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A new 3D printing material: Alumide


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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 Kristopher Reed (Homepage) on 2010-02-23 18:25 (Reply)
This looks like a great material. I think it should be kept. I'll probably be ordering something this week.
#2 Peter Zich (Homepage) on 2010-02-23 18:27 (Reply)
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?
#3 Glenn Marsh on 2010-02-23 19:12 (Reply)

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.

#4 joris on 2010-02-23 19:32 (Reply)
WHA!! You did it!! This is WONDERFUL! :-)

runs off to spend money on Shapeways models
#5 Anonymous on 2010-02-23 20:05 (Reply)
WHA!! You did it!! This is WONDERFUL!

runs off to spend money on Shapeways models

#6 T. Shawn Johnson on 2010-02-23 20:06 (Reply)
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 George Bell on 2010-02-23 21:30 (Reply)
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

#8 Stijn van der Linden (Homepage) on 2010-02-23 21:56 (Reply)
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 RaisedByWolves on 2010-02-23 22:22 (Reply)
because of the metal dust is it heavyer?
#10 Neil Almond on 2010-02-23 23:01 (Reply)
We're putting up a material detail page, so be patient for a little while. I'll post it here when we have one!

#11 ArnoudV (Homepage) on 2010-02-24 08:52 (Reply)
This looks great. Very close to an ambient occlusion only render from blender. Almost like "Materialization straight from the screen" :-)
#12 Christian Lehmann (Homepage) on 2010-02-24 09:12 (Reply)
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
#13 Michael Williams on 2010-02-24 13:23 (Reply)
Material detail page is online too now:
#14 Arnoud van der Velden on 2010-02-24 14:58 (Reply)
scratch number 1, I see it's already there.
#15 Michael Williams on 2010-02-24 15:14 (Reply)
Very, very nice. One burning question - *is this electrically conductive*? Because, if so, that by itself opens up a vast world of possibilities...
#16 Eric Finley on 2010-02-24 16:27 (Reply)
Oops. How do I unsubscribe from this thread without adding a new response?
#17 George Bell on 2010-02-24 16:54 (Reply)
I don't know I'm afraid.
#18 Joris on 2010-02-24 16:56 (Reply)
Ahhh ... I get it now. There is an "unsubscribe" link on the email you get ...
#19 George Bell on 2010-02-24 16:57 (Reply)

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.
#20 Joris on 2010-02-24 17:13 (Reply)
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. ;-)
#21 Eric Finley on 2010-02-24 17:31 (Reply)
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.
#22 Joris on 2010-02-24 17:40 (Reply)
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
#23 James Foster on 2010-02-25 01:37 (Reply)
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...
#24 Virtox on 2010-02-25 06:00 (Reply)
To my knowledge no one has done this before. It would be interesting to see what it would look like.
#25 Joris on 2010-02-25 08:00 (Reply)
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.
#26 Joris on 2010-02-25 08:01 (Reply)


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.
#27 Joris on 2010-02-25 08:06 (Reply)
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 )
#28 Tommy Strömgren on 2010-02-25 09:57 (Reply)

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.
#29 Joris Peels on 2010-02-25 11:41 (Reply)
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 >:-)
#30 Virtox on 2010-02-25 14:12 (Reply)

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