Now that you’ve read our story of love and mathematics, let’s get to the juicy part: how we made them! To start off our 3D prototyping, I started off with these sketches of the rings—I was inspired by the molding on this Indiana Jones ring to create an inlaid pattern with a smooth inside. The idea was for the rings to be as comfortable as possible, since both Matt and I use our hands for our work a lot, and don’t want to deal with inner engraving chafing our skin.
Matt then used Blender to whip up two 3D models, one of my ring, and one of his. We used a friend’s 3D printer to do the initial low-resolution prints (for sizing), and got about two tries in before we got to a good fit.
As a test, we wore the rings for a week around our left ring fingers to see if they were comfortable, and mine passed the test! However, Matt’s did not, so we need to go back and tweak his to be slightly smaller (his was sliding around a lot on his finger).
It’s funny to watch people’s faces when they see the low-resolution 3D print. It doesn’t look particularly pretty, so I’ve received looks from, “Oh…that’s nice,” to, “Why are you wearing that?” Well, designing stuff isn’t always pretty—the shitty prints have to come out first before the high-resolution ones do.
We worked on getting Matt’s ring up to a level that he was comfortable with, as well as adding siding to the edges of the ring to elegantly “end” the pattern and make sure the edges were smooth. Unfortunately, we could never get the rings up to a level of fidelity that we liked; the prints ended up looking uneven and jagged.
We learned an important lesson; when to stop prototyping in one medium when it isn’t working. In the 3D printing world, there are some things that are more geared towards 3D printing, and others that were not. 3D printing technology was not yet ready to handle the size and intricacy of our band pattern.
We decided we would take the opposite approach with our wedding rings. Instead of building layer upon layer of the rings like one would in a 3D print, we would take platinum bands and have them engraved down to the level of detail we wanted.
After looking over Yelp reviews, talking to friends and family, and getting quotes from our favorites, Matt and I decided to go with Calvin’s Fine Jewelry. Though most of the rings in their portfolio came off as too… diamond-y for my tastes initially, I’ve now learned not to judge a book by its cover. They did our engagement ring (cast in white gold from a 3D printed wax mold) and our wedding bands, and they were perfect. They have incredible customer service and an in-house person who handles engraving from CAD, so you’re not sourcing it out to someone who might have lower standards than the jewelry shop with whom you’re working.
We sent in the initial Blender patterns with instructions on how we were envisioning the rings to their expert, and the engraved results were fantastic!
These are machine-engraved, so we got all the perfect intricacies of the patterns—and they overlay perfectly, just like a dual. (Fun fact: the acrylic squares they’re laying on were laser cut by our friend Glisson for a tabletop game he ran with us for our bachelor[ette] party.)
We are really pleased with these; not only did they turn out exactly how we wanted them, in going through the process we learned a lot about 3D printing and prototyping. I’m looking forward to a future where 3D printers can print with this level of detail—I don’t think we’re too far off!
Many thanks to Matt Franks for letting us use his 3D printer, to Calvin’s for the engraving, and for Mike Reed Photography for the above lovely photograph! We’re so thankful to share our story and what we learned; if you have any questions about our process please comment below or tweet me @chostett.