3D Printed Silver Earrings Tutorial

In this tutorial I demonstrate how you can use a single sketch picture to trace over and create the feather earring design. The earrings created for the tutorial have been 3d printed in wax, a mold is created from the wax print, the wax is then melted out of the mold so that molten silver can be poured in to fill the cavities left by the wax. The earring backs were bought separately as they have rubber inserts to help it stay onto the earring stem. If you want to 3d print these earrings too, make sure you check all the 3d printed material guidelines before you design them, as you may need to thicken or enlarge your model to account for print tolerances.

Download these files here to follow the tutorial.

The PNG image I created for the earrings has been drawn in a vector software, and the lines have been colored differently for each feature. The PNG file was brought in as a sketch picture, the image transparency was changed to from file so that the background of the image disappeared. This can make it easier to see where it is being placed. The image was centered and resized onto the earring stem, one tip I would give is to always untick enable scale tool when you resize a shape, as it becomes part of the model, so when you change your views the SOLIDWORKS window zooms out to account for this. Once the image is in place the sketch was closed.

The next part to do, was start tracing over the outer shape of the leaf, to do this the spline tool was used, this is easiest to do in sections, and some parts had to be tweaked. but once the whole shape was created, tangent relations were added between joint spline to ensure the sketch was smooth. Its important when tracing that you try not to add too many spline points as this can make the fillets harder to do, or not work at all. The tracing of the shape does not need to be perfect.

The sketch picture was also used to create the inner feather details using a cut extrude. and then the feather stem which was extruded. It is important when creating the traced sketches that each shape for the feather detail cut-outs become shaded, but also that the sketches are smooth, so if drawn out in separate splines or lines, you should add tangent relations before applying the cut extrude.

All bodies were kept separate so that fillets could be applied individually. The combine tool was used to combine all the earring solid bodies into one and a final fillet was applied between the earring stem and feather back, strengthening the join.

The earring back part was inserted into the part and mated into place using move/copy bodies and the constraints tool. The constraints tool allows you to mate parts into place as you would in an assembly. A concentric mate was applied to center the earring back onto the stem, while a coincident mate was used with a specified distance to add space between the earring back and the feather.

With the complete left earring part finished, mirror part was used to create the right earring. The best thing about mirroring a part is the automatic updates of the models, If any changes are made to the original left earring, the changes apply to the right earring part too. Another option for the right earring was to create a slightly different shaped feather earring, which is why there is a right feather earring PNG. file is included in the downloads of this blog. Because the earrings were being 3D printed, I decided to use that opportunity to have two different feather earrings which you can see in the below rendering. The earring is still a feather and they still ‘match’ in style and size, but the design is different. If you wanted to, you could just mirror the earring, create the slightly different earring from the other PNG. file, or create a different earring altogether.

As mentioned in the tutorial, the earring back is available to download, and is inserted into the part, but only for visual reasons and for creating renderings. The earring back were bought separately as they come with a silicone back which helps them to grip onto the earring stem. 3D printing the earring backs could come with a host of issues due to 3D printing tolerances, plus when prints are polished parts may not fit the way you want them to. The earring backs I ordered are for a 0.8mm earring stem. You must ensure that you suppress the earring back when saving the part as an STL. file for 3D printing.

Jade Wilson
I am a 3D Designer and SOLIDWORKS Blog Contributor from the UK. I am a self taught SOLIDWORKS user, and have been using it to inform and create my designs since 2012. I specialize in the design of Ceramics, Home Accessories and Wooden Toy Design.