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Case Studies

Using 3D Scanners In Jewelry Design With Natural Materials

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There are certain designs that are difficult to model on Rhino3D, as shown in Image. Natural objects like animals and plants in particular are not only difficult model in 3D  but they also take a long time to recreate in the right proportions.    

In these cases 3D scanners can come in very handy as modeling aids. The trick is to first handcraft a mockup of the jewelry’s shape, scan it, then load the file in Rhino3D to model the rest. Using this method, it is convenient to design jewelry with natural shapes and also easy to make modifications later on.    

The same principle can be applied when creating prongs for loose stones or gemstones with irregular shapes and sizes. By 3D scanning the stone itself, the precise shape and size measurements can be obtained, which in turn helps in designing the prongs with a perfect fit. Now let’s take a look at the actual process of using a 3D scanner as a modeling aid. 

Jewerly design with natural materials

Image 1 -- when working with natural materials


First, mold the clay into the desired shape. Focus on achieving the overall balance and portraying the characteristics of a bird as a priority. Particles and detailed sections will be handled on the modeling program. Using the scan data as a reference, reverse engineer the model on the modeling program. Create housings for the stones accordingly. 

3D printing process of natural materials Image 2 -- 3D printing process
Completed piece of natural material
Image 3 -- completed piece
With the use of a 3D scanner, the process is much easier and faster than conventional modeling using a a simple image. Also the finished product will have a natural feel and touch that is hard to express when only using a software design program. 



In this second case, the goal is to create a custom-fit prong that can hold a pearl with an uneven surface.  A Z-Brush was used.

Scanned image of a baroque pearl Image 4 -- scanned image of a baroque pearl

3D scan the pearl as in Image 4. And duplicate the scan data, then hide one layer. 

Cutting off the scan data Image 5 -- cutting off the scan data

Crop the top part to leave only the bottom part which will be the prong.  See Image 5. 

Thickening the prong Image 6 -- thickening the prong
Thicken the remainnig part as in Image 6. Unhide the duplicated pearl and there will be a prong surrounding the pearl.
Completed prong Image 7-- completed prong
Completed prong Image 8 -- completed prong (alt view)

The conventional method of creating prongs for irregular gems like this was either by 1) using melted wax to make direct contact with gems and then peel it off, or 2) to continuously try to fit the gem into the prong while in the process of manually crafting it. On the other hand, 3D scanners can shorten the production time significantly while providing more accurate results.

By Yongjin Kim / CEO – Leo3D (Authorized Rhino3D Training Center).                                  Based out of Seoul, Korea, Leo3D (website, Korean only) specializes in 3D jewelry design. 

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