Technical Memorandum of My 3D Printed Engagement Ring — Project Panic Moon

So, I realized that I had found the one.

Nghia Vuong
Oct 3, 2015 · 29 min read

This is a recollection of details and knowledge that I decided I had to gain the day I decided that asking to get married to the person I love was going to be my weekend project for a few months. After having been through this process and having talked to friends and work colleagues, I realized that there was a lot of technical information involved in doing what I did, and perhaps someone out there might benefit from some of this, and perhaps “take the next step” by adding their own technical expertise to this little science project.

So, I decided that I needed a ring.

For whatever personal reasons I had when I made the decision, the day that I decided that I was going to propose, I realized that I had to start figuring out how to get a ring. It is the tradition, after all.

I’m an engineer at NASA. I can deal with communication protocols between various vehicle components designed by multiple companies with different specifications. Yet, the more I looked and asked about these social protocols, the less practical sense they seemed to make. Okay, so I needed a ring. “What is the typical ring that people get?” I’d ask parents, and friends, the internet. Well, it seems that it varies. I had talked about it briefly with my girlfriend, but she wanted to be surprised. I had to work in secret on what seemed each day like a project with escalating complexity. My own personal skunkworks project. It may be the first time I had to build a product where I had to keep the details a secret to the end customer.

So, I tried to buy a ring.

The market for engagement rings is a wild conglomeration of choices. There are different settings, sizes (“what’s her ring size?” *panicked realization*), metals, designs, prices. I quickly realized that the most difficult problem was going to be price. I learned that there’s a social cost for the price for her, and personal budget cost for us. After all, do we want to wear a car on our hands? Why? Seriously, why? What will her friends think of her choices in me judged by my choices of an ornamental object? Ball’s in my court for this.

It seems that the internet is a big help when it comes to getting specific answer to any question, but terrible at helping when we want any answer to a specific question. You get answers, but you might not like most of them. How much should the ring cost? 3-months salary?!?! Of course, this is just one opinion, probably originated from the companies that make these rings. I understand; I’m not going to judge marketing effectiveness and corporate manipulation. I had to get above it somehow. 3-months salary? Is that before or after taxes? After all, if an object is suddenly fixed at percent of earnings, then it might as well get thrown into the tax calculations. I digress.

So, I decided to build the ring.

I’m an engineer! If I can design a spacecraft, a computer, or a UAV, I can certainly put together a metallic object with some minerals. I needed equipment, but I was only going to build this once. Well, if it goes well, I might be able to use the same methods for doing future projects. At least that’s what I told myself. Bracelets? Necklaces? Earrings?

I sat down and did a cost-benefit analysis of my options. If I built the ring, then it would take longer. I would also need to maintain it myself. I would need to figure out how to purchase the components, as well as design the mounts. Those gems have to get on the ring somehow, right?

If I bought the ring, then I would admit to having paid for the cost of the vendor to store and house all the other rings, as well as the production and design costs. At the end of the day, I was also picking something that someone else has designed, possibly in large bulk design quantities. There’s something to be said about selecting a design, but it isn’t as customized as having designed it myself. I could also get a hand designed ring from an artist.

Design my own ring. Save on cost, and ensure my own design really says who I am. Easy decision here. I’m building my own. Let’s dive into the details.

A ring is composed of 2 or more components.

In spacecraft terms, a ring is simply a radial mount, or coupling component, for attaching an optical quality mineral to a human finger. Before we go on, I should warn you that even though I may sound curt with some of these descriptions, it’s just the way I look at an engineering problem. I actually quite enjoyed the process throughout this project, but poking at the problem with humor allows me to diffuse the difficulty of the problem. Sizing an opponent is likely a coping mechanism to uncontrolled risks.

The first and most important reason for the ring is the object attached to the ring. Yes, I know that the person is the more important feature, but let’s stay in engineering world and design around the requirements. The object is an optically cut piece of mineral. The optical properties are optimized for reflecting light in a very particular way.

http://physics.stackexchange.com/

Light comes in through the various faces, strikes the opposing facets, and get reflected out in very constrained directions in unison to create the illusion of “sparkle” and “fire.” This is the basic manifestation of cut. Of course, the attenuation of the light due to particulates and other impurities in the crystal will change the light a bit. This mainly manifests as color.

The radial size of the gem defines the size of the surrounding mounts as well as the amount of scratching and social feedback (social scratching) it creates. This is manifested as carat.

The last one is one that most people care too much about but don’t quite understand, which is clarity. My analysis shows that with enough sparkles, there’s a grade value (VS1?) where most humans will not be able to tell without instruments. Nobody showing off a ring is going to to bring an instrument to judge their friend’s ring. The only purpose this metric serves in the long run is resale value; however, I have no plans for that alternative. There is actually a real engineering value for this metric, and it has to do with the mounting process, which I will describe later. In short, flaws in the crystal become sites for propagations of force failures. These imperfections are where cracks propagate from and lead to cracks and chips in the gem.

After a rather long iterative process of shopping for various suppliers, I decided on these specifications, in this order of importance.

C1-Cut: Must be optically near perfect (Very Good -> Ideal)

C2-Color: Must be indiscernible to the average person on an average day’s lighting and most indoor lighting (J -> D)

C3-Clarity: Must be at least store grade for presentation (VS1 -> VS1 — I really don’t need any better)

C4-Carat: Must fit our budget (honestly, I’d be surprised if you can tell the radial difference between 0.6 carat and 1 carat — you’d have the eyes of a caliper)

I essentially optimized for presentation, because that is the primary long-term mission of this ring. The ring doesn’t provide love, I do! The ring provides advertising?

There’s also a few other aspects about gemstones that are of note, which is origin (C5-Culture).

The final selection was a super ideal, G color, VS1, [Carat value classified under the marriage partner skunkworks act of 2015] ## carat stone from http://www.brilliantearth.com/. This means that my diamond was going to have no bad history (fewest deaths per diamond), and be totally human-made. Perfect! This ring is going to symbolize, in part, my personal respect for humankind’s technological capabilities and achievements in bettering the human condition. Put this under “Vote with my wallet.” This thing was also going to sparkle like a disco ball and be white as I can get to a 5800+ Kelvin star. Within budget, of course.

I’d like to briefly dive into a historical tidbit about artificial diamonds.

According to Wikipedia (to save you the trip), a synthetic diamond is created by applying pressure to a sample in a specialized conductive container. Pressure is applied then very high electrical energy is used to atomize by vapor or direct application to the carbon atoms in the sample; and voila, a diamond crystal is born. You know that dirty carbon deposits on the spark plugs in your car? It’s similar.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synthetic_diamond

This process could theoretically be mass produced, but there are probably shadowy economies at work keeping all of this in balance. Needless to say, I also considered cutting all my hair and having that turned into a diamond. Kinda creepy, but probably not as creepy as the idea of turning corpses to diamond. Really, look it up, it’s interesting reading.

At 9.5~9.7 hardness, there’s another crystal called moissanite that I also considered. At 1/10th the cost of a diamond for equivalent sparkle, nearly the same hardness, and equivalent size. Let’s just say that this was a really difficult engineering decision to pass up. It was also inspired by meteorites! However, after a very long and difficult couple of days of thought, I determined what I wanted to say in the long-term social mission of this ring, and I decided that the central stone was going to be a diamond, but I was going to have moissanite on this ring, to make a point. Sometimes, we do things to say “Damn it, I understand it but I’m going to still prove a point.”

The inventory thus far includes, 1 radial coupler, 1 diamond, moissanite, and some smaller gems that do something cool.

Still, while reading about moissanite, the idea of asteroids got my attention. There are gems that come from space? Who knew! Well, I kinda knew of it through prior reading, but it hadn’t occurred to me to jewel it. So I did some research. There’s a class of crystals called pallasites (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pallasite). Pallasites are crystals that actually form in space. When asteroids whizz about the solar system, they collide from time-to-time. These kinetic impacts generate massive amounts of heat that cool very quickly in the coldness of space. The crystals that form are often small peridot crystals that take on the composition of the chemicals in the asteroid.

nasa.gov
Pallasite Formation (http://www.sciencemag.org/)

I guess knowing this, I had to ask where I’d find a place to get me some jeweled pallasites. This is the jewel-quality pallasite gems. Actual image of the stone I ended up using as decoration stones.

http://www.gemservice.com/Meteorite.htm

I guess this ring is now a space worthy ring, with real samples that came from space. I’ll have to call this the Ring of the Sol (haha, get it?).

So, I designed the ring.

Decision time. Do I design my own ring? I’d like to, but that means having to deal with issues which I had no real expertise at. So I had to quickly do a trade-off study between learning those skills and the risks associated with the ring. If I wanted someone else to design the ring, I’d still have to figure out how to find that person. Not as big of a problem. Some people do this. Freelance designers post their work on forums, and will provide services for this. Someone else who designed their own ring gave me a lot of inspiration for doing my own, and on his site, he lists a few designers.

Recommended Reading: (http://christian.gen.co/ring).

For me, I decided that I was going to do my own ring. I knew that I’d be doing it in Solidworks because that’s the program I had the most training and familiarity with. I could learn to do all of this on Blender or something but that means extra learning time and extra issues that I didn’t want to have to deal with in addition to the design complexities. Also, I had access to Solidworks at work. I wish they had a licensing options for hobbyists like myself, but they don’t. I realize that I’d be logging a lot of Saturday/weekend hours of my own time at the lab to get this done. I asked, and got the okay to use the lab equipment (in case you’re wondering).

Solidworks is a pretty good parametric design tool for engineering parts. I only needed to establish the constraints. This is probably the biggest hurdle. The actual design called for a lot of information that I did not have in order to start the drawing process. So the next step was to go information hunting.

The first thing I needed was her ring size. After a lot of thought and day dreaming about how I was going to get her ring size, I realized that the risk for this information was too great. It could adversely change the design. I was already working in experimental conditions, and I didn’t need more uncertainty. Usually, a ring from a manufacturer will come with some sort of guarantee that they’ll resize it for you if you’re guessing and it doesn’t fit. I had no such guarantees. I am the designer. So, I just got a ring template and just asked her directly. Everything else was still going to be a surprise, but I needed data to really give her something that’s really custom fitted to her.

Ring size chart: (http://images.zales.com/images/popups/zales_ringsizer.pdf)

How do you know that you’re in a real relationship that is leading somewhere? You can easily ask for sizes of rings, dresses, etc.

Okay, so I have her ring size. Not enough information! I needed to know the exact manufacturing process that this ring will be produced under so that I can constrain the ring diameter. Now this is where things turn complicated.

Seriously speaking, the only way that I was going to avoid having to buy a rather long list of equipment for a very short term use was to utilize 3D printing technology. Let’s just say I shopped around and looked at a lot of printing sources. The one I ended up using was Shapeways. The reason for this is the technical information. If I was going to design my own ring, I needed data on the printing process. This site has the data for me to do that kind of planning. Price was a factor, and it became a trade-off as to what I wanted to pick.

Material Resource: http://www.shapeways.com/materials/gold

The manufacturing process is pretty easy to explain. 3D printers are essentially inkjet printers that have retired from printing ink and traded in their paper for plastic. Drops of various plastics or wax can be deposited drop-by-drop in individual layers to form a solid 3D object. We have a few of those here at at work, they’re good for prototyping. In this process, a hard wax version similar to plastic is printed, then a cast is made from that model. The wax is then melted out of the mold and metal is poured in to replace it.

High resolution printing from Shapeways

This presents some interesting questions. What are the supporting wall thicknesses? What are the metal contractions and process losses? Is there sufficient resolution?

Well, the supporting wall thicknesses are posted as 0.8 mm, but actually the emboss details can be as low as 0.35 mm. Keep in mind, these are still very large values for what I’d like to do. Ring details can also be very small. I iterated through many design iterations to arrive at the printable model. I originally went to town with my imagination. A piece of candy, butterflies, then reality set in and I realized that just getting this right was going to be enough problems. Shapeways also list 10% material reduction during the polishing process. I had no idea how to measure that. The only way to find out was to actually do it, and find out.

Prototype 0

First things first. Design a ring. The above shows Prototype 0. This was more of a feasibility test model of the software and design capabilities. I needed to know how much control I had for inserting complex 3D artistic details and how much time it would take to embed those details (partly guided by real gem dimensions) on a 3D model. It looks good but there are a lot of things lacking here. Learning to wrap intricate designs on a curved round model was a challenge.

The next task was to make appropriate clearance and dimensions for the very real gems that had to fit into the grooves. Something that Shapeways did not account for was the fact that designers such as myself need walls thinner than recommended so that we can actually bend them around. Deformation, after all, is part of the process of setting. Sizing the appropriate setting was difficult. I selected for 6 prongs because I wasn’t too confident with my ability to fit as well as the 10% reduction in material difference. Better add more prongs for safety, right?

Something that some ring designers do is that they float the gem above the mount point to really accentuate the sharpness of the bottom. This is done mostly for looks. I figure, I’d do it too. You can also see that as I’m going, I’m also starting to put more thought into how the other stones were going to be mounted.

I also ran into a different problem. The side stone were trillion (“trilliant”) stones. These were difficult to model. They have complex curved facets that follow specific jeweler rules. If I wanted to test the fit I’d have to replicate them. After a lot of thinking, I realized that it is probably safer if I just replicated them.

Also at this step, it occurred to me that wearing this might not be comfortable. I read some posts about scratching and catching due to the height of the mount. In similar tones, I also heard complaints about rings being uncomfortable. So, I looked into it. I found out that having done what I did at the mount point, by tapering the ring width at the top, I was able to make the diamond look larger, and at the same time improve comfort by giving a bit of pitch variance on the hand. I also learned about “comfort” bands.

http://www.larsonjewelers.com/t-comfortfit.aspx

In short, comfort fit bands are made more comfortable by curving the inside surface and the as well as the outside surface. The fit allows for more comfortable transition at the edges against the skin. This subtle yet important detail is what makes a ring comfortable versus a pain to wear. Needless to say, I had to have it. This complicated the internal surface, but it had to be added. I didn’t know the angles, so I just did some guess work with my engineering experience and the help of multi-point splines, thank you splines.

Now that I had the first pass of the ring, time for printing!

So, I decided to print the ring.

The first step was to feed this 3D model into Shapeways’ system. I elected to use the STL file type to do the export/import. It was pretty straightforward, but presented a problem. There was an automated check tool that made sure that my model complied with their rules. Problem was, I wanted certain areas to be weak on purpose! I also decided I needed to full scale test this prototype, so I needed to print in a real metal. I elected Polished Silver because it presented as many problems as I can afford to confront without dealing with the cost of a full blown gold/platinum test.

All the yellow parts, needed to bend. Good thing the print “Buy Now” button at the top doesn’t seem to care whether or not there’s an issue, and sent it off for inspection anyways. This is where things got weird. I had one staff tell me that my model had issues, and another staff tell me that my model looks fine and sent it right off to be printed. After settling this confusion, they seem to feel assured that I didn’t care about the warnings and just went along with it and allowed me to print it! Exactly what I wanted.

Some days later, I got the results in the mail. However, in that time, I needed more stuff. Testing the mount requires sacrificial stones. I may damage something, I may chip one of the pallasites by accident. I didn’t know, so, I decided to buy some cheap place holder stones. I figure since I was making a prototype, might as well buy some blue colored stones of equivalent sizes. These became my “blue” prints.

The next series of events happened in relative coordination. I had planned assembly of this thing just like a spacecraft, so all the parts arrived during the integration and test assembly phase.

First the ring arrived.

You’ll note I’m constantly testing indoor/outdoor lighting differences for all the parts

You can see some out of place prongs, but well within engineering tolerance! The polish was on the outside, and the inside was unpolished. I can see the original surface texture. This thing looks hand polished; a good note to keep in mind.

Then the “blue” print stones arrived. So, I got excited and decided to mount it to test it.

Topaz and Tanzanite “Blue” Print

First problem showed itself immediately. The smaller stones did not fit. I was not going to be able to drop the trillions into the mounts and bend the sides to hold it together.

The diamond and other stones arrived. Time to check everything!

Time to do a visual confirmation with the diamond/ moissanite/ pallasite (PDM).

Confirm. Fit is no good. Diamond is fine, but the trillion mounts needed to be redesigned. I also took this opportunity to wear this while working in the lab for a day just to see how comfortable it feels. My fingers were larger, so I had to just make my best scientific guess. I did learn something, muscles expand while contracting. The ring felt uncomfortable when my skin wanted to bulge to the side when I bent my fingers. I also realized that if I made the radius too loose, then it would feel like it didn’t fit. So I took the average and updated the ring radius. This amounted to a 0.025 mm adjustments to the radius in addition a 0.05 mm adjustment to the trillion mount normalized diameter. I also changed the mounts itself to reduce the need for complex bending. I still liked the leafed design of the ring, so I kept it as is, while adding a few softer fillets in selected areas. There’s a few areas where I reduced the taper so that the mounts would pop out as extruded details to add to the visual complexity.

The design for the mounts changed. Radius updated. The old 3D models of the stone no longer accounted for the change in dimension due to manufacturing process. I couldn’t keep 2 copies of the models, so I decided to ignore some of the visual disparity between the 3D renders.

Hmm, why not, let’s just try a render test for historical purposes.

With these changes done. I tried to print the ring again. Once more, came warnings and 2 staff members telling me 2 different things. However, they seem a bit more aware of it this time around. Not approved and sent to printers at the same time!

This time, I also decided I had enough confidence to do a full materials test. This is an opportunity. If it still doesn’t fit, then I can at least do a mount test and real metal deformation using the tanzanite. To test how the edges would chip. If the size is perfect, I might be extra careful during mounting, and may actually just go for the real integration. Either way, I needed to print the next model in 14k white gold. This also threw up some new flags in Shapeways’ system. Polished silver is one thing, but gold and platinum is a much higher up set of metals and requirements. So by getting approved for printing and successful printing of gold I’d have every metal below that be approved.

At this time, I’d like to point out some costs. I figure, that the price of a diamond bought directly through a wholesaler is probably going to be a bit cheaper. They still need to keep an inventory and maintenance cost, but certainly no store cost. I’d be getting a 15~20% savings there. I’m also getting a synthetic diamond, and for some strange reason, it’s near but still not far under the price of a naturally found diamond. Still the savings for that aspect is 3~5%.

I’ve picked white gold. 14k white gold is practically the same as normal gold, it’s just an alloy. I’m not really getting a cost difference here. I’m doing this mostly because I do want the ring to look somewhat white. According to Shapeways, the gold alloy is 58% gold, 24% copper, 9% zinc, and 9% nickel. Apparently, some people are allergic to nickel. I have some concern about this, as well as the flexural strength of white gold. I guess that I will only find out by actually trying it.

The real savings come out of 3D printing. A designed ring bought from a store would nearly double the cost. Even printing at the most expensive metal. For my own custom design, the cost of production was still $190 for the 14k white gold ring. This is the real cost effectiveness savings. We saved here!

I’m sure that my own time investment was probably some ridiculous cost, but that’s not really how life works in my perspective. I did this because this is who I want to be. That, as they say, is priceless.

In the end, I’m sure if I bought the same ring at the store, I might expect to pay 40~60% more than what I spent making this. The cost is largely driven by the diamond after a certain value point.

So, I decided to do my own mounting.

*Face->palm* Urrrraaaaaarrrgghhhh…. hmmm. Well, I blew it!

I got the 14k white gold print. I was super excited. It’s so pretty. The polish was higher than I expected. The details were exactly what I had anticipated, which is ironic later because it means that I caused a design flaw. I decided to start on the mounting immediately partly due to the excitement. I guess I had done enough planning while I was waiting for the parts, I figure I might as well dive right in and start working on the next process.

The trillion mounts were a bit small for the actual stones. I had estimated that real stones were not geometrically perfect. There are some variations, especially on this scale. We’re dealing with cuts that are at the tolerance of human-crafts precision. Of the 4 stones, the 2 moissanites and one of the pallasite fit fine after the slight adjustments. By adjustments, I mean I put together a drill bit on a dremel and cleared out a bit of space in the seats for the stones. This went as designed. One of the pallasite was a bit larger on one side, but not something that was going to be an issue. I bit slightly more to one side to compensate for this. The entire process went well. The stones seated into their places and all I had to do was bend the tabs into place.

I started to apply some force with my square tool, but I didn’t think the tabs I made were going to be small enough and tough enough to be an issue. The tabs were simply not catching the tool. So, I looked in my kit and realized that a small flat-head screwdriver might do the trick. I brought the edge to the prongs and started applying force. That’s when the accident happened. The force on the tab at such a small point eventually caused a slip. I simply did not have the reaction to compensate. So the flat-head went straight into the pallasite. As soon as it happened, I knew that I had made a huge mistake. As the realization set in, I started to understand that I had put a rather unique and rare part at risk for no reason at all. I should’ve done this test with the moissanite first because I can get more copies! I might not be able to get another copy of the pallasite trillion. It came from a meteorite! Not only did the mistake cause me an instant $100+ loss, but it might instantly have terminated my current design plans. The opportunity cost was enormous, perhaps irreparable. I took out the entire crown of the stone! An entire face fractured and blew apart.

A crowning achievement in error.

One step at a time. First, send an email to the supplier to inquire about a replacement for the pallasite. In case that doesn’t pan out, I’ll need a replacement. I can definitely forget about symmetry if I can’t get another. I can always totally change the design, but I had my heart set on putting a pallasite on the ring, and it’s going on the ring, I’d rather give up symmetry. At the size and shape I had designed for, my alternatives included tanzanite, blue sapphire, more moissanite, and alexandrite (maybe). It’ll definitely not be color symmetric, but at this point, I’m leaning towards the alexandrite because I had considered it before for the strange optical properties. It changes based on the characteristics of the light. Indoor light makes alexandrite look like a different color than outdoor lighting. It’s scientifically interesting, and that’s something I really like.

I’m also making immediate modifications to my design. I opened up the model and doubled the extrusion lengths of the mounting prongs for the trillions. Better to fold securely and easily than for optimal presentation sizes. I also needed to send this print job out immediately. While I was in the design, I made the seats for the stones deeper. Might as well make the adjustments now that I’ve been through the mounting process.

Modifications resulting from accident

I finalized the model, uploaded it to Shapeways, and sent the job off with more 14k gold (more costs that I hadn’t anticipated, but living is learning). I’m still under the expected budget, so it’s not a problem, yet. Funny thing, I got a pretty fast email from Shapeways telling me that it was sent directly to the printer. No double review this time. It seems that they’re also making changes to their process in real-time. I wonder how many rings I need to print to be their friend.

I went ahead and downgraded the full assembly attempt to another prototyping activity. Instead of installing the final stones, I’m just going to use this version to install the blueprint stones that I specified. I figure I’d test out the look of the entire assembly as well as test the cleaning and polishing process. Since the prongs were not going to work, I decided to use some clear glue (clear Elmer’s glue). One good news, the mounting prongs for the main stone has been working perfectly, and have only gotten better in the newest version. Total costs of rushing: $295. Price of learning: tears.

We choose to go to the Moon and do the other things…

As a backup plan, I bought the very last item in stock for the 2.5 mm trillion alexandrite. I kind of picked a scale and shape that made my life much more difficult than it needed to be. Trillion is a tough shape to use. The availability is definitely niche, and the size is difficult to work with. I’m really doing this as a risk mitigation plan against my actual plan of just purchasing a replacement pallasite. When I set out to do this project, I knew that it would be long, and now it’s becoming long. Spot on, I guess! My advice to anyone attempting to do something like this would be to avoid trillions and anything of the sort, and that includes heart shapes. A bunch of round objects arranged in the shape of a heart is probably a lot more manageable than a single heart-shaped gem. I picked my mission parameters, I set out to do this, and I’m going to keep at it until it is done.

Alexandrite (Chrysoberyl)

I haven’t heard back from the pallasite supplier yet. It’s only been a day, but every moment weighs a little heavier now that I really need to come up with a solution to this issue. If I somehow destroy another stone, I’ll be down to the blue sapphire option.

It hadn’t occurred to me until now that if anything happened to any gems on the ring in the future, I’d have issues replacing most of them. I guess that this is a bit of insight into that process as well. The long term service will require more creative thinking.

In the mean time, I need to do some tests of the cleaning process. The suggested procedure for the best way to clean a ring and make it shine is simply to use a soft brush in lukewarm water with simple hand soap.

The rumored procedure says to shine the ring using vodka. I’m not really sure how vodka interacts with the alloys or the minerals on the gems. I’m probably not going to subject the final ring to this, but it is interesting to find out. At the very least, vodka is a good mind cleaning agent for dealing with past errors. Vodka contains alcohols, water, probably acids and sugars too. It’s made from starch and sugars so these minor specie molecules must be there to some degree. I suppose that the organic compounds would clear away a lot of Earth dust and residue because we’re mostly depositing organic residues on the ring. The oils from our hands, and dust particles (which are mostly dead organic matter) will dissolve or attract to the organic compounds in vodka. Organic attraction and polar attraction is exactly how soap works. Not sure vodka is any better than soap in warm water. It’s certainly more exotic. I’m sure that the acids will help remove a thin layer on metals, but I’m not really dealing with tarnish issues. Adding corrosion might actually introduce flaws to my components at this point.

ThinkGeek sonic tools for safe cleaning

There’s also gem cleaning fluids and some fancy ultrasonic cleaning tools. Hey, I’m sure that being sonic, it’s probably amazing. I have seen sonic tools blowing up doors though, so I might avoid those for delicate tasks. The cleaners seem to be primarily bases, ammonia, alcohol, or other types of glass cleaners (more ammonia). Not sure what I’m gaining here other than more uncertainty. So far, the soap option still looks like the best option.

Nothing too exciting with these details, but it’s probably better this way. It was pretty exciting when I destroyed my pallasite sample! Nothing more to be done this round but end my turn.

So, I waited.

Wait no more.

Here we go!

The new print has arrived. Shapeways also sent a black velvet ring box. Someone is definitely thinking about what I’ve been doing. Hello Shapeways!

Also freshly arrived in the mail are the backup plans. This is definitely not some story of overcoming a big tragedy. At least it seems to indicate this when both backup plans came through. I got both the alexandrite and replacement pallasite stones. Now I have to make a decision. I have to do some thinking about which stones to use and what that means to the story I’m trying to convey. Do I want to add the alexandrite to be analogous to the changing dynamics of life on Earth, or do I want to achieve symmetry and reach the original design goal of representing the step-by-step progression…mind is wandering.

Purchased from: http://goldcrownjewelry.com/

Perhaps I’m over thinking this. I have to pick one of the two stones.

For the ring itself, I’ve figured out a better system to mount everything. I’m going to do a test first on the moissanite, then I’m going to test it on the alexandrite, then the pallasite. This allows me to slowly ramp up the difficulty of the mount as I adjust to the new prongs. If you look at the picture higher above, you’ll see that I’ve also started to use aluminum foil. There is a good reason for this. It’s much easier to put things together with aluminum foil. The primary mechanism for holding the stones in place will be the rings holding the stones down. The backup plan will also be some adhesive (glue) beneath the stones. This is more of a precaution. There’s still some engineering reasons for this.

I chipped the alexandrite. *sigh*

The stones have to stay on smaller mount points and there are only 3 mounts. If forces strike one of the mounts, the stones are probably going to dislodge. Having glue helps. Not too much, just a tiny bit. In addition, the glue itself is softer than the metal around it. During the prong bending, the small bit of compressibility of the glue will help (somewhat) against the crystal crushing forces that may occur during bending. Experience and data seem to show that I can and will probably do some damage to the surrounding crystals. That’s okay, they’re there to sparkle to some degree. They’re not supposed to dominate the scene. If I did this in the future, I will be aware of this and improve the overall design to be a softer hold on all the smaller stones.

The glue needs to be held in place for a while, so I wrapped it in aluminum foil again to keep everything in one place. This also happens to expose the prongs. I can move and work with the prongs and it will hold the stones in place easily. It will also provide some protection for the stones. This seems to work pretty well. Aluminum foil is a good addition to jewelry making, I think.

It works! Ring is fully mounted and “everything is going to plan.” This is engineering, the product must be tested and prepared for packaging.

I’ve prepared a series of tests.

Scratch test to see if it catches anything.

Drop test. (This is quite possibly the most worrying test. If something pops off, I will have to do some fixing. Still, I need to do this! The product will have to take some impact forces.)

Cleaning tests.

Out door lighting test.

Drop test from 3 feet. Please don’t break. Please don’t break. Please don’t break.
Liquid tests. Diamonds can’t be “water clear” because it has a different index of refraction!

All tests passed! Product nominal, all is go for final cleaning.

Time to clean it!

Cleaning was quite simple. Some of the dust and particles did come off in the was liquid. The finger prints also cleaned away quite nicely. I used a lint free towel to dry it. I also have compressed air to blast away the remaining water drops. I just had to be a bit careful and move the air far enough away to make sure that I wasn’t freezing the ring by accident (compressed air cans can do this).

And here it is, the final product!

Light starts at the sun in a glorious burst of plasma, powered by the energy of hydrogen fusion. It travels 8.3 minutes through space where it intersects with the carbon crystal in my hand. It reflects internally and emerges as burst of rainbows. The rainbow reaches the cones and rods on the retina of my eye where the signal transduction pathways converts the stimulus to a neural signal. First, the photo-activation triggers enzymes and molecules that amplify the signal by closing the sodium cation channels in the outer membrane. Second, the polarization due to the sodium ions being shutout polarizes the membrane increasing the overall potential and closes the calcium channels. Influx of calcium ions decreases, causing a reduction in neurotransmitters resulting in stimulation and inhibition of synaptic cells that carry signals to the visual processing lobes in my brain. And I see colors.

Wowwwwwww. That’s my reaction to the light test in the sun. Super ideal optical properties really made it shine. It was slightly hard to look at in the light of day because it was like looking at bursts of rainbows and hundreds of tiny suns. The camera tried its best to adjust to the light flashes. The picture shows just how much color threw back from the crystals. Product working as intended.

Well, it’s ready. Time for delivery. There’s a lot of background logistics for delivery of this ring, but those details are beyond the scope of this paper.

So, I decided to ask.

On a trip far away from home, an Earth boy decided to ask an Earth girl a question he thought was the right question at the right time. By asking that question at that time. At least two things happened.

We are not alone in the universe because we have each other.

Future Work.

So, we decided to buy a house.

3 Bedroom Apartment? (Source: Space.com)

My Bio. If you want any content removed for rights and reasons, then contact me. I’d really want permission to continue to display these images, they’re good information for people to learn. Want to change the future? Teach!

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