eBay’s 3D Printed Jewelry: Worth 5X the Price?

3-d printing customization options

eBay created a buzz last week by opening a store — accessed via an iPhone app — for browsing through and customizing 3D-printed products, mainly jewelry. 3D printing has great potential because it allows manufacturers to mass-produce custom items instead of heaps of the exact same thing.

It could be the technology of the future — but not of the present, judging by the mostly simplistic and surprisingly expensive items offered so far.

That’s clearest in the jewelry selection, which is provided by 3D manufacturing companies Sculpteo and Hot Pop Factory.

Though materials used with home 3D printers are generally limited to plastic products, industrial printers like Sculpteo’s can churn out such premium materials as sterling silver. The company sells, for example, a signet ring available in a selection of three patterns: an anchor, a skull and crossbones, and what looks like an alien cartoon figure. Picking one of those patterns counts as customization, which will cost you a hefty $350.

If you like whimsical jewelry, there is no shortage on crafts site Etsy. Fanciful sterling-silver items include a Green Lantern ring for $54.99, a Pac-Man ring for $67 and a pair of “Doctor Who” wedding rings (“Time Lord” and “Companion”) for $90. You could walk away with a handful of jewelry in exchange for that one printed signet. [See also: Are 3D Printers Worth It?]

Sculpteo also lets you downgrade its ring to any of 10 shades of plastic for $12.06. (Why the prices are so exact is a mystery.) But even that’s not a bargain. That amount would get you one from a selection of dozens of novelty rings on Etsy in plastic, glass and even metal.

Hot Pop Factory sells mostly plastic jewelry, often based on repeating designs of cubes, triangles or circles. They range from $34 for earrings in the choice of white or black to $75 for a plastic bracelet of interlocking squares, circles or triangles (your choice). That sum is more than enough for metal, wood or leather items on Etsy.

MakerBot, the third company with an eBay store, sells a plastic watch for $59.99 with no customization options, save for the ability to swap out baby-blue and pink rings that hold the numbers on the watch’s face. It’s a rough approximation of a Swatch. But actual Swatch watches include five color options, each for $50. Swatch also offers several other designs for $60.

Some unique items in eBay’s store include two customizable iPhone cases by Sculpteo. Of course, you can select colors — but you can also add engraved text, modify the shape using sliders, swipe your finger to manipulate the pattern on the back of the case or even print one of your photos on the case. Prices range from $24.88 to $34.88.

Those are the kinds of tweaks, and opportunities for creativity, that only 3D printing can provide. If eBay moves more in that direction — and away from simply selecting colors, which is often an option with cheaper mass-produced goods — it will start to realize the true potential of 3D printing.

This story was provided by TechNewsDaily, a sister site to Laptopmag.com. Follow Sean Captain @seancaptain. Follow us @TechNewsDaily, on Facebook or on Google+.

LEAVE A REPLY
Name*
Email* (will not be published)
Website
*Indicates required field
Comments*
Submit Comments

FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating Editor's Choice 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE