San Francisco Opera Chandelier Gets 3D Printed

San Francisco Opera has a beautiful iconic chandelier which, thanks to some quick 3D printing, you can now buy in jewelry form.

Jersey McDermott is the craftsperson at the San Francisco Opera Costume Shop. In her recreation miniature of the modern-classic San Francisco Opera Chandelier, McDermott used 3D printing to produce patterns which were used to cast the chandelier as jewelry.

San Francisco Opera boasts a unique history.

Unlike the opera houses of its time in 1932, San Francisco War Memorial Opera House “holds the distinction of being the first American opera house that was not built by and for a small group of wealthy patrons; the funding came thanks to a group of private citizens who encouraged thousands of San Franciscans to subscribe." Seventy-five years later, San Francisco Opera continues to operate as a training home for young performing artists and stunning performances of innovate operas.

Jersey McDermott used a material jetting 3D Printing process called PolyJet to create the jewelry renditions of the opera house’s chandelier. Using a 3D modeling program, she created CAD renditions of her design which were translated into STL files that the 3D Printer could read. The 3D Printing material she chose was PolyJet Blue HD from ZoomRP printed the PolyJet parts in 16 micron layers, delivering highly accurate parts with fine surface features, such as the layering seen in the chandelier.

“It was my first experience trying to design something to be rendered digitally,” says McDermott. “All my jewelry from the past has been fabricated with wire, sheet etc. I’m hoping to use other architectural details of the opera house for more designs, but haven’t decided on which ones.”

Once the cufflinks and necklace had been 3D Printed by, McDermott sent them to be casted in silver. 3D Printing is often a critical step in a larger scale project. For McDermott, 3D Printing provided fast, smooth master patterns for further metal casting. Using Snell Casting, the 3D Printed master patterns were casted via a cold mold. There are a few different cold mold techniques that jewelers can use to create metal parts, including creating a two part mold and injecting hot wax into the mold; the wax is then used in lost wax casting. Another method is to create a two part mold and use metal clay to create metal jewelry by conforming to the silicone mold and then firing it in a kiln. Cold mold techniques avoid destroying master patterns in the casting process, and allowed McDermott to create an intricate 3D Printed master pattern without worrying about its destruction during the burnout process. The results are the beautiful pieces pictured above.

The chandelier (pictured below) is the icon of San Francisco Opera, doubling as the basis for the Opera logo. You can read about the San Francisco Opera house and its 90 year history on “San Francisco Opera at 90 Years” by Micah Standley.


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