Mark Esslinger knows first hand that to succeed in today’s marketplace, jewelers must be able to offer unique pieces at good prices. Mark is CEO of Esslinger & Co., a Saint Paul, Minn., firm that sells equipment and supplies to jewelers nationwide. “The trend these days is toward more organic shapes and original designs,” said Esslinger. “3D scanners are an affordable tool to help capture natural shapes that can form the basis for new jewelry lines.”
Duplicating natural textures and shapes using CAD often takes hours and typically yields designs that the human eye perceives as “mechanical.” Instead, Esslinger recommends his jewelry design clients consider using a scanner to build their own inventory of scanned objects.
To demonstrate the range of applications available within a single high quality scan, Esslinger recently scanned a strawberry using a Roland LPX-60 3D laser scanner. Roland 3D scanners come bundled with software that automatically sets the scan parameters and gives scanning times for the selected resolution. “Using the LPX couldn’t be easier. You place the object in the scanner and push start,” said Esslinger.
Mark Esslinger scanned a strawberry to demonstrate how jewelers can please buyers seeking more organic shapes and original designs.
He notes that when preparing to scan any natural object, it is important to select a well-shaped sample. To begin, Esslinger removed the leaves from the top of the strawberry. He commented that the leaves can be left on the fruit and scanned with the berry, or be removed and scanned separately later. A third option is to hand-create the leaves within the CAD program. Esslinger then mounted the berry by inserting a small dowel in the core.
He placed the dowel in the mounting putty that came with the LPX-60, thereby lifting the strawberry 1″ above the floor of the scanner. In approximately 50 minutes, the unattended scanner produced a full 360-degree high-resolution image.
“Because the Roland scanners were initially designed for engineers and sculptors, they produce extremely detailed scans,” said Esslinger. “The better the scanner, the smoother the image. With the Roland, you don’t have to spend time filling in missing data. It’s all there.”
The LPX series includes software that prepares the scan data file for use in any of the popular CAD programs. Esslinger exported his strawberry scan to 3Design, and was then able to scale the strawberry to a size suitable for a charm or pendant. He could also “open” or skew the strawberry, cut it in half, or use only part of the scan to create, for example, a relief on a pendant, disk or coin. To complete his image, he designed and added leaves, and added gold into the surface.
Esslinger notes that along with making organic shapes accessible to designers, the scanner can help the independent jeweler with inventory issues. “Many jewelers today can’t afford to stock the inventory they once did,” said Esslinger. “Add to that the fact that customers are asking for custom pieces created from gold they provide, and having a virtual inventory of designs you can produce is invaluable.”
Roland DGA Corp.