Whenever we ask the Shapeways community what materials and processes they are interested in being made available we always get many requests for 3D printed silver. In response to these requests Shapeways has been experimenting with a few silver processes, testing for quality, reliability, best pricing. 3D printing silver is quite difficult to perfect, so it has taken us some time to get the quality we would like for the Shapeways community and we are now very excited to share with you our first silver samples...
Take a look at the images below and let us know what you think?
Ring detail shows layering similar to that seen in 3D printed stainless steel when a raised element makes it difficult to polish surrounding surface.
If it becomes available I'll have to make a silver-compatible version of my candle cuffs.
I created those specifically for a handdrawn candlestick in polished silver, since it didn't have any "wax-collector" by design.
A highly polished silver candle cuff ("bobeche") would be even greater than the alumide version I'm currently using
I know that I would easily pay 10-15$/cm3 for silver.. probably more.
But I started thinking about if that was viable for you and found out that silver is cheaper than I though.. at least according to the spot-prices I've been able to find.
The density of silver is approx. 10.5g/cm3, depending on percentage of silver.
The spotprices I've found are approx. 50 cents/gram (Is that right? Sounds very cheap to me)
So that would give a pure material cost of approx. 5-6 $/cm3 (depending on the market value of course).
Would 100% on top of that work (= approx. 10-15 $/cm3) or would that bring you down?
We have to keep in mind the potentially off-putting effect of a high startup-cost as well.
I know it's a lot of manual labor so loooads of small pieces are extremly costly (time-wise) for you but in the case of silver, most objects will probably be jewelry-sized so a high startup-cost would probably be demotivating for some.
Any one remember the "White glaze" material? it used to be available before i found shapeways a year ago..
The process of making a white ABS material smooth and glaze was through blasting it and then rinsing it in a chemical to peal off few microns so to totally eliminate the layering and making the item very very smooth.
I wonder if that kind of process (or other electro/chemical) can be applied on the SS/silver instead of the manual polishing which can't work on all of the item's surfaces.
I like the idea but wouldn't that "eat away" a lot of the finer details, like the dots on the Braille-ring shown above?
Could work though, if the right balance is found (oversized details to compensate for "polishing").
YAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!! Timing could not possibly be better!!!!! I made a necklace charm for a company my wife works for, and one of the presidents loved it!!!!! If I could offer it to him in SILVER!!!!! WHEN IS IT AVAILABLE!!!!! I can't wait to order my rings in silver tooooooooooo...
Freakin' amazing! I love the highly polished look, but they are all good. One big concern: You state this is "solid silver". I hope you mean sterling silver and not .925 silver? I'll tell you why - .925 silver is crap!! My wife bought a silver bracelet from Tiffany's and the links have tarnished!! Looking this up on the 'net I found out that sterling silver is too malleable to use in jewellery design, thus it is mixed with another alloy to make it stronger. It is THIS alloy that causes it to tarnish. The tarnish can be removed temporarily (remember all the servants of yesteryear polishing the family silver?) but this is a pain. I will not use .925 silver, so some clarification is needed, please.
Glen, I'm afraid you've got your terminology mixed up. Sterling silver IS THE SAME THING as .925 silver. The .925 means that there is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper in the alloy, with the copper providing the additional strength needed for jewelry construction. It's very similar in composition to the alloy that was known in earlier times as "coin silver", although that was usually closer to a 90%/10% alloy.
Pure silver is also known as "fine" silver, and it is occasionally used in some jewelry and decorative applications.
ALL silver will tarnish, however, including Sterling silver.
I agree with everything said by Marcus. I've been around in the jewelry industry for a few years so I'd like to think I'm fairly informed. Pure silver is used occasionally in jewelry, but is so soft that you can ruin a piece very easily, also one of the reasons pure gold is rarely used. I'm sure that's what Glenn meant when he said "sterling silver is too malleable to use in jewellery design." just replace the word sterling silver with just silver.
Sterling/.925 is almost always what you get when you buy any silver.
Humidity speeds up tarnish more than just air exposure on its own. Putting the piece in an airtight bag will help, or putting a piece of carbon paper to soak up oxygen in a jewelry box, or even in the bag. Also those little bags that say "do not eat" that come with wallets and such that soak up moisture would be good to put in a jewelry box if tarnish seems to come out of nowhere.
I recently purchased some metal varnish that helps prevent tarnishing for the stainless steel pieces, since when I wore one of my rings in humid conditions the bronze in the metal reacted in an unpleasant way. I'll also use this on any Sterling pieces as I have on gold plated to make the gold layer last longer.
"ALL silver will tarnish, however, including Sterling silver."
Actually that's not strictly true - there is a specialised silver alloy for jewellry making called Argentium that is highly tarnnish resistant. The alloy contains germanium that forms a clear, hard, oxide layer on the surface.
It's also harder than sterling and you can fuse it like fine silver rather than soldering.
All-in-all pretty neat stuff
Sintered! So it's printed directly to silver, not printed to wax, then cast? That's awesome! I hadn't heard of anyone doing that yet. That means shapes are not limited to castable shapes (e.g. you couldn't make the "string of pearls" recently featured here by casting). Is it infused with something else after sintering, as stainless steel is infused with bronze?
Ooo, this means I may have to break out my blowtorch again! I worked in silver for a while and still have a bunch of findings I could combine with 3D prints! Do you think detail will be high enough for say 1mm diameter prongs for stones? The main thing with other materials is I have to glue flat back stones in, it would be great to actually set some in silver!
I would LOVE to be able to print in sterling silver . . . the jewelry implications are enormous! (Like Christina W., I've got a bunch of stones that could work with this . . .) The cost would have to be reasonable, though, and I know that could be tricky! Still, please get this into production soonest! BTW, the look of the evenly polished piece is OK, the smooth-polished is far better, and the "grainy" look is worth offering as an option - it may be what people are looking for on certain pieces.
This looks awesome! I hope this becomes a real material option very soon! As long as it doesn't cost too much. The $20 minimum for gold plated is quite ridiculous when it comes to small jewelry like rings, so I hope you don't go that route with the silver.
Oh, there'll be commercial interest, I have no doubt. As Tommy pointed out (reply 8.1), silver's not actually as costly as it's generally perceived to be, so it should work out pretty good value as long as the process itself isn't prohibitively expensive.
I'm looking forward to seeing this made available; I have little doubt I'll be making use of it at some point.
Could you tell a bit more about the processes that were used? You call it 3D printed silver, is it really that or were these pieces done using wax printing & casting? Which companies/machines were used?
This is really cool, I think the samples look great. Is it a composite like SS (stainless steel and brass)? Only the cost concerns me, but I'll wait and see about that. Hopefully the design rules will be very similar to stainless steel, so existing designs should be compatible. The reason I never bothered with the glass is not just the high unit cost but the design rules that meant it was very hard to make items with a low mass.
This is the material I have been waiting for to work on jewelry!
Before I can say what I would pay, I need to know a little more about how its made and the material properties. The stainless doesn't make a good ring (when worn full time) because the copper reacts to peoples' skin and moisture. Knowing more about this process, and buying a test piece, will help me to know what I need to know. That said, I understand that I just said I wouldn't be able to suggest a price until I could buy something made out of it, so good luck with that.
Got your remark on gold. Do remember our gold is "only" gold plated! The silver is massive stirling silver. We are currently thinking that the model 3 ring would cost around $60. For a custom made ring that seems like a fair price and actually as alwaysl not much more than our cost + shipment.
Actually it is not!! I have been in the gold and silver jewellery business last 15 years, I can assure you, even here in England if you had the wax model, you could have as one of model casted in sterling silver much much cheaper.
If it was mass production from Far East ,( assuming the ring is about 10gr) you would NOT pay more then USD 12, finished polished and bagged.
At the current price of silver ($18.75 USD/Troy Oz. at this particular hour) the wholesale cost of the material would be something like $6.30 USD/cc. with a bit of rounding. I believe that a fair markup would be something like double this price at $12.60 USD/cc. However silver fluctuates daily (and sometimes even hourly) but generally tends to not cross the $20 USD/troy oz. threshold. It has only once done that in recent years that I can remember but that was an incredible fluke and it was back down below $20 USD by the end of that particular month. If you want to take that into consideration when pricing this material I believe that the wholesale cost at $20 USD should be about $6.72 USD/cc which would make the retail markup $13.44 USD/cc or $14 rounded.
Also I feel that there should be different options on the polishing part. Personally I like the layered look as it's a finish that you can only get through the 3D process, it's a tighter grain than cuttlebone casting, and it's what most of my client base is looking for when it comes to a piece of CAD jewelry. Also most of the work that I have to get cast comes back to me in rough form so I have to polish it anyway, and I factor that into the final cost of my products. I feel that a fair price for the unpolished textured parts would be something like $13.50 USD/cc. High polished parts could be something like you guys do for gold plated stainless by adding a flat rate onto the cost of the part like $13.50 USD/cc + $5.00 USD for polishing or something.
1) types of silver: as someone else said, .925 is the same as sterling. the reason some silver tarnishes more than others is NOT usually a reflection of the silver itself, but an anti-tarnish coating that is applied to the part after it is made. that said, even coated silver will tarnish. it's not hard to remove the tarnish, and contact with skin will actually help prevent oxidation. As someone who has worked for Tiffany I can tell you that they have excellent customer service and 'll polish your silver for you for free if you bring it in. if you're desperate you can use toothpaste to polish silver but don't do it too often as it is more abrasive than regular silver polish.
i'm personally quite happy with the steel but I have been asked on a few occasions for solid silver. I wear my steel ring almost every day and the only discoloration i've experienced was that the metal turned white when left in standing water (my own stupidity). That said I would love to be able to use silver as well, because it had a higher implied value, different look, and certain other advantages over steel (like stone setting).
2) costs: I think $13-$15 /cm3 would be fair. Clearly the less expensive it is the easier it will be to sell.
3) Pricing model: I am STRONGLY against implementing a pricing model like the gold one. i much prefer the linear pricing as it is on the stainless. it's just so much easier to deal with. I actually prefer the idea of a startup cost to the non-linear pricing model... non-linear pricing only makes sense to me if the model can be applied the order as a whole instead of each part. that way we would have incentive to place larger orders rather than numerous small orders.
Follow up regarding pricing: I agree with and support a linear pricing model, like stainless steel.
I also would like to see the different polish/finish options as well. Perhaps 3 types? Untouched (no fee), medium polish, fine high-polish - Higher polish obviously carrying the highest additional fee.
Also, I've read somewhere that there used to be polish options for stainless steel too. Is this true? Did they go away, and why?
Is the 'Sterling silver' .925 silver?
Also, in the UK it is an offence to advertise and sell (above a certain weight) something as 'Silver' unless tha item has been approved by the UK Assay office, or carries a hallmark to international standard... will you be offering a hallmarking service that conforms to international standards?
It's pretty easy to model a "925" hallmark stamp into your models. I do it for all my silver work. 925 is the international hallmark for sterling silver (92.5% pure) and it's what the UK Assay office will laser etch into your piece if you send it to them for hallmarking & approval.
Also you might want to note that unless Shapeways infuses the prints with sterling silver (I would assume they would) The piece will be a lot lighter because of the particle voids running throughout the piece, however it will still test as Sterling silver.
Yes it would be easy to include 925 in the model for printing, if the piece were just for personal enjoyment in the United Kingdom... however, to be legally able to sell Silver items in the UK requires a UK hallmark or one conforming to Internation Standards. NL hallmarks are recognised in the UK and the items would be ok to sell... simply stamping or marking an item '925' does not conform to legislation (as far as I can see)... This matter is something that I am trying to clear up and get a definitive answer to regarding the sale of Silver items in the UK as I am involved with a company designing and importing silver items into the UK from Thailand... I have the oportunity of a directorship within the company, however this sticky law stuff is holding me back.
The Hallmarking (International Convention) Order 2002
Consumers Guide to UK Hallmarking Law
Retailers Guide to Hallmarking
British Hall Marking Council - Guidance Notes
I don't agree with AP. Shapeways is set up to be a store portal for the consumer. Not many consumers will want wax prints. There are other, professional oriented options out there if you're looking for a 3D wax print for professional purposes. (redeyeondemand.com for one)
Silver, on the other hand, is something that can be purchased directly.
This is very exciting! I agree that super high detail printing in wax as well as other materials would be more useful for anyone like myself that wants to make a lot of jewelry. But, I can see using this to create some pieces that couldn't be made any other way.
Marcus wrote: "ALL silver will tarnish". That is not exactly true any more. There is now on the market silver that is mixed with Rhodium or Platinum, which prevents it from tarnishing. Sorry I can't remember the name of this type of silver, but it is out there. It is of course more expensive than Sterling.
Actually, the definition of Sterling Silver is that it is an alloy containing 92.5% pure silver. It doesn't matter what the other elements are that go into it to make is so long as it is 92.5% silver and 7.5% something else (traditionally copper). Argentium is considered Sterling Silver because it contains 925 parts per thousand of silver, the other elements added to it in this case are copper and germanium. Germanium makes the alloy highly tarnish resistant as it lowers the copper content of the alloy which means less copper oxide potential and more importantly eliminates firescale. On the down side it makes the alloy softer and causes it to melt at 1610°F instead of 1650°F.
When it comes to Rhodium, Rhodium is used usually as a plating substance to help protect the surface of sterling silver from oxidation (tarnishing). It is relatively thin in most cases, can easily be scratched, wears off over time, and will actually dull down the reflectivity of brightly polished sterling silver which is very white. Rhodium is only used sometimes in the silver market, it is not mandatory as is the case with white gold alloys.
On the other hand introducing Platinum into the alloy (Sterling Silver with Platinum as it is referred to in the industry) makes the material harder, better, faster stronger - if you don't mind my Daft Punk reference Platinum at 5% (.925/5%) introduction improves the tarnish resistance of traditional sterling silver by about 10 times, makes the alloy very hard, and increases the price by a factor of 4. It can also be kiln hardened to achieve this hardness. It is also heavier than traditional sterling and makes for a more dense casting. It is also a tiny bit whiter than traditional sterling silver which makes people's jaws drop when they see how shiny it is, and stays! The alloy is also available in .925/3.5% (harder than .925/5% but with slightly less tarnish resistance; extremely popular with the general public!) and .925/1%. All are manufactured by ABI Precious Metals in Carson, CA, USA.
Not sure where you got that idea; In my experience, annealed Argentium is as hard as standard sterling (70HV) and can be made considerably harder (100HV) by simple heat treatment (precipitation hardening)
I agree with you about platinum sterling though - whiter than white gold, cheaper and it doesn't need to be rhodium-plated - gorgeous stuff
How would that be easier? To 3D print in silver, it's one step. From computer >> 3d Printer >> polishing machine. To do a casting, first the model has to be printed into wax or other burnable material, then a mold made from that, then the silver has to be cast, and finally polished. Seems like a lot more steps to do it the casting way.
what makes casting less appealing is that a mold has to be made for every part. thus someone (ie shapeways) would have to make and store physical tools for every model. this becomes a more complex problem when you've got multiple sizes of the same design (like with rings). the major advantage of 3d printing in my mind is the lack of tooling which means infinite variation without added cost and also means the models can be made anywhere. wax printing and casting services are available, though not as easy to use as shapeways. "real" jewelry companies (including tiffany &co.) use this method-- sometimes the wax models are then hand-adjusted to give them more hand-made character. it's cost-effective if you're making many of the same part. it's labor-intensive and costly for one-offs. i think a casting service would have to be an entirely new branch of shapeways and would require a significant investment. plus cast pieces DO NOT come out (almost) perfect the way a 3d printed model does- they require cleanup to remove parting lines plus careful polishing. the quality of the cleanup and polishing are vital to making a good cast part. I know we all like the IDEA of wax prints, but they don't easily fit into the shapeways production model. personally i would be a much bigger fan of 3d silver printing. why waste material and time printing in wax and making molds if you don't have to?
if you are making one offs, why do you need molds, you can first print the wax model then use it for your casting. Furthermore we have not been told the process yet, but i am sure molden silver is not going to pour out of the printing machine, it is more likely something like silver clay used then it is ovened to turn into silver , so process is more likely to be multi stage.
My above comment regarding shapeway doing the casting is therotical ,ofcourse casting is another specialty subject so would not expect shapeways to do them themselves but if the whole issue is giving choice to consumers then choices offered could be extented to gold , platinium, they could organize it with local supplier!!!
I am SO exited about this! I have been wanting just this to happen. I was bummed when you started doing the gold because I don't like it but I LOVE silver.
I agree with some of the others that a high start up cost would turn people off. The price needs to be reasonable enough for people to buy multiples and/or resell. I also think that several polishing options would be GREAT. For those of us who have worked in silver a raw option would be really great, then we could clean it up our selves. I too think that the model constraints need to be able to do fairly fine details, at least be able to get something thin enough that one could set stones. Very cool stuff! Can't wait.
I just hope it would be a "clean" printing; I had my first disappointing gold ring delivered to me today - there were two unclean parts, i.e. not cleaned properly before the plating, one was in a very prominent position the other not. I had to take my dremel to the roughly out of sight one but I overdid the cleaning and now I have a tiny (but visible) polished stainless steel showing through the gold...
Glenn, do contact our service department about your ring. Gold plated is supposed to have some texture as you can see in our pictures, but should be clean. Please provide pictures if you have so we can make sure this does not happen again.
The silver samples look good.
1) A cost per cc of $US 10 to $US 20 seems reasonable.
2) Please consider "FINE SILVER" as a material. I need that for enamel art.
3) Please consider testing "Argentium" sterling if you have not already done so.
4) Is it possible to choose "NO POLISH" for this material? I want the rough object.
Excellent! YES, I do want silver! I don't like gold so much personally, so silver is really something that I could work with. Yes, there are limitations when it comes to polishing and that sort of thing but you can move around that a bit when designing the models. You just have to be aware of the limitations. It's excellent!!! I really hope that you go for this one permanently, guys!!
Great, if you can do it. Please try and make the resolution better and you will have lots of orders!!! I have experience with casting wax models. Its a big problem, because some of the printed complex design can not be casted and moulded. So if we can skip this phase, it will be amazing.
When can we start ordering? (-:
just wanted to add that model 3 looks great because the surface is smooth, both sides. This is very important. To my opinion, it is more important than the areas that are raised etc as you mentioned regarding model 4.
We can always polish a little ourselves, if needed. However, polishing the texture is very difficult. If you can provide a smooth surface inside and outside of an object/ring, even if not perfect, it will be amazing.
How do we keep pushing the desires of high detail wax printing onto the wonderful, accommodating and amazingly beautiful people of Shapeways? . I would say flattery is a start but will not get the wax across the line.... I know a couple of universities here in Melbourne, Australian that would utilise this service to the point of exhaustion...