The coolest thing ever, ever: 3D printed stainless steel moebius strip

I officially own the coolest thing ever, ever. I just got a stainless steel 3D printed moebius strip.

It is the model Moebius Ants by Andre Bois. This model has long been one of my favorites on Shapeways. A while back when we were offering our community the chance to make Stainless Steel Ringpoems we did a small trial with our Shop owners. We gave them the chance to order models 3D printed in metal. Their own designs, 3D printed in metal. Whereas 3D printing is ten years old or so(some say 20) 3D printing in metal is a process that is very new. This stuff is going straight out of the lab and into the hands of the Shapeways community. Often with metal 3D printing there are a lot of production issues. The error rate tends to be too high, the finishing is rough or uneven and there are limitations to what you can design. This is why we asked our Shop owners to submit models, so we could field test producing them. I thought it was a great chance to try something out and so I absolutely totally had to get the Moebius ants.

I recieved it just half an hour ago, I’ve been in a complete rush ever since. It is like I’m 12 and I just got the big red bike. So apologies for any spelling mistakes and such. This thing comes is made in one piece, it comes out of the machine in one piece. Its absolutely wonderful and as of right now I officially own and have the coolest thing ever! 

The level of detail and finishing is really good. I didn’t expect it to work this well. The model feels heavy, cold, substantial, smooth. The clinking sound as the ants go round the strip is amazing and somehow I can still not get my head around the whole: the ant’s head is up, I make it go round the strip and now the ant’s head is down. Watch the video of me playing with my ants below. It cost me a $129 and its the best money I’ve ever spent. So, do you guys hope we get this 3D printing in metal sorted? Or not really?


  1. Peter

    There are now words for how awesome this is. Can’t wait for steel as a standard material on shapeways :)

    1. Peter

      uh, make that *no* words. teach me to type too fast

  2. sonkey

    That is wicked! Please make metal printing available soon.

  3. bvicarious

    The stainless steel ring poem I got was so awesome, I badly regret not getting something else if my own printed when I had the chance. It’s remarkable how a change in material can make you think differently about an object.

    1. Joris


      that is interesting. Did you like it better? consider it more ‘expensive’ durable? What exactly?


    2. bvicarious

      Joris, well it definitely felt more durable. I have no other ring poem to compare it to, but I guess I just love the feel of cold steel in my hands. I was also surprised by the print resolution and overall finish (I’m not sure if you guys polished them or anything.) It definitely feels like a finished product, no sanding, staining, dying or anything required unless I want it super shiny.

    3. joris


      We really want to let you guys make finished products. So the look and feel as well as how someone feels when they look and feel is very important to us.

      I’ve been thinking a lot about what finished products would work for the existing materials and dreaming a lot about all the awesome things our community could make with the metals.

    4. bvicarious

      Any material has the potential to look and feel like a finished product. As I roll my ring poem across my desk and watch it swing back and forth, making its distinct clanging metal sound, I find it hard to believe that something like this was printed layer by layer just for me. I think that, in my mind, is what separates it from the rest; I hardly think of it as a rapid prototyped object created with cutting edge technology and only see it as a product in my hand.

      SWF also has this characteristic because its flexibility and strength lend it to making wearables and things that are meant to be handled.

      Another thing about the steel is that if I had printed something like a terrain slice or acorn aball, my first instinct wouldn’t be to make a mold of it and cast it in a different material.

  4. andre.bois

    Wow !
    I can’t say anything.

    I am both proud you did this, and totally envious :-)

    1. Joris


      thank you so much for designing the model! It is great and I’m driving everyone crazy by playing with it non-stop.


  5. T. Shawn Johnson

    Very cool Joris! I’m happily surpised that the ants are not fused to the strip, and that they move freely! have you any idea what the clearance was between the ant bits and the strip?


    1. Joris


      I measured the clearance for you, but I used one of those Stanley Steel tape things and will get more accurate measures when I’m in the office on Monday.

      The outside of the box that the ants sit on has a height of 1cm, the walls of this box are 2mm/3mm. The walls of the strip itself are 3mm. The inside height of the box is 5mm.

      Because of the height is variable as the strip turns and the strip itself is curved the clearance is hard to measure. If you press the ant up against the bottom of the strip and measure the space between the inside of the box and the strip the number is around 0.2/0.3mm.


  6. Shelley Noble

    This is astounding. The way this object came into being is a revolution. Shocking new technology. I am stunned. It heralds a whole new day dawning.

    I would make many things with the technology. My cash funding is non-existent and so I’d only be able to afford small, jewelry-sized pieces. Perhaps the ability to do something like this at smaller scale is still developing?

    I can approximate it now with precious metal clay, the pure silver and other metals mixed with a burn off binder that burns away during firing. I could sculpt a piece, create a mold, and then push the clay in and fire, burnish, etc.

    1. Joris


      I totally agree.

      I’m trying to figure out what the smallest items are that could be made are. But, we already have things 1cm by 1cm by 3mm, so that at least is possible.

      One thing that is important to know if you would want to make small items with this is that the minimum wall thickness is 3mm. This does limit size to a certain extent(as well as influence your design decisions). But, that should be affordable.


  7. DoubT

    Was there any finishig works ? Or that went of 3d printer in such smoooth view?

    1. Joris Peels

      The process 3D prints metal powder, then infuses it with more metal. In this case the resulting model was then polished. But, the other finishing, the bronze colored one is as smooth.

  8. mookiemu

    Wow! I want to get one of my models printed in metal right now!!!!
    Please let us know when this will be available!

    btw, the moebius stip is the coolest thing ever!

Comments are closed.