3D printing and rapid prototyping services are gaining traction day by day as more and more industries are beginning to realize what amazing change the technologies can bring to their production mechanism. Hong Kong’s startups and entrepreneurial companies too are using rapid prototyping services in order to create a wide range of products for many different purposes such as orthopedics, jewelry, fashion accessories and decorative items. By dint of 3D technology, these companies are saving time, cutting down costs and making a positive impact in people’s lives.
Here is a round up showing you the inside story of Hong Kong’s vibrant rapid prototyping and 3D printing scene:
Bling Rings by Forever Couple
At Forever Couple jewelry shop at Wan Chai, Hong Kong, bespoke wedding rings are made with a little more love. They make use of a new 3D printing device that keeps whirring in order to churn out rings at very high speeds from epoxy resin. This technology makes use of one of the chief benefits of rapid prototyping– customization. Due to this, trying out rings of various sizes to find the one best fit is no longer necessary. The 3D printed version is made directly after taking intricate measurements of the customer’s finger. This can be tested out for a time period of six months before metal casting is done. Many would say that this type of 3D printing is nothing but a commercial gimmick; however customers absolutely love to have their rings customized to fit them best. According to Eddie Lai Yiu-Kwong, the 3D printer was created as a result of a joint venture between the Hong Kong Productivity Council and his jewelry store, Forever Couple. The owner says that as people have differently shaped fingers, the measurement taken by the salespeople may not be accurate every time. This is why when customers find their wedding rings uncomfortable they have to prepare another one, which is a waste of money and time. Rapid prototyping allows for the exact measurement to be taken, which is very important for that special ring on your wedding day.
3D Figurines by Apostrophe’s
There was a time when 3D printing and rapid prototyping were reserved exclusively for laboratories and factories. The technologies have been around since the eighties and now they are in many parts of our daily life ranging from fashion accessories to engineering to medicine.
Hong Kong’s startups are making use of rapid prototyping in order to provide tailor made customized services that are now abundant in the city. Two years ago, a company named Aposthrophe’s was founded that produces 3D printed figurines for clients, entertainment events and concerts. According to their creative director Yuk Wong, the time and cost have been greatly reduced by dint of rapid prototyping technology. One of their achievements was helping fashion label Gap create a series of sandals. Apostrophe’s had some designs 3D printed in sandstone from which Gap could pick. After being chosen the designs were sent instantly to mainland China for manufacturing. 3D color printing helped speed up the entire process.
For the Hong Kong Coliseum concert of performer Denise Ho Wan-sze in October, a black candle that looked much like the famous pop singer was seen. This was 3D printed by Apostrophe’s as well. For this, they prepared a 3D printed mould of her likeness. The process of rapid prototyping made sure that a high degree of realistic features could be attained, according to Wong. Last year on ‘The Peak’ Apostrophe’s set up a booth of the famous Madame Tussauds Museum in collaboration with the museum authority. If the visitors want to have a figurine of their own, the company scans their face and prepares the figurines with a 3D printer in sandstone.
Simulated Bones in 3D
Rapid prototyping technology not only has entertainment value, it also has practical use in the medical field. At the University of Hong Kong, the traumatology and orthopedics department is making bone implant simulations to be used on mice with 3D printers. These implants will be crucial for clinical research. The rapid prototyping equipment was recently flown in from Switzerland for two million Hong Kong dollars. Associate professor Kelvin Yeung Wait-kwok tells us that the department aims to set up the first ever 3D printing center for human tissue within the next five years. He further says that rapid prototyping and 3D printing have only been used in Hong Kong for printing medical tools. Never have any 3D printed components in Hong Kong been used in the human body. The 3D printing field in Asia is currently only at clinical trial stage.
The machine at Hong Kong University prints out implants to be used in mice’s bodies making use of different materials such as hydroxylapatite and bio degradable polymers. For this purpose, the researchers are trying out different types of inks in order to see which materials give them better cell growth.
Looks like the 3D printing and rapid prototyping firms of Hong Kong are really catching up with the rest of the world!
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