A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
About this project
GemCreator - a 3D Printed Faceting Machine
You are a real gem!
If you are making jewelry, such as rings, earrings, pendants and other pieces, a gemstone can be a beautiful finishing touch and can be a beautiful centerpiece for your jewelry. Beautiful custom jewelry deserves a custom gemstone.
Creating a gemstone can be a tedious and a time consuming process. Making a gemstone manually can mean hours of hands on work with a lapidary and meticulous counting of passes to make sure each facet is similar in size as the other facets. The GemCreator 3D Printed faceting machine helps to automate and make the process of making a custom gemstone easier. The GemCreator can be configured to create a loop of facets, and do multiple passes of those loops moving in slightly between each pass automatically. This means that after setting up a grind, you can walk away from it to do other things while it works away at its task.
How Does it Work?
A typical procedure goes like this:
Glue a marble or stone to the end of a dobstick (wait until dry).
Insert dobstick into machine head - zero dobstick and zero turret
Rough grind Girdle and Pavilion facets with 240 grit disc
Medium grind Girdle and Pavilion facets with 800 grit disc
Fine grind Girdle and Pavilion facets with 2000 grit disc
Polish Girdle and Pavilion facets with cerium oxide disc
Transfer dobstick to do the Crown
Rough grind Crown facets with 240 grit disc
Medium grind Crown facets with 800 grit disc
Fine grind Crown facets with 2000 grit disc
Polish Girdle and Pavilion facets with cerium oxide disc
Doing the Rough grind takes the most time to get the gemstone into the basic shape. The other discs are only used for a few passes. So after the rough grind the rest of the process goes quicker for the rest of the hemisphere. Since the rough grind takes the most time, the automatic grinding makes it very handy. Theoretically, the user can get the automatic grinding going and then walk away and come back when all of the passes are complete for the rough grind.
A gemstone typically could be created in about a day or maybe faster depending on experience.
SD card reader and 4GB sd card - for saving recorded steps which can be reloaded and played back.
10 dobsticks - the STL file will be available if more need to be 3D printed, or more can be ordered if necessary.
The GemCreator 3D faceting machine combines 3D printed parts with 3D printer electronics. Plastic parts were designed on a CAD system to be 3D printed. The advantages of 3D printing means that a small run of parts may be produced and parts can be revised and reprinted if need be. The electronics utilizes the Arduino Atmega2560 and the Ramps 1.4 board as the main electronics. The Arduino/Ramps combination main board currently drives 4 stepper motors, a DC grinder motor, lights, endstops, keyboard and display. Software was written from scratch utilizing various Arduino libraries for the display and other miscellaneous functions.
It's made of plastic, it can't work!
Yes, I'll admit, it looks all "plasticy". That's what plastic looks like. See the sample gemstone made the in the video! It works! Does it really discount it's working ability because it's made of plastic? Structural parts were made in ABS plastic. ABS is a strong plastic with a little flex, the same plastic some popular building blocks are made of. Parts that wear are made of metal and are made so that they can easily be removed and replaced if need be. So the X axis and Y axis are made with metal rod, metal linear bearings and metal allthread screw and metal shuttle nut and metal end bearing.
Why is the grinder wheel vertical instead of horizontal?
Putting the grinder wheel flat would mean the Y axis would have to lift the turret and head and would require more powerful motors and would be adding more stress and wear to the system. Having a vertical wheel also helps to evacuate waste material.
Can I press a button, go to bed, wake up in the morning, and it has a complete gemstone made from start to finish overnight?
No. The machine assists in making a gemstone but user intervention is still required periodically throughout the process of making a gemstone. The machine automates some of the procedure of making facets but is not capable of dropping a raw stone in the top and a finished stone out of the bottom.
Do you provide free technical support? Can I call you at 2AM to help me with my gemstone?
Nope, no free technical support, actually no technical support. You will be able to find youtube videos to help you learn the process. Also, at 2AM I am usually sleeping quite nicely and ignore phone calls. If I were by chance to wake me up to a ringing phone at 2AM and I were to answer... eek.
I've never made a gemstone before. Will I be able to use this machine to make a gemstone?
I believe so. Of course everyone has their abilities to be crafty and focus on what they are doing. If you do not feel crafty or feel you have the ability to focus on what you are doing then maybe this machine is not for you. As an example, I had never made a gemstone before making and using this machine. If I can do it, then likely so can you! If you have made a gemstone before, in some ways this machine may be different than what you are used to but the differences should become apparent and you should be able to adjust to using the machine.
Will the GemCreator make heart or star shapes.
The GemCreator can make many regular gemstone shapes. Shapes, however, that require indentations such as a heart or a pointed star are not suited for the GemCreator machine. Indentations require a grinding wheel with a corner to grind indentations which the GemCreator does not include. The GemCreator makes flat facets only. Perhaps the GemCreator could be used to make all of the other facets, though, and the indentation cuts could be made on another grinding wheel machine.
Your dobsticks are made of plastic. They will never work!
See the sample gemstone made the in the video with the plastic dobstick! It works! Of course, I'm not discounting anyone's opinion on the best dobstick material. Feel free to make your own dobsticks of metal or wood to suit your liking. If you can fit your home made dobstick into the dobstick holder on the head, then you are golden!
Besides the GemCreator 3D printed faceting machine, other rewards are available for purchase.
Would you like a sample gemstone? Sure! Would you like a clear gemstone or perhaps a cat's eye marble made into a gemstone?
Would you like a T-Shirt? Here's the draft design for the shirt. This is the GemCreator slogan: "You are a real gem!" It could make a nice gift.
Rolling Ball Sculpture
I make rolling ball sculptures too in my spare time. So I thought, why not modify one of my previous rolling ball sculptures for this kickstarter campaign. It could make a nice gift. It will look something like this:
I think a silver pendant with a 10mm gemstone might be nice. I have yet to design it but I will likely have it 3D printed in silver and add a glass gemstone to it. It could make a nice gift.
If this Kickstarter goes over $10,000, for everyone who purchases a GemCreator machine, I'll include a Rolling Ball Sculpture!
Risks and challenges
I have a prototype and it works! That's the good news!
I have been testing it and revising it as I go along. I have been trying to find things that could work better or easier and have been revising it to make it better. Already the prototype has gone through many revisions and is certainly much better and easier to use than when I made the first one.
One of the challenges I have are to gather and make all of the parts. I am using a 3D printer to create all of the plastic parts and most of the other parts sourcing online. To source the parts and get them in can take a month or more. To 3D print the plastic parts also can take a month or more. I expect if I sell just a few this will not be a problem. However if I were to sell several, it might take a while.
To overcome these challenges I have limited the number of machines that can be bought. I also expect, depending on how many machines are sold, I could call on family and friends with 3D printers to produce the parts also to make them faster. In the worst case, I would also buy another 3D printer or a few to help with production. Since I expect this is a niche machine and will likely only sell a few, and also because of the number of parts and the complexity of the parts, I will not pursue plastic injection molding at this time.
Another challenge is the software. I've written the software from scratch and it works quite well as can be seen by the prototype's results. Of course, for me, the developer to use the machine means I know how to use it. For anyone else, however, the machine and the software needs to be as easy to use as possible to overcome any learning curve.
How I'm attempting to overcome the ease of use with the software is I have beta users such as my mom (love you mom) who have been testing the machine and giving feedback. With that feedback I have been revising how the machine functions. I have tried to remove as many software menus as possible and make buttons for each function to reduce the amount of confusing menu navigation as possible. So, for example, you want to home the dobstick back to zero, there's a button for that.
Instructions will need to be created. I'll likely have youtube videos showing how to create a gemstone. Besides that, I'll need to write and generate some documentation to describe how best to use the machine. I do not expect that this will take a lot of time but it is another hurdle to complete the process.
Safety of course is important. With any machine, though, there will be challenges. With the help of my family, friends, and testers, I have identified possible problem areas and will revise the machine to make it as danger-proof as possible. As best I can tell, and as long as I have been using it, nothing is all that dangerous, but it is best to reduce any possible identified problems to be on the safe side. Even, though, there will be a disclaimer that using the product and risks associated with be up to the user.
At some point of course the machine has to be called, "done" and to make and ship it. I have given myself just a few months to finish revisions and then time to create and ship the products. I believe the time frame is reasonable and I expect to be on time.
I will print a special kickstarter edition 3D printed rolling ball sculpture with a 10mm gemstone made from a glass marble insert. Choice of glass gemstone made from clear, blue, red, green or cat's eye marble.