Virginia Hui Wang founded HCStudio in 2016, researching the science and applications of Lasers and Materials in making small and complex metal components. She successfully created laser metallurgy technologies and techniques that make small metal parts straight from computer designs. In 2019 she founded GemX, the first fine jewelry and art brand that makes products entirely with this efficient and eco-friendly technology. HCStudio now has partners across multiple industries including aerospace, research institutes, jewelry workshops and denture factories. GemX is now an award-winning design jewelry brand, the first sustainable fine jewelry brand that creates entirely with 3D printing and lab-grown gemstones.
Virginia, could you let us know about your background and your journey to Additive Manufacturing?
I have been in the jewelry business for 8 years. In January 2015 I was touring in CES Las Vegas and a beautiful 3D printed plastic dress caught my attention. Immediately I got curious about how it was made. I started to learn about additive manufacturing. After spending 1 year digging into numerous papers and reports, I felt AM had the potential to make revolutionary impacts on jewelry making.
What is HCStudio and what is the story behind it?
In 2016 I established HCStudio Technology, a laser and material lab that focuses on design and metallurgy science of making small complex components with additive manufacturing. Working closely with scientists and designers, the team successfully developed techniques to make complex metal components from computer designs to finished products in only a few hours. Later I founded GemX, a sustainable fine jewelry brand built around this technology and lab-grown gemstones.
To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing?
Creating award winning fine jewelry made with Selective Metal Melting (SLM) and promoting awareness of AM in jewelry industry in China.
Do you have any (fun or not) story about the company or your career to share with us?
In December 2018 the company received the very first order of 50 pieces of puzzle ball charms. The charms were SLM printed from bronze with the company’s patented “Embedded Gemstones” technique — a feature and technique developed by the HCStudio team. Each charm contains 5 layers of concentric balls — 4 interwoven metal balls and 1 jade beads, which need to be electroplated with 18K gold for an ideal finishing. It took the team 4 days to print out 50 pieces and they were sent to a gold plating factory for the final touch before shipping to the client. I received a call at dinner time from the boss of the gold plating factory informing a processing step unexpectedly went wrong and all the pieces were ruined. It was a Friday night of a Chinese traditional festival (around Christmas time) and just 2 days before due shipping date. I left dinner, headed straight to the company and turned on the printing machine. After pulling 2 all-nighters by myself, I managed to print 50 pieces, sent to gold plating and delivered to client right on time. Would never forget about this.
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman 3D Printing?
Being a woman and a boss in technology could be difficult, especially for someone coming from a non technical background. Winning trust from partners and investors has been very difficult.
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you?
The straightforward design-3DP-finish process. It can also reduce pollutions by simplifying complex manufacturing process.
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
3D printed jet engines.
What do you consider game-changing technologies in Additive Manufacturing?
Nanoparticle jetting for metal or ceramic AM.
Where do you think the industry will move to in the next 10 years?
Directly printing end products with most materials (instead of printing molds and then cast).
What advice do you have for women looking to get started in 3D Printing?
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” — Pablo Picasso
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with Additive Manufacturing?
Provide more exposure and support to women in this industry, including media exposure and communication communities.
Anything exciting coming up you’d like us to know about?
We are building a podcast channel with a top production team to promote 3D printing technology, hopefully launching in Q3 2020.
Favorite 3D tool?
Favorite moment in your day job?
Reviewing and planning early in the morning.
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years?
Creating ultra-fine metal printing system and materials.
Another inspiring woman you’d like us to interview?