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More BLING3D: 3D printed aluminium earrings

I have been experimenting with our metal additive manufacturing system to see how small I can go and still get detail coming through. Since I did some bracelets a couple of months ago, I decided to keep going with the bling theme and do some earrings. This time I went with an animal theme so that there is always an appropriate pair for whatever mood you're in.

Creation process: Let me start by saying that I did not CAD up the animals myself. I found scans of real animal heads on Thingiverse, and modified them enough to be suitable for earrings.

I also had to modify most of the animals ears, changing their angles a bit, to allow them to be printable without support material using a program called Mashmixer that allowed me to 'bend' the STL files in the appropriate areas. I then used another software program, Magics by Materialise, to cut in a recess for the studs on the back of the earing, shelled them out to 1mm thick to minimize their weight, and put in a small salt-shaker hole so I could remove the unmelted powder from inside the earrings.

For the first set of prints I did, each earing measured between 10mm to 15mm, and the studs had an 8mm diameter disc on them that I glued into the recess in the back of the earrings.

Here's the first set of earrings. that I printed.

They came out with excellent detail but were, unfortunately, a bit too big to wear as studs. But I then managed to find some 4mm disc studs and scaled them all down by around 40%. and printed them again.

The print time for 70 earrings. (5 pairs of 7 animals) took around 4 hours (plus about 3 hours to get rid of all the oxygen from the machine and replace it with argon, and another hour to remove the build plate from the machine and clean up the machine). Removing the support material that welded the earrings to the build plate, filing the backs of the earrings, cleaning the stud recesses of support material, and shot-peening them took about 30~45 minutes per pair of earrings. The studs were glued in with epoxy.

And here's a set of the cat earrings being worn by our lovely ear model, Cilla.


copyright 2018, olaf diegel