3D Printing Antique Watches
Vortic Watches is a small company in Fort Collins, Colorado that is crafting watches using a combination of vintage and cutting-edge technologies. They make each piece by sourcing original railroad-era pocket watch dials, movements, and hands, and then use the Form 1+ SLA 3D printer to customize inserts and prototype watch cases. The final touch is a beautiful leather band to tie it all together. The blending of both modern and traditional craft transforms each watch into a unique object that is part-vintage, part 3D printed.
The biggest challenge for Vortic so far has been finding a single watch case design that works for all of their unique, vintage “movements,” or internal components of the watch.
It's very uncommon to create a wristwatch that can accept multiple movements. 3D printing enables us to do just that, and it's really the only answer.
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Because Vortic is sourcing antiques, it would be near impossible to find a manufacturer making the original materials or to manufacture an identical series at a large scale. Vortic has a unique design for each watch they find, creating an insert to keep everything secure and precise for that specific movement. Vortic turned to 3D printing as a tool to create these one-off watch cases.
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As a Kickstarter company in 2014, Vortic looked to support other companies backed by Kickstarter.
We found [Formlabs] on Kickstarter… and noticed how much more accurate resolution SLA was than the ABS that we had been looking at…[the Form 1+] seemed like the best choice of the SLA printers on the market.
In addition to high-resolution prototyping, the Form 1+ was a huge cost-cutter for Vortic’s watch cases. It's an expensive process to send out their final designs to be 3D printed using metal. The Form 1+ allows Vortic to see and hold their parts before they send them out, rather than viewing them on a computer screen. Their watch design is tested and validated with the Formlabs 3D printed prototype before it’s sent out for final manufacturing. This process catches any design flaws and tweaks that need to be made, saving both time and money in the production process.
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Vortic plans on using Castable Resin, in addition to Clear, to start printing and casting their own unique watch designs. You can read more about Vortic’s repurposed antique watch collection and their process on their website.