3D ModelingAM SoftwareConsumer ProductsJewelry

How Rhino has been revolutionizing jewelry 3D printing

The software platform and its various add-ons are an indispensable resource for jewelers around the world

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The jewelry industry was one of the very first to adopt 3D printing for prototypes and indirect production (via casting patterns). As such, several software and software plugins exist that cater specifically to jewelers’ requirements. Rhino, developed by Rhinoceros, has been the leading choice nearly from the start and today, via Grasshopper and several jewelry-specific add-ons, it is literally dominating the market for professional jewelry design software. It is used by many different operators across the jewelry industry, from the smallest boutiques to some of the world’s largest manufacturers. Rhino serves as a host platform for several industry-leading jewelry design plugins such as CrossGems, Stuller’s MatrixGold, and CounterSketch to make designing even faster and more efficient.

Rhino 8 has established itself as the ideal tool for exploring and developing diverse jewelry designs for 3D printing. Its general modeling tools offer a highly flexible way to transition designs into 3D. Users benefit from accurate NURBS geometry modeling, real-time visualization of changes, and the ability to measure mass properties. The platform also provides extensive training materials, videos, and support, making it accessible for users of all skill levels. Rhino 8 Evaluation is available for both Windows and Mac, allowing designers to experience its capabilities firsthand.

One of Rhino’s key features is its ability to visualize designs before casting. This capability enables jewelers to create renderings that can sell their work without the expense of building each piece. Rhino supports many popular rendering plugins, offering advanced display for real-time rendering, multiple illustrative display modes, and the ability to convert images to 2D for illustrated graphics. It integrates seamlessly with popular graphics products like V-Ray and KeyShot, enhancing the visualization process.

Digital manufacturing integration

Rhino integrates seamlessly into various steps of the jewelry manufacturing and 3D printing process. Whether ordering raw casting or utilizing digital fabrication methods and 3D printing, Rhino ensures accurate, symmetrical, and detailed models for casting. It supports the output of precise geometry for fabrication, export of 2D drawings and renderings, and creation of 3D STL files for 3D printing on industry-leading printers such as ETEC, Asiga, 3D Systems, DWS, and SolidScape.

How Rhino has been revolutionizing jewelry 3D printing via various add-ons that are an indispensable resource for jewelers around the world
A casting pattern from an ETEC 3D printer.

Today Rhino is the go-to choice for many of the jewelry industry’s largest suppliers and manufacturers, including end-to-end 3D printing service providers. Its brand-specific plugins enable linking 3D models to real-time inventory such as gemstones, mountings, and findings. Professional-level plugins like CrossGems, MatrixGold, Pro-J, and RhinoArtisan offer professional 3D jewelry design capabilities, merging advanced functionalities with user-friendly interfaces to make the design process more efficient and effective.

Rhino’s integration with Grasshopper, its algorithmic design tool, allows for exploring and developing a wide range of solutions. Grasshopper facilitates the creation of parametric systems, exploration of organic repetition, integration of intelligent data sets, and use of form optimization and organizational topologies with analytics. Various resources, such as the Generative Jewelry Community and Peacock for Grasshopper, support jewelers in leveraging these advanced tools.

How Rhino has been revolutionizing jewelry 3D printing via various add-ons that are an indispensable resource for jewelers around the world
A screenshot of Rhino’s jewelry plug-in MatrixGold

It should also be said that Rhino is useful to create single jewelry 3D models, however, when it comes to mass producing them via lost wax casting, other technologies are needed that can produce massive “casting trees”. OIne of these is Nauta XCluster technology from DWS, a software technology that combines high-resolution 3D printing with lost wax casting in a fully digital workflow. It works in combination with DWS’s advanced castable materials and stereolithographic 3D printers to make production fully digital and automated.

In XCluster, the concept of casting tree has been completely changed, replacing the central core with all the branches with a new geometry called cluster. The absence of the central core allows a higher density and efficiency, resulting in many more objects in the same flask and a much lower amount of metal required. A single cylinder can include up to 2,000 objects of any complexity.

How Rhino has been revolutionizing jewelry 3D printing via various add-ons that are an indispensable resource for jewelers around the world
The latest Nauta XCluster Chain version from DWS enables direct production of casting trees for chain manufacturing.

DWS also recently introduced the Nauta XCluster Chain version, which completes the workflow with a direct link between 3D printing and casting specifically for chain manufacturing. It aims to exponentially increase creativity and then market outlets by enabling linked, welding-free chains that cannot be produced by any other method, but also qualitatively better products, without all the interventions typical of conventional production.

Nauta XCluster Chain software is able to automatically prepare the file, starting with sizing the diameter of the cluster to fit the flask, to managing both the desired length of bracelet/necklace and all the necessary casting sprues, by the use of a spiral construction. Different types of designs can be generated inside the same cluster for maximum flexibility. Lastly, the software places the cylinder in the working area of the available printer, ready for the printing phase.

How Rhino has been revolutionizing jewelry 3D printing via various add-ons that are an indispensable resource for jewelers around the world
A screenshot from 3Design.

Printed jewelry and beyond

Rhino’s acclaim in the jewelry design world is matched by its extensive training outlets. Institutions such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), The Goldsmiths’ Centre, and Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology provide world-class education and training. Additionally, online platforms like Rhino Jewelry CAD, The CAD Jewelry School, and PJ Chen Design offer accessible training resources, ensuring that jewelers can fully harness Rhino’s capabilities.

Rhino’s integration with Grasshopper, its algorithmic design tool, allows for exploring and developing a wide range of solutions. Grasshopper facilitates the creation of parametric systems, exploration of organic repetition, integration of intelligent data sets, and use of form optimization and organizational topologies with analytics. Various resources, such as the Generative Jewelry Community and Peacock for Grasshopper, support jewelers in leveraging these advanced tools.

Many other jewelry design programs existed but they have been mostly replaced by (or integrated into) Rhino and its various add-ons. Among the available ones, 3Design is a CAD software entirely dedicated to jewelry design that is “made by jewelers, for jewelers”. With this program, users can create highly detailed 3D objects, visualizing photorealistic images of the 3D models before printing them. Another interesting application for custom jewelry is Jweel, a parametric online app (created in the early 2010s but still operational today) that doesn’t require any 3D modeling knowledge. It has a very simple navigation screen allowing users to quickly design personalized jewelry such as with text or symbols. Once a customized piece is created, it can be exported as an obj file for 3D printing.

 

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites VoxelMatters.com and Replicatore.it, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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