We believe that technological innovation is just as important to an artist or creator as their ideas - in the jewelcraft world this innovation has come in the form of increasingly powerful CAD design software, the versatility and speed offered by 3D printing smaller components, and incredible design tools such as force feedback modelling.
However, innovation is not limited to gadgets and gizmos! Developing and optimising a product's base materials is just as crucial in creating a great product - and can lead to surprising applications, as we shall see.
Our resident craftsman Neil Rayment was approached by Sarah from Nebraska, USA, who explained that her fiance is an avid cyclist and fan of steel-framed bicycles.
He had requested a custom-made wedding band, made from 953 Reynolds steel in memory of his treasured bike made from the alloy. So what makes this particular metal so special?
We reached out to Keith Noronha of Reynolds Technology Ltd., to hear his thoughts:
"Reynolds, the Birmingham-based company who manufacture tubing for the cycling industry, have placed a priority on innovation which has helped us continue our business through the peaks and troughs over the decades since 1898.
Our cycling tubing alloys, like the iconic 531 and 753, have been in production for over 50 years, but changes in cycle frame fabrication methods such as TIG welding led us to introduce the current air-hardening steel alloys 631 and 853.
As we focus on durability and sustainability, we started researching high strength stainless steel alloys and found a patented maraging stainless alloy, made by Carpenter in the US for specialist aircraft landing gear and armour plating. After a development and testing phase, we introduce this in 2006 for cycle frame tubesets in "Reynolds 953", with a very high strength-to-weight ratio that exceeds even titanium alloys. In its heat-treated condition, the tensile strength can exceed 2000 MPa, so forming and cutting the tubes can be quite a challenge, let alone the wear on the cutting tools.
Reynolds were delighted to see that some 953 tubes have found unusual applications - like robotic arms, NASCAR parts and now a special wedding ring!"
Neil sourced 3 sheets of 953 Reynolds and was able to rivet them together with a hammer under intense heat.
Next the ring shape was sized to the finger measurement of the wearer and polished off to finish - the extreme resilience of the metal putting Neil's years of master craftsmanship to the test.
The resulting design was simple yet brilliantly unique, a lightweight but extremely strong product that both Sarah and her fiance loved.
AJC would like to thank Keith Noronha and Reynolds Steel for their help in creating this article. Learn more about their journey and the Reynolds community at their website, here.