Very high detail printing… also in wax

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Hi all,

It is being discussed on the forum many times, during last times live cast is was a big topic also after Bart had signed of…..

Very high detail printing

(Check out the text on the side of the test strip below ;-) This model is from Daddy Mack)

To keep you guys updated on what we at Shapeways have done and were we are here is a short update.

We have been looking at very high detail and wax printing for quite some time now and talking to many
suppliers. Some weeks ago I visited a company that has the Envisiontec
. The materials used are RCP30 (Terracotta) and WIC100 (Green =

The XY resolution is 43 micron and the Z voxel height is 25
micron. Overall building volume is 60x45x100mm.

So much for the
tech spec’s….. let check out the results….

The potential is very high with this machine knowing and seeing what can be done with these details in both plastic and wax.

BTW, the Terracotta material is possible to plate…. this give a bit a strange difference with regards to looks and feel, but who knows how this can be useful.

They have been printing some of our models to show what is possible. I was very happy to see the end results and also to learn what and what isn’t possible with this technique.

These are the Shapeways Cufflinks

The Name Connector Ring

The Braille ring by Virtox

So what do you think about this?

How could this be useful for you?

Feel free to let us know…

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  1. Mitchell Jetten

    for miniature,

    have a look at the Polyjet from Objet,, has very good details, good for miniature on the high resolution runs
    also the Envisiontec Ultra for about the same quality as this envisiontec printer, but the Ultra has the biggest building plate, and so can produce more!
    for small stuff the Envisiontec Mini Multi lens is very good! (the best Envisiontec imo)

    Note,, that Envisiontec is not really good for shapeways, this because it doesn’t have support material, so all supports have to be cut away by hand,, also the automate process giving the object his support beams,, is also not really good, thus you have to add supports by hand.

    this model is made with Envisiontec:
    (copy link ;) )

    but that company had to slice the model in 2 parts,, so the innerspace wont be full with supports,, afterwards they glued it, but it won’t like as nice as you see!

    Hope my text makes a bit of sense!?

    1. Dennis

      Hi Mitchell,

      Can you show the same model made with the Polyjet in comparison with a model printed on a envisiontec machine in high definition? I am very curious ;-)

  2. Boing Boing

    The folks at Shapeways — a firm that prints your 3D models using a variety of materials and apparatus — have a new toy to show off: an Envisiontec Aureus, which is very, very accurate — “XY resolution is 43 micron and the Z voxel height is 25 micron.” The resulting models can be plated as well. Very high detail printing… also in wax Shapeways 3D printing by Internet: 500 free beta signups Shapeways interviews Makerbot: 3D printing ahoy! Bruce Sterling interviewed by Shapeways 3D-printed version of the cover illo from Makers Downloadable 3D cover for MAKERS is now also an article of … 3D printer jargon in action 3D-printed math and science sculptures…

  3. Reno

    RHA ! Informations about high detail material ! I was checking this blog every morning, eagerly waiting for THIS.

    Jewelry, for sure, but please let me pray for my church and say it looks like the ultimate material for miniatures, figurines, models. I can’t wait to see one of my model printed with this.
    I was already really pleased by the high detail material you offered 2 weeks ago, but this one seems to have just perfect and neat surface details.

    Do you already have made your choice about this ? Have you already planned a release date for this service ?
    I was planning some big print in one week or two but knowing this, maybe i should wait for this new materail to be introduced ?
    How strong is this material ? Is it really like real wax ? Soft and very subject to heat distortion ? Would it be suitable to produce a useable object ?

    Sorry for all the questions, but this is a really exciting news !

    1. Peter Paul Cornelissen

      Hi. We are LOOKING at this ;-) so we are not yet ready to offer this or any other extreme High detail material apart from our current Detailed materials (

      I am very happy to see how enthusiastic the response is. This always helps to keep the speed high.

      The material is not very fragile but not really strong. It depends what kind of force you apply to it. The wax, compared to some other wax I have seen is very strong. Easy to handle with out breaking. I will ask some one to use a sample as a usable object to find out how long a ring will fit nicely, break, …..

      Nice idea actually….. breakable jewelry.

      Hope this answers some of your questions

  4. fx2

    Any idea about a price range per ccm , given the little machine build volume ? I guess this is great for very little parts (with no details on backface), like railroad scale model bogie side frame, etc

    1. fx2

      Just in case: If you need a 1:87th scale model railroad STL file (bogie side frame, for instance) for your tests, just ask !

    2. Dennis

      There are bigger machines from envisiontec which can print in the same resolution of the samples you have seen on this blog. Dimensions are 90x67x230mm XY resolution 39 micron.

      Details on the back face are still possible. It depends on how the model is supported on the machine ;-)

  5. Phil Culmer

    The wax build could be very good for prototyping – model something in wax, and then use the model for cere perdu casting.

  6. Dizingof

    Hi res wax would be awesome for jewelry , figurine designers etc..

    Hi-res Plastic however, will enable direct sales on shapeways shops of a rigid, aesthetic, practical designs.. without the need for any post production process by the customer.

    Rapid prototyping is one thing, but to really sell durable 3D products on shapeways shops a material such as this need to be available to designers with an affordable cost of course.


  7. HaVoC373

    WoW this is definetly very interesting. i was thinking of making some figurines of a few characters i designed. this would be perfect for that. very nice.
    i cant wait for this to become part of the shapeways lineup

  8. Michael Williams

    You mention in there that you saw what could and couldn’t be printed. What are the limitations? Perhaps with some images of some failed prints?

    1. Peter Paul Cornelissen

      I will take some pictures and post them to show what we have learned with regards to models shapes, support materials, printing directions etc….

    2. Dennis

      Regarding limitations, it depends on what you want to do with your prints ;-)
      If you want to use it for direct casting the models need some body. If you make some thin wires (0,1-0,6mm) design and want to cast this, you should not try this. It is printable but not castable. (Machines of envisiontec can even print in XY 16 micron and and a voxel depth of 15 microns, how about that :-) )

      Also hollow parts were liquid resin can be entrapped inside (without any holes in the design), you should not want to try this. This because it can explode during casting.

      Because this technique is very detailed your STL model need to be in one shell and good quallity. Otherwise this techique is too “expensive” with a bad STL and you will end up disappointed.

    1. Charles Oines

      That’s inspiring. I’d love to see the metal-plated materials offered here.

    2. Peter Paul Cornelissen

      Thanks for sharing this Dennis

      Please feel free to reply to the learning questions below ;-)

  9. ambiguX

    With wax I think of mold/cast model – question is which materials I must mold if I could print it itself …

    1. Dennis

      The green wax based polymer (WIC100) you can cast your model in any metal suitable for cire perdu (lost wax casting). Best way to do this is at a specialised investment casting service bureau.

      The terracotta polymer (RCP30) is an Aluminium Oxide filled polymer for very high detail prints and suitable for making rubber silicone molds. The nice part of this material is that you can sand, drill, polish ect. this stuff

  10. Anonymous

    I’ve been looking for a really high detail material to 3D print in to serve as a positive mold for something I’m making. This would definitely work and would be easy to remove afterwards.

  11. Nicole

    Well as a product manager for a jewelry line, this would be enormously helpful. We already mill things out of that green wax to mold and cast, but the drawback to milling is that it can’t mill round objects. I would love to see pricing on something like this.

    1. Peter Paul Cornelissen

      Hi Nicole,
      We don’t have a pricing system as we are orientating. Hope this phase will not take to long though. If you keep an eye on our blog I’ll make sure I’ll keep you updated.

      So you cast your self?

    2. Nicole

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for the response. We don’t do our own casting, but we work with a very talented gentleman in town that does our models, mills them, molds them, and then pops out a “master” cast piece. Which, if rounded, requires hours of work from our bench jeweler to finish.

      I’ll keep up with your blog for more information!

    3. Dennis

      The nice part of the WIC100 (green stuff) is that you can cast it directly.
      The photo on the blog with the Wire Parabole Ring is a part which is difficult to mill and I have seen the casting result of that part and it looks perfect.
      The terracotta material is suitable for making rubber silicone molds if you want to make large series of one item.

    1. Peter Paul Cornelissen

      Hi got some more info on Glass kiln casting?

    2. Philippe Garenc

      Glass kiln casting is our job. (Check my link to see National Center for Innovation in Glass website, France). We’ve called Joris to present our profile and he helps us on printing in glass my ‘On the Rock’s’ model. I’ve also an interesting exchange with Glen Gardner. I will send you another model next week, after your offer in last night Ustream… I’d like to test enameled glass)
      For kiln casting, there’s no secret: we use a lost-wax process. Important: We add a spruing cup at least 10 times bigger than the model, to put by gravity, pressure in the thinnest parts of the model. Thickness doesn’t go under 2 mm, because at 900°C (temperature we’re melting) glass is a lazy boy and prefers to still round. For the 2 houses models made with lead-glass (, we’ve sticked waxes on a plastic coffee machine cup, that’s all! We use a refractory investment, a plaster:
      If you have some more questions, I will be happy to answer.

  12. Stannum

    People in the miniature field will have a great surprise with the following
    “Matériel RCP 30 résistant à 250 deg C pour réaliser directement ses moules en caoutchouc, froids ou vulcanisés.” (source: Altair Consulting). Digital greens! Maybe long lasting, and even if destroyed, more can be printed anyway!

  13. Anonymous

    Excited to see the terracotta and wax materials. The fact that I can make molds and create multiples to experiment with is a really really great prospect! Can’t wait for more updates from you guys! :-)

  14. Matthew Borgatti

    I’d use this for jewelry, certainly, but I’d also like to try this technique out on small functioning parts for microbots. I think the wax printing/casting option gives me some tremendous flexibility to design parts that I can cast in just about any metal or glass. The high resolution of this printing style is just awesome. I’m picturing all the things I’d like printed this detailed and precise.

    Please get the Aureus. It would change my life.

  15. Antony middleton

    I work at an investment casting plant and we would be very interested to trail this material. Currently we use wax models from thermojet machines. While they burnout fine, the surface finish and dimension accuracy is fairly poor. The only other alternative we have had success with is the Voxeljet pmma models. They burnout pretty well and the voxeljet machine has a massive build volume, something like 800mm x 400x 400. Might be worth looking at that as another option.

    1. Peter Paul Cornelissen

      Got some more info you can mail me Antony?

      Would be great. Peter Paul

  16. Dennis

    A sample of investment casting result of WIC100 models in sterling silver without any treatment after casting

    Quite impressive.. ;-)

  17. Hans van Oerle

    Yes count me in again when you deliver this service!
    I make models that will be cast in polyurethane , my last models I have printed at PrintaPart because I needed a higher resolution but wit this material I will go back to Shapeways.

  18. Grimjier

    YES! Must have material, bringing in this at a reasonable price (and maybe see if there are some partner companies for doing investment casting??) is a major step forward. Cuddos for continuing to investigate more options for us.

  19. Ferlin Pomfrett

    It would be nice to get some of my ship designs in super detail, i am having issues with on in particular trying to resize the 1 mm parts *L*

  20. a.p

    I also would be very interested in high detailed wax print and also white detail with more details at a premium price.

    Reading various forums, lack of high detailed printing seems to be the only thing competitors of shapeway seem to score point .

  21. Christina Westbrook

    It will likely get Shapeways a lot more jewelery types as customers, I’m sure everyone on here would also love to be able to easily cast their pieces in silver or gold.

  22. Glenn Slingsby

    Excellent. Been waiting for this quite a while. Hopefully the price will be decent enough if you do decide to offer it.


  23. Shapeways Blog

    With the introduction of Gold Plated Glossy to our already available Gold Plated Matt and Antique Bronze Glossy and Antique Bronze Matt  Shapeways is currently offering 20 Material options for 3D Printing based on 9 base materials.We are always on the l

  24. David Drummond

    Yes, please! I’m interested in high-detail biological forms — think insects, trees, cutaway cells, protein molecules, trees — and resolution is my main enemy so far. To be able to offer my customers small high-detail objects cast in metal would be a real breakthrough. I envision a whole set of items that would be touched rarely, if at all, in the same way a mounted insect is rarely touched but often admired. Please, bring us high-resolution printing, and definitely bring us metal plating at this resolution!

  25. Mark Kendrick

    These materials would mean I can use parrts straight away instead of having to sand, paint, sand and paint again for a good finish, as I do with current detail materials. The hi-res run you did was good but not consistant.

    1. Dennis

      When the model is printed in “terracotta” RCP30 the model is very smooth without any stairstepping when printed in XY=43microns Z=25microns. You can polish it gently to get a bit of a shiny surface.
      If you have a large high detailed model made in several builds and added some notches for fitting you can glue the parts together very easy. The stitch you can sand and polish if you want. Also very nice is when you glassbead the models :-)

      The green wax you can cast. The model in the green wax are even as smooth as the gypsum of the investment.

      Of course you can paint (airbrush) your models :-) Be carefull you do’nt hide the high res details you have made your design in ;-)

  26. Odd Nydren


    I really hope you add these materials…exactly what I’m looking for to use on a series of rings I’m currently designing…

    Did plan to use a solidscape printer but would prefer to use Shapeways!


  27. Odd Nydren


    What’s the weight/rigidity/hardness/durability of the RCP30 (Terracotta) ?

    Curious to know if its light & strong enough to make an eyewear frame…


  28. Dennis

    These are the properties of RC31 and quite the same for the RCP30 “terracotta”

    Tensile Strength 46 MPa
    Elongation at Break 2.5 %
    Flexural Strength 102 MPa
    Flexural Modulus 3,860 MPa
    Izod Impact-Notched 0.016 kJ/m²
    Maximum Compressive Strength 127 MPa
    Compressive Modulus 4,490 MPa
    Hardness (Shore D) 93.1 Shore
    Water Absorption 0.25 %

    Cleaning, drying, and post curing is to be carried out as described in envisionTEC´s postprocessing instructions for this material.

    Thermal properties:
    Glass Transmission Temperature 42 °C (70 °C)
    HDT @ 0.455 MPa 67 °C (223 °C)
    HDT @ 1.82 MPa 53.6 °C (102 °C)
    Heat resistance after treatment in special oven with special thermal curves

    HDT = Defl ection Temperature
    All data provided is preliminary data and must be verified by the individual user.

    This is info from the material data sheet of envisiontec

    1. Odd Nydren

      Thanks Dennis!!

      I looked at envisiontec but couldnt find the specs :)

      Interesting numbers…harder than strong white it seems! (PA2200 75 shore d)

      Would be cool to know weight and how biocompatible it is…
      (although if this can be plated that shouldnt be a problem)

      If Shapeways decide to do this I hope they get the larger build machine…I would need 135mm minimum for eyewear ;) – fingers crossed! Exciting times…

      cheers //O.

  29. Matthew and Crystal Kidd

    Just adding our voice here to say we’d definitely be highly enthusiastic regarding this type of printing and these materials. Seriously empowering tech here for digital sculptors.

  30. Tim Locke

    Please, Please, Please offer high detail wax at an affordable price!!!! It is exactly what I need for my models. I am looking to get them investment cast in bronze, although their complexity makes it difficult to create a mold for wax patterns. Having the ability to create the wax copies in this method, at a reasonable price, would be tremendous.

  31. David Parks

    Please oh PLEASE put this into production! The custom minature possibilities open up tremendously with this! Please let us break down the 0.2 mm detail barrier.

    Honestly I would probably consider it a defacto standard for when I order if you offer this as many the pieces I want to print have small high detail sections to them.

    Put me down for 10 VOTES!

  32. sciguy

    this would be very useful for small science labs too (like where I am)

  33. Fredrik Bräutigam

    A bit late to the party, but here goes…

    I love the prospect of getting higher detail prints, but since I’m doing N scale train models, the max length of 100mm is too small for many of the models I want to do. A regular modern passenger coach comes in at 165 mm so that’s what I’d like to see.

  34. Nic Terry

    *Waiting in anticipation!!!!*
    I would be using this service a dozen times a week!
    Bring it on!

  35. Mark Kendrick

    Any news on this one? I have a heap of parts that I would print ‘today’ if the very high detail was available.

  36. Addy Mo

    I really hope you add these materials…exactly what I’m looking for to use on a series of rings I’m currently designing..

  37. MIng-Hua Kao

    Can you bring some samples to the Dutch design week booth?

  38. Maethius

    Any word on this or any other hi-rez material?

  39. Gregg

    How long do these parts take to print. Usually time will give an idea of the cost.

  40. cottontail

    Wow. Please do follow through on this Shapeways. The technology would be perfect for custom action figures etc. I wait in anticipation!

  41. juleslondon

    This is a very old thread – but is this still in the works? Printing in this level of detail and in wax would be tremendously useful for the jewelry industry, which is what I would use it for. At the moment, it is too cost prohibitive for small jewelers to get wax models printed for casting. In the UK, the few places that offer this and the casting process refuse to give the waxes or the molds -they keep them at their facilities and charge horrendous metal prices to cast each item! So please bring on wax printing!

  42. Michael Flynn

    The wax models would be great for making cast glass objects… Assuming it could melted out of a refractory mold. Can not wait till you implement this!

  43. JMSiefer

    Any new updates on wax being available for material selection?

    1. Duann

      We are still being held back by 3D printed wax being too fragile to ship.

    2. Anonymous

      Is there a way for you to encase the print in a dissolvable support ? Something like a PVA that you could let soak after you receive the object?

      Keep up the great work Shapeways!

  44. Trevor

    Any plans to use this for doing printing in sterling silver?

  45. yochanan Zweig

    I would actually want to see you start also casting the wax models… in silver, bronze, maybe even gold??

  46. Philip S

    Any more new on hyper detail printing?

    I’m interested in use Shapeways for highly detailed 28mm scale miniatures

    If wax is too fragile to ship, could you cast up a ‘metal master’ in a tin alloy (similar to what you do with Silver) and ship that instead?

    Have you considered using Envisiontec’s High Temperature Materials (HTM140) as that is a lot tougher than wax.



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