Author Archives: Blair Georgakas

Announcing a New Evolution for Porcelain

At Shapeways, we’re always innovating in the materials and processes we use to bring your products to life. Innovation and experimentation go hand in hand, and that’s why every material offering is a work in progress. Today, to support the sustainable development of our most innovative material, Porcelain, we’re undertaking a one-time price increase that will allow us to continue offering the material.

As we have evolved the Porcelain manufacturing process (detailed below), we have invested more handcraftsmanship than initially assumed. This has come at a cost to Shapeways, warranting a review of our Porcelain pricing. To enable us to continue to offer what we believe, and hope that you will agree, is a truly special product, we have set the pricing of our Porcelain to a market-competitive $15 per part and $0.13 per cm2 (surface area). We appreciate that any price increase will generate some disappointment. Having said that, this price will allow us to continue to make this truly special product available to our entire community.

We’re currently updating all models, a process that will take until Monday. If you’re a shop owner, make sure to revisit your model pricing on Monday. Once the base prices have changed, you’ll need to assess and adjust your markups. This price increase will not be reflected in the cost of your items to shoppers, which will remain the same — unless the new price of an item exceeds its markup. If that is the case, your markup will need to be reestablished.

If you’ve been with Shapeways for a while, you’ll remember that a year and a half ago we discontinued our legacy ceramics and began the development (completely in-house) of a custom process for 3D printing-enabled Porcelain. We developed a totally unique Porcelain compound which can be cast using 3D printed molds. This has opened up new possibilities for creative textures, surfaces, and geometries, while providing a extremely dense, strong material with low shrinkage — unlike any other 3D printed ceramics on the market. Our Porcelain is food, dishwasher, and oven safe.

Although each piece starts from a 3D printed model, your product is handcrafted throughout the rest of the process. Each product is given so much love and care by our ceramic artists that it is truly unique. We believe that this high-touch model produces the best 3D printed Porcelain available anywhere.

What is the handcrafting process?

In case you are interested, we wanted to share some insight into the production process.

Like other materials, first, each model is checked by our production engineers to ensure that it meets our design guidelines and can be printed. Then, we use special software to design a custom, multi-part mold.  That mold is then printed, cleaned and reassembled. Assembling the mold requires attention to detail to ensure it is clean, which helps the flow of material into the mold, and that it is properly aligned, maintaining the intended the geometry.

A funnel is added to the mold in order to pour and cast the Porcelain material. After casting (that’s right, ours is actually cast, which results in a considerably denser, stronger, more robust finished product as compared with Porcelain that is directly 3d printed), the Porcelain is allowed to dry, the mold is removed, and the Porcelain material is fired in the kiln.

After casting and firing, the real fun starts. A raw model will have seam lines of extra material from the multi-part mold as well as extra material where the spout was placed to pour the Porcelain material in the mold.

A ceramicist carefully removes these seam lines and spout marks using grinding tools. At this stage, any defects that are found on the model are also repaired. Defects are common due to the brittle nature of the material and the extreme amount of thermal stress the material is exposed to during firing. Ceramics can be fired up to 1,370 degrees Celsius, or 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit! In traditional ceramics, artists often create more pieces than they need because a portion of their art breaks or cracks in the process of firing. The repair process can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the complexity of your model.

After repairing, the product is then hand-dipped in glaze and carefully wiped on the base so that glaze does not get stuck to the shelves in the kiln. Depending on the model and glaze, it may also be sprayed with glaze after dipping. Before going into the kiln, each model is carefully checked to make sure all spots and cavities are covered with glaze. Any lumpy areas are smoothed down to ensure even coverage. Finally, your product is then fired again to achieve a glasslike finish.

It may sound easy, but at after each step in the process, your model is carefully inspected for quality and fixed if any defects are found. Our ceramicists maintain the highest quality standards in order to make sure we provide our community with truly amazing products.

This model is more labor-intensive than the techniques we use for other materials, but we believe that it is the best way to produce the amazing products that the Shapeways community is building out of Porcelain. What we have seen thus far has convinced us that there is an amazing future for Porcelain and we look forward to watching the community do even more with it in the future.

10 Custom Gifts You Can Still Get by Dec. 24

The holidays are fast approaching — and so are the last days you can order to get unique, personalized gifts in time for the holidays. In addition to our huge selection of customizable gifts, most of our products are available in dozens of materials and finishes, adding an extra dose of personalization to your gifts.

For maximum flexibility and fastest fabrication times, choose to print your gifts in Shapeways’ Strong and Flexible plastic. It’s the most versatile material we print in, and can be used for a range of products including gadgets, cases, art, accessories, and jewelry.

Below, discover ten personalizable gifts that can still make it in time for Christmas or Hanukkah:

1. Candy Cane Sleigh by Crafted3D

Candy Cane Sleigh by Crafted3D

2. Tesselpus Charm by Kitten Corner

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3. Rocinante Horse Sculpture by Oyma 3D

custom 3

4. Brain Beer Twist Opener by Curiosity Lab

custom 4

5. Customizable 4/4S (5/5S available) Iphone Cat Case by raphaelvertices

Customizable 4/4S (5/5S available) Iphone Cat Cuto by raphaelvertices

6. Kitty Hairstick by Kitten Corner

Kitty Hairstick by Kitten Corner

7. Fidget Sphere – The toy that will help you focus! by Fidget Toys

Fidget Sphere - The toy that will help you focus! by Fidget Toys

8.  LoveSplash Custom 7 capital letters by numarul7

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9. Ribbon Bottlecage – Designed by Daan Mulder by Shapeways Ribbons

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10. Customizable w.Graphic Guitar Pick Toxic by raphaelvertices

custom 10

Don’t see the perfect gift here? All of our customization options are easy to view. Simply check the “customizable” box in the Shop section of the site. And let us know in the comments what custom options you’d like to see on Shapeways.

Black High Definition Acrylate Now Open for Sale! + New Design Guidelines

Earlier this year, we launched Black High Definition Acrylate to our community. The material was such a success, we saw amazing scale model planes, miniature figurines and cool science fiction characters. Our makers were so enthusiastic that we had to rapidly expand capacity to meet demand.  Since then, we tested the material to the limits and learned how to make it better through feedback from the community. We are now ready to open B-HDA up for shop owners to make this material available to their customers.

 

Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways Hereforge, Decapod, Max Grueter

Designers from From left to right: Hereforge, Decapod, Max Grueter

While we expand this material offering, we also wanted to share some changes to our design guidelines based on what we have learned is possible and what is more difficult to print consistently.  Updating the design guidelines was important in order to provide more reliable and higher quality prints to shop owner’s customers.

For B-HDA, the design guidelines are driven by the printing process.  B-HDA uses Direct Light Projection technology where light is projected through a liquid resin which solidifies each layer of a design on a build platform.  As the platform moves up, the next layer is cured by the projected light.  To secure your model to the build platform and support overhangs, intertwined toothpick-sized scaffolds are printed to reinforce your structure.  Since the support structures are the same as the material of the model, they are carefully removed by cutting and can make certain thin walls/wires or complex geometries more difficult to process.

Test wires Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA

Test model for wires in Black High Definition Acrylate

We found that unsupported wires should be a minimum of 0.7 mm thick and supported wires should be a minimum of 0.8 mm thick for wires less than 35 mm in length.  This is determined by our ability to successfully break away support material and clean your model.  Wires that are too thin will break during post processing.  As wires get longer, they typically need to be thicker in order to maintain their strength.  We recommend making your wires 0.1 mm thicker for every additional 20 mm in length over 35 mm to ensure we can post process it without breakage.

Test Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA

Test model for wall thickness

We added similar guidelines for wall thickness.  Walls under 5 mm in length should be a minimum of 0.5 mm thick.  For every additional 20 mm in length over 5 mm, we recommend making supported walls 0.2 mm thicker and unsupported walls 0.25 mm thicker.  The minimum wall thickness is determined by our ability to successfully remove support material without breaking your model and prevent the model from warping.

Finally for hollow models we added a requirement of at least 2 escape holes with a minimum diameter of 6 mm each per interior cavity. Escape holes are important for us to be able to clean the inside of the model and remove any uncured resin.

 

Black High Definition Acrylate Hereforge Shapeways

Designs by Heroforge

Black High Definition Acrylate has been a smash hit material for scale models and prototypes because of its high detail and smooth surface.  It looks great right out of the printer, but also takes well to painting and post-processing.  It’s flexible and durable.  We have seen some incredible products in our factories and can’t wait to see what shop owners are going to make available for sale.

If you have questions or comments about BHDA please join the discussion in our BHDA Shopper material thread here. Do you have a product you are offering for sale here? Share your photos and products in our feature this forum here.