Designers / Industry / Technology

Architect Rethinks the Chain-Link Bracelet Thanks to 3D Printing Innovation


Architect and jewelry designer Jenny Wu’s latest 3D-printed design pushes the boundaries of what a chain-link bracelet can be—and opens up new possibilities for jewelers who want to offer pieces that not only are beautiful but can take on anything a customer might do to them.

The Link bracelet from Lace by Jenny Wu is made from stainless steel 17-4PH, which is known for its strength and corrosive resistance, Wu says (the aerospace and medical industries use this material extensively). In other words, this gender-neutral bracelet is perfect for that valentine who needs jewelry that is practically indestructible.

Plus, Wu’s design reimagines what a chain-link bracelet can be: The links connect without any additional hardware, hinges, or pins. Each link is connected through a ball joint that fits into a track in an adjacent link. As a result, every link is an independent piece, so you can adjust the bracelet for size or finish. In its debut, Link will have three finishes: matte, polished, and black oxide.

Wu Bracelet links
The stainless steel Link bracelet, Lace by Jenny Wu’s latest design, is a standout in the 3D-printed jewelry world because links are connected without any additional hardware, hinges, or pins.

Wu worked with California-based 3DEO to create the Link bracelet. 3DEO used its proprietary Intelligent Layering technology that combines 3D printing with CNC milling, offering an intricate and complex precision printing.

Wu says she could not achieve this interlocking chain system for the Link bracelet without this new technology, so working with 3DEO was a collaboration like no other.

“In some ways, my favorite part of working with 3D printing is there are just so many new technologies I’m discovering. There were things I couldn’t do before that I can do now,” Wu says. “Previously, if you tried to print this in metal, you could get the shape close but you couldn’t be precise about the sizing.”

Now, with 3DEO’s technology, “it’s like the next level for 3D printing,” says Wu, who is also an architect at Oyler Wu Collaborative in Los Angeles.

3DEO’s vice president of marketing Emily Elpes agrees and says this was the company’s first work within the jewelry world but hopefully not its last. Traditionally, 3DEO works on aircraft components and medical devices.

Link bracelet Jenny Wu
Jewelry pieces designed by Jenny Wu with a 3D printer and then cast into metal. Wu, an architect, started making 3D-printed jewelry for herself and grew it into a business. 

“Our team at 3DEO really enjoyed partnering with Jenny and the Lace crew on Link—what passion and creativity,” Elpes says. “We aim to help product innovators do things they’ve never done before, so being able to partner on this first was a fun challenge.… That’s the great thing about 3D printing, actually. The opportunities and integrations are near endless, so every day and every project is different.”

Link is available in two sizes: small at $190 and medium at $215. People can buy additional links for the bracelet at $25 each. Wu says she plans to introduce additional finishes later this year. Presale started Jan. 24, and Link bracelets will start shipping Feb. 6 for Valentine’s Day and beyond.

Wu started Lace in 2014 after the architect printed a 3D necklace for an event and received such a strong reception that she began experimenting with the medium to make additional jewelry pieces.

Since then, Wu has used materials ranging from carbon fiber to thermoplastic polyurethane to stainless steel to make her rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. Lace by Jenny Wu also works in traditional materials such as gold and silver as well as with gemstones for items including engagement rings.

Top: Lace by Jenny Wu recently debuted its Link bracelet, which is made with a specialty 3D printing technique patented by Wu’s collaborator 3DEO. The bracelet is now available for preorders. (Photos courtesy of Lace by Jenny Wu)


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Karen Dybis

By: Karen Dybis

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