Introducing Three Amazing New Material Finishes

We’re excited to announce three more amazing new material finishes for you to 3D Print in! Introducing the latest and greatest materials to the Shapeways family: Matte Black Steel, Polished Grey Steel, and Polished Nickel Steel, which are all great for jewelry, structural parts, sculptures, and anything else that you would want to 3D Print in steel!

Matte Black Steel has a clean, modern and elegant feel, that will be
sure to complement your new loft space. Polished Grey Steel gives you a more shiny, yet vintage, old school look.
Polished Nickel Steel looks just like a super polished bright stainless
steel. As one of our team members noted, “It may even look more like
Stainless Steel than Stainless Steel itself.”

These new materials belong to the same family tree as our existing Stainless Steel. The price to manufacture in these materials is $9 startup with an additional $8 per cc. (It’s the same price as our current Gold Steel). As for the design rules, they’re exactly the same as our existing steel as well. 

We hope that you’re just as excited as we are about these new
additions, bringing our total number of materials that you can 3D Print
in to 39! Wow, we’re almost 40. We’re starting to feel really, really

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  1. Luis

    Are they really ‘new’? I’m all for increased variations, but it really doesn’t expand the ‘type’ of materials available.



  2. Aaron

    I really like these! I’m wondering if the “grey” is the same as the “gunmetal” patina I’m familiar with being offered by ExOne.

    “Patina” may be too rare a word to use on a consumer-oriented website, but can we start calling post-process variations “finishes”? After 39 material and finish options, calling each finish a “material” is a bit much.

  3. Gary Gergen

    I love the new finishes, I think it absolutely expands Shapeways’ arsenal, especially since I’ll probably be going with nickel coated steel from now on instead of the uncoated steel.

    Keep up the good work! For your next expansion maybe you could add green dye to your strong and flexible category ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Youknowwho4eva

      I second green ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Glenn Slingsby

    Which of these is actually a plating (like the gold, etc)? I love the look, but will not use plated metals on rings; wears off too easily. Will absolutely use them on pendants. Love the Matte Black.

  5. Rith

    I’m also very interested to know if these are plated finishes. Wear and tear is a concern on plated items.

  6. Max

    I’m glad to see these new additions but what is really going to get me excited is when Shapeways will offer multi material printing. Can’t wait till that day.

  7. Natalia

    Hi guys!

    Glad you like them – we love them too!

    To answer the questions:
    Aaron, the grey is indeed the “gunmetal finish” from ExOne, but we like to keep guns off Shapeways so we called it Grey ;-). Plus, it’s grey!

    Glenn, good question on the finishes:
    The Matt black is a patina, which means its a chemical process that makes the metal turn black. With some very vigorous rubbing (we used a dremel actually), it will wear off. Unlike most patinas, this one actually looks good as it wears off, because it reveals the Grey finish underneath. This finish would resist the normal wear that happens on a pendant but it may wear unevenly on a ring, so depending on your design you may not want that.

    The Grey finish is when black wears off. We chemically patina the steel black, then polish it to get the even Grey finish. This would be a great choice for rings, pendants and functional objects.

    The Nickel Finish is a plating, and a strong one at that. It will take a LOT of rubbing to get that off as nickel is much tougher than gold. So this is a good, long lasting choice for rings, and functional objects.

    I can’t wait to see what you guys make!

    1. Glenn Slingsby

      Some people have a nickel allergy, just as some people have an allergic reaction to the stainless steel here. Doesn’t mean everyone will be affected by it.

    2. Aaron

      Thanks Natalia, that was very helpful and clear. As a both a retailer and manufacturer, Shapeways strikes a careful balance between keeping the message simple for customes and giving detail to the designers who are always hungry for more info. I have some great images from ExOne their finishing work. I’ll be happy to share them in the forums or in a blog soon.

  8. thomas

    the bounding box seems to be smaller than before(in two axis). wasnยดt it 1000mm x 450mm x 250mm? is the old format still available?

  9. Wahtah

    No, some people are more likely to develop a nickel allergy, but may not have one yet. It’s better not to expose yourself to nickel because you never know if you are susceptible.

    “It begins with exposure. Even if you’ve inhaled an allergen many times before with no trouble, at some point, for some reason, the body flags it as an invader.”

  10. Wahtah

    This is another interesting article:
    Shapeways, please read this and consider putting up a warning, instead of recommending people to make rings with it.
    “the prevalence of nickel sensitivity is 5% to 15% in women and 0.5% to 1% in men”
    “Nickel sensitivity is not hereditary, it is acquired through intimate and prolonged skin exposure to nickel metal or nickel salts.”
    It even says you might have to stop eating chocolate if you get it, imagine that!

  11. Natalia

    Hey guys,

    You’re all absolutely correct, some people in the population do have a nickel allergy so I should not have recommended it for wearable items! On our materials page, I will add a clear warning about potential nickel allergies.

    Most people with allergies are aware of them, and anyone who has bought cheap jewelry knows that you can tell very quickly if you have a nickel allergy as it causes some irritation. Luckily it is not a grave condition like say, a peanut allergy. That said, I will make it clearer on the materials page and maybe if you ARE creating jewelry items, don’t enable nickel as an option in your shop, or put a clear warning in your own description too.


  12. wahtah

    That’s still not strong enough: it’s not about having an allergy, it’s that the allergy is CAUSED by prolonged contact with nickel. And how can you say not being able to eat chocolate is not serious ๐Ÿ™‚

    and yes, I know I am a pedantic twat…

    1. Glenn Slingsby

      Next thing you know is we’ll be banning peanut butter sandwiches in schools…. oh, wait…

    2. Skippy

      A peanut butter coating on your ring will protect it from Nickel abrasion.

  13. mkroeker

    It is probably not even legal to sell nickelated parts without demonstrably (long term) safe coatings as jewelry in Europe if my reading of the REACH regulation is correct.

  14. Bobbie Jean Pentecost

    Excellent. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am always happy to see Shapways trying out new materials and finishes. However, I do have a few concerns/questions:

    1.) Are we ever going to see larger bounding boxes for the metals (steel, brass, silver, and bronze). Right now, the bounding boxes on these are rather small.

    2.) For stainless steel, are we ever going to see a relaxing of the design rules? That sandcastle business is a nuisance to deal with. Might we ever see that go away?

    3.) Price. Right now, printing certain things can be prohibitively expensive. Will we ever see a comedown in price in general? If not, maybe a comedown in price on the metals? Hopefully?

    4.) Will we ever see moving parts allowed for metals?

    I have a bunch of other quandaries but those are my main concerns. If nothing else, I would love to see larger bounding box limitations for the brass and bronze. In any case, good work guys. ๐Ÿ™‚ I look forward to seeing what you come up with over the coming months.

    1. Glenn Slingsby

      Hey, Bobbie, I know that metal prices *seem* high – and yes, I re-sell my jewellery so the price does affect me greatly, however, if you do some checks you’ll see that Shapeways’ prices are in fact pretty much the best out there.

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