There are a number of niches where 3D printing is already realizing its vast commercial potential; medical applications, product prototyping, small run manufacturing for aerospace and perhaps the hottest segment of all, customized jewelery design and manufacturing.
Getting your fingers inside a personalized ring designed and created in precious metals like gold or titanium once meant a pricey and time-consuming trip to the local jewelry store. But with a startling suddenness, it's possible to find a whole host of companies who, with the ubiquity of computer aided design and additive manufacturing, can bring a piece of bling right to your doorstep in a matter of days.
Jweel's slick and intuitive interface provides users a couple of options: Text Ring or Freestyle Ring.
By using the Text Ring option, a neophyte jewelry designer can take the text of his or her choosing and translate it into a ring by selecting the font, type the text they want. Choose a ring size and a you're quickly presented with a 3D model of your design.
If you happen to have a little more skill in designing from scratch, the Freestyle Ring option is a surprisingly flexible tool which lets the user add fine details and manipulate shapes.
When you're done with your piece, the interface lets you order it and have it printed in gold, silver, steel or titanium through i.materialise. Jweel plans to develop tools to expand their offering which will ultimately give designers the power to create bracelets, earrings, necklaces and pendants.
Maxime Quiblier, an engineer specializing 3D technologies, and Sébastien Najjar, an information system engineer, say they saw the coming appeal of 3D printing technology and wanted to streamline the process for the casual user.
"A key element is still missing today to make it truly available to the everyone: easy and powerful design tools," they said. "Designing a 3D model remains a costly and complex issue. In light of these facts, Skimlab presents Jweel.com. Jweel is a free online website that proposes easy tools to create and customize unique 3D pieces of jewelery."
Their initial undertaking, Skimlab, developed an "innovative technology for virtual sculpture" they say is derived from "skeleton based" modeling tools. The Skimlab back end internal system uses volume representation to guarantee the 3D print readiness of the model data passed through the browser. Perhaps most interesting from a user perspective is the fact that their Skimlab tools run directly in-browser: no download, no installation. While Skimlab and Jweel.com aren't fully supported by all browsers, you can use Chrome or Firefox to make your bling a real thing.
Once the ring has been designed with one of the tool selections, price information and object size are displayed in real-time depending on the material chosen.