Category Archives: 3D Printing Materials

3D printing custom trachea stents

Shapeways offers the chance for designers of all kinds to turn their ideas into reality – be that in the world of tech accessories, fashion innovation, art and design, and in this case, the medical world.

A group of clinicians, architects and engineers teamed together to create 3D printed traechea stents unique to the patient. We spoke with Noah Garcia who is working with Harvard doctors and MIT material specialists to spearhead this new world for airway stents. Starting off with CT scans, the engineers initially started with Formlab printers, but the lack of biocompatible material lead them to Shapeways. While we do not offer 3D printed biocompatible material, our castable wax offering allows the team to create molds that can be used for casting the necessary biocompatible materials. It’s really amazing to see this process – from the files to prototypes to a final wax version, it’s truly amazing to see how innovative this team is. The team has even offered a bronze “pendant” for fun!

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How long have you (and/or members of your team) been in the medical field?
Most of our team has spent the majority of their academic and professional careers in the medical field, while other members of our team have had no medical experience at all. The process of creating custom stents required building a unique collaboration between clinicians, architects and engineers. Our clinical team knows a great deal about biology, physiology, and medical pathology, but little about 3D fabrication/computation, while our architects and engineers know a great deal about 3D fabrication, but little about biology. The crossbreeding of the medical and artistic professions is what has made this project possible. Our team includes George Cheng MD PhD, Erik Folch MD, Sebastian Ochoa MD, Mark Tibbitt PhD, Adam Wilson MS, Noah Garcia BArch, Robert Brik MS, Sidhu Gangadharan MD, and Adnan Majid MD. Dr. George Cheng is a clinician specializing in pulmonary medicine and has been leading this project.

How did you involve 3D printing in your practices? When did that begin?
Dr. Cheng first became interested in the possibilities of 3D printing after reading a 2013 article in the New England Journal of Medicine that detailed how researchers implanted a 3D printed tracheal splint into a pediatric patient with a collapsed airway. He believed that data from a CT scan of the chest could guide the production of airway stents or other airway prostheses. The research efforts were supported by Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology. The origin of the project was further documented in a Boston Globe article last year. Dr. Cheng recognized an opportunity to employ 3D printing technology as means to customize the trachea stents. Traditional stents are rudimentary extrusions, which do not fully represent the specific shape of a person’s airway. Airway obstruction from stenosis, malacia, or extrinsic compression can result in significant respiratory symptoms and decrease in patient’s quality of life. In recognizing that traditional stents may lead to significant complications, Dr.Cheng hypothesized ways to customize and optimize the forms. Traditional airway stents are made of silicone, metal, or hybrid materials, and are limited by their cost and complications. Common complications such as migration and granulation tissue formation may be related to inaccurate stent size and shape. Dr. Cheng and his team developed a workflow using CT scanners to extract 3D models of a patient’s trachea to guide the design of custom stent matched to the individual’s airway. The resulting 3D prints are anatomically accurate seamless surfaces, diagonal grids and circumscribed double ­helixes that follow the contours of a patient’s airway.

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From top left to bottom right, beginning with the CT scan model and ending with 3D prints. The CT scan is manipulated with Rhino and parametric modeling plug-ins. The inner surfaces of the trachea are isolated, a diagonal grid is mapped to the surface and the resulting diagrid is exported as a printable file.

Did you know how to 3D model prior to this project?
The engineers, architects and artists on our team are primarily experienced in digital computation for architectural and sculptural design. The clinicians, on the other hand, are experienced with producing 3D models from CT scanners. By bringing together these two worlds of art and science, we are able to achieve significant 3D modeling possibilities. There were scale and tolerance challenges to address when translating from digital models to 3D prints with certain materials, but we are continually making discoveries during the process. Our current challenge is to use the 3D printed forms to create molds and armatures that can support biocompatible materials. Shapeways’ castable wax material has us hopeful of achieving our goal. We’d hope to one day print in our biocompatible materials directly, but until then, we are limited by the available 3D printable materials. Our ideas are ahead of us in many ways, but we are excited to be learning and exploring the unknown.

Why tracheas? Will you experiment with more areas of the body?
The clinicians on our team specialize in pulmonary care and sub­specializes in the field of interventional pulmonology. One of the major disease entity they encounter is large central airway disease. Trachea stents can be deployed into and removed from an airway through minimal­ invasive procedures in a relatively short amount of time. As compared to a heart stent, which is much smaller and more dynamic, a tracheal stent has fewer variables with easier methods to control. Using the tracheal stent as a starting point, we are considering how our process might be applied to other areas of the body. For now, we are aiming to perfect the trachea stent and then explore how our methods can impact other parts of the body.

It’s fascinating to see and learn more about how 3D printing and the medical world are combining forces. Thank you for such a wonderful interview, Noah! Check out the pendant below, and let us know if you have a medical story to share with us in the comments below or by emailing community @ shapeways.com.

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Opening our Porcelain Material Pilot to All

Ever since we introduced our new Porcelain material, we’ve been amazed at the creations our community has made with it. From vases to coffee cups to figurines, we’ve seen some amazing products come to life. Today, we’re excited to let you know any designer will be able to experiment with this beautiful material as we open up the Porcelain pilot program.

 

 

When Porcelain was first introduced, we kept the pilot closed so that we could work very closely with the designers in the program. Closed pilots (where we let designers in one at a time) allow us to control the maximum capacity so that we can focus on innovating, experimenting and specifying design guidelines. Because we allow designers to virtually make anything they want, we need to limit the capacity so that we can focus on learning before scaling our operation.

 

Porcelain is our first in-house developed material so we want to make sure it is as good as it can be before opening up to a larger group. We knew there would be a lot of questions surrounding such a new material and working with a smaller group allowed us to personally connect with them to help guide the design and printing process.

 

Here’s a few things we’ve learned so far:

 

  • We’ve developed our mold generation software and what types of geometry it can accept

  • We’ve honed our glazes so each unique one looks as brilliant as possible

  • We’ve expanded our team and standardized processes to get ready to scale the operations.

 

 

Because our closed pilot program has been going well, and we’ve been receiving requests from designers dying to join, we’ve decided to open up the pilot to any designer interested in experimenting with this new material. Our goal for this phase of the pilot is to scale up operations and have it ready to offer to shoppers in time for the holidays.

 

 

To sign up for the pilot program, and check out guidelines on designing for Porcelain, check out the Porcelain Material Page. Join the conversation on our forum to find comments, questions and other great designs being made.

 

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

 

Mani Zamani’s Epic 3D Printed Toy Collection

Shapeways allows designers to leverage 3D printing in an interesting way, whether they are making innovative designs, custom products, or designs that are simply not possible without the use of 3D printing. A very eye catching Shapeways shop by designer Mani Zamani creates incredible SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) 3D printed toys that wouldn’t otherwise be possible without 3D printing technology.

Mani’s 3D printed toy collection called “Extra Terestri Aristocrats” are printed in our nylon plastic material and are available in various dyed colors. His toy designs are unique and take on complex and unimagined shapes. Some of his toy designs are printed with moving parts and are fully articulated without any assembly straight from the 3D printers.

 

 

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Here is a video of some of the models of Mani’s 3D printed toy collection which are also available for sale on his Shapeways shop.

Have you ever designed a 3D printed toy? If not our nylon plastic material is a great material for pushing the limits for what traditional toys are suppose to look like. Explore more 3D printed toys and creative designs from our community on our marketplace here.

Introducing Our Coolest Material Yet – Moon Dust!

Last year, 3D printers took off to print in space. Now, Shapeways is incredibly thrilled to announce that we’ve added the most innovative material to our portfolio yet – moon dust. Our engineers obtained samples from our friends at NASA  and developed a unique method for leveraging our current SLS printers to 3D print with this groundbreaking material.

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Moon dust surprisingly shares many of the same properties as the nylon powder we use in our SLS printers, so the design guidelines are the same. The finished product, though, has an extraordinary characteristic: a silver shimmer that only appears when held under moonlight. In daylight or under indoor lighting, moon dust products will have the same coloration as the color that we see the moon – a nice light gray with some white gradation. When held under moonlight, however, moon dust products have a beautiful, sparkly quality to them. Imagine how you will wow your family and friends with a smart phone case or bow tie that sparkles under moonlight, like the ones our community member created below!

Stay tuned for more details on our moon dust material, which we’ll open up to the public on the date of the next full moon. In the meantime use #ShapewaysMoonDust to let us know what you will design with this exciting new 3D printing material.

Happy creating!

 

Bigger is Better for Shapeways 3D Printing Bounding Box

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Have you had to update everything from your case to your jean pocket size since upgrading your phone? We too have adapted to the bigger-is-better trend taking the product world by storm.

Announcing a Bigger Polished Strong & Flexible Bounding Box!

Thanks to a little R&D, we are excited to expand our current bounding box limitation for Dyed & White Strong & Flexible Polished from 150 x 150 x 150mm to 150 x 150 x 200mm!

This means that our entire Strong & Flexible Plastic family is iPhone 6 Plus case friendly! We look forward to seeing the colorful creations you polish with this expanded bounding box.

What other bounding boxes do you wish would expand?

Introducing 3D Printed Porcelain & Saying Goodbye to Our Current Ceramics Offering

We’re really excited to share a new, exclusive material at Shapeways: 3D printed porcelain.

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3D Printed Porcelain R&D

For the past year and a half, we’ve been exploring new options for ceramics based on the feedback we’ve heard loud and clear from our community. You told us that you want ceramics that are faster, more durable, more functional, and more colorful. This material didn’t exist, but that didn’t stop us. We created an R&D taskforce who have been working hard in our secret lab to develop a new way of 3D printing beautiful, durable porcelain. This is our first major investment in end to end material R&D.

The new 3D printed porcelain is groundbreaking, with quality and detail that mirrors traditional ceramics processes and the design flexibility of 3D printing. Utilizing a castable porcelain body created by Dr. Stuart Uram of Core Cast Ceramics with the support of Albert Pfarr, we developed an innovative process for producing 3D printed porcelain products. By combining the SLS printers that produce our Strong and Flexible Plastic with an innovative porcelain casting process, we can create detailed and durable products that are fired and glazed just like conventional ceramics. Using the best of 3D printing and traditional ceramics, we’re able to create the sort of quality you could only find in high end, handmade porcelain.

Here’s what you can expect from 3D printed porcelain, only available at Shapeways:

  • Amazing Colors – From cobalt blue to matte black, 3D Printed Porcelain will be available in classic colors that call upon the porcelain tradition.
  • Durable & Functional – Porcelain is dishwasher, oven, and microwave safe. You can even make baking dishes and pizza stones!
  • Gorgeous Detail – Porcelain enables you to design with very high detail and thin, translucent glazes.
  • Big & Bold – The strength enables thick and larger products, so we’ll be able to help you scale to the whims of your imagination.

 

Community R&D and Pilot

To start, 3D printed porcelain will be available in a limited pilot with the goal of improving our process and design guidelines. When we are ready to deliver amazing results to the masses, we’ll open this up as a material available for sale to shoppers in our marketplace.

If you are an experienced designer and would like to be considered for the pilot, Sign up here. We’ll start with a small group and expand as we learn more.

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What does this mean for the current 3D printed ceramics?

You have probably noticed that ceramics has been plagued with problems for a while. For the last several months, our production partner for ceramics has been operating with significant delays. In order to ensure we set the right expectations, we’ve had to increase lead times from 13 days to 18 days to 22 days over the course of the last year.

At 22 days, our production partner was only shipping at 30% on time, which is simply unacceptable. We increased lead time to 45 days in October to set more accurate expectations, but whether you’re creating products for your business or waiting for a gift, these delays are unacceptable.

Given the uncertainty and delays, we had to make a hard decision and, as of today, will stop offering the current ceramics materials for the foreseeable future. Designers selling in ceramics are in the loop and will be key partners for us in the pilot and future R&D. We’re incredibly disappointed to have to take this step, but you deserve better.

Still reading?
Our goal is to make 3D printing affordable and accessible so that you can make amazing products. Unfortunately, current 3D printed ceramics just didn’t cut it anymore. We’re excited to bring an entirely new material to the design community and more than anything else, we cannot wait to see what you make! Here’s a teaser of porcelain in action:

Shapeways Launches SVX, a Voxel Based File Format for 3D Printing

Shapeways has created a new SVX format for transmitting voxel data for 3D printing. After much research we found no existing format that satisfied our requirements. Our primary design priorities are simple definition, ease of implementation, and extensibility. There are plenty of things you could dislike about the STL format, but it’s brevity and simple implementation are not one of them.

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A voxel is a 3D dimensional pixel. Most 3D printers work internally with voxel like representations. Your 3D model is sliced into 2D image slices, each pixel represents a dot of material that the printer builds your object with. Voxel formats allow direct control over those dots. One promise of 3D printing is that complexity is free. Sadly with STL files we’ve had the disconnect that more complexity equals more triangles equals larger files. Above a certain limit you just can’t use triangles to specify the details you want in a 3D printed model. Whether that information be material allocation, density, RGB color both internal and external or a custom id that could be used for another variable, not yet available in the 3D printers on the market.

Another area that is interesting for voxel usage is in making printable objects. A mesh for 3D printing needs to meet certain mathematical properties. It is easier to write voxel software that meets these demands. This makes the barrier to entry much lower for writing creators and its especially easy to include 2D imagery into your designs. See ShapeJS for some examples. One area that is typically tricky is turning voxels into triangles. We’ve worked hard to provide some nice routines for much high quality conversion to triangles when necessary. When you upload a voxel model to Shapeways you’ll be leveraging that work, just concentrate on making the voxels right and we’ll handle the triangles if needed.

You can view the new format specification at: SVX Format. We’ve added support for voxel uploads at Shapeways so you can start sending full resolution voxel files now!

Mission Print: Shapeways Partners with Future Engineers to 3D Print Tools Designed by Students for Astronauts in Space

“Your Challenge, Should You Choose to Accept, Is To Design A Space Tool”

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Photo courtesy of SpaceX

This weekend, the first 3D printer launched into space.  This week, we’re proud to announce our partnership with Future Engineers, ASME and Made In Space on a series of NASA developed Space Challenges meant to empower innovative youth to design tools that can be printed and used in space.

Video courtesy of FutureEngineers.org

Together, we are about to make history. Today marks the beginning of manufacturing in space. Are you ready to take on the #MissionPrint Challenge? Here’s the launch video of SpaceX-4 that just successfully carried the Made In Space Zero-G 3D Printer to the ISS:

Video courtesy of SpaceX

Hearing mission control say “…and we have liftoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket and Dragon. CRS-4 is underway. A US commercial spacecraft launching from American soil delivers new technology and science to the International Space Station,” gives me and hopefully every other space lover chills. Knowing that that “new technology” is one that we all are fortunate enough to experiment with every day, the ability to additively manufacture on demand through 3D Printing, is inspiring. Remember, there is no overnight shipping to space; and it is physically impossible to traditionally manufacture parts in a space environment. We really are witnessing, and taking an active part in, making history.

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Screen Shots here and below courtesy of FutureEngineers.org

This is the first in a series of NASA developed 3D Space Challenges that Future Engineers and our other out-of-this-world partners are happy to share with the Shapeways community. Encourage every K-12 student you know interested in 3D Printing to check it out, and remember, ALL students (university, college, trade schools, and professors too) get 10% off ALL their prints at Shapeways ALL the time. What a great excuse to “ground print” and prototype your space tools with us.

Shapeways prints

Tools designed for this challenge are judged on the following well-rounded criteria:

  • 40 Points – Innovation and Creativity of the Solution
  • 20 Points – Ability to communicate the design through the Text Description and/or Finalist Interview
  • 20 Points – Quality of the 3D Modeled Geometry and compliance with the Design Guidelines
  • 20 Points - Usefulness of the design in a Space Environment

Astronaut Doug Wheelock explains further:

Video courtesy of FutureEngineers.org

Kids are powering innovative developments in 3D Printing across the unique web of our industry’s reach. They are opening shops on Shapeways, printing on desktop printers in their classrooms, and mod-ing their toys at home. There are dozen of touching stories of kids literally enabling the future of 3D printed prosthetics. And perhaps most profound of all, they can see what we can’t. Young minds aren’t limited by the bounds of conventional design and manufacturing constraints. Freed of this parameter, they are capable of leveraging the technology and materials available in unique new ways. Inspired by their potential, Future Engineers has an awesome lineup of prizes for the top contestants. The winner of the challenge will even have their tool printed in Zero-G’s on the ISS and get to watch live from Mission Control.  While the #MissionPrint Future Engineers contest is for K-12 students in the US only, we will be featuring innovative designs by makers of all ages on our blog between now and when winners are announced on January 30th, 2015.

Here’s a snapshot of the contest deadlines, for full details check out FutureEngineers.org.

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Are you ready to accept the #MissionPrint Challenge, stop dreaming and start doing? Keep us posted on your progress in our Space Forum and be sure and tag your space tools #MissionPrint. The best way to ensure your products will be astronaut-ready is to prototype on the ground, and we can’t wait to help.

To infinity… and 3D Printing beyond Earth!

 

 

Made In Space and SpaceX to Deliver First 3D Printer to Space

Imagine… being able to design tools for astronauts in outer space, that could be printed in space, using materials found right there, out in the galaxy. Sound like the start of next Armageddon-esk blockbuster? Well, it’s not.

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Launching today, is SpaceX CRS-4, another historic Dragon spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station; but this time, it carries more than supplies and moustronauts. This spacecraft is taking a specially tested, groundbreaking new 3D Printer designed by the our friends at Made In Space, to the International Space Station for it’s first in-space testing. This marks the start of a new era, the first step in bringing on-demand additive manufacturing to outer space.

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There are many challenges when designing for printing in 3D. For starters, there’s nothing to hold anything material in microgravity. Even after solving the gravity dilemma, the printer has to get off the ground, and endure 9G’s of force during launch. Ensuring precision with an extruder stabilized by no gravitational force was a problem our friends at Made In Space were committed to solving. After four years of extensive testing on microgravity flights and research at their NASA Ames office, their dream of 3D Printing of space is now being realized. You can watch the this historic moment live during the wee hours of the morning, a sleep sacrifice I’m personally more than willing to make.

After this initial round of tests, including the printing of 21 demonstration parts, Made In Space looks to recycle broken tools, space waste, and even regolith (aka moon dust) as material for the printer. The fact that this space man could be made of the moon dust we first saw Buzz Aldrin’s footprint in someday, quite soon, is absolutely mind blowing.

Astronaute Wireframe by Vidal Design

Oh, and about those Moustronauts. SpaceX will also carry 20 mice that will live on the ISS for 6 months, approximately a quarter of their lifetime, allowing scientists to study the effects of prolonged zero gravity exposure. This data can then be extrapolated out to apply to human life and weightlessness tolerances. Currently, astronauts spend six months in space at a time, missions to mars could take two years or more. The only way to see the effects of prolonged space travel, is to get help from our furry rodent friends. I can’t help but wonder, if things get out of control, will they have to 3D Print mousetraps?

All jokes aside, what is the biggest challenge you see with 3D Printing tools in space? What tools do you want to design for astronauts?

 

Full Color Plastic 3D Print Material Torture Test Video

We are testing Full Color Plastic 3D Printing at Shapeways and what better way to test than with material torture videos.  We 3D printed a few basic parts to test for strength, flexibility, water and fire resistance.

Take a look at the video above to see the material under all of the different torture tests (oh, I was gentle as I wanted to test some of the parts in real world applications).  Overall while the material is not as refined or durable as SLS Nylon, which is the benchmark to which I compare all 3D printed materials, you can still do interlocking parts AND it is in almost full color (CMY, no K).
Shapeways Full Color Plastic 3D Printing is Flexible ish

The material is not as strong as our popular Nylon SLS material but is definitely less brittle then Full Color Sandstone.  At 3mm thickness the material is relatively stiff with only a small amount of flexibility (depending on geometry) yet at 1.5mm thickness the parts flex quite easily, to the point where the material may fail after just a few cycles of bending.  At 1mm thickness of wires, the prints can be very easily broken with very little effort so I really recommend at least 2mm walls/wires unless you never, ever intend to  touch your 3D prints.

Shapeways Full Color Plastic 3D Printing is machinable

I also gave the material a quick grind with a Dremel which the full color plastic held up fairly well to.  If you have a printed part that fits on an existing component that is too tight, you could easily and reliably grind away excess material with a clean finish.  I imagine it would respond to sanding with similar success as the color is impregnated approximately 2mm into the surface of the 3D prints, you could smooth the parts without removing all the color as long as you are not too heavy handed.  I am still experimenting with the parts in a tumbler to see if we can automate the smoothing process.

Shapeways Full Color Plastic 3D Printing is Waterproof

I am quite excited that the full color plastic is entirely waterproof, after soaking for over 24 hours there is no bleeding of colors, no degradation of material strength, stiffness or any swelling.  I have not had a chance to really UV test the pigments but as far as moisture is concerned this could be used for outdoor applications.

Shapeways Full Color Plastic 3D Printing is flamable

Another concern may be exposure to heat, the material feels as though it will deform under high temperatures but it definitely catches fire easily and stays alight emitting a terrible smell. So please do not expose you full color plastic 3D prints to exposed flames.

If you have any other tests you would like me to do to our Full Color Plastic, please leave a comment in the blog.

Full Color Plastic 3D Prints from the Shapeways Community

The first wave of full color plastic 3D prints are starting to appear on the Shapeways forums showing the level of color saturation, material strength and precision that you can expect with your full color 3D prints.

3D printed full color plastic flowers Shapeways

Barratomica seems to have the best results so far with his full color plastic flower rings showing a nice color palette and regular, organic forms.

Others are having less success with their full color plastic 3D prints including our very own Mitchell with his scale model trains.  The colors in his model are not as crisp with a sligthly faded look to them as Multihawk also found with his prints.

As you can see below his full color plastic 3D prints look quite faded with some white spots evident on the surface and colors bleeding.  This may be in part because of the relatively small size of Multihak’s mini figurines, it would be interesting to see the exact same models in full color sandstone to compare.

Multihawk also experienced some warping in the thin areas of his small model as did Lensman with his Icicle and Stalactite Pendants Models where the small tips of the pendants were warped.  These models are also relatively small with a total length of around 5cm and just over 1cm at the widest point.  From this we may be able to deduct that the parts may go through some thermal shock after the printing process that is introducing this warpage.  As we learn more about this machine and the post processing we may be able to reduce this warpage that some designers are experiencing.

Thank you to all that are sharing their results in the It Arrived forum on Shapeways, we really appreciate your feedback as the more you tell us the more we learn.  Keep them coming.

Watch Shapeways Elasto Plastic 3D Prints Burn (VIDEO)

Ok, before we move on to more 3D printed material tests, we need to burn all that lay before us, including Shapeways Elasto Plastic 3D prints. In this material torture test we set that bad boy on fire and watch it burn, dripping like flaming napalm onto the floor.  Please keep your Elasto Plastic 3D prints away from naked flames because it catches afire easily, stays alight and drips terrible flaming plastics that is not so easily extinguished.

 

 

SnowWhite a Low (ish) Priced ‘Cold’ SLS 3D Printer Currently in Development in Italy

The SLS 3D printer market is looking to be shaken up with yet another (relatively) low price SLS 3D printer currently in the research and development stage in Italy.  The SnowWhite is a cold SLS 3D printer by Sharebot that they are getting ready to unveil at the London 3D Printshow.

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Looking at the images they are still early on in the process, using a round piston as a print bed (round pistons are easier, ask Andreas Bastian with his Open SLS project) and a fairly small build area.  With the industrial 3D printers Shapeways uses for SLS 3D printing made by EOS, we heat the Nylon powder to just below melting point, then the laser raises the temperature only slightly to sinter the material from powder to solid.  Sintering the Nylon without pre-heating may cause greater thermal shock to the parts, and increase the power required of the laser, but it may also make it faster to cool down which could be a huge advantage to getting prototypes out faster.

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To get some insight from someone who has actually experimented with ‘cold SLS’ I asked Andreas Bastian to see if he could see an advantage over ‘pre-heated’ SLS.

I would be hard-pressed to list the performance advantages of cold SLS– while it saves on energy and BOM cost, the thermal gradient the material is subjected to is significantly larger (possibly leading to material degradation) and the curling/warping due to the massive thermal contractions of the material require support (really restraint) structures.  It’s the heated chamber in SLS that allows such freedom of form and geometry– an unheated SLS machine will have nearly all the same geometry constraints as an FDM machine, including the necessity of adhering the print to a build surface.  That being said, support/restraint structures for SLS are new territory and there may be viable options there.  As many of the low-cost FDM machines have demonstrated, it may not be necessary to fully replicate the process used at the industry level (heated chambers).  That being said, I would like to see some ASTM D638 tensile testing data before I print any functional parts on their system.

Sharebot are pitching the SnowWhite SLS 3D printer to sell for under $26,000 USD when it hits the market to join the Ice 1 & Ice 9 by Norge Systems  in the first wave of relatively low cost SLS 3D printers that may spread in a similar manner as FDM 3D printers have over the past 4 years.

More Videos of Shapeways 3D Printed Materials Torture Testing with FIRE

In the previous Shapeways Material Torture Test I set fire to our base materials in the Shapeways Sample pack.  Today I want to share a few more detailed videos showing how each material burns using a larger 3D print.   In this post we will take a look at our SLS Nylon, SLS Metallic Plastic (Alumide) which is a Nylon and Aluminum composite, and Full Color Sandstone which is made of Gypsum powder, bound together with an adhesive then soaked in Cyanoacrylate (super glue).

Take a look first at our most popular material, 3D printed Nylon (WSF).

It does catch fire fairly easily but seems to extinguish itself after a short time based on this geometry.  The Nylon melts into a hot, smelly napalm type form then cools and hardens fairly quickly.  Do not try this at home. Do not expose your Nylon 3D prints to fire.

Next we set fire to the 3D Printed Metallic Plastic (Alumide) which is a Nylon and Aluminum powder based 3D printing process.  It does catch fire very easily and stays alight, dripping a really nasty powdery, smelly hot napalm type goop, literally dripping fire.  You should really keep your Metallic Plastic (Alumide) 3D prints away from exposed fire. Really.

Setting fire to Shapeways 3D Printed Full Color Sandstone (Gypsum Powder, Binder, Ink and Cyanoacrylate) which is a powder based 3D printing process developed by Zcorp.  It does catch fire quite easily and stays alight, burning slowly and steadily.    The smell is not to noxious, smelling a little like burnt paper or cardboard.  After 6 minutes the 3D print was still burning so I blew it out to save the boredom.

All three of these 3D printed materials should definitely be kept away from naked flames.

The First Desktop SLS 3D Printer Now on Kickstarter

We have seen many FDM 3D Printers, a couple of SLA and even a few DLP 3D printers launch on Kickstarter, now the first of the much awaited SLS machines are starting to test the ravenous market for 3D printers.

DIY SLS 3D Printer on Kickstarter

SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) is the core technology behind our 3D Printed Nylon (white strong & flexible) 3D printing at Shapeways, one of our most popular materials.  The SLS process is by far the most versatile as the powder surrounding a sintered part acts as support material, so you can make complex, interlocking parts, with overhanging parts, cantilevers, holes in multiple directions, and hinged parts fully assembled, the excess powder is then brushed and blown away to reveal the part.  No nasty support material or structures to deal with.  In short, it is an incredibly versatile process.

The process is called Sintering, because the layer of powder is heated up to just below melting point, the laser then follows and melts the powder turning it into a solid, without it going to liquid form first.  This helps to control the material warpage and thermal shock so the 3D prints are accurate and strong.

The Ice 1 & Ice 9 by Norge Systems may be the first SLS 3D printer available at a price that is affordable for a small design firm at just over $8,000 USD at current exchange rates for the smaller Ice 1 on Kickstarter which has a Build volume: 200x200x250 mm Layer thickness: 0.1 – 0.15mm.  Not Shabby.  The Ice 9 promises a Build volume: 300x300x450 mm at a price point closer to $35,000 USD.

Ice9, the first low budget 3D SLS printer! from Norge Ltd on Vimeo.

To temper excitement, (oh, and I am VERY excited) the units are proposed to ship in December 2015 which is quite a wait if you have dropped $8,000 as a backer, coupled with the tendency for hardware on Kickstarter to ship late.  The video shows the printer in action, but does not show the printed part as traced by the laser, they do show a different 3D printed part being pulled from the powder so perhaps the machine is not quite fully functional yet.

If you have the cash and patience I would really love to see this unit hit the market so please do support this project and the designers behind it.  Meanwhile there seems to be another play flirting with the desktop (ok, maybe a little big for your actual desk) market with an eerily similar logo to Norge. The videos by Sintratec look to be a little further on in the machine development.

Keep your eyes peeled, either way, the SLS market is going to change, maybe not in the exact same way as the FDM 3D printer market, but it will change.