All about 3D Printing
As you know, Humble & Maker's goal is get you involved in the Handmade revolution by taking the scary out of making with our gorgeous craft kits. Recently however, we have posted quite a lot about the 3D printed earrings and cufflinks that we have introduced. The connection might not be obvious so I've been chatting to Nathan to explain how they fit together.
For the people saying 'how do you go from craft kits to jewellery?' can you explain how we got here?
We've always tried to design kits which are different to others out there, and were keen to do include features which weren't readily available to help drive the brand.
As a 3D printing enthusiast I was really hooked on the idea of making custom buttons or clasps - something really eye catching and unusual.
After a few early failures, I had something which we were happy with, but as buttons they were too expensive to produce. As jewellery though, we thought the idea had potential.
If it doesn't go in the kits though, how does the new jewellery fit with with Humble and Maker overall - where's the link now?
3D printed jewellery is not new. There's loads of it out there and some of it is amazing, but I wanted us to do something different. Humble & Maker is about making things from beautiful materials but one of our core ambitions is to be as sustainable as possible. Our kits do produce small offcuts of fabric which are way too small for most uses and destined for the bin. So, we decided that all our jewellery pieces would be unique designs incorporating a 3D printed element and a textile element so we can use these up. I don't know anyone else who is mixing the two materials in this way.
So how do we make these pieces - what's involved?
Most people think 3D printing is a single new manufacturing process. The truth, is that there are a wide variety of different methods (most of which have impressive acronyms for names), all of which have pros and cons.
We start by sketching pieces on paper, throwing ideas around and then model them in the computer. We upload the designs to one of two different companies online and have them print the parts using a technique called Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and ship them to us. I normally design the parts on a sprue (a bit like the old Airfix planes I built as a kid) which we then cut apart, before stuffing them with fabric or stitching the designs in.
Can you take us through the products we have in the range now?
Right now we have both earrings and cufflinks in a flattened sphere (kind of like the shape of Mentos mints). These pieces are hollow with a design cut out of the front and back piece which seals it closed.
On the inside we use pieces of brightly coloured wool felt or cotton fabric. Produced in white and black nylon they have a porous almost ceramic feel to the surface and the material colours contrast really well against the printed parts.
We're just releasing our new 3D printed mesh necklaces and earrings which feature cross-stitched patterns stitched onto the printed scaffold. We simplified and digitised some of the coolest fabrics we have and stitched those patterns onto the mesh.
They even come packaged in a piece of the fabric which inspired the cross-stitch design.
What's next for this side of the business?
Well, I'm really keen on producing designs which people can adapt depending on what they're wearing or how they feel. We think we've got something which will make it possible for people to change the colours easily. Also, 3D printing allows for the creation of mechanical parts with joints etc. so I'm keen to see jewellery with moving parts to inject an element of play into the designs.
We think this is really exciting and hope you like this side of the business! What would you like to see us make next?