Technology is constantly disrupting the way people create and do business. Just look at the way social media changed the way we advertise. The next technology you can expect to become more mainstream? 3D printing.
While there a TON of industries taking advantage of this new tool, the jewelry industry in particular has been utilizing 3D printing. You might be skeptical about this new technology can be worth the investment. How could a machine make better pieces than a human being? So let’s take a look at the benefits for jewelry craftsmen of using 3D printing:
When high-end jewelry is created, craftsmen are tasked with making a very specific piece customized for that buyer. This means hours of work hand-carving and welding parts – parts that often already took hours to be sculpted from solid wax blocks.
But with 3D printing – this process is cut down from weeks to days. Computer Aided Design software creates a digital file, and then the printer makes a wax mold of the file. After that, the metal is poured into the mold and gems are added. A lot faster than doing all the work by hand, and you’re still going to see the integrity of the original design.
A virtual inventory
Craftsmen have to prepared for a buyer’s different needs and customizations. Before 3D printing, this required having a buffer inventory of items bought in bulk for whatever the buyer might request.
But now retailers can show customers a virtual catalog! This can contain highly accurate 3D models that give the client a true feel for what they’re getting without the materials being purchased in advance. This allows more variety for the consumer, and better pricing options for the retailer.
The future of the jewelry industry
3D printing is just get getting started. It’s projected by Research and Markets that the revenues from the “hardware, materials, services, and software” of 3D printing in the jewelry industry will top $900 million. Even those who create jewelry with the traditional silicon molds are turning to 3D printing to create the initial model. They also predict the next step is direct metal 3D printing.
It’s also important to note that the technology is not just disrupting the higher end markets and big retailers. 3D printing also creates opportunities for cheap customized jewelry. A Hong Kong company has recently kickstarted a system which would allow the user to easily design their own rings and bracelets. While this doesn’t provide any of the expertise of a craftsmen, it’s expected to appeal to millennials who would rather do it themselves and save money.
This allows people with new skills to enter the industry if they want. You no longer have to be able to weld wax or understand how to craft precious metals. You just have to be able to work the printer and it’s materials. Because of this we are likely to see an influx of new independent creators, separated from any big name company. This means new opportunities to appeal to niche audiences and allow entrepreneurship.
Disruption always means change. The way retailers respond to 3D printing may determine thier future in this industry. Some may find a new way to to thrive in the market, others may adapt to the way of 3D printing, and some may just fall behind. One thing is clear – 3D printing of jewelry is here to stay.