American Pearl, a jewelry provider located in New York City since 1950, has offered its customers the option to customize their jewelry. With the help of 3D printing, this option is affordable and has actually doubled the sales of the company. 3D printing is an additive manufacturing technology that takes a 3D model or CAD files and creates the object layer by layer.
“What we love about 3D printing is that consumers save a lot of money and lot of time having something 3D printed,” said Eddie Bakhash, CEO and son of the founder of American Pearl.
Customers can choose the pearl, metal, side gems, and engravings. Customers now are looking for even more customizable and individual pieces to suit their needs and styles. "We never knew how much consumers wanted to change the products they were buying until we offered the option," Bakhash said.
American Pearl uses a Solidscap T76 3D printer to make a lost-wax casting mold. The mold is then used to create a thermoplastic sculpture of the piece, followed by a mold made of latex, rubber, or silicone into which they pour gold, silver, or other metal (depending on what the customer chose) to fashion the final piece.
"In the old way, jewelers had to spend a lot of hours carving [by hand]. It would take me two weeks to create that piece. We can do it in a day now," said Bakhash. "There's no way we could have all of these pieces if it weren't for technology. The jeweler has been replaced by software."
In November of this year, Bakhash says the option to customize jewelry has doubled their sales year-over-year. He said 3D printing is “very disruptive” to the $85 billion a year U.S. jewelry industry.
American Pearl plans to add a metal laser sintering 3D printer next year. The precious metal powder is deposited layer by layer. The layers are then fused together by a high-powered laser. This process is repeated until the jewelry piece is complete.
As 3D printing advances, we will likely see more industries adopting its use to satisfy the ever-growing demand for personalized, original items.