Interview – Marie Boltenstern, Managing Director of Boltenstern: “3D printing is part of [her] new vision for jewellery
Boltenstern, founded 60 years ago, is a family business that sells jewellery. Three years ago, Marie Boltenstern decided to carry on the work of her father’s and became Managing Director and Head of Design of the company.
Architect by training, she completed a Master’s degree in emerging technologies in London. Her professional experience as architect and her Master’s degree enabled her to discover 3D printing.
It’s been 8 years that additive manufacturing is part of the manufacturing methods of the company. Marie sees in the 3D printing technology a real potential, and a way to give Boltenstern a new direction.
In October 2017, the jewellery launched her first 3D printed jewelry collection and today Marie tells us more about her vision of 3D printing.
Tell us more about Boltenstern and what inspired the use of 3D printing
Boltenstern has been founded in 1964. In addition to our online shop, we have two stores in Vienna and Berlin.
3 years ago, when I took over the brand, I wanted to give a fresh boost to the company and bring my personal touch. In order to achieve that, it was also important for me to keep in mind my father’s vision. Given my background as an architect and the Master’s degree I completed in Emerging Technologies, 3D printing seemed obvious to me. 3D printing was part of my professional and personal experience. I had to associate it with jewellery and it does not mean that we do not use any more conventional manufacturing processes for our creations.
How do you make use of 3D printing? For prototyping?
We directly 3D print our creations from gold powder, platinum powder and silver powder.
Do you collaborate with a partner or do you have your own 3D printers?
We collaborated with a provider of 3D printing services in England. We have an international network of partners who make possible what we are doing.
How long does it take to manufacture a product?
It depends on the jewel. It can take 5 hours to 3D print a ring and a few more hours for other types of jewels. For a big bracelet for instance, the printing time is about 20 hours.
What are the characteristics that we should take into account to classify a product in the category of luxury items?
For me, the most important characteristic is that it should be “unique”, especially in this sector. And that’s something that we can only achieve using 3D printing.
On the other hand, if a customer just needs a single piece, therefore, the uniqueness is worthwhile. However, if you need a series of jewels that look exactly the same, then it should be noticed that those pieces will be very similar but not exactly the same.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of 3D printing in this sector?
As far as advantages are concerned, the main one is customization. The 3D printer does not make any difference between the printing of 2 000 pieces that should be similar or 2 000 pieces that should be “unique”. Therefore, the user must know how to handle the machine.
The biggest issue remains the finishing stage. The post-printing work is very important and must be mastered in order to obtain the expected result: smooth, shiny, etc.
Your last word?
I strongly believe 3D printing will open new possibilities regarding design and customization. And I am excited to see what’s coming next… #StayTuned
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