Additive layer manufacturing pushes boundaries of jewelry design

July 25, 2013
Laser additive manufacturing gives student designers a new freedom of expression with intricate detail and the ability to produce multiple pieces rapidly.

Birmingham, UK - The School of Jewellery, located at the heart of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and part of the City University, combines strong links with the industry and a collaborative approach with technology suppliers to ensure that students have every opportunity to enhance their potential as designers.

Students are encouraged to combine their practical skills with innovation and creativity, to push the traditional boundaries in all aspects of jewelry design and manufacture. This is clearly demonstrated in the stunning pieces produced by several students using the laser additive manufacturing process that has become established in a wide range of industries and has spawned several conferences.

Those outside of mainstream industrial manufacturing, however, may not be aware that this technology is now finding its way into the intricate world of jewelry manufacturing, where complex geometries and fine detail can be created, giving jewelry designers not only new freedom of expression, but also the ability to produce multiple pieces in the shortest possible time. School of Jewellery students Georgia Harriet Ayley and Layla McCook are among a number of designers who have embraced the capabilities of the process to achieve the levels of intricacy and detail they had envisaged in their original designs.

Layla McCook believes that nature is the world's greatest designer and her inspiration is often evoked from innate and animate objects. The aim for her latest collection, "Rose Tinted Spectacles," was to combine feminine fluid forms that represented the soft, organic structures of rose petals with a fine intricate pattern – in places just 0.3 mm wide - that characterized their delicate nature. With a very strong eye for detail, Layla pursues a perfectionistic approach to her work. In order to achieve this effect, she used Concept Lasers' Mlab cusing system to build the pieces layer by layer.

This combination of innovative design with new technology has resulted in visually striking and intriguing, original pieces, designed with the high-end luxury market in mind. This is a testament not only to her designs, but also demonstrates the capabilities of the Mlab cusing machine and the LaserCUSING process.

Georgia Harriet Ayley uses precious metals in collaboration with uncut and cut gemstones, emphasizing the natural beauty and sole quality of stones in her designs. Her silver and amethyst collection "Damali - Beautiful Vision," was inspired by the intricate designs of ivory Chinese eggs.

Using the LaserCUSING process, she was able to trap a precious amethyst stone inside the pendant and earring capsules from this collection, creating unique pieces. Ayley explains "being able to encapsulate the amethyst within the pendant and earrings allowed me to produce pieces which are seamless with a smooth finish. The traditional method of producing pieces such as this would have required laser welding, resulting in a visible joint line. This technology inspires more creativity with shapes and forms and has allowed me to remain faithful to my original concepts and vision."

Both Ayley and McCook worked in close collaboration with ES Technology Limited, distributor for the range of Concept Laser LaserCUSING machines using the company's demonstration machine to build the pieces. The LaserCUSING process is suited to jewelry manufacture with its capability to create intricate geometries and profiles in a variety of materials including precious metal alloys.



Top: Layla McCook’s striking creations combine inspiration from nature with leading edge manufacturing technology.

Bottom: Georgia Harriet Ayley uses additive layer manufacturing to trap precious amethyst stones inside the pendant and earring capsules to create unique pieces. Her pieces were built in bronze and then silver plated.

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