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Initial results for TSB project Precious discussed at Cookson Precious Metals

Sample rings produced as part of the Precious project

Cookson Precious Metals hosted the first quarterly meeting for the Precious project at its premises in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.  Project Chairman, Chris Lewis Jones of Delcam, opened the meeting, welcoming all partners with a review of progress since the kick off meeting was held in September 2013.

The project, which is being managed by Delcam, will make a definitive step change to the current use of additive manufacture for precious-metal jewellery through an empirical set of trials, benchmarks and demonstrators, making it easier for the whole UK supply chain of design, manufacture and retail to adopt the technology.  For more details, please go to http://precious-project.co.uk/

Work now in progress at the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC) focuses on business transformation based on Additive Manufacturing (AM) with the goal of taking advantage of AM for jewellery and developing a viable and efficient supply chain.  In order to achieve this objective, an assessment of the current state of the art of software and hardware was needed to set a benchmark.  The JIIC, also based in the Jewellery Quarter, have been very proactive in gathering data through distributing a questionnaire to known jewellery manufacturers, designers, and sellers.  Over 340 responses had been received at the time of the meeting.  The feedback presented by Frank Cooper from JIIC gave an invaluable insight into the current situation and identifies gaps and opportunities to progress Additive Manufacturing within the UK jewellery industry. 

The questionnaire is still open and is available at the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HJ7PMJ3

Tony Staniorski, Technical Director at Cookson Precious Metals, gave a tour around the company’s impressive facilities, including a demonstration of manufacturing with laser sintering machines for gold, which will be utilised within the project.  Afterwards, Kelvin Hamilton of Delcam discussed the initial practical results achieved that are working towards efficient manufacturing and post-processing.  The work is focussed on high quality finished products and establishing the best and most appropriate surface finishing and polishing techniques.  As a part of the production process, optimal support creation and removal techniques will be developed.

An interesting debate on the level of surface finish that can be achieved by machine polishing alone was led by Richard Ainsworth of Finishing Techniques, who brought along several gold sintered pieces in various states of finish.  The project aims to minimise the hand finishing needed on the sintered pieces and further tests will be done to try to establish optimal parameters.

Project partner and jewellery designer Lionel T Dean, who specialises in designing for Additive Manufacturing, has identified three categories for his designs; Individualisation, Personalisation and Full Customisation.  Within the Precious project, Lionel will design three test pieces in each category as demonstrators.  He explained how Individualisation allows for minimal client input, whereas Full Customisation allows for creating completely unique pieces through one-to-one discussions between the designer and manufacturer.

In his summary, Chris Lewis Jones stated that the Precious project, co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, is currently in a phase of understanding with already some initial results forming the basis for the planned development activities.

Acknowledgement
The Precious project is co-funded by The Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency.  Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation.  Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.

For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org

04 February 2014

 
 
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