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Research Projects

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Research Projects

At Andrew Nyce Designs, we do not just make Mokume Gane and Damascus Stainless Steel rings. We take a dedicated approach to studying the materials and techniques that are used to make our rings.

Research has been a life-long pursuit of Andrew Nyce. So, it is only natural that he conducted research in tandem with the design and fabrication of his rings.

For Andrew, mixing art and science go hand in hand.

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Mokume Gane Billet Reductions and Their Effects on Bond Strength

In collaboration with Glass & Metal Alchemy and Hoover and Strong, Andrew Nyce Designs participated in a study on the effects of time, temperature, and selected downstream processing techniques on the bond strength of difficult-to-bond combinations of precious metal alloys used in making Mokume Gane.

This study is a continuation of previous work (presented at the 2005 Santa Fe Symposium) on the development of diffusion bonding Mokume Gane billets using a thermal expansion mismatch torque plate system (TEMPT).

The most prevalent problem in making Mokume Gane is the failure of the diffusion bonds between the bonded sheets of materials. This occurs during the reduction of the billet by hot or cold forging, rolling, or during the subsequent twisting and rolling or forging the twisted Mokume Gane. Results of the study include:

  • Longer firing cycles produce stronger bonds.
  • Cold forging either by hand or using a hydraulic press produce bonds that were among the strongest of the tested methods of reduction.
  • Hot and cold forging using the hydraulic press creates strong materials. Hot forging takes advantage of the plastic deformation of the heated billet, which allows for much greater reductions.
  • Cold rolling as accomplished with the smaller diameter rolls of the typical small shop rolling mill seems to be less than adequate when compared to hot and cold forging.

Andrew Nyce Designs is using the results of this study improve the bond strength of the various Mokume billets that Andrew bonds, forges and patterns in his studio.

The results of the study were presented at the Santa Fe Symposium on jewelry manufacturing technology in May 2009.  » top

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The Hardening Effects of Mechanical Burnishing

In collaboration with Goldworks Jewelry Art Studio, Hoover and Strong, and Powder-Tech Associates, Andrew Nyce Designs participated in a study on the hardening effects of mechanical burnishing on precious metal alloys used in jewelry making.

The purpose of this study was to advance the understanding of mechanical burnishing and, specifically, to determine whether or not burnishing substantially increases the resistance of jewelry alloys to scratching and wear. Results of the study include:

  • Surface hardness is increased by both vibratory and rotary tumbling.
  • Rotary tumbling increases surface hardness more than vibratory.
  • Under some conditions hardness penetrates farther into metal surface than previously thought.
  • Despite deeper penetration of hardening than previously demonstrated, final hand polishing may remove hardening imparted by rotary burnishing.

The results of the study were presented at the Santa Fe Symposium on jewelry manufacturing technology in May 2009.  » top

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Mokume Gane: An Investigation into the Diffusion Bonding Characteristics of Difficult Alloy Combinations

In collaboration with Hoover and Strong and Jim Binnion Metal Arts, Andrew participated in a study on bonding difficult-to-bond combinations of precious metal alloys used in making Mokume Gane. This work is a continuation of the paper presented at the 2005 Santa Fe Symposium on the development of diffusion bonding Mokume Gane billets using a thermal expansion mismatch torque plate system (TEMPT).

This new study investigated the diffusion reactions between alloy combinations with processing difficulties that are known to contemporary Mokume Gane artists. Physical and mechanical data were determined when Platinum and Palladium alloys were diffusion bonded to karat Gold alloys. Specifications will be determined to optimize process routes for Mokume Gane jewelers; these include: minimizing process failures and maximizing billet yields through heat treatment, forging and rolling, in order to provide stock dimensions suitable for making jewelry.

Andrew Nyce Designs is using the results of this study to make Platinum and Gold alloy Mokume as well as Palladium, Platinum-enhanced sterling, and Gold alloy Mokume.

Winner of 2006 Santa Fe Symposium Collaborative Research Award

“In recognition of published research – done in collaboration between manufacturing jeweler and supplier – that uses good scientific principles to result in useful information that can be applied for the greater good of the industry.”  » top

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Comparing Commercially Available Tarnish-Resistant Sterling Silver Alloys with a Traditional Sterling Silver

In 2006, in collaboration with Hoover and Strong and Goldworks Jewelry Art Studio, Andrew worked on a study to determine whether the so-called tarnish-resistant sterling silver alloys were, in fact, as tarnish-resistant as claimed by the manufacturer.

These new alloys have seemed to hold the promise of improved tarnish resistance and mechanical properties. However, there was limited quantitative information using objectively-designed testing to compare these alloys with each other or, for that matter, with traditional sterling silver. Against this backdrop, we designed a study to attempt to provide this comparative information to potential manufacturers and consumers.

One of the major findings of the study was that, in most cases, the traditional sterling alloy performed as well, or better, than the tarnish-resistant sterling alloys.

As a result of this study, we recommended the establishment of a standardized test for tarnish resistance whereby manufacturers making claims of tarnish-resistance could relate their material performance to this test. We assert that this standardized test should reflect real world conditions such as long-term display and human body reaction.

The results of the study were presented at the Santa Fe Symposium on jewelry manufacturing technology in September 2006.  » top

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Diffusion Bonding of Karat Gold Alloys to Gold and Silver Alloys

In 2005, in collaboration with Stewart Grice of Hoover and Strong, Andrew began a study to determine whether Karat gold alloys could be bonded to silver and to other gold alloys by diffusion bonding.

In the process, paper thin sheets of karat gold are diffusion bonded to the other alloys using heat from a hot plate and pressure applied by specialized burnishing tools.

Our research demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to bond Karat gold alloys in the same way that 24 Karat gold is bonded to silver (a process known as Keum Boo).  » top

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Precipitation Hardening of Gold and Silver Alloys

In 2004 and 2005, in collaboration with Gary Dawson, a master goldsmith, Andrew worked on a research project to develop studio-friendly techniques for determining the hardness and abrasive resistance of precipitation-hardened gold and silver jewelry alloys.

Our objective was to develop a simple procedure that could be used to test the hardness of precious metal alloys that are used in jewelry making.

The test we developed is currently being used in a study involving tumble hardening of precious metals as well as in a study aimed at determining optimum annealing temperatures and times for precious metal alloys used in making Mokume Gane.

Andrew Nyce Designs has incorporated the results from this study into the jewelry-making process for Mokume Gane rings.

The results of this work were presented at the Santa Fe Symposium on jewelry manufacturing technology in May 2005.  » top

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Diffusion Bonding of Mokume Gane

In 2004 and 2005, in collaboration with Stewart Grice of Hoover and Strong and Jim Binnion Metal Arts, Andrew participated in a research project to develop innovative equipment and associated processing techniques for making Mokume Gane billets.

The resulting equipment and process increased Mokume Gane billet bond strength, productivity, and yield. The study demonstrated that a brittle ordered phase caused de-lamination of billets; quenching from 1200°F eliminated the problem. In addition, it was determined that too much pressure with temperature during the bonding cycle increased the amount of brittle phase generated.

The results of this work were presented at the Santa Fe Symposium by Jim Binnion in May of 2005.  » top

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Reticulated Gold and Silver Wedding Rings

Reticulation of Gold and Silver Alloys

In 2003 and 2004, in collaboration with Stewart Grice of Hoover and Strong, Andrew conducted research on the reticulation of gold and silver alloys.

The results of this work make it possible to obtain higher yields of reticulated silver in a variety of reticulated surface topography that was not easily obtainable prior to this work.

As a result of this study, Hoover and Strong now offer reticulated silver in several convenient forms.

The results of this work were presented by Stewart Grice at the Santa Fe Symposium on jewelry manufacturing technology in May 2004; published in Lapidary Journal in 2002 and in 2004; and presented by me as a workshop at the Kraftwerks Jewelry Manufacturing Symposium in August 2004.

Winner of the 2005 Santa Fe Symposium Collaborative Research Award
"In recognition of published research – done in collaboration between manufacturing jeweler and supplier – that uses good scientific principles to result in useful information that can be applied for the greater good of the industry."  » top

 

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