Aviva – your question does not appear to have received a response
in Orchid yet. I looked up Shapeways and heard about something
called TechShop through the Michigan Silversmithing Guild and am
also a little more familiar with 3D printing.
All I can say is waaaaaay cooooool.
But I think you have to think about engineering. Design is about
function – how things work. Design is also about exploring the
impossible. And it is about aesthetics. It does help if you get a
really good idea in your mind about how something is made to work.
You might look for a visual dictionary at your library. It contains
x-ray and exploded drawings of locks, cams, tension fittings. Or you
might look at a pill bottle, with a locking cap mechanism. That way
your cage could be printed in two pieces that then lock together.
I just about fall down when I think of the new technologies and how
they may be applied to jewelry someday. Especially since they are
more and more available to the craftsman. MakerBot looks fun. But
I’m way out on the thin, icy edge of my own learning. I don’t know
how these technologies fully work. So I guess I’ll just have to wait
for the future to arrive and see what other brains to with this