Behind the Scenes of Developing NeoMetal's Titanium Clusters.
In the world of body jewelry, innovation and creativity are key drivers of progress. At NeoMetal, we take pride in trying new things and are always thinking of ways to improve the piercing experience. We design jewelry pieces that function simply and work beautifully and our latest collection, Titanium Clusters, is a testament to our commitment to excellence. In this article, we give you a behind-the-scenes look into the journey of bringing this new product line to life.
Research and Planning: The Beginnings of Titanium Clusters
The seeds of the Titanium Clusters were sown in 2022, when Steve Joyner, NeoMetal’s Director of Business Development and piercer of over 30 years, proposed the concept of a collection of cluster designs. Clusters are jewelry pieces that feature an array of multiple gems for a single piercing. The most common clusters feature 3 or 5 gems or opals in a slightly curved formation, but the possibilities are endless. The wide variety of design and color options with clusters have contributed to their popularity.
This marked the beginning of an exciting journey that would redefine NeoMetal's product offerings. The initial step involved a lot of research to understand the market landscape and establish a distinct vision for our product. One of the team's core goals was to maximize the brilliance of the gemstones while minimizing the amount of metal used in the design, reflecting NeoMetal's commitment to both aesthetics and functionality.
Clusters, especially those made from Titanium, require welding to connect the multiple gem settings. As this was a new facet of body jewelry manufacturing for our team, initial research also involved observing welding techniques.
Meet the Minds Behind the Magic
With a combined 6 years at NeoMetal, Jesus and Tou are the dynamic duo essential to bringing our Titanium Clusters to life. Jesus, the Operations Manager of NeoMetal, has been a part of our team for 3.5 years and oversees all operations at our Oakdale Facility. He spends a lot of time coordinating and planning new product development, seamlessly balancing operations of our existing products with new innovations. Tou has been a Production Engineer on the NeoMetal team for 2.5 years and is a key contributor to our production, manufacturing, and quality control teams.
Crafting Brilliance: From Concept the Creation
The development of the Titanium Clusters was a meticulous and iterative process. Custom jigs for each cluster size underwent three rounds of development, with key contributions from Danny Du, our 2nd shift machining supervisor and a valued member of our new product development team. Danny worked closely with Tou to finalize and machine the cluster jigs. A jig is a specialized tool or device designed to hold, guide, or position a workpiece during various stages of production. They are used to ensure accuracy, consistency, and repeatability in manufacturing processes.
These jigs, once perfected, formed the backbone of the production process, ensuring consistency and quality in every piece. With successful and repeatable jigs in hand, a welding machine was acquired, marking the beginning of a rigorous Design of Experiment (DOE) phase to establish optimal welding parameters, with a keen focus on achieving impeccable weld aesthetics. The weld itself became an art form, a delicate balance of factors to eliminate oxidation and create a flawless, strong bond.
Mastering the Craft: Key Features that Set Titanium Clusters Apart
The Titanium Clusters were envisioned with several key characteristics that set them apart in the world of body jewelry:
- Minimalistic Brilliance: The emphasis on minimal metal in the design was to ensure the gems take center stage without bulk or weight.
- Curvature Perfected: Through meticulous measurement and feedback from Steve Joyner, the team achieved the perfect curvature, balancing comfort, and style to fit the contours of ear anatomy.
- Hygienic Design: While the front of our clusters receives the most face time on the wearer, the back of the product was particularly important to our team. Flat, smooth backs were designed to prevent the accumulation of bacteria when the piece is worn, prioritizing both aesthetics and safety.
- Masterful Welds: The strength and visual appeal of the welds were a prime focus. The team's dedication to dialing in the gas parameters of our laser welding machine was essential to eliminating dark spots and ensuring a strong hold.
Overcoming Hurdles: Challenges Faced and Lessons Learned
As with any new product, the journey to bring Titanium Clusters to market was not without its challenges. Welding, a critical aspect of the process, presented a steep learning curve. Training our manufacturing team was a significant investment of time and effort, with the laser welder demanding both precision and patience.
Ergonomics emerged as another vital consideration. NeoMetal's dedication to its team's health and safety led to the creation of adjustable tables and ergonomic seating, ensuring that operators could work comfortably without compromising focus and efficiency.
Quality: Ensuring Excellence in Every Piece
The pursuit of excellence culminated in a rigorous quality assurance process. The results of the DOE gave Tou a guideline to train our team members. Welding techniques evolved, with a profound understanding that even the smallest gap between elements could impact the final product's quality. This dedication to perfection will be carried forward as NeoMetal develops comprehensive written work instructions, a vital step in ensuring repeatability and maintaining unwavering quality.
A Dazzling Debut and Future Horizons
Our Titanium Clusters made their debut in June of 2023 and the response from the industry has been overwhelmingly positive. We're excited to continue expanding the collection to encompass more intricate designs, accommodating a variety of piercings and allowing for seamless mixing and matching.
As Jesus Cerna eloquently put it, "You need to keep innovating, because if you don't, you fall behind." With the Titanium Clusters, NeoMetal has not only embraced innovation but has harnessed it to create a product line that shines brilliantly, embodying the essence of NeoMetal: High-quality materials. True craftsmanship. Flawless details.