Laser melting process creates designer watches from metal powder

July 27, 2012
Designer Umberto Palermo's new watch collection uses Concept Laser's LaserCUSING additive manufacturing process to obtain a desired unique surface structure.
Turin, Italy -- Designer Umberto Palermo has created a watch collection entitled WATCH-UP using Concept Laser's LaserCUSING additive manufacturing process on metals. The unusual look was recently presented to the public, in Turin, as part of a charity event for the Operation Smile Italia Onlus Foundation. Palermo, president of Up Design, works with companies such as Fiat, Faw, Indesit, Scholtes, Hotpoint, Ariston Thermo, Cantieri Rodriquez, and Politecnico di Torino, and presents UP Design at international design fairs. Inspired by the idea of giving shape to abstract ideas, Palermo began to focus on designing exclusive products. "I wanted to develop a new, unusual design language for objects which are based on completely new fabrication methods," he stated. The result of this work was shown in Turin: The BIKE-UP collection, a new bicycle made from carbon, and WATCH-UP, a series of watches produced generatively from metal powder without any casting or milling. The innovative basic idea behind the WATCH-UP watch collection lies in the fabrication of the entire watch-case using the generative LaserCUSING process (a mashup of the letter "C" in Concept Laser's name and the word fusing i.e. complete melting.). To give shape to Palermo's idea of creating a unique watch, he familiarized himself with all the possibilities offered by this process. "It is very unusual to suddenly be able to choose almost any geometry you want. For a designer, this is of course a huge opportunity to design things with such a high level of aesthetic appeal. The freedoms of design which the laser melting of metals allows initially astounded me and then they inspired me." Nine complete watch-cases in the WATCH-UP collection were made in a single fabrication step on an M1 cusing machine at Concept Laser in Lichtenfels, Germany. Ridix, a sales partner of Concept Laser from the Turin area, helped to bridge the technological gap from Germany to Italy. For UP Design, the advantage of this process was the ability to quickly make adjustments to the design of the finished model if necessary. Then the use of laser additive manufacturing technology made it possible, without any great additional outlay, to obtain the desired surface structure which could only have been produced with a very great amount of outlay using a conventional method. "The surface presents a look of leather and fabric, which acts as a symbol of uniqueness worn on the wrist," Palermo explains. "For me, it has a very striking and timeless aesthetic appeal when the hardness and the material properties of metal combine, figuratively speaking, with the softness from the tanneries of Florence." He sees plenty of potential for other projects involving metal objects which will allow unusual things to be created from powder by means of LaserCUSING.

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