Those eager to whet their appetite in the jewelry making space do need to be aware of the impacts of this new additive technology. For consumers and makers new ways of manufacturing are greatly welcomed, however 3D printing brings both excitement and anxiety for the fashion industry.
For aspiring designers, it significantly lowers the cost of prototyping and manufacturing. The days of dealing with minimum orders from an outside supplier taking weeks in the process are long gone. 3D printers offer a chance to see how customers respond to designs before committing to substantial orders. Importantly, 3D printing lowers the barriers of entry into jewelry making.
Jewelry has long been considered split into two markets – homemade and luxury. It is obvious how 3D printing aids the homemade sector. The ability to share files and designs and print them instantaneously makes the printers that much easier to use. But to the luxury sector, 3D printing technology brings with it a few interesting caveats:
- If a 3D printer can create jewelry at the same quality as traditional methods is it still considered luxury?
- What is luxury anyways?
- How do you prevent counterfeiting and protect the intellectual property of name brands?
- What happens when anyone with the design file and a 3D printer wants to duplicate his or her favorite necklace from say, Bvlgari?
- Will new copyright laws have to be made for .stl design files to prevent outright duplication?
- And what about 3D scanners?
Fashion is and always has been a constantly changing scene, thus originality trumps everything. So even if designs are copied, the important question is, “who did it first”? People want to know. In my opinion, the designers and creators will still get their fair share of due credit.
On a basic level, 3D printing aids jewelry makers in a couple factors: sizing and customization. No one is preventing luxury jewelry manufactures from using 3D printers as well, so in all respect the playing field is level when it comes to 3D printers transforming the jewelry industry. For the time being the economic promises of 3D printing far outweigh the negatives so why not make now the time to experiment and master this disruptive new technology?