Friends, creatives, + industry members visiting BOND Studios often ask to see 3D printed prototypes up close. This persistent interest in our process inspired the BOND Hardware Wearable Prototypes Series + its first release, the Buzzsaw Prototype Collection.
This new series features the same 3D printed transparent resin material used for all BOND jewelry prototyping — but instead of a midpoint on the path to making fine jewelry, we explored the utility of transparent resin as a distinctive jewelry material in and of itself. This visually interesting material has unique advantages — in particular, the same sharp designs are lighter weight and cost less to produce.
One of the common lines of questioning around the prototypes is in regards to how they are made. So, here is an overview of the 3D printing and prototyping process that we use for the new collection.
From CAD to 3D Print
The 3D printing + prototyping phase of product development begins once the 3D CAD (computer-aided design) for the piece is completed.
BOND Hardware uses ultra-high-resolution 3D printed transparent resin to produce the finest level of detail possible with 3D printing. Starting with high-res materials creates initial prototypes that are precise enough to make a mold from, eliminating the need for additional prototype versions and in the process saving time + material.
When an object is “printed,” the part of a 3D print that touches the printer bed will not have as much detail as the rest of the piece. To maximize detail, BOND Hardware prototypes are 3D printed at an angle instead of lying flat. Scaffolding-esque support structures are printed simultaneously to help prototypes stand when they are printed at an angle. The supports are made from a soluble material that is washed away from the prototype after 3D printing is completed.
At this point, the 3D print is ready for hand-polishing in our studio, the final step in the prototyping process. In the case of the new Buzzsaw Prototype Collection, these 3D prototypes become a unique, wearable piece of jewelry. For other collections, a mold is made from the 3D printed prototype, and the final phase of casting the metal jewelry begins.