About a month ago, Ryan Taylor spoke at the Toronto Wearables Meetup (though ironically it seems the February meetup never got a webpage!), about his business Fair Trade Jewellery Company. He spends a lot of time sourcing conflict-free materials for his high-end designer jewelry.
During the presentation he did a hands-on demo of the casting process, using a small welding torch to heat up some pewter, which he then poured into a rubber mold. He offered to give the group a tour of his workshop, and we all thought that would be super cool, so I volunteered to organize it. Last night, that tour finally happened! See my complete flickr set: Ryan Taylor’s Jewellery Workshop Tour.
We got to see his workshop, and he explained how he uses the tools to make things, which was super cool. It was really interesting for me to compare his toolset to what I got to use at the devil’s workshop. He’s got much nicer stuff including a special machine that automates the heating of the metal and pouring it into the mold, which is totally the most failure-prone part of the whole process. With his machine, the metal can be heated precisely and evenly (induction!), the heating/pouring chamber can be put under vacuum or high-pressure argon, and the chamber itself rotates to accomplish the pour, so you don’t have to do it manually. The final touch? The chamber can also vibrate, to make sure that the metal gets into the smallest details of the mold!
That still wasn’t as impressive as his new 3D Printer, which us a UV curing resin printer made in Germany. He says it’s a huge pain in the butt to use (there is a 5-minute light calibration routine you have to preform, involving measuring the light at 58 points, that you have to do before each print!), but it’s resolution is a STUNNING 25 nano-meters! You can see the kind of detail it’s capable of in this shot, those are apparently some of the logos of his business. That’s right, each logo is about the size of one of the ridges of my finger print! He says that actually the machine can print detail that can’t possibly make it through the molding process and into metal, so it’s a bit of overkill really. Impressive, crazy cool, really expensive overkill :-). We’re all excited at hacklab about the ultimaker, an open source 3D printer that we ordered which is supposedly capable of about 20um resolution (though in reality perhaps 500um is a more realistic figure). 25nm is a whole different world.
Thanks again to Ryan for the super cool tour, I learned a lot. I need to visit again sometime during business hours, so I can actually see some of the jewellery he makes!