I am, without question, an early adopter. But I’m also a skeptic. So I’m not the earliest adopter. I need to see how something makes sense to me before I want it. Twitter, Instagram, even the Internet. I knew about them for at least a year before I joined in.
3D printing is another of these amazing things that is just starting to make sense to me, and of course the gateway drug was bling.
I’d been following NervousSystem for years, but didn’t realize they’d come up with software that allowed you to design your own ring or bracelet. If you’re like me, you’re lost in this brilliant toy already and have stopped reading. Just clicking on that last link allows for some mesmerizing time wasting.
But what if you want to wear something you’ve created? Do you trust your skills to make something wearable? I imagined making something so bulky I wouldn’t be able to close my fingers. So I went looking, and found Shapeways.
This is the Voro Ring No. 1 by firstname.lastname@example.org. Who clearly knows what she or he is doing. It’s a rendering of what it might look like in stainless steel, and it’s priced at a ridiculous $19. How could I not order it? It was an affordable gamble. Since I know what 3D printing looks like in plastic, I wanted to see how a metal object would come out.
They’re printing designs in stainless and even silver and gold. How is that EVEN POSSIBLE?
A few weeks later, my ring arrived at my doorstep. I am fascinated!
Yes, it’s a little yellower than I expected. But it’s solid and strong (I tried to crush it…it won’t crush). It’s rough and it’s super light. And it’s really comfortable to wear.
And it was spewed out of a printer. Does that not make your head explode?
Well, not exactly spewed. The printer emits a thin layer of metal powder in the shape of the design, and then a laser fuses it. Another layer of powder, and then the laser again. Eventually, the design is complete.
Here’s a video of the process, sort of. They’re not showing much. Is that on purpose? Dunno.
I wonder if it’s the bronze they infuse (like they show in the video) that’s made my ring slightly yellow. Dunno.
I do know that I love this thing and may have it plated in something shiny — otherwise, it looks like heavily tarnished sterling silver. Mostly, I’m just really impressed that this exists.