A new 3D printing material: Alumide

From today until the 14th of March we will be offering you Alumide as a 3D printing material. If enough people like it (and buy it) we will then decide to keep it for you. Whystler, Chris and many others have been asking for Alumide in the forums so here it is.

Below you can see the models: Sports Vigilante by Admiral Duck Sauce, 3 Tealight Lanterns by Whystler, Ball Bearing by DeLaVega(it works well in the material) and Gyro the cube by Virtox.

Alumide is White, Strong & Flexible with Aluminum dust mixed in. The material looks space aged and has a higher heat resistance that regular plastics. Its melting temperature is above 172 Celsius It costs $1.59 per cubic centimeter(plus $1.50 start up costs per model). The material is brittle and less flexible than White, Strong & Flexible. We intended it to be a good Maker material for projects such as Arduino cases and RC Helicopters but after testing it and seeing it the material would seem to be fun for all sorts of other models also.The pictures below are for Bill’s Arduino case model

It feels smoother than White, Strong & Flexible and up close looks like it came from space. It could be part of a meteorite or a chunk of alien technology that fell off of a space ship. And Alien technology for $1.59 per cubic CM, thats a bargain. Update: as per Kristopher’s request we’ve created a material page for Alumide here.

30 comments

  1. Kristopher Reed

    Wow. This looks like it could be an interesting material. I am going to step up my efforts designing revision 2 of my robotic limb and get a print through. If all goes well, I might make this my primary building material.

    One thought on advertising: I noticed that the only mention of this new material is in this blog. How about an entry on the “materials” page (with a “trial-material/limited availiability” overlay, or something), and maybe even a prominent suggestion on the orders page (for people who select plain WSF) to try out this new material. If you want to evaluate adoption, people have to know about it in order to try it. I can fathom someone not paying attention to the blog, and also missing the “Alumide” option on the material drop-down list if they are focused on their target material.

    1. joris

      Kristopher,

      Good idea with the materials page, I’ll see if we can do that. The orders page is, in my opinion, too late in the process but in general to spread the info in these materials beyond the blog and banners is a great idea. I’m always kind of anti-marketing in a lot of things but these seem like informative ideas rather than pushy.

      Joris

  2. Peter Zich

    This looks like a great material. I think it should be kept. I’ll probably be ordering something this week.

  3. Glenn Marsh

    Very interesting material. Sorry if I missed it, but are there details available on minimum wall thickness / details for this material? Also, how well would this material be for making resin molds?

    1. Joris

      Minimum wall thickness and detail is the same as White, Strong & Flexible: 0.7 (I’d always do 0.9) for wall thickness and 0.2 for detail.

  4. Anonymous

    WHA!! You did it!! This is WONDERFUL! :)

    *runs off to spend money on Shapeways models*

  5. T. Shawn Johnson

    WHA!! You did it!! This is WONDERFUL!

    *runs off to spend money on Shapeways models*

    -Whystler

  6. George Bell

    Cool! What do you think happens if you dye the stuff? Does it shed aluminum dust? It will be interesting to try it out!

  7. Stijn van der Linden

    Amazing..
    There already were endless possibilities, and now there’s even more!

    I do hope it is here to stay, but somehow I think it will,
    as it looks so cool ! :-D

    Oh well… there goes my earnings/savings :-P

    -Virtox

  8. RaisedByWolves

    Less flexible is good for really thin pieces we don’t want to bend or warp… but does the alluminum make it stronger as well? Heavier?

  9. Neil Almond

    because of the metal dust is it heavyer?

  10. ArnoudV

    We’re putting up a material detail page, so be patient for a little while. I’ll post it here when we have one!

    Arnoud

  11. Christian Lehmann

    This looks great. Very close to an ambient occlusion only render from blender. Almost like “Materialization straight from the screen” :)

  12. Michael Williams

    1) how bout adding it to the flash banner on the home page?
    2) Wasn’t the fatal fall of the Hindenburg the extremely flammable Alumide skin? I hope these aren’t flammable.
    3) these look great, I wish I knew a week ago before I placed my order

    1. Michael Williams

      scratch number 1, I see it’s already there.

  13. Eric Finley

    Very, very nice. One burning question – *is this electrically conductive*? Because, if so, that by itself opens up a vast world of possibilities…

    1. Joris

      Eric,

      I had to walk 8 meters from my desk to find someone with a multimeter. It does not conduct electricity. I asked one of the robot soccer guys and he tested it. He is going to take it to be tested for electrostatic charging/discharge next week. Also, we’re going to go have fun with a mass spectrometer soon. I feel like I’m in CSI sometimes.

    2. Eric Finley

      Cool. Pity about the conductivity, but that’s about what I expected.

      And, really, conductive is going to be a bigger deal once it’s working with stuff like objet or FDM… where we can pattern the conductive and nonconductive regions as they’re laid down. Conductive SLS is, now that I think about it, not nearly as exciting.

      If you really want the feel of CSI, I can probably check out any samples you like on just about any characterization method you’d ever want… STM/AFM/C-AFM, XPS, EELS (electron energy loss spectroscopy), Raman spectroscopy, TEM, electron interferometry… all of which are totally overkill for this, of course. ;)

    3. Joris

      Ha,
      I raise you,

      Atomic Spectrometry (AAS, ICP-AES, ICP-MS, (LA)-ICP-MS), Ion-chromatography, Gas analysis, Electrochemical analysis, Coulometry, Powder characterization, Particle size distribution, Physical properties of glass, Gravimetry, Titrimetry, Ellipsometry, XRF, NTM, Chromatography (GC, HPLC, GPC, IC), Optical Spectroscopy (NIR, Fluorescence, (UV-VIS, FT-IR, Raman), Mass spectroscopy (TOF-MS, ion trap MS), MS, GC-MS-FTIR), AFM.SPM, XRD, Thermal analysis (TGA, DSC), Rheometry, SSIMS, DSIMS, XPS/ESCA, SAM/AES, SEM/EPMA, RBS/ERD/Channelling, (cryo)-TEM, FIB, Optical Profilometry.

  14. George Bell

    Oops. How do I unsubscribe from this thread without adding a new response?

    1. George Bell

      Ahhh … I get it now. There is an “unsubscribe” link on the email you get …

  15. James Foster

    This is cool. I love seeing shapeways having new materials. Even if it is for a limited time (one day short of the ides of march).

    Also, I might have missed it but is shapeways looking at having a mutiple material printing option. Like combo Transparent Detail and White, Strong & Flexible.

    Shapeways Rules

    1. Joris

      James,

      Thanx!

      The Connex printer from Objet can do multi material. It means you can get a rubbery material and a harder Transparent Detail-like material to intermingle, use separately in different parts etc. The issue with introducing that is that there is at the moment no standard way to interpret material mix/density. The implementation of this process alone would be very time consuming and expensive. But, the materials are at the moment not totally strong enough for what you’d want to do with them. For example Peter Hermans made a watch band out of the multi material but it broke almost immediately. So we’re afraid that we’d introduce it and you guys would go nuts about it but it wouldn’t be suited for your dreams, lets say.

  16. Virtox

    Just occurred to me, would it be possible to dye the Alumide like WSF ?
    I guess it is a lot denser and different after printing, but a subtle Black/Blue/Limestone/Terracotta in metallic look might be very interesting…

    1. Joris

      To my knowledge no one has done this before. It would be interesting to see what it would look like.

  17. Tommy Strömgren

    On the topic of “conductivity”;
    how well would Alumide work as a cooling flange?

    One of my oldest “projects” is a high-energy LED lamp/lantern but I always got stuck on the need for a separate cooling flange that needs to be machined/ordered and then the model would have to be fitted AROUND that flange somehow.

    If Alumide can handle more heat than normal WSF I’m assuming that it can also disperse/dispose of more heat through its surface areas…?

    Would it be possible to make a custom 3D-printed cooling flange out of Alumide?

    (I suck at the kind of math needed for thermal resistance etc so just gimme a simple “like teets on a boar” kind of answer if I’m still screwed :-D )

    1. Joris Peels

      Tommy,

      I’d love to be able to give you any kind of answer to that but am unable to do so. I simply have no idea.

    2. Virtox

      I’m no expert, but I had a look :
      The datasheet for alumide shows 0.5W/(m*K)
      While normal Aluminium is 237W/(m*K)

      So I don’t think it will make a very good heatsink.

      Too bad, would have been cool >:-)

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