Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Laser technologies for innovative jewels manufacturing on an industrial scale

The technological applications resulting from this research project allow technical and decorative solution never possible before. The project partners studied and developed the typical laser cutting, welding, drilling (and trepanning) and engraving technologies in the field of jewellery. In addition they developed and patented the granulation technology. This latter, combined with the above mentioned technologies, gave as result the possibility of making completely new classes of jewels. An accurate study of the new possibilities, with many interesting examples, was made by an important jewel designer, participating in the project.

Granulation is an ancient goldsmithing technique which consists in decorating the jewel by bonding on its surface small granules or wires according to a decorative pattern, either geometric, abstract or naturalistic. Being a bonding technique it developed also into joining components of the jewel's structure. Though having an extremely high decorative potential, the classical Granulation technique has several limitations that prevent its application on an industrial scale:
It is a very slow, time consuming process and therefore has extremely high manufacturing costs;
It requires highly skilled manpower;
It cannot be automated, and the process errors tend to be destructive.

The Laser Granulation technique can compete with the classical one from the aesthetic point of view but is much faster. It solves all the problems involved with the classical technique. its advantages are:
There are no more restrictions on the gold alloys composition (neither of the base jewel nor of the spheres (or of the wires, if wires are to be bonded to the surface);
The base jewel alloy and the spheres alloy can even be different, allowing for example to place yellow gold spheres on white gold jewels;
The process can be automated, and is very fast, hence it is suitable for large productions. The time needed to granulate a jewel surface is reduced from weeks to minutes;
no particularly skilled manpower is needed apart from the usual skills required to operate an industrial production system.

With classical techniques, rarely and only with certain alloys, one can obtain results that are near those obtained and proven through this new technological approach.
We are at the beginning of technological development in the field of precious metals. We evaluated that there is an interesting market for the applications developed.

Reported by

Parco Scientifico Tecnologico dell'area Ionico-Salentina Centro Nazionale per la Ricerca e lo Sviluppo dei Materiali
Strada Statale 7 Appia Km 7+300
72023 Mesagne
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