We Are GothamSmith
Photos courtesy of Jason Martin
We don't work with metal, but thanks to modern technology we don't have to.
Unwilling to be constrained by any one tool, our ideation process may involve photography, sketching, illustration, sculpting, or scanning before moving into the CAD realm. Once there, 3D printing allows us to refine our prototypes until we're satisfied.
While we begin with plastic to experiment with form, the final process depends upon the technical constraints of how 3D printing works for each material. Our stainless steel objects are printed granule by granule and show the contour lines of each layer, while the precious metals are finely printed in wax before being cast in one of the most traditional methods known.
We think precious metal reveals the detail of the original CAD model, but stainless steel best conveys traces of the 3D printing process.
How it works.
Most of our jewelry is made using a process called granular materials binding. In this process a print head is positioned above a bed of stainless steel powder. This print head lays down an organic binder layer by layer - like building a sand castle with sand and glue. This core is then heated, hardening the binder, and infused with bronze before being heated again. In the final product you can see texture from each individual layer constructed during the build process.
Our stainless steel objects are then tumble polished, while the bronze and gold finished ones go through an electroplating process. As each piece is made individually there might be quirks in the finish but so far we've been very happy with how they've turned out.
For precious metals, the final stage of manufacture involves the "lost wax" method of casting. A wax positive is made with 3D printers at a very fine resolution, and then a liquid mold is poured around it. Then the mold is heated allowing the wax to melt out (thus, the wax is "lost) and molten metal is poured into the mold. The mold is pulled away to reveal the beautiful metal object beneath. Finally our manufacturers lightly polish the object to give it a nice shine.
This fantastic robot-based manufacturing process is powered by Shapeways.
Want to hear more?
We chronicle our product creation stories on Medium.
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