Fridays at 5 is our regular Google hangout where you get to ask Shapeways Engineers your questions about 3D Printing with Shapeways. Last week we talked about the upcoming launch of our new elasto material, how we 3D print our high detail acrylic and we set fire to a couple of Nylon and Full Color 3D prints to prove they are not suitable to put into a kiln.
Join us again this Friday to ask your questions or enter them in the comments of the blog so we can be sure to address them first. We are beginning to record these sessions so that we have an archive of answers to your 3D printing questions, thanks to Todd Blatt for the screen capture and 'interesting' questions.
We introduced beautiful jewelry grade premium silver 3D printing to Shapeways in early March and we have seen so many amazing designs in the Shapeways marketplace that we would like to continue premium silver as a permanent material on Shapeways but we need your input.
The current trial is set to end this Tuesday the 14th of May so you only have a few days left to get your orders in and give us some feedback before we make any changes to the design rules and pricing structure.
If you already have your design 3D printed in premium silver please share the URL for your product page in the comments on the blog so the entire Shapeways team (and community) can take a look. Also let us know what you think of the premium silver 3D printing, how it compares to our other silver and what you would like to see next.
Fridays at 5 in the Factory (NYC time) is a Google Hangout to give you an opportunity to ask the Shapeways 3D printing engineers your questions about Shapeways materials, processes and how to design for success. We had an impromptu hangout last Friday that included a brief introduction to some of the Shapeways team along with a shaky, noisy virtual tour of the factory.
UPDATE: It seems like our experiment worked for one day only, Happy April Fools Day.
While looking for a way to recycle our excess Nylon powder we found a way for anyone to 3D print at home with an iPhone and a magnifying glass.
At Shapeways we recycle most of the Nylon powder from our industrial 3D printing process but sometimes the powder does not meet the standard required for use in our 3D printers. We were looking at the testing process when we made a really exciting discovery, with a tightly focused beam of light you can solidify the Nylon powder into a solid.
We did some experiments and discovered a way that anyone can 3D print at home using an iPhone and a magnifying glass with our Nylon powder. Take a look at the simple video below and email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can send you (for the cost of shipping) some of our excess Nylon for you to try at home.
When a small part for Shapeways community member Mitagaki's Panasonic Bread maker broke he looked everywhere for a replacement part. The manufacturer no longer supported the model so what was a $5 replacement part became unobtainable and the $200 appliance was rendered worthless.
Rather than throwing the entire appliance away, Mitagaki 3D modeled a copy of the broken ceramic part and then 3D printed it in ceramics with Shapeways.
The Desktop Factory Competition launched in June 2012 challenged makers to design a cheap, open source method to turn plastic pellets (which sell for $10 kg) into filament suitable for a desktop 3D printer (that currently sells for $50 per kg). 83 Year old inventor Hugh Lyman developed the Lyman Filament Extruder II which for under $250 in parts can take standard plastic ABS pellets and squeeze them into filament.
The fact that this device is released as open source hardware means that others can modify and improve the mechanism to lower the cost and increase the efficiency, just as we have seen with the open source desktop 3D printers based on the RepRap.
Not only will this result in a massive reduction in the cost of raw 3D printing media, but it is also a very small step away from being able to grind and reuse failed 3D prints to feed into fresh new filament, or perhaps adding conductive media into the hopper to create filament suitable for making basic elctronic circuitry, or any type of tweak to customize the base material.
The speed of innovation in the open source 3D printing world is making many of the large industrial 3D printer manufacturers appear to be moving in slow motion. We are not seeing the same rate of innovation in machines nor materials and we at Shapeways would LOVE to have new materials to share, or have a way to drop the material cost by a factor of five or ten as we see made possible by innovations like the The Lyman Filament Extruder.
Congratulations to Hugh Lyman who scored a giant $40,000 cheque for his invention and the respect of thousands of makers around the world.
Anyone who owns a desktop 3D printer knows that sometimes you need to replace some of the components to optimize performance. In many cases you can simply 3D print a replacement part with your 3D printer which is an incredibly rewarding process of self sufficiency but when it is a critical component that stops the 3D printer from functioning properly it can quickly become frustrating dead end.
Shapeways community member Schlem discovered the extruder gears that came with his Printbot Kit were warped and his 3D printer was not functioning properly. Of course a non functioning 3D printer can not 3D print repair parts so he used Shapeways to 3D print his replacement parts in laser sintered Nylon. By using Shapeways to 3D print the parts for his 3D printer he now has a more durable, higher resolution part that will make his desktop 3D printer more accurate and reliable.
He also made it possible to make the 3D printer even more awesome by designing the Skulltruder, adding a little gothic bling to what is essentially an engineering project.
If you have any 3D parts to share on Shapeways, be sure to tag them '3D Printer' and the type of 3D printer they are for so others can easily find them and repair their 3D printer too.
We have just raised the bar for Silver 3D printing at Shapeways with the introduction of Premium Silver.
Premium Silver is our 3D printed Sterling Silver taken to the next level with an incredibly smooth, glossy surface to give your designs a truly professional finish. We will be offering Premium Silver for a six week trial until Tuesday May the 14th, during which we will assess the pricing and design rules. If you love this new finish as much as we already do, we will keep it as a permanent material option on Shapeways.
3D Printing is not only about mouse clicks and lasers, there is also a lot of hands-on work required to take an item from bits to atoms, that is why we are always looking for talented people to help make things real in our Eindhoven and New York offices. Every model is lovingly removed from the various 3D printers, cleaned (sometimes dyed) and shipped around the world. We do not always get to see what you then do to the parts, what post processing you undertake to make them even more beautiful, but when we do, it inspires us and makes all of the long hours worthwhile.
Since we introduced Sterling Silver to our material catalog we have seen a lot of beautiful 3D printed jewelry in the Shapeways gallery making the most of the beautiful material. Our Sterling Silver is first printed in wax then cast in silver using traditional techniques so in the end you have pure Sterling Silver in a standard or glossy finish.
Check out this 3D Printed Sterling Silver which shows the beautiful, crisp details and shine of the glossy finish. Sometimes with the standard finish you will still see build lines in the silver from the process of 3D printing the wax for the silver. With the glossy finish, we spend a little more time to buff these out but you may still sometimes see the build lines and unpolished areas in the hard to reach areas. In some instances such as the Ancient Dragon Skull Pendant, this can help to add definition to the design.
What do you think of the Silver finish? Have you printed any of your designs in Sterling Silver at Shapeways yet?
As we see more and more fashion designers like Kimberly Ovitz embrace 3D printing as a way to take their designs direct to market we need to discuss what directions are most suitable to be explored in 3D printing fashion. Jewelry is an easy win when we can 3D print items in materials such as Stainless Steel and Sterling Silver but we are also seeing more and more textile like geometries being 3D printed in Nylon to create digital fabrics.
Eyebeam in New York City is hosting a panel discussion on Fashion Innovations in 3D Printing on the 27th of February to explore the intersection between fashion and 3D printing highlighting collaborations between fashion designers, technologists and manufacturers such as Shapeways.
As part of the Computational Fashion program series, Eyebeam presents an exciting event featuring designers and producers using cutting edge 3D printing techniques to push the boundaries of fashion. From the runway to the DIY hackerspace, 3D printing and rapid prototyping have become an increasingly popular and accessible way to produce objects that are both highly complex and easily replicable.
Joris Debo, Creative Director (.MGX by Materialise)
Using an aerosol jet technology, Optomec are able to 3D print electronics onto complex 3D printed structures with conductive nano particles. The potential to add 3D printed conductive components to your designs will be a massive step forward in 3D printing when you can add another level of complexity to the products you design.
It will be interesting to see how 3D CAD software will approach this technology, because without the proliferation of software to design these electronic components, the adoption of the technology will be relatively limited. Similar to the ability to 3D print mulit-materials with the Objet Connex machines, it is the software and file handling that is still retarding the adoption of the process at Shapeways.
The demand for novel consumer and military electronic devices that pack more functionality into less space is driving the need for advanced manufacturing methods that tightly integrate electronic circuitry with physical packaging. 3D Printed UAV Wing The unique ability to print electronics directly onto 3D surfaces, for example on a cell phone case or an aircraft wing, makes Aerosol Jet an ideal solution for reducing device size and weight. Common electronic materials including conductor, dielectric, resistor, and semiconductor inks can be processed by the Aerosol Jet system to print conformal sensors, antennae, shielding and other active and passive components. Printing these electronic components directly on or inside the physical device eliminates the need for separate printed circuit boards, cabling and wiring thereby reducing weight and size while also simplifying the assembly process. Device performance can also be improved by eliminating protruding components such as antenna thereby reducing aerodynamic drag.
When you can 3D print electronics, what will you design? How much is the ability worth to you? Do you think this will be another game changer?