Ever wondered whether you can 3D print gold? It's more common than you think, especially with printing services available to bridge the gap between industry machines and the average consumer. Here's how gold 3D printing works, and how you can get your hands on a golden print of your own.
Gold 3D printing is quickly growing in popularity, especially among jewelry designers and watchmakers. Not only is 3D printing a great way to quickly produce prototypes to show off, but it also allows designers to be more creative.
Traditionally, unless they were part of a large company with access to production machines and facilities, independent jewelry designers would be limited to making items by hand. Even for skilled craftsmen, some shapes and textures are just very difficult or impossible to achieve.
With 3D printing, however, these designers are considerably less constrained and can create a wider variety of models. 3D printing services such as Shapeways also makes it easier and cheaper to produce and distribute professionally. That’s great news for everyone!
3D prints with real gold are typically not produced on your average FDM printer. Though there are plenty of PLA filament brands on the market with gold color or even blends of real gold in them, these filaments produce models that don’t really look golden.
Instead, manufacturers have two ways of making gold 3D prints. The first is through direct metal laser sintering (or DMLS), which uses layers of powder and a laser to solidify the model, which is then extracted from the leftover powder. Post-processing cleans the model and polishes it to a beautiful golden shine.
The second is through lost wax casting. The process starts by using a high-resolution 3D printer to create a wax model, which then has plaster poured over it to make a mold. The wax is easily melted away, and gold poured in to create the final model, which is also polished after removal.
Unfortunately, DMLS machines are not cheap. They can cost in the neighborhood of USD$150,000, before any powder material (which, since it contains real gold, is also not cheap). They can also be a hassle to operate since the fine powder must be properly contained and can be hazardous if breathed in.
With that said, it’s no surprise that hardly anyone can print in 18k gold from the comfort of their home. For the average person, it is much more cost- and time-effective to use one of many 3D printing services available online. They handle the printing, cleaning, and polishing work, and the consumer gets to pay a significantly smaller upfront amount.
If you’re looking to buy, try out our 3D printing price comparison page. Simply upload your file and select the material you want, and we’ll show you a price comparison from the best 3D printing services out there, such as i.materialise, Sculpteo, and more.
There are six different varieties of golds to choose from as well: pick whichever color (gold, white gold, rose gold) and carat (14k and 18k) you desire.
Find this interesting? Try out these articles too:
License: The text of "Gold 3D Printing – How To Get Gold 3D Prints" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Subscribe to updates from All3DP
You are subscribed to updates from All3DP
You can’t subscribe to updates from All3DP. Learn more…