We are getting many really cool designs in silver. One current issue we have is trying to balance enabling our community to create things, no matter how challenging they are and ensuring that the amazing designs actually can be printed. Sometimes, this means adding or changing design rules, sometimes, this means modifying our methods of production to accommodate.
For silver, one issue we often run into is that very thin designs do not survive the wax process. For example, if you have a thin bar (like a pin, an earring hook, or a necklace hoop) attached to a thicker object (like an earring stud), handling the wax can be quite difficult and often results in having the pin snap. Of course, we do not want to say "no more earrings or pins" because that would just be too limiting. To solve this, for some parts, we may print the pieces separately and then weld them together after they've been cast. We have worked with our supplier to ensure that the end result is indiscernible. For example...
The left side is a picture of the computer generated model, the right side is the hoop welded on.
We have received customers informing us that the welded parts do not conform to their original designs. We have worked with our supplier to ensure that we do not use stock items, but will print the pieces of the actual design. We have also stepped up our quality check in our Netherlands distribution center to catch these prints if they still come through. For the long term, we are investing in more advanced machine that can produce stronger wax models, which will eliminate much of the need for welding altogether!
We hope with this technique, we will simultaneously maintain the integrity of the design while enabling more interesting and "fragile" designs. If you have any questions, or you feel like the welding was done improperly, please e-mail our lovely Customer Service department at service (at) shapeways (dot) com and they will take care of you.