Having produced quite a few products in 3d printed steel and very happy with the results, we were keen to make a design for precious metals. Looking at the specifications for precious metals on Shapeways, we noted that they do offer sterling silver, gold and platinum, but will not hallmark the products before shipping.
That got us digging into the rules around hallmarks.
Information from the Assay Office in Edinburgh confirmed that it is an offence to offer items for sale in the UK made from precious metals, without a hallmark. It makes no difference that the items are manufactured outside the UK and even if the actual selling is done by the 3d printer, advertising items for sale as gold or silver Would also fall foul of the legislation.
We are not lawyers, but as far as we can determine, there is no legal way to sell, or advertise for sale, products 3d printed in precious metals in the UK market or from the UK, without sending individual items to an assay office for testing and hallmarking.
The UK legislation would not apply for goods being shipped to other countries, but there is a list of countries that have similar legislation that would apply.
The other difficulty we see is for anyone who purchases an unhallmarked item. They might have difficulty if they ever wanted to resell it in a country that had hallmarking requirements, and would be unlikely to get the full price even if they did find a buyer.
While we wait for the laws to catch up with 3d printing, which doesn’t look like anytime soon, or the 3d printing companys start providing hallmarking for printed items, regrettably, we need to restrict the material choices for our products to plating that does not require a hallmark.