terms of where your purchase makes an impact.

likesyrup

We also recently learned of another designer, Melanie Palishen, who uses Shapeways to create beautiful, meaningful products for charitable initiative the Battle Axe Project. She doesn’t offer the necklaces she creates through her Shapeways shop, but rather 3D prints the basic shape with us, then personally adds a touch of sparkling bling to polish it off. As her site details, the base design “is based on a found antique brooch of a battle axe that had it roots in the Suffragette Movement.” The Axe is available in a variety of Shapeways-printed metals, to which Palishen adds chains and Swarovski crystals. All profits from sales of the necklaces go to the National Organization for Women.

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This isn’t the first we’ve seen of our designers using 3D printing for good. On Giving Tuesday, we covered five designers using Shapeways to give back. And, we spoke with Michiel Cornelissen during the 2014 World Cup, whose KXX ring’s sales benefited social good projects in Brazil’s favelas.

Whatever cause you feel passionate about, why not use your design skills and Shapeways shop to make your voice heard? If you’re already donating all or part of your profits, we’d love to hear about your social good projects. Leave a comment below, or post your project in our Feature This forum for a chance to be featured in a future Making Good post.

Designer Spotlight: Nikolay Vorobyov — Disculpt

From his childhood in a small rural village to a career in cutting-edge 3D design, Nikolay Vorobyov of Disculpt proves that inspiration — and  innovation — can come from unlikely places. We were floored by his detailed, soulful depictions of wild animals, and we were even more impressed by his passion for creating them. Read on to find out how Nikolay bridges the gap between the digital and physical worlds.

Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! How did you decide to focus on these animal-inspired designs?
I grew up in a small village in the north of Russia on the banks of the river, on all sides surrounded by forests. In my childhood, I was always around a lot of animals, both domestic and wild in the nearby forest. Later, in my work, my interest in animals sculptures grew from real custom orders.

Deer Head Ring by Disculpt

Deer Head Ring by Disculpt

Having studied architecture, was it difficult to transition into creating natural-looking animal sculptures?
I tried a few jobs, from architecture to 3D game character design and animation, and eventually, digital sculpture. It was at a time when 3D printing had become more accessible.

How did you approach prototyping your jewelry?
Gradually, in my work with clients, the priority has shifted to sculpture for 3D printing instead of real-time models, and I like it, not depending on polycount, textures, or game engines. And most importantly, the possibility of seeing my own creation as part of material world. Now I have a little studio, and I can work at my pleasure. Modern technologies like 3D printing gave me this possibility. I hope sometime in the future I will be able to maintain my own production, instead of only digital sculpting.

Of course, when I became aware of the existence of Shapeways, I wanted to try to make something in metal or plastic. I had not thought too long what it could be, so naturally animals are my first experiment, in jewelry and wall-mounted heads.

Two Ravens Ring by Disculpt

Two Ravens Ring by Disculpt

Were there any particular challenges you needed to approach in the design of any of your products?
Was it difficult? I think i just went to what I’ve always wanted. I had much to learn by myself for many sleepless nights, but it was worth it.

I think I am a perfectionist. I dive into the fine details, trying to make the model more realistic. Sometimes i want to shout to myself, “Enough, stop it, go do something else already!”

To work with Shapeways was very, easy, and the latest updates makes it even easier. Shapeways gave me a chance to offer my digital art to people from around the world. And it has already ceased to be only “digital.” Now it is “real,” “material,” “actual.”

Proud Wolf Head by Disculpt

Proud Wolf Head by Disculpt

Thanks for sharing your process with us, Nikolay! Don’t miss his full range of designs in his Shapeways shop, and leave a comment below if you’d like to be featured in a future Designer Spotlight.

How I Made It: Lost Earring, Found

Our How I Made It series takes us inside the projects that have inspired our designers, shoppers, and makers. Here, Shapeways Shop Owner Natalia shows us how she set out to recreate a beloved lost earring — and ended up improving the design in the process. Leave a comment if you’d like us to feature your latest project.

burnisher

It’s the season of cold weather, scarves… and losing earrings. Fun winter fact: unwrapping a scarf is the most common way to lose an earring. Ask any earring-lover for confirmation!

One of the first things I made using 3D printing was the bubble earring design below. Everyone who saw them loved them, and I would always end up selling the ones I was wearing and making myself a new pair. Before Shapeways offered printing in metal, that involved getting a mold of the original bubbles-only, hook-free print (3D printing was expensive back then!) getting it cast in sterling silver at a casting house, cleaning it up by hand, soldering on a wire, bending that into a hook, and polishing them. Just by itself, the process of making each pair by hand took days of waiting for castings, then about an hour of work in the studio, which is not exactly cost- or time-effective. Thankfully, Shapeways makes it much easier now, as long as you start with a design file that is ready to be printed and shipped.

The lonely remaining earring

The lonely remaining earring

Recently, I finally lost one of my own pair (thanks, scarves!), and recreating the earring easily would mean reconfiguring the design for full 3D printing, hooks and all. I realized that this presented the perfect opportunity to go back to the drawing board and improve the design, this time using Fusion360 as my modeling software. This way, I would learn a new digital tool, while making this design fully 3D printable — and sellable in my Shapeways Shop.

The only real challenge to overcome was creating a 3D printable, integrated hook. I had seen a pair of earrings someone had printed where the hook was just an “unsupported wire,” so I wanted to test if this would work for these earrings with their long hook. If it was truly 3D printable as one piece, without any work on my part to hand-finish them afterwards, I would feel confident selling them in my Shapeways Shop.

First, I worked backwards, measuring everything on the earring I had left using my calipers, and integrating those measurements into a new 3D design file in Fusion360. Calipers could be the only tool you need for 3D printing besides a computer, so it’s worth buying the best. Accuracy is everything when going between the screen and the real world.

I measured the thickness of the earring, sizes of the circles, and the thickness of the ear hook. A standard ear hook is 0.8mm in diameter (as mine is) but you can go up to 1mm and it will remain mostly comfortable. I checked the design guidelines for sterling silver, and luckily an unsupported wire can be 1mm. I figured that after polishing it would be a little thinner, so would be more comfortable in the ear. (I was right: After Shapeways’ post-print polishing, the wire is 0.9mm thick, so there is a little material lost, as stated in the guidelines).

The remaining earring and 3D render of the replacement earring

The remaining earring and render of the replacement earring

While recreating the earring in Fusion360, I took the opportunity to make adjustments for printability and visual appeal. In the original, there was a small gap between two circles that I know could cause material to get trapped and would be impossible to clean, so I joined them completely. I also made the whole design slightly larger and slightly thicker so they would feel more substantial and have a bit of weight to keep them in the ear.

When I solder on an ear hook at my studio, the solder forms a fillet around the wire, giving it a bigger surface area of attachment to the body. In 3D modeling, I wanted to recreate this strength, so I added a large fillet between the wire and the body. This will be the weakest part of the earring where it is most likely to break, and the fillet helps to strengthen it.

The long hook design means they hang down like dangling earrings but also have staying power. Unlike a shorter curved hook, they don’t come out easily. I added a small bend at the end of the hook to guide them into the ear hole. I also rounded the end of the wire to be smooth. You don’t want to forget this part —  a wire that just ends will have a flat profile with sharp edges, but filleting the edges to be half-round makes it smooth and comfortable to put in your ear. A good rule once you have finished a model is to go over the design and fillet any joins and edges. I will often fillet all edges, but in this case the “sharp” edge definition is part of the design, so I left them on the body. I filleted the joint and the wire end.

Once I had the design finished, I uploaded it to Shapeways and used the 3D Tools to check for wall thickness and wire thickness. Since I used the design guidelines as I was modeling, all the checks were green.

I wish we could rush metals, but beauty takes time, so about two weeks later I got the box!

The updated design, fresh out of the box

The updated design, fresh out of the box

Fresh out of the box, they look great! A beautiful, even polish and a lovely weight in the hand. I immediately put them on, and realized that despite all my measurements, I had missed a crucial measurement: the distance between the curved hook wire end and the body of the earring.

The updated design, left, and the original earring, right

The updated design, left, and the original earring, right

As you can see, the original piece has a distance between the point and the body almost twice as big as the new pair. My earlobe doesn’t easily pass in that gap and it means they take a bit of wiggling to put on. For the final, in-shop iteration, I changed this, so they’re easier to put on.

The other major thing I noticed is how soft the wire is. While it is quite easy to bend it back into shape, it leaves a kink.

An unexpected consequence: wonky wires

An unexpected consequence: wonky wires

In the studio, I “work-harden” metal to make it rigid and stop it deforming. This is especially important for earring hooks, which see a lot of repetitive stress. There are many ways to work-harden silver. The easiest is burnishing, which involves running a smooth metal tool over the wire until it hardens. It takes about a minute and also polishes the metal.

Work hardening the wire with a burnishing tool

Work hardening the wire with a burnishing tool

Since I had bent the wire I needed to straighten it too, quickly done with a set of parallel pliers. Squeezing the wire like this also work hardens it, but it’s not as effective as burnishing.

Straightening the wire with pliers

Straightening the wire with pliers

Once that was done, the earrings were perfect! All in all, I’m really happy with this experiment. And, if someone bought them, they would be pleased with them even without work-hardening the wire hooks.

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After receiving the earrings, I shortened the hook in the design to make the earrings easier to put on. Here are the finished earrings, with the shortened hook:

Finally, they made it into my shop!

Finally, they made it into my shop!

Now that we know how we can integrate hooks right into the design, what kind of winter-proof earrings will you make? Have you tried making hooks an integral part of your design?

Designer Spotlight: Lizz Hill — Toolry

One of my favorite thing about Shapeways designers is that their work is sometimes very “meta.” A perfect example is the work of Lizz Hill, the Brooklyn-based designer behind Toolry. Combining complex artistry with the expanded design possibilities of digital manufacturing, she creates products that take a lighthearted look at the tools behind the design process. It makes sense, considering how immersed in the design process she is: By day, she’s a hardware and jewelry 3D modeler for a major NYC fashion accessories company, and her spare time is filled with embroidery, soapmaking, origami, painting, and of course, Toolry.

The designer with a couple of her favorite things

The designer with a couple of her favorite things

In your shop description, you say, “These statement pieces are meant to engage you and poke fun at their counterparts.” Which pieces in particular capture this spirit?
The first personal pieces I had made for myself were based on tools, hence “Toolry“! I loved the idea of taking something that has a specific use, like a wrench or a caliper, taking away its function and purpose, and wearing it as jewelry. The Calipers Pendant was the first tool that I modeled for myself. I use digital calipers for work, modeling hardware and jewelry, so I’ve always been very intrigued by the original, fully manual calipers that preceded their modern, digital counterpart. I love to find the beauty in utility.

caliper pendant

The Calipers Pendant by Toolry

What was the inspiration behind the Troubled Waters trio?
I’ve recently taken up embroidery as a hobby, and one of my more ambitious projects was embroidering a pair of Converse sneakers. I’ve always been very intrigued by old sailor tattoos and iconography and had chosen this theme for my sneakers. As I was designing my embroidery layout I realized that the theme would lend itself very well to some small icon rings. I had also been seeing more and more midi rings worn by the women of NYC so decided to model a trio that would mirror the imagery of my Troubled Waters Converse.

Lizz Hill's Troubled Waters embroidered shoes and Rings Trio

Lizz Hill’s Troubled Waters embroidered shoes and Rings Trio

Your tooth cufflinks and ring were modeled based on real human teeth. How did that come about?
I’ve always been quite fascinated by the morbid things that make most people cringe. I have a collection of bones, antlers, teeth and animal horns that show up in various ways in my apartment: on the wall, on necklaces and as succulent planters! My husband recently found his wisdom teeth which he had kept after their removal, and gave them to me as a gift. I joked with him that in place of my sapphire engagement ring, that I would instead set his tooth into a ring setting and wear that instead. That imagery stuck in my head for awhile, and I finally gave in and modeled one of the teeth and set it into a ring for myself and a pair of cufflinks for him.

Tooth Ring by Toolry

Tooth Ring by Toolry

Tell me about the teddy bear ring and pendant.
Ha! These are my favorite! The Teddy Bear Pendant was another one that followed an embroidery piece. Like my jewelry, my embroidery is all about taking themes and icons and turning them upside down. The teddy bear embroidery was about taking something sweet and traditional and adding a disturbing twist. I have the piece framed on my bathroom wall but loved the bear so much that I wanted to create a piece that I could wear. The Teddy Bear with Turnkey Ring was the second piece I created using my bear and I have at least one more version of the bear that I’ll be posting soon.

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Teddy Bear Embroidery and Pendant with Open Stomach by Toolry

Can you share a little more about your inspirations or design process?
My entire career thus far has been about taking hardware designs and ensuring they are functional, affordable, and mass-producible, aside from just being aesthetically pleasing. I’ve seen so many ideas quieted or cast aside because they couldn’t be made within those parameters. Now, thanks to Shapeways and other emerging vertical manufacturers utilizing 3D printing as part of their manufacturing process, the range of product that is available to the end consumer has begun to expand rapidly. As a designer and a product developer, I have fewer limitations on what I can make and offer to my customers because minimums, manufacturing limitations, and capital investment are no longer major hurdles for me. I have so much more creative freedom, and that drives me to act on the ideas that may have been riskier or impossible in the past.

What are you waiting for? Go check out Lizz’s brilliant designs at Toolry!

This Galentine’s Day, Treat Yo Self

A Shapeways 3D printing engineer by day and a jewelry designer by night, @Yung_Crowley recently launched the winter collection of STONEDALONE on Shapeways. The collection is an assortment of digital talismans created to help conquer your digital universe… with some trinkets specifically geared towards the single ladies. The line was created to boost the wearer’s confidence and empower them to attract more positive vibes online (and off). Obviously, better juju for 2017 can’t hurt. Because this collection screams “Treat yo self”, I’ve decided to gift myself some of these pieces for Galentine’s Day:

ANDROMEDA ARM CUFF

andromeda

This is the physical manifestation of the “spell for enchanting every person you message to make ghosting impossible.” Hello, I’ll take whatever precautions I can to avoid ghosting. Apparently there’s also a new trend called “breadcrumbing,” which is like ghosting, but with occasional texts after disappearance. Cosmo pegs it as “savage AF.” I’m just going to go ahead and assume this cuff will protect me from that too.

CASSIOPEIA RING

cass ring

Described as “magnetizing your DMs to attract prospective suitors and opportunities,” I figure this ring will inspire more witty, endearing messages on any dating apps you’re on. I bet it also makes sure the messages are authored by people that are exceptionally good at the distinction between “you’re” and “your”.

AUGOEIDES RING

aug ring

This ring “makes you immune to negative haters and trolls.” Assuming the designer means those of the online variety, not bridge ones, that’s pretty helpful in today’s world of social media.

You can check out the whole collection at STONEDALONE for the perfect bling to fit your life goals. There’s even a set of earrings that help you network online, make bank, and prosper. How can you say no to that?

Designer Spotlight: Guy McCann – 3D Body Jewelry

Guy McCann's Brain Half Left-side Pendant

The hidden beauty of the brain, transformed into a pendant

What would you give to glimpse the invisible? Guy McCann has given his career to it — but he’s held on to his sense of humor. As a total sucker for puns, I fell in love with the intricate, gorgeous designs in his 3D Body Jewelry and Academic Gift Products shop. Especially when he asks, “Have you ever wanted to give a colleague, friend, or loved one ‘a piece of your mind?’ Well, now you can! Choose your thought (and mood) with one of our Brain Mood Gifts.“

Guy is a tenured professor of the Physical Sciences and has always been fascinated by the hidden beauty of nature. For fifteen years, he was the director of an electron microscope imaging laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania — where every day they worked to glimpse the 3D structures of nature that were invisible and smaller than the wavelengths of light! He points to his pioneering work in the field of 3D electron imaging, capturing never-before-seen structures in nature, as what’s guided his life for the past twenty-five years.

What led you to make the leap from 3D electron imaging to designing jewelry? I love that you took a literal approach to giving someone a piece of your mind, by the way.
It was more of an organic artistic growth rather than a leap. The hidden beauty of nature within us has been a focus of my life for over forty years. In the 1960s, electron microscopes gave us our first chance to glimpse the invisible. In the 1980s, computers were linked and now we could create digital 3D CAD rendered screen images. With the advent of 3D printing, an entirely new medium opened to the teaching industry. Initially, I was designing special 3D models for teaching purposes on body parts that are hard to visualize without anatomy. Boring indeed, however, 3D printing rekindled my artistic love of human symmetry and a desire to create something new and unique. Hence a product line of 3D Body Jewelry and Academic Gifts. My inspiration is our slogan “The invisible beauty of Nature made visible  and printable.”

A second principle in my design of pendants is that I seek to express the duality of our hidden nature by making creations that can be displayed and worn forward or reversed — revealing our yin and yang — whenever I see the possibility in the structure. The Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons is also shown in its two display positions, for example.

 

McCann's Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons Pendant

McCann’s Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons Pendant

Do you see a specific type of customer frequenting your shop? Do you see a trend of medical or psychology students buying these pendants, perhaps?
Yes, I see the academically inclined to be much more interested than “regular” jewelry buyers. If I continue to market correctly, I want to direct it towards women of all ages, with specializations in the Academic, Executive, and Professional worlds. I want to see a trend of medical, psychological, and every other academic field: they are my primary market. My view is that this “Academic, Executive, and Professional” field is an overlooked market. What do you give an egghead in medicine like an otolaryngologist for a birthday gift? (That would be Ear Nose and Throat doctors to the rest of us.) How about some nose bones together as an aesthetic desk paperweight gift? Ridiculous to ordinary people. But these people have spent at least eight years of their life studying these beautiful bones hidden inside our nose! What do you give to the tens of thousands of medical students who graduate every year as a graduation gifts?

 

McCann's Palatines and Vomer Bone Ornament

McCann’s Palatines and Vomer Bone Ornament

I would bet that some of your customers really relate to your products on a deeper level than simply buying it because they like the aesthetic. I could imagine someone buying the Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons as a reminder to conquer a fear, for example.
Yes, your example of emotions connected to the given product, as fear in Fear Monitor Lobe pendant, is exactly the type of consumer interplay I am receiving and seeking. I have a polished sterling silver pendant, “Emotion Control Center.” Some people have purchased it to say and show that they have control over their emotional center. The “Consciousness” pendant is endless in its emotional appeal and it possesses an elegance of design completely hidden from the ordinary world of objects, bringing forth new visions of natural beauty.

The Consciousness Pendant

The Consciousness Pendant

Check out Guy’s creations for yourself — his shop is perfect proof that beauty really is on the inside.

Post-Processing Tips: Hand-Dyeing Strong & Flexible Plastics

xsf

Though a lot of people know how easy it is to use Shapeways to create simple designs or 3D print their own existing designs, fewer people realize how easy it can be to customize jewelry, miniatures, and other pieces after you receive your prints. In today’s post, we’ll explore an easy custom jewelry finishing technique for Strong & Flexible plastic.

Strong & Flexible plastic is an incredibly versatile material. When this material is designed thin, it’s flexible enough for catapults or springs. When designed thick, it’s strong enough for a variety of tools or structural components.

Strong & Flexible is printed using SLS, or selective laser sintering. This process uses two lasers to sinter together nylon powder, layer by layer, until an entire printer build is complete.

The nylon powder that is used always begins as white. If a color is selected during the checkout process, we will hand-dye the material to your choice.

If you decide you would like to create custom colors at home, here’s how to get started:

Materials Required:

  • Pick Tool Set

  • Small Brush

  • Metal Pot & Water

  • Nylon or Synthetic Fabric Dye

  • Drying Rack & Paper Towels

CLEANING PROCESS

The cleaning process is required to remove the excess support material (in this case, nylon powder) from the 3D printed products. This will allow for a clean and smooth surface to finish the designs. If all of the powder is not removed you may be left with areas that do not receive dye.

picks xsf

Pick Tool Set: gently scrape away any excess support material (nylon powder) caught in crevasses or holes.

brush

Small Brush: Using a small brush, wipe away the remaining powder.

 

DYEING PROCESS

The dyeing process requires just a few materials: synthetic fabric dye, a metal pot, and water.

rit

1. Create Dye Mixture

Measure out the appropriate dye and water for the material you will be dyeing. The instructions on the packaging should list out the appropriate amount.

Allow water and dye to come to a simmer and stir until dye is completely dissolved. If dye floats to the top, just scoop off the excess material.

2. Dye Products

Using a sample piece of material, test the dye and the timing for desired results. The amount of time the model remains in the pot will vary depending on your design and desired results. This can range from 3 – 10 minutes.

Submerge products fully within the hot liquid mixture. Follow your test results for perfect timing.

3. Air Dry

Air dry until the material is no longer wet to the touch. You may pat dry the products using paper towels to remove any excess water or dye.The dye should have saturated the top layer of the product. If not, replace the model in the pot for further dyeing.

Dyed Strong & Flexible pieces

Dyed Strong & Flexible pieces

Strong & Flexible nylon plastic is an extremely versatile material in its potential uses and finishes. We would love to hear how you customize this material at home. If you have your own post-processing techniques, please share in the comments or on our post-processing forum here.

Designer Spotlight: Ethan Chodos – Piece of Mind Design

Closing out 2016, we’re thrilled to be featuring Ethan Chodos as our last Designer Spotlight of the year. In his own words, “With so much negativity going on in the world, creating something unique and beautiful brings light into the world. I want to be part of that.” With this year having been so chaotic, we’re totally onboard with this mission!

Ethan’s Piece of Mind Design Shapeways shop is a lighthearted collection of game pieces, rings, and coffee mugs. Ethan takes inspiration from creative plays on words — and a few of his rescue pups. Check out our Q&A with him below for more details (and a super cute photo of his dogs).

You have a number of great, cheeky game pieces. How did you decide to model and design the ones you’ve done?
I wanted to create pieces that are unexpected, irreverent, thought-provoking and most of all, fun.

Knucklehead by Piece of Mind Design

Knucklehead by Piece of Mind Design

Are these generally used as game pieces, desk toys, etc?
All of those things. My thought at the time was that they could be used in a game like Monopoly, make a cool chess set, or be placed on your desk as a gag “trophy”.

Are there any others in the works?
Right now I am focused on making cups and rings. Just like those original game pieces, I try to infuse my latest designs with the same qualities.

Train Kept A Rollin' Ring- Size 12 (21.49 mm) by Piece of Mind Design

Train Kept A Rollin’ Ring- Size 12 (21.49 mm) by Piece of Mind Design

Your Hangin’ Pitbull Pendant is great and seems to have lots of fans.
I have four rescue dogs. Two are pitbulls. We all know they can get a bad rap. Yet, if you have one, you know how special they are. I just wanted to put that out there for my fellow dog lovers.

Hangin' Pitbull by Piece of Mind Design

Hangin’ Pitbull by Piece of Mind Design

The inspiration

Love Ethan’s creations as much as we do? Check out his Shapeways shop to see the full line of game pieces, mugs, and rings.

Jewelry From the Future

Fashion’s love affair with geometric design shows no sign of letting up, making geometry-inspired pieces perfect holiday gifts for the fashionistas in your life. At Shapeways, we see a lot of incredible geometric jewelry from our designers. The 3D design process makes manipulating mathematical shapes a natural fit. But, sometimes, a designer comes along who takes a simple idea — the polygon — and uses it to make a fashion statement that seems to come to us from the future.

Ring Poly One by AKK

Ring Poly One by AKK

AKK designer Aleksandar Kovacevic’s Poly series of rings, bracelets, and earrings started from a simple place. “In the beginning was the Polygon … the whole idea was about entering the world of jewelry design and 3D printing with a collection developed from one single polygon,” he told us.

Bangle Poly Nine by AKK

Bangle Poly Nine by AKK

“I wanted to design statement pieces for all individuals who aren’t afraid to show that they are different,” Aleksandar said of his “harmonic compositions” of polygons. Whether worn as multiple cascading, stacking pieces, or alone, the rings and bangles in the AKK shop seem to have a life — and a movement — all their own.

Earrings Poly Eleven by AKK

Earrings Poly Eleven by AKK

The groundbreaking look of AKK’s 3D printed pieces is no accident. “Without today’s 3D printing possibilities, having my own jewelry collection would still be just a thought. 3D printing technology really helped me express myself the way I could never imagine.” We hope you’ll be as inspired by Aleksandar’s creations as we were, whether you’re shopping for cutting-edge holiday gifts for stylish friends, or looking to try your hand at 3D design.

And, for even more gifting inspiration, dig into our Holiday Gift Guide, where you’ll find hundreds of ways to help your loved ones express themselves all year long.

Designer Spotlight: Cynthia Breheny – President Guinea Pig & Co.

Cynthia Breheny’s President Guinea Pig & Co. shop on Shapeways is full of whimsical designs which are illustrated not only by super cute product shots but also in the inspiration behind the products. We chatted with Cynthia to find out more — and obviously to learn the story behind her shop name.

How did you come up with the shop name President Guinea Pig & Co.?
The name for my shop is a remnant from an old comic I used to draw as a kid. I would get my class work finished early and draw comics in my notebook. Unfortunately, it kept the kids around me from finishing their work!

Can you let me in on the inspiration behind a few of your pieces? Let’s start with Charles the Great White Hair Comb.
Charles was inspired by my sister. She had a close encounter with a manatee who came up to say, “Hi” while she was floating on her back. Thinking it was a shark, she bolted out of the water, screaming like a banshee. Many inside jokes later, the manatee became an imaginary shark named Charles who can be blamed for all false alarms.

pgpac2

How about the Hana Tentacle Hair Comb?
The Hana Tentacle Comb was partly inspired by my husband’s Japanese heritage and partly by an octopus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I spent a long time watching it in the exhibit on our anniversary last year and found out they recognize people by “tasting” them with their tentacles. I thought that was cute — in an admittedly creepy way. Combine that with cherry blossom paintings done by my husband’s grandmother and you’ve got yourself a hair comb!

pgpac3

Any other items you feel have a compelling or fun story/background behind them?
One piece I’ve always been proud of is my first successful interlocking print – the Heart Charm Ring. It’s modeled after a ring my grandmother gave me when I was four. It was my favorite ring and I wore it every day. Being that my fingers have grown since then, I couldn’t wear it anymore, so I made it (with slight modifications to the design that I liked better) with 3D printing! That’s what really solidified my love for the process. The fact that you can recreate something you lost or make a better version — your idealized recollection of a treasured possession is so amazing. We can literally manufacture dreams now.

It sounds like your style is influenced by your family. Tell me more!
My grandfather is a former Disney employee. He worked there for 27 years as a handyman after bringing his wife and kids here from Cuba. During his time working there, he won multiple awards for designing tools and fixtures that increased efficiency in the hotels and rides. He paints, writes music and poetry, and makes instruments out of dried fruit. It’s because of him that I learned to draw inspiration from pretty much everything.

Definitely check out Cynthia’s shop on Shapeways for a gorgeous example of a shop that’s leveraging incredible product shots to highlight her designs.