I wanted to take some time to discuss something that I’ve been doing for a long time now, and something that if you want to get into, can make you a lot of money… Just get over the fear!
CAD and 3D Printing!
I’ve covered some cad work in previous posts, but now I want to get into the reason you use cad in the first place. If you’re like me, and you get customers who ask you for the one-of-a-kind item of jewelry, and they want to work with you to design it, Embrace Them!
3D printing is mainstream now. In the jewelry industry, it used to be, and in most cases, very expensive. Some of you just getting into the business now, don’t know yet what its like to spend hours carving up wax to show a customer. Only to have them say, No, not what I wanted. Then, you have to start all over again.
Computers make this process easy. I can spend 75% less time on the computer, working with them, to design the ring. Once that was done, I used to have to send if off to a company that could take my CAD drawing, and turn it into wax. Sometimes, they would ship me back the wax, other times, I would just have it case. The process of doing that used Wax 3D printers, that believe it or not, cost about $32k. Yes, crazy. I had to pay between $100.00 and $150.00 each time I had a design printed!
Enter Resin Printers!
The invention, well, lets say, the practical jewelry use, that make designing jewelry on CAD better, was the use of Resin 3D pritners. However, the first few I used cost about $7,500.00. Resin was about $300.00 for a small bottle. Move on a few years, and lets get to the meat of my story. Now, we have very inexpensive 3D Resin printers that cost less then $500.00. Cast able Resins cost as little as $100.00 for a large bottle, and can do well over 100 prints.
For my next series of instructional videos and articles, I’ll be showing you how to make money, by designing jewelry on your computer, and printing it in cast able resins to have it sent out and turned into Gold! Literally! Watch the video below, but read the rest of the article when your done!
What Will you need!
Ok, so let me make this clear, the title of the article is right! You won’t have to spend more then $500.00. (At least if you don’t want to). You’ll be able to get extremely professional results and make your customer happy. Not only will your customers be happy, but you’ll be able to embrace new customers, and believe me, it can be profitable. I’ll be covering the ways to make your money in the next two videos and articles on this topic.
First, you will need to get your hands on a computer. I’m guessing, you already have one. The next thing you’ll need is to get your hands on Blender3d. This is free software, and yes, there is a learning curve, but I have done some tutorials on this, check the articles here. In addition, we’ll be covering its use again, for jewelry design.
Now, you’ll need a good 3d sla resin uv printer. I’m using the Elegoo Mars. However, this isn’t the only one you can use. The Anycubic Photon is also good, and both are inexpensive and can be shipped to you home quickly from Amazon. At the time I’m writing this article, the Elegoo is out of stock, but keep checking, because it is one of the only two fantastic printers I’ve used that are Easy to use and setup, as well as easy to maintain.
Of the two, the Elegoo Mars is the easier to setup and use. It comes ready to go, out of the box. Follow the instructions, (they are not written the best) and you’ll be up and running within 20 minutes. The resin doesn’t bother me, but you may find the smell to be strong. Keep that in mind. It comes with tools and a few of the consumable supplies, which I’ll outline later.
The Anycubic is similar. I’ve notices however, with my use, that it was a bit more involved to set up, as there were a few loose parts. Not a problem however.
It was as easy to hook up as the Elegoo, however, it does cost a bit more, but just over $400.00. The Anycubic comes with a small bottle of resin, which saves you from having to buy it separately, however, you’ll need to buy it anyway, as the amount of resin you’ll use varies with what you are printing. There are links below for the resins that I recommend.
The Elegoo did not come with resin, but, any good uv 405nm resin works, just get ready to follow some instructions for setting up your slicer. I’ll be covering these topics also, in future articles on this.
Well, I’m including these here for what ever reason, but remember that both of these come with the tools you’ll need to get started. However, one of the tools you’ll be using a lot is the scraper. Think about buying a couple of extra plastic paint scrapers, the small ones. You’ll use these to take the prints off of the build plates.
Most of the tools you’ll use to do any maintenance are included, and you can just keep these in a safe place.
You’ll want to get your hands on a couple of memory sticks. Both of these printers come with one, and it can be used to store your sliced files, however, keep in mind that on the memory sticks are the programs and other files you need to operate your printer. I don’t like to erase these, so I recommend that you purchase one or two to keep available just to store your 3d designs for printing. The files you need for printing can be arranged on the memory stick in folders so that you can keep them organized. Of course, you can always use your printer, but these printers need to have the memory sticks installed during the printing process.
Paper Towels and Microfiber Towels!
Well, you are going to need these! You are going to go through a lot of paper towels. Here is the Must! Get the lint free towels. The last thing you want to do is contaminate your prints with paper dust from cheap towels. However, good paper towels don’t cost too much more, and if you get the rolls that have the sheets cut in half, that is the best for this application. I use the blue shop paper towels, they are lint free and absorb well. The photo of these towels is a link to see them on Amazon.
In addition to paper towels, make sure you have a few microfiber towels on hand. They tend to allow you to clean up, without scratching anything like the FEP Film or the cover. They also are washable and reusable. I always have these on had, and replace them as they wear out. You can get a good amount of towels for very little money on Amazon, and that is where I get mine, but in a pinch, the dollar stores usually carry these too.
What is this stuff FEP Film? LOL.. It is a semi-hard plastic film, similar to the screen protector file we see on cell phones. This film is used as the bottom of the resin vat. It allows the UV light to beam through and cure the resin onto the build plate and the model that is being printed. This film can be scratched easily if you do not take care of it. It does wear out over time, and should be replaced when the film gets too cloudy for the uv light to cure the resin. You’ll know when that happens. It can also be ripped or torn easily. Keeping new file on the resin vat is important, because if the resin gets on the top of the printer, or god forbid, seeps into the workings of the printer, you’ll ruin your printer and will have to purchase new parts or worse, a new printer. Handle the FEP film carefully, and do not poke it or put too much pressure on it.
Cone filters are used to strain the resin from the vat and place it back into the bottle. During 3d printing with resin, sometimes little bits of cured hard resin build up onto the vat. These little bits can cause future prints to fail, so you should always strain the resin when pouring it back into its bottle. You can click here to purchase them. In addition, get yourself a cheap plastic funnel, this will make your life much easier when cleaning out your VAT.
So, to get you started, purchase the standard resins for your printer. I don’t recommend that you spend a lot of money on expensive resins, as the types that are made for these machines only cost between $25.00 and $50.00 per bottle.
I’ll be covering the castable resins in the future, and bear in mind that these are significantly more expensive, but needed if you want to have items you print, turned into gold, silver or platinum.
You will need this for cleaning everything! Yes, Everything. You’ll be cleaning the vat with IPA, the model you print, the threaded bottle top of the resin bottle, and the mess you make. Also, the build plate… You’ll be cleaning that after each print. I keep a small covered plastic food bowel full of IPA, and dip the paper towels in it to wipe everything off. This is a good habit to get into. The bowel is used to also put the model into after printing. The IPA Bath for the model removes all the uncured resin off the model so that you can cure it in the sunlight or in a UV Light Box. Your choice.
Are you Ready?
Now that you’ve ordered everything you need, get ready to make some fantastic things. If you are like me, and interested in making one of a kind custom items for you or your customers, then you are going to turn this into a money make machine. As long as you treat it as a tool you value, and maintain and clean it, you’ll be honestly surprised how easy it is to use, and charge for those special items that your customers want.
Stay tuned, in our next part, we will be covering the design of a ring, and the business model you should operate on to make money and meet your customers desires!
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and if you found this helpful, let me know!