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This jewelry store lets you order 3D printed samples before you buy

I spend a lot of time talking lyrically about the applications of 3D printing. I’m mostly talking about hobbyists or small businesses doing custom things on Etsy. This week, however, I got to look at something a little different that uses 3D printing in a way that helps you, the customer.

Jenny Wu is a Los Angeles-based jewelry designer who uses her background in architecture to create intricate designs for her necklaces, rings, and bracelets. Her company, Lace by Jenny Wu, 3D prints many beautiful designs using SLS (selective laser sintering) to melt a powder into shape using lasers and print them into a wax which can then be cast from silver. It gives a few different textures and grains to the final product which I think enhances the look of the piece.

Lace by Jenny Wu

Now, making jewelry from 3D printers is nothing new, although I particularly like the look of these specific rings. They look like something an elf would wear. What really caught my eye with Lace were the sample boxes for her rings. According to the company, rings are the most returned item, mostly due to sizing issues, but people are looking at the convoluted designs and not sure if they will look good on their hand.

Lace leveraged the power of 3D printers it already had to create nylon versions of its most popular models that you can buy for just $3 a ring or $5 for a three-pack. Samples are sent to you in the size you need and are up to you whether you purchase the all-metal version or not. This gives you the ability to test the fit of the rings from your own home the same way you would if you were in the store, without having to be in Los Angeles.

Close-up of a ring with a mobius key

James Bricknell/CNET

The samples are made using the Formlabs Fuse 1 SLS 3D printer and have a delicate feel that would be difficult to replicate even on the best 3d printers suitable for your home. The texture may be a little rough, but these are samples, designed to be worn for a short period of time to get a feel for how the ring will look on your hand. My wife and I tried the samples, and although they are much lighter than an average ring, you can immediately see what the real deal would look like. The Amare ring shown in the picture above was my wife’s favorite, and while I love the Papilo ring in the top picture, she didn’t like the way it rested on her hand.

Using 3D printing in this way is new to commerce and has wide-reaching applications for businesses and consumers. Having a cheap sample that you can hold in your hand and try in the comfort of your own home is worth the extra few bucks you spend to get it, and when you decide to buy the product, you have a cool sample to keep as well. For Lace, it can extend its reach beyond the Los Angeles area and reduce costly returns, some of which may be lost in the mail or damaged during travel. It’s a win-win for everyone.

3D printing is my passion and I love seeing it used in a way that makes sense and adds value to everyone. I really hope we see more in the years to come. If you would like to try a swatch of Lace, click the link above and go check it out. You can even get $15 off the list price of your first order with code CNET15.


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