The Journey of a Ring
In the previous post on the Journey of a Ring mini-series, we learned about our Product Design & Development Department. In that area, our designers produce thousands of unique jewelry pieces each year. But after the CAD image is complete, where does the project go from there? It moves to the casting phase, of course.
As we follow a ring, we’ll dive into the Model Department, the more traditional route taken by many pieces. In this department, CAD files are sent with very specific manufacturing options assigned. “We use very powerful 3D printers to create direct cast resins as well as direct mold resins from the CAD images,” says Brett Northcutt, Model Director. “These direct cast resins will eventually create the set samples for review and once approved get released to production.”
The model department has three sections: model makers, rapid response, and support. The rapid response group creates the set and unset samples. These provide us with a prototype of the final product, which goes on for approval and then photography. The rapid response group also tests the piece, ensures proper manufacturing, and creates standard procedures for production, if needed. The support group handles all administrative duties as well as quality assurance, rhodium plating, molding, and project management.
Stuller produces product through many means. “In the Model Department, we prefer rubber molds over print resins because we can cast wax from them. Wax easily burns out and leaves castings with fewer defects,” says Brett. We also create metal molds for more simply designed geometric pieces like findings, for example. This is carried out by the Metal Mold Department where molds are produced and injected with plastic rather than wax.
Once approved for production, the mold makes its way to the wax department. When we receive an order or internal demand for that product, the wax team pulls the mold and injects casting wax into it. This produces an exact wax replication which the master uses to cast the piece in one of the many metal choices we offer.
Keep in mind, some pieces never even make it to the wax mold phase. “We’re able to offer a huge assortment of sizes and shapes without actually having to make masters and molds. The concepts behind 3C and newer designs begin as digital files. Only after proven success, do we create molds for new pieces.”
From the Model Department, the ring moves forward to receive a name and its very own headshot, but that’s another stop in the Journey of a Ring series. Stay tuned for more to come!
Do you have a 3D printer in your store? Compare your processes to ours in the comments below! Stay tuned for the next installment of The Journey of a Ring mini-series.