Valentines Day and How to Design a 3D Printed Metal Ring

Living in free market as we do, you have several options this Valentines Day.

  1. You can go for “Valentines Day is a consumerist conspiracy invented by hallmark” route if you choose: this is the cheapest option but also the most difficult. Good luck.
  2. You can buy an experience. I recommend renting scooters, it is impossible to be unhappy about a lack of tangible gifts while riding a scooter.
  3. I like to make gifts when possible, to me its more personal than the generic “heart insignia = token of love” stuff you get at a mall jeweller. The obvious play here is a homemade pop up card, but other options are laser cutting and 3D printing.

Here’s a walk-through of how to design a 3D printed metal ring. If you haven’t read it already, our 3D printing crash course is a good primer for the world of 3D printing.

Inspiration

I learned long ago I don’t have the best taste in women’s jewellery. So in this case I asked my Valentine to draw me something she would like to see as a ring. She did me one better, making a model from paper.

3D printed metal ring ideas valentines 1024

Model it

Now you need to create a digital 3D representation that a 3D printer. Fusion360 is my favourite 3D modelling (aka CAD) software check out a review if you don’t already have enough tabs open. Depending on your experience level, you may need to do a few tutorials first, but Fusion is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of being intuitive. You can either build stuff in blocky extrusions of 2D shapes, or just make blob and push and pull it until you have what you need. I did a bit of both.

First I wanted to get the knot feature roughly the right shape so I made a 2D sketch…

sketch fusion 360 3D printed metal ring

And then pushed and pulled it to make it 3D…

spline pull fusion 360 3D printed metal ring

Then sketched a rectangle with round ends on a plane on the end of my 3D line which is roughly the cross section of the loop.

sweep pull fusion 360 3D printed metal ring

I then used the Sweep function (under the “Create Form” menu) to track the line with my sketch, now my knot is starting to take shape.

sweep fusion 360 3D printed metal ring

The next hour was spent pulling and pushing the sections using the “Edit Form” button under the right click menu.

tweak fusion 360 3D printed metal ring

Finally I was happy with the knot shape. I completed the ring using the “Torus” (read: “doughnut”) shape, and connected them using a “bridge” feature. To export it as an STL (a common format used for 3D printing) right click the name of your model in the top right of your view window and select “Save as STL”.

finish and add ring fusion 360 3D printed metal ring

Print it!

The closest vendor to me in New Zealand that can print (cheaply) in metal is Shapeways in New York unfortunately so it can take a while to get here. If you want to get something made closer to home, try 3D Hubs.

Its a good idea to read about the requirements  of the material that your vendor is going to 3D print in before you embark on a design. These include minimum thickness’s, minimum sizes and other things to take into account. Shapeways have a handy tool that can check some of these automatically, it found that my part was a bit thin in a few places.

shapeways model check thickness 3D printed metal ring

Once I had fixed these up and rechecked it it was time to send it away! Here’s the render of what it will hopefully look like.

Render of fusion 360 3D printed metal ring
Shiny…

So get Fusion360 on the download and give it a go! Or, if this is a bit daunting, Shapeways have a great list of Online Apps for designing jewellery that are a bit limited, but much easier. Happy Valentines Day!

Update!

They arrived just a few days after Valentines day :/ But I am really happy with them! I decided on raw brass (USD17.03) and polished nickel steel (USD12.20). Raw brass came out with a smooth shiny finish, maybe because it’s cast from a wax mould rather than directly 3D-printed like the nickel steel. Raw brass is definitely the pick of the two, but it can corrode and tarnish against the skin, leaving a green residue. A quick spray of clear coat or clear nail polish prevents this. Check them out below.

how to design a 3D printed metal ring finished shapeways how to design a 3D printed metal ring finished both