Steampunk gears and cogs. Source: Iscatel/
Steampunk gears and cogs. Source: Iscatel/

There’s a lot going on in the world of 3D printing fashion world. Many designers are using 3D printing to create Haute Couture fashion and jewelry, including Melinda Looi, Asher Levine, and Anne Zellien. Here at WhiteClouds, we’re busy making all kinds of fun jewelry and we’re constantly creating new designs.

Here’s what our designer, Jessica (Jess) Schenk has to say about it:

We’ve caught up with her to find out more about the gears and cogs that go into creating steampunk designs.

Tell us about the project you’re working on?

Which one??? Working with steampunk at the moment. Steampunk is very…Metal. Trying to find fun and interesting ways to incorporate the designs into the materials we have to work with. Trying to find designs that catch your attention.

What inspires your designs?

Passions inspire our designs! People are passionate about so many things and I try to satisfy some of those. Between sports and friends, family and beliefs, we try to give you absolute personalization over our designs.

Working with different categories trying to connect with people over a broad span of topics. I want to be able to have a design that every person can relate to and enjoy.

How are these designs different from other products out there?

You can’t get this stuff anywhere but WhiteClouds. We have original designs, one-of-a-kinds, and personalization on it all.

How do you think your designs will help people or fill a need?

Sentiment and personalization. I like to keep customized text in my designs, I know that a word or a phrase can spark a lot of feelings like love or passions or motivations in life. I like that I can look down at my wrist, see my bracelet, and be inspired.

What software do you use to create the designs?

I do my work in SOLIDWORKS. My program is more “nuts and bolts” compared to the other modeling tools we use in the office such as Maya, 3DSMax Design, and Illustrator.

What 3D printer are you using to print the final design?

I’m working with the projet3500hdmax for my designs and working with another of the designers for some things I’d like to see done in color.

What material(s) are you using to print the jewelry? Is metal a possibility?

I love the capabilities of the Projet3500 HDMax! With this printer I can customize without adding extra bulk to the piece. We have 10 different tints that we can offer out of this UV cured resin material. Metal is a huge possibility in the future; we look forward to expanding into that technology.

Tell us about your process from the start of a new design to finish.

 It always starts with an idea. I like to bounce ideas off the other designers just to get some insight before I commit to a concept. From there, I go to the computer and start my design. Modelers are all so different; we all have our own style and our own way of doing things. I try to make my designs as easy to alter as possible, making them a bit more fluid.

Once I have a design completed, I save my SolidWorks file as an STL. From my workstation, I open the client manager for the project and nest my build. By that, I mean I open the program that is the interface between the printer and myself. Within the program, I can decide how to orient the part to achieve the best possible print, specify the number of copies, estimate build time and cost per part.

I make sure the printer is loaded with enough material to complete my print, make sure the waste tray is empty, and put a fresh platform in before I start the printer. Once the print is complete, I remove the platform from the machine and put it in the freezer for just a moment. The cold causes the material to contract and separate from the platform.

From there, the parts are put in the “finisher.” This piece of equipment melts off the support material used in the printing process. After the majority of the support material has been removed, the parts are moved to the ultrasonic tank for further cleaning. The ultrasonic tank cleans off the rest of the residual wax left on the part using a mixture of water and corn oil. From there I wash the oil off of the parts using a degreasing cleaning solvent (Dawn dish soap ha ha ha!).

After the parts have been cleaned, they can then be tinted or left natural. Tinting is submerging the parts in dye long enough to change the color but not so long that we achieve full color saturation. I lacquer the parts after tinting to get that gloss look. Tinting and lacquering are cool but not necessary—the “natural” parts are said to look “holey” and some really like it. The bracelet I wear is lacquered natural, it’s a cool look.

What are your thoughts when you see your design 3D printed? Do you look for flaws and improve the design?

I am my hardest critic by far! Even if a design comes out perfect (if anything is ever perfect), I still change it. Little things here and there that most people will never notice, things that might make it print better or faster or cleaner. There are always changes to be made. But the quick turnaround through 3d printing makes it easy to make changes like this and see a second revision in a matter of hours.

What is the most common problem you’ve encountered and how did you solve it?

There are all sorts of issues you can encounter during the day as a designer here; we have a variety of printers and processes here and they are all different. What works for one printer may not work so well for others. Getting to know our equipment is a big part of things—scale, tolerance, layer thickness, wall thickness, and the strength of the materials we use are all things we’ve had to learn about and adjust to.

What is the most exciting thing about your work?

Discovering new ways of designing and new processing methods on the fly is amazing! I’ve been designing for years now and the capabilities we have with 3d printers push the limits and the imagination every day. The most exciting thing is having an idea in the morning and a product in the afternoon.

Finally, what tips would you give to home users trying to design the same type of thing?

Wow this is a hard one. . .Think outside the box. With this technology, the possibilities are endless. Daydream. . . if you have an idea, you’re already on your way.

WhiteClouds is a 3D printing service company and we can 3D design it for you or you can upload your file and we will 3D print it and ship it directly to your door.

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