Two European Firms Team Up to Bring Additive Manufacturing to the Precious Metals, Jewelry and Watch Industries
Additive manufacturing (AM) as a disruptive technology just got another boost with the announcement of a partnership between EOS, a leader in advanced manufacturing solutions for industrial applicatoins and Cookson Precious Metals, a top supplier of precious metals in Europe.
The interaction between the two firms includes the applicatioin of direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), a sophisticated 3D printing process. This approach uses a 3D CAD model to create a build file. According to Wikipedia, “The technology fuses metal powder into a solid part by melting it locally using the focused laser beam. Parts are built up additively layer by layer, typically using layers 20 micrometres thick. This process allows for highly complex geometries to be created directly from the 3D CAD data, fully automatically, in hours and without any tooling. DMLS is a net-shape process, producing parts with high accuracy and detail resolution, good surface quality and excellent mechanical properties.”
Here’s the full text of today’s announcment:
Krailling, Germany/Birmingham, UK, June 5th, 2012 - EOS, technology and market leader for design-driven, integrated e-manufacturing solutions for Additive Manufacturing (AM) applications, and Cookson Precious Metals (CPM), worldwide established supplier for the precious metal industry, signed a strategic development partnership. Under this agreement, both companies will introduce and further develop precious metal-based applications to the jewelry and watch industry. The product and services offering will range from the production of precious metal parts to consulting for a Direct Metal Laser-Sintering- (DMLS) driven design process, the development and production of special precious metal alloys and the installation of a bespoke solution chain for high-volume jewelry production. To start with, CPM offers AM capacities enabling production of designs made of 18 carat yellow gold (3N color).
As a leading supplier of fabricated precious metals – primarily gold, silver and platinum – Cookson Precious Metals has a reputation for high-quality products and services, as well as for developing a close working relationship with customers. CPM is able to supply fair-trade gold, and their own Ecogold guarantees to customers that the gold has come from a recycled source. This utilizes aboveground stocks of recycled gold instead of new metal from the mines. Moreover, CPM is UK's largest one-stop shop for the jewelry maker with over 12,000 products, including a substantial stock of silver, gold, palladium and platinum bullion cut to customer requirements (sheet, wire, tube, solder, grain, settings) as well as wide ranges of findings, loose and finished chain, gemstones, ring blanks, jewelry making tools, silver clay and beading materials.
Dr. Adrian Keppler, Executive Vice President Strategy and Business Development at EOS, states: “With CPM we found a perfect partner to introduce our innovative and paradigm-shifting technology to the luxury goods industry. We truly believe that our AM process offers a huge potential for these industries and a freedom of design that they have long been searching for. The most demanding jewelry brands can now create entirely new products and geometries that still meet their high-quality requirements. The technology challenges the designer’s imagination and pushes it to the next level. This could not be achieved with a goldsmith’s handicraft work or conventional manufacturing methods.”
Stella Layton, Global Vice President at Cookson Precious Metals adds: “With EOS, we now join forces with the market and quality leader in AM. With the EOS technology, 3D bespoke jewelry and watch components can be created from CAD files. This takes us on an exciting journey, permitting the creation of highly complex and intricate designs that weren’t thinkable before. The particular beauty of this technology is that it can be used to produce both one-off pieces as well as large scale production eliminating many process steps and tooling costs we see today.”
Both EOS and CPM envision customized e-manufacturing solutions that will change the economics of making jewelry or watches. The shorter technology time lowers the general costs of entry into the business of making quality jewelry and watch parts in precious metal. As such, e-manufacturing with DMLS enables designers to produce pieces that do not have to deal with the boundaries of conventional production techniques.