Category Archives: 3D Printing Materials

BHDA Finishing Tips and Techniques: Support and Nub Removal

BHDA — or black high definition acrylate — is the most recent material added to our roster. Starting as a maker material, BHDA was released this fall to all shoppers because of its amazing detail, finish, durability, and color. However, this material does have one aspect that’s somewhat unusual for Shapeways: models are printed with support structures. Until today, we removed the supports from all models during post-processing in our factory. But, this went beyond what many of our makers wanted. So, starting today, to give you more flexibility around the way your models look, you now have the option to receive your BHDA models with supports still attached. Below, we’ll show you how to remove supports and, if you’ve chosen to receive your model with the supports removed, how to remove the tiny support nubs that will remain on a portion of the surface.

IMG_0242.JPG

The USS Arkansas 1/1800 model by C.O.B. Constructs and Miniatures with supports and after support removal

 

Why does this material have supports and nubs?

These support and nubs exist due to the production process. Before printing the model, the 3D printing engineers will check the model in order to ensure that the design meets printing guidelines and can make it through the production process. Next, support structures are added to the design file using a variety of preset supports which are selected based on your model’s geometry. If your design is particularly intricate, individual supports are added to delicate areas. These support structures hold the model to the build plate while they are printing, while offering strength to the product as it is being printed.

Once the models have had the supports added and are oriented in the build, the production team will load the models to the printer. The printers use direct light projection technology, which includes a liquid resin, and light to cure the material. Each build is created layer by layer using light voxels to cure the resin to the previous layer.

Once the build is completed and cured, the supports can be removed in the factory. If you opt to order your model with supports, this will be the first step after receiving your model. This removal process uses a metal spatula, snippers, tweezers, and mineral oil. After the supports have been removed, small nubs will remain on the part. However, it is possible to finish the surface to a smooth, clean finish with minimal effort.

 

How to hand-finish your products:

Initial Finishing Tools

IMG_0236.JPG

 

  1. Snippers: Cut off supports

  2. Craft Spatula: Scrape off supports

  3. Tweezers: Pull off supports and scraping off nubs

 

Final Finishing Tools

IMG_0237.JPG

 

  1. ≥ 600 grit sandpaper: sand off nubs

  2. Paint brush: apply finishing lotion or mineral oil

  3. Mineral oil or lotion: moisturize material to remove scratches

 

TECHNIQUES

Large Support Removal

Starting today, designers can choose to receive their models complete with supports. These designers are interested in removing the supports at home.

TIP: Check the 3D file of the model while removing these supports to avoid removing crucial parts of the model.  

If your model has many wiry parts or fragile overhangs, it is best to use snippers to remove these supports. This will help to protect the model. When you have a wall that meets many supports, tweezers or metal spatulas may be used to remove multiple supports at one time. You can angle the tweezers or the spatula flush against the wall of the model and pull downward. This will “unzip” the supports from the actual structure. Ensure you are careful with the spatula as this can cause unintentional gashes.

 

Nub Removal  

Once the large supports have been removed, small nubs will remain. These can be easily removed with tweezers, ≥ 600 grit sandpaper, and mineral oil. The tweezers are used to scrape off the larger nubs.

CAUTION: Be careful not to add excess pressure as this material can easily scratch. Cosmetic scratches can be removed, but deep scratches will need additional buffing.

≥ 600 grit sandpaper should gently rub off the remaining nubs. This should take just a few swipes back and forth to notice the nubs disappearing. This material, although strong, does polish quickly. Double check while you are polishing you are not rounding sharp edges or losing details while sanding.

IMG_0262.JPG

USS Arkansas 1/1800 model by C.O.B. Constructs and Miniatures

Left side before polishing / right side after sanding for 1 minute with mineral oil

 

Final Finishing Step

Once you have sanded off those final nubs and are left with a smooth surface, a few small white marks from the tools may remain. This is where the mineral oil or lotion comes in. These can be gently painted on the material to moisturize and remove the superficial scratches and scrapes.

IMG_0255.JPG

With all supports removed

BHDA is durable due to its strength and elongation properties, yet it is very easy to polish. This makes this material perfect for those that are looking to create miniatures. The surface is smooth and high-detail where no supports have been laid. Where the supports have been placed, these nubs can be smoothed to a soft clean surface with brief sanding. This allows for paint and other finishing treatments to be added precisely and with little post processing.

If you are looking for more information on this material, I recommend referencing the materials page — or testing one out for yourself.

A figurine with and without supports

Ill Gotten Games’ Elf Ranger shown with supports and after support removal

We Just Got Faster, Again — FUD Lead Times Cut in Half!

Attention wargamers, model railroaders, and miniaturists! Last week, we shared that we were shortening production turnaround times on a dozen materials, but we’re not done yet. This week, we’re cutting the lead time for one of our most popular materials, Frosted Ultra Detail plastic, in half — from six business days to three. That means you can get your planes, trains, and figurines in record-breaking time!

sw-faster-instagram-fud

We were able to shave this much time off the process by adding new machines to increase manufacturing capacity while making our planning and post-processing systems more efficient.

Now is a great time to print your favorite model railroad car, sci-fi miniatures, or wargaming products — and enjoy them faster than ever!

For a chance to be featured on the blog, let us know in the comments how you’re using Frosted Ultra Detail plastic in your designs.

Now, Make It Faster

Great news! Thanks to the ongoing hard work of our production teams, we’re announcing updates that will make 3D printing more accessible — by delivering your prints faster. We’ve significantly reduced print production times for a dozen Shapeways materials. From the time you order to the time we ship, our turnaround times for the materials below are now shorter than ever:

sw-faster-blog (1)

These updates are part of our continuing commitment to reducing lead times. How do we do it? We innovate in manufacturing, processing, and shipping. Whether it’s by testing new materials and processes (shaving seven days off high definition acrylate), investing in updated machinery (halving lead times for two materials), or improving manufacturing efficiency (getting cast metals to you faster), we’re always working to enhance production quality and speed.

Now is the perfect time to get started on that project you’ve been dreaming of. Whatever you’re making, print it today in one of our faster-than-ever materials.

We’re always working hard to improve your Shapeways experience. Make sure to let us know in the comments what you’d like to see in 2017.

How TheLaserGirls Create Faux-Steel Swords

For our next installment of Cosplay Tips from TheLaserGirls (see past posts here and here), Sarah C. Awad and Dhemerae Ford share with us how they created a two-toned steel effect for their Buster Swords. Don’t miss your chance to check out their shop for utterly unique last-minute holiday gifts. And read on for all the details on their sword creation process.

The Final (Fantasy) Products!

The Final (Fantasy) Products!

In order to create the desired two-toned, steel effect for both of our Buster Swords, we set out on an extensive testing period to cover all our bases.  Experimenting upon familiar and unfamiliar materials, we were not only able to refine the “chroming” process we commonly use on our projects, but we also created a nuanced reference library of test pieces to go to for upcoming projects, saving us a lot of time for future work.

Prep Work

As mentioned, we decided to use the same kit and process Sarah used last year on her suit of armor, for it was the most familiar to us, the least time consuming, and the least expensive option for our time frame and budget.  For more information on the specifics of that process, click here.

Keep in mind, this process yields an effect that is more akin to “silver” than “chrome,” especially in terms of achieving a mirrored finish.  We like using this process because of these results.

In a nutshell, the  process is a 4-step spray painting procedure: colored base coat, urethane gloss adherent, aluminum dust (which gives the metallic finish), and another urethane gloss layer as a topcoat.  This project gave us the opportunity to play more with the different tones of grey we could achieve from simply changing that base coat color (which ended up being a happy accident when working on Sarah’s pieces last year).

Test Cards

At this point in the project, we were unsure about what materials we were planning to print in, so we decided to test on the top three we were considering:

ProJet 7000 SLA (laser sintered liquid): A glossy polypropylene-like ivory plastic  (Printed via the LaGuardia Studio)

Polished and Unpolished Nylon SLS (laser sintered powder, either polished in a machine or left :raw”): A photo-polymer plastic (Printed via Shapeways)

Our testers were 3 X 5 X .125 inch “cards,” each labeled with a number and a letter that corresponded with the material it was printed in (U for Unpolished Nylon, P for Polished Nylon, and 7K for SLA). We printed 10 of each card for safe measure.

Reference images in hand, the next step was to get some paint for our first base layer. We tested on the following (we added notes where we felt necessary):

Alsa Corp Killer Can in Jet Black: A ”retro matte” black base coat that comes with the spray chrome kit.

Mountain GOLD Series in G7090 Coke: A less pigmented (“natural black”), but heavily textured black

Montana MTN 94 Series in RV119 London Grey: A soft dove grey with an olive undertone

Montana MTN BLK in 9001 Black: A rich black paint semi matte paint

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Neutral Grey 5: We found that all the Liquitex paints definitely had the look of acrylic paint, especially the white.

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Iridescent Rich Silver: Neutral metallic silver paint

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Neutral Grey 3: ultra matte finish

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Titanium White: matte finish

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in White Paint (Gloss and Matte): On the cool side of white

Krylon Metallic Spray Paint in Silver: Your standard silver spray paint

Krylon Color Master in Gloss White: Your standard High Gloss spray paint

Raw Paint Tests

Raw Paint Test Chips 2

Close Up of Silver Chips

Close up of Black and Gray Chips

Raw Paint Test 3

Raw Paint Test 4

Raw Paint Test 5

 

Base Coat: First Impressions

Overall, we had a solid line-up of tests, but we definitely had some standouts, for good and bad reasons.

Alsa Corp Killer Can in Jet Black:  looked great on all 3 materials, and did a great job of diminishing the texture of the SLS prints.  We liked the automotive feel it gave the SLA prints and the velvety feel it gave to the SLS.

Montana MTN 94 Series in RV119 London Grey: Loved the shade, disliked the spurting spray that was difficult to finagle- easily solved through replacing the cap.

Mountain GOLD Series in G7090 Coke: Preferred the Alsa Black due to its ultra matte finish and lack of texture- this paint was significantly textured in comparison; not great for imitating metal, but ended up being perfect for Sarah’s Fenrir Pauldron.

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in White Paint (Gloss and Matte): Looked good on all 3 materials and also helped with the surface texture; however, it did appear more like acrylic paint and less like spray paint.

All Chromed Up: First Impressions

Krylon Metallic Silver

Liquitex Metallic Silver

Gloss White

Alsa Black

Dark Grey

Matte White

Light Grey

Gold Tests

We found that the SLA coat was much smoother than the SLS, but the Polished turned out a lot better than expected; the material has a good tooth for spray paint, which made every coat fall evenly across the tests. We also did not experience any flaking on the SLS compared to the SLA.  Further sanding the Polished with fine-grit (400+ grit) sandpaper yielded an even smoother and more reflective result- the same goes for the SLA.

The Unpolished was heavily textured but still felt quite smooth, had strong reflectivity, and took paint effortlessly.

In terms of color changes, the grey paints yielded the most steel-like effect compared to the other colors, and the white yielded a finished closer to sterling silver.

If you have scrolled through the gallery above and found that every test looked quite similar, there are several reasons for that: firstly, the high reflectivity made the tests very difficult to photograph, and we did our best to capture the essence of each material.  Secondly, there were very subtle differences in each test in terms of tones and how the colors flashed and changed in different lighting.  This was something that we only really realized after completing our testing.

Conclusions and Decisions

 

After some deliberation, we ultimately decided that the Alsa Black and London Grey would suit both of our swords perfectly; they worked beautifully as a pair, especially in their nuances- they truly captured that steel feel.

Material wise, we did choose the SLA material not only due to our familiarity with it, but also due to its ultra smooth, high definition surface that would cut down on work time, as well as give us a crispness necessary for a blade.

The Polished and Unpolished SLS, while yielding great results in reflectivity, pigmentation, and coverage, just did not have the surface quality we were looking for in this project. We felt that for our vision that it did not mimic steel in terms of finish and in “weight,” not necessarily in terms of physical grams or pounds, but in in look and feel; it had a lightness to it that we felt was opposite to that of a heavy, steel blade. If you are going for a more hammered appearance or an aluminum finish, these materials work very well in achieving that, both from a cosmetic and physicality sense.

Some Takeaways:

It comes in a kit for a reason: We found that at the end of the day, the paint that came with the kit worked best with the chrome process- they were designed to work together after all. That may sound obvious, but this is why testing is so important; there are exceptions, and you will not know if you try.

Do the prep work: Sanded surfaces worked much better in terms of reflectivity across all the materials we tested.

Polished Preferred (at least in our opinion!): In their pure forms, we found that the Polished SLS prints worked better than the Unpolished prints for the look we were going for (see above).

Regarding the Alsa Killer Chrome Kit: Buffing and hand polishing after the chrome process actually lowers the reflectivity and shine of the prints. Using any other glossy spray paint as a topcoat in lieu of the kit’s topcoat also matte-ifies the surface.

- Sarah C. Awad and Dhemerae Ford

This blog has been reposted with permission from TheLaserGirlsStudio.

How to Make It a Model (Train) Holiday

CNSM 741 – 776 Silverliner Series Coach by Box Car Models

The holidays always evoke nostalgia for family traditions. For my family, one of these traditions was to put a model train set around the base of the Christmas tree. It was that finishing touch that said the holidays were really here. This week, we’re offering gift ideas from all the Tiny Worlds our designers create, and I hope you’ll be inspired to make model trains a part of your family’s holiday traditions.

Shapeways offers an enormous variety of model trains that are as detailed as those you’d see on tracks around the world. But, 3D printed models do require a few finishing touches. Model trains are printed in a number of scales and sizes, and generally produced in Frosted Detail Plastic. The post-processing of these trains in Frosted Detail requires a few tools:

  • Acetone or Simple Green

  • Primer

  • Synthetic Paint Brush Set or Airbrush Kit

  • Acrylic or Enamel Paint

  • Matte or Satin Varnish

Once the tools are assembled, you are well on your way to getting your perfect model train ready.

1. Model Prep

If there is any residual oil or wax support material left over from the production process, this can easily be removed using acetone or Simple Green solvent. You can simply dip and air dry the model. Or, using a paint brush, you can lightly spread the solvent on the train and air dry.

**TIP** If you notice an excess amount of residual support material or details are distorted, this may call for a reprint. Please send an image and order number to service@shapeways.com.

2. First Coat – Prime

Primer is added as a first coat in order to provide a uniform surface and offer a stronger hold for your paints. Recommended primer colors include black, grey, or white. Your primer color selection will depend on the colors you decide for your top coat.

In order to keep the finest details visible, it is best to use a thin primer. For example, Krylon Color Master Primer will do the job.

3. Paint

Models can be painted in a variety of ways. The most common methods for painting a high-detail finish include airbrushing and hand-painting.

Airbrush painting is a great method for coating large areas of your design more quickly. This will require a fine-tip sprayer kit and masking to cover the areas that are not intended to be painted.

Hand-painting might be a bit more accessible to those who don’t want to invest in an airbrush kit. For this method, a range of small-sized synthetic brushes are recommended. The synthetic hairs do not fray, have a longer life span, and allow for finer points due to their stiffer structure.

With hand-painting, we suggest using acrylic or enamel model paints. First, add your larger base details using a larger brush. Then, with a smaller brush, use the lighter colors to make your details pop. Once painted, let the material dry completely before moving on to the next step.

4. Clear Coat

The final step to finishing your model train is to add a varnish. This will seal the paints and offer the appropriate sheen. Choose a matte or satin finish depending on your glossiness preference.

The varnish should be thinly applied and set to dry. Once dried, the model is ready to be displayed.

HO scale 1:87 CSX SD40-3 Wabtec Cab by Boxcar Models

This year, we hope you’ll make model trains a part of your holiday tradition, whether you make and give them as gifts or set them up for all to see. Who knows? Maybe hand-finishing model trains can be your new favorite family holiday pastime.

And, for everyone on your list, make sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide. It’s also full of ways to bring all kinds of Tiny Worlds to life.

Do you have any tips or tricks to finishing your model trains? We would love to hear them, so please share them with the community on our forum or in the comments below.

Six Famous Monsters on How to 3D Print the Perfect Halloween

This season, Shapeways porcelain has an amazing selection of Halloween models to choose from, and our favorite famous Halloween monsters and their friends have recommended some of the most ghoulish options.

A pumpkin is a witch’s best friend (after her cat of course) and Porcelain Decorations’ lovely Table Top Porcelain Pumpkin is a perfect fit for every witchy home.

No one wants to forget their keys, but when you are the Grim Reaper, it’s easy to do! Curio Inventorium’s frightening Skull Keyring Holder keeps keys safely mounted to the wall near your door so you don’t forget them, even in the dead of night.

Even Bat Lady needs a tea cup to be a proper lady, and Candy Carlson Design’s adorable Bat Tea Cup is the perfect fit.

 

LudMi’s Anatomical Heart in a Mug is perfect for the vampire who wants to drink blood in style.

The Valkyries say that Wolnir’s Goblet by Tony Nguyen’s Stuff is perfect for after you have looted a village. There is nothing like drinking wine out of an opponent’s skull.

Image result for vintage valkyrie free illustration

 

Finally, when ghosts drive to their honeymoon, what could be more perfect than a Ghostbusters-Inspired Hood Ornament by Fused Creations.

Enjoy the fall season, and don’t forget that Halloween is every day!

How Does a Microbiologist Turn Into a Jeweler?

Today’s guest blog comes from Gabriel Guzman of 3D to the 3e. Gabriel, a professor of microbiology and a jewelry designer, has found a perfect way to combine his passion for science with a love of design. He lets us in on how his Crochet Pendant went from concept to reality — and helped him go from scientist to designer.

guzman

Designer Gabriel Guzman’s Crochet Pendant and Earrings

To me, a biochemist and a microbiologist, the design process for 3D printing has a lot in common with designing an experiment in the lab. First there is a general idea that generates a possible solution — a hypothesis. Then there is the use of design tools to shape that idea into something printable. And, of course, continuous prototyping to explore different versions of the design. Finally, one of the iterations will have the aesthetics, balance, and curiosity, if you will, that might make somebody ask, “How did you do that?”

When I first began to design the Crochet Pendant, I did have a pendant in mind, but the final design didn’t emerge until after I played with a number of different iterations. The name, however, came after looking at the final design — and a crochet piece that I saw on a table. My mother used to have a lot of doilies and other table covers made with crochet.

In terms of the technical design process, I was getting my hands wet with an experimental app from Autodesk called Project Shapeshifter, which allowed for the creation of generative designs. Generative design is a method in which the final model is generated by a computer program following a set of rules or an algorithm. I started with a general shape that I had in mind, but I didn’t know what I would end up with in terms of the final object. So, I tested different parameters in Shapeshifter, until one of the many iterations had everything I wanted to see in the pendant.

I began with the idea of a circular object, with details based on the repetitive pattern of a honeycomb. Shapeshifter only generated the file to be printed, but a pendant needs a loop, a bail, or something to pass a chain through. I chose Tinkercad for that purpose because the software was free and easy to use. I designed a very simple loop, which wasn’t circular but followed the shape of the pattern, and the end result was a piece that has generated a lot of comments, but more important, a piece that I was satisfied with. Perhaps the most important lesson for me is that none of my finished designs are exactly as I first imagine them, and they really don’t have to. Every finished design is a result of tweaking, and rethinking possibilities.

The reaction from people, especially if they don’t know anything about 3D printing, is of amazement that a machine can make jewelry. The metal version of the pendant didn’t happen until about three months after I printed the first version at home in a mint-colored plastic. My wife wore the pendant during that year’s commencement ceremony and my colleagues kept asking her about the piece, and then kept asking me about how it was made. I never imagined that a piece made in plastic could draw that much attention!

For those with experience designing jewelry the old-fashioned way (by sculpting wax), they recognize what 3D printing technology can do for their own creativity. It helps them go beyond the traditional wax sculpting into digital sculpting. But, for the novice, this technology is also a way to democratize art. Perhaps the most common question I get is, “How does a microbiologist turn into a jeweler?” If people consider me a jeweler, I take that as a big compliment! After all, I didn’t go to art school, although I do have some background in graphic design, but I never fancied myself a jeweler until I began experimenting with 3D printing.

Shaping Dutch Design: Jelle de Vries

In celebration of Dutch Design Week 2016, our Shaping Dutch Design series will take a closer look at a few of the dozens of Dutch designers who are part of the Shapeways EXPO this year and, of course, our global maker community all year round. Make sure to visit us in person if you’re in Eindhoven this week, and follow us here, on InstagramTwitter, and on Facebook for live updates from #DDW16.

Jelle de Vries of Studio Jelle creates modernist lighting fixtures that seem to glow even when switched off. Making the most of the way that light interacts with our White Strong & Flexible material, Jelle has created a series of Pinhole Lamps that might recall midcentury modern pieces from afar. Up close, however, the difference is clear: despite a basket-weave appearance, the seamless fixtures give off a warm and diffuse light that shines evenly through every part of the durable, nylon-based plastic they’re printed in. The effect is playful and futuristic — with a nod to the pre-digital past.

Stop by Shapeways EXPO at Dutch Design Week to see the Pinhole Lamps up close, or check them out in the Studio Jelle shop. Whether you choose to hang one from the ceiling or rest it on a side table, the Pinhole Lamp is a truly unique way to bring home cutting-edge Dutch design.

Tips for Designing in Porcelain

Porcelain is an ancient technology that has been transformed by modern machinery and 3D printing. Designs once impossible to create by hand are now possible using 3D printers. At Shapeways, we launched our very own porcelain process in 2014 that uses your 3D design file to print a mold and cast using our own porcelain material.

As expected with all new technologies, there are limitations. To understand how to optimally design for 3D printed porcelain, it is important to understand the production process as well as the caveats of the material. Read on to learn about each stage of production and find tips on how to design in porcelain to make your finished objects just right.

IMG_0196.JPG

How is 3D printed porcelain created?

1.  3D printing engineers check your design

Once you place your order, your model file is sent over to our 3D printing engineers who specialize in porcelain. They inspect the model to ensure that the mold of the design can be printed and continue through the production process.

2.  The mold is generated and printed

We have developed software that generates a mold of your 3D file. You can imagine the mold as a shell or the negative space of your design. We will also generate a small funnel that will be used to cast your product.

3.  The mold is cut and cleaned

Once the model is taken out of the printer, it must be cleaned of all residual support material. In order to completely clear out all of the material, the mold must be cut to reach the interior. Imagine the mold as the “skin” of your model or the negative space. The mold and overall design must be able to hold together in order to eventually cast in porcelain.

4.  The mold is reassembled

After the mold has been cleaned out, it must be glued back together in order to cast. This creates a seam where the model has been cut and glued. However, this will later be sanded and repaired by hand.

The exterior funnel will be glued to the mold for the next step in the process, casting.

5.  Porcelain is cast in the mold

The porcelain material is poured into the mold through the exterior funnel. The porcelain material within the mold will settle and harden.

6.  The mold is removed

Once the porcelain is fully hardened, the mold will be removed and the porcelain model will remain.

7.  Model goes into first firing

Immediately after the mold has been removed, the design goes into the kiln for its first firing. This hardens the design so that the model may be repaired and glazed.

8.  Model is repaired and hand finished

With the first firing complete, the model is strong enough to repair. There are a few types of repairs that may be performed. First, the porcelain team uses a variety of tools to carefully remove the seam lines left by the mold. Second, if the porcelain has not reached all ends of the mold or has generated any air pockets, these minor imperfections will be patched and repaired by hand.

9.  Model goes into second firing

If your model needed to be patched, the product will go in for a second firing. This cycle of repairs and firings can happen a few times in order to get your design just right.

10.  Product is glazed

Your design will be hand dipped in a liquid glaze. Any excess glaze on the base of the design will be wiped away in order to avoid the glaze from sticking to the kiln.

11.  Glaze firing

Once the base has been wiped clean, the model enters the kiln for the glaze firing. This will solidify the food-safe coating of glaze on the design. In some cases, the model may need to be re-glazed and fired due to unpredictable surface issues, such as small pin holes or patches that were not glazed fully. A re-glaze may cause pooling of glaze on the model.

12.  Finished model

The model is then packaged carefully and sent to the distribution center to be shipped off to you.

What do you need to consider before designing in porcelain?

There are two aspects of porcelain to consider before you begin to design your product. First, the glaze that will coat your design. Second, the properties of the production process.

GLAZE

During the glazing process, your model is dipped in the thick glaze liquid. Excess glaze drips off and the base is cleaned so that it may rest on the kiln shelf without fusing to the bottom. While the model is in the kiln the glaze becomes molten. After cooling, the result is a stronger, hardened layer of colored food-safe glass.

FIT AND HOLE CLEARANCE

Our glazes run a thickness of 1 to 2 mm. This means that if precise fit and unobstructed holes are important to your model, ensure you have left at least 2 millimeters of clearance on EVERY wall.

In the image below you can see two differently sized holes. The hole on the left is larger than 5 mm wide. This will allow the glaze to coat the inside without closing the hole. The hole on the right displays a 4 mm hole, the glaze will completely obstruct this hole eliminating the ability for clearance.

UNOBSTRUCTED HOLE                          OBSTRUCTED HOLE

Screen Shot 2016-10-11 at 10.48.46 AM.png

The same logic applies for lids that fit onto containers. The lid should account for the glaze that will be applied as well as the container itself. Meaning, your design should have at least 4 mm of space between the lid and the container.

DESIGN DETAILS

Details of a design can get lost under a layer of glaze. It is necessary to consider the depth, height, and width of the detail of before submitting your design. On our porcelain material page, we recommend a minimum of 1 mm height and width of detail. If you are aiming for sharp details, consider making them greater than this minimum.

We have published a previous post depicting examples of details after being glazed in each of our color options. As mentioned, each color has a slight variation of thickness. For the clearest text or imagery, please ensure you accommodate for the glaze.

IMG_0193.JPG

SUPPORTIVE STRUCTURES

Adding feet to your standing designs are useful for avoiding fully unglazed bases. While designing these decorative and useful features, there are couple aspects to keep in mind:

  • The height of the feet should be greater than the thickness of the glaze. Otherwise, the base will be required to go unglazed.

  • Long spindly feet can break during casting. Please ensure that the height and thickness of the feet are comparable or that the thickness can allow for the feet to fully cast

ROUND vs. SHARP EDGES

Sharp edges and rounded edges will affect how the glaze rests on the model after firing. In the images below, you can see how a sharp edge will split the glaze whereas a rounded edge will allow the glaze to roll over the edge. One is not better than the other; they are merely aesthetically different.

IMG_0217.JPG

ORIENTATION

All models must be able to stand on their own, as they will be fired with other models in a single kiln. At this time stilts and supports are not included in the production process. This means that the model must have a base or feet to rest on. With designer-selected orientation, you have the power to determine which side of the model goes unglazed and rests on the kiln during the firing process.

During the upload process, a render is provided to select the top and bottom of your design. Arrows may be selected to rotate the design in the proper orientation. Top and bottom indicators are located on the render image. NOTE: The orientation in the render will be the orientation in production.

Screen Shot 2016-10-10 at 9.37.10 PM.png

 

PRODUCTION PROPERTIES:

BOUNDING BOX

The bounding box for porcelain states the limits of how large or small your design can be. These limits are important to consider before taking the time to completely design your item.

Minimum: 40 × 40 × 10 mm

Maximum: 125 × 125 × 200 mm

WALL AND WIRE THICKNESS

In order for a model to cast completely and reach the very edges of the design, walls and wires must be thick enough for the comparable length.

The smaller the model or shorter the wire, the thinner it may be. This is demonstrated in the image below. If the model is 2 mm thin and very short, it is easier for the porcelain to make it to the end of the mold. Otherwise, if the design is long and thin, it is nearly impossible for the porcelain to fill the mold completely.

Screen Shot 2016-10-11 at 11.27.27 AM.png

With extremely thin wires, holes, and walls, cleaning out the mold by hand can cause breaks with insufficient thickness. So it is especially important to consider making these features larger than 3 mm for the best result. This does not increase pricing greatly as porcelain is priced by surface area. Adding thickness does not increase price as it does with other materials.

IMG_0166.JPG

Elevate your porcelain ideas by using these tips and techniques. Let those details shine through and make sure your design glides through the production process. Once you’ve printed your design, you can begin selling on the Shapeways marketplace!

Jewelry Prototyping Tips

An idea emerges and you hop to the drawing board itching to see what comes to life. In most scenarios this first iteration is probably not what you had in mind. Rather, the design will be modified for any number of reasons. This can be especially true when designing jewelry. A ring, bracelet, necklace or any accessory must fit, hold an appropriate scale, meet your personal aesthetic, and retain important details. All of these facets of the design can be perfected when brought to life with prototyping.

Ring Set

The cycle of designing has no beginning or end because your process may start at any given point and continue any number of times. Prototyping is one step within this iterative process, and it allows you to take a step back and consider how you can improve your design.

The Iterative Design Process

When should you prototype?

Consider it necessary to prototype when you are looking to create jewelry with custom sizes or settings, such as stone settings. By prototyping these products you can ensure that the piece of jewelry or stone will fit correctly for your final iteration.

In the early stages, it is best to prototype your jewelry design before selling to the public. Printing in a more low cost material to start gives you the opportunity to evaluate the scale and fit of your product, and will save you from returns and excess spending. Once you’ve approved your prototype, you can move onto some of our precious metal materials.

The difference between a render and a physical object is greater than one may anticipate. Although measuring your model will provide you with concrete dimensions, there is nothing like holding a design in your hand. In my experience the scale of certain design features or even the entire product are always larger or smaller than I prefer. With this intermediary step, I get the opportunity to correct and improve upon this.

Screen Shot 2016-09-29 at 10.39.39 AM

What material should you prototype in?

While your final design will most likely be printed in a cast metal or steel, your initial prototypes will not require one of these materials with a longer lead time and higher price point. Instead, initial prototyping can be printed with frosted ultra detail or strong and flexible. These materials are great for quick turn around and a fair understanding of the overall look and fit of your final product.

IMG_0100

Frosted Ultra Detail:

This material is great for a clean and high detail finish, particularly if you are looking to print your final model in a cast metal.

Strong and Flexible:

For a lower price point prototype, you can print in strong and flexible. This material is also offered in rush production, for those who need to move quickly.

TIP: Please do keep in mind that different materials have similar but different guidelines. Make sure that while you are prototyping you are following the guidelines of the material you will ultimately be printing in.

Now after the initial prototypes are completed and you have made another cycle through the Iterative Design Process, a final prototype can be created in a beautifully polished or unpolished cast metal such as brass or bronze. These are particularly beneficial when looking to print your final model in silver, platinum, gold, or a precious plated metals.

final brass

Brass or Bronze:

Brass  and bronze are significantly less expensive and go through a similar production process as the other cast metals. These cast metal prototypes will demonstrate the extent of polishing you can expect and which tiny details will be able to make it through the production process.

three ring set

A prototype can be the stepping stone to a finalized design or even an inspiration for your next project. Skipping this step can be a missed opportunity to creating that perfect piece of jewelry.

If you are looking to learn more about the design process and the materials at Shapeways, take a look at the Back to the Basics for designers.

6 Fashion Trends to Design for in 2016

Having just relaunched our jewelry marketplace to better highlight micro-brands and feature curated collections, we’re excited to position ourselves as an excellent destination for holiday shoppers to snag some uniquely designed accessories. While we know our designers have already uploaded some incredible designs, we wanted to flag some trends we saw on the NYFW runway to give our makers a glance at what trend-setting shoppers may be looking for this season.

We’ve also included examples of existing products from Shapeways designers below!Silver reigns supreme:

We saw lots and lots of silver accessories on the runway this season– something to keep in mind when determining which materials you want to offer designs in.

Statement necklaces:

Oversized chokers and large necklaces were prevalent at shows including Balenciaga, Valentino, Loewe, Chanel, and Balmain. This was a fun opportunity to play with larger geometric designs, crazy pendants– great inspiration for designers looking to create some more unusual signature pieces.

Dodeca Horizontal Pendant by Studio Noesis

Earnestly large statements:

From Sachin and Babi to Creatures of the Wind to Altuzarra to Tory Burch, big earrings were everywhere. Large hoop earrings to geometric shapes, we’re excited to see that loads of our designers’ products seem to be similarly inspired.

Star Coral Earrings by Coraline Jewels

Ear cuffs:

Rodarte’s models wore extremely intricate ear cuffs which seemed floral-inspired (one even featured an insect). We’ve seen a number of ear cuffs in our marketplace, so it’s definitely an accessory ripe for design experimentation.

 

Brass Triangles Earcuff by 3Different

Interlocking Circles:

Hellessy sent models down the runway with some beautiful earrings which were made up of metal interlocking circles. This is a perfect trend to pull inspiration from, especially since Shapeways is the only company to offer interlocking metals!

Twisted Square Earrings by ByNatalia

Off-balance:

Lots of designers (Isabel Marant, Christian Dior and Sonia Rykiel) were sending their models down the runway with asymmetrical earrings– allowing for some great variation. Other designers like Mugler, Anthony Vaccarello and Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, opted for the one-earring look. At Shapeways you’re able to order one earring, making it totally unnecessary to purchase a complete pair for this look.

Septum Rings:

While septum rings had a big moment last year, some made an appearance on the runway during the Monse show this NYFW. Shapeways designers have created a number of faux septum rings– a good option for people looking to try the look without committing to the actual piercing.

Septum Ring by PrimalCrafts

If you’re interested in more in-depth looks at these trends, we recommend checking out this Vogue roundup and this piece from Justine Carreon at Elle for coverage of this year’s trends.

3D Prints So Good You Can Smell Them

It’s a banner week at Shapeways. A week introducing not one, but two new material innovations.

Developed in junction with MIT to implant micro-particles into your 3D prints during the manufacturing process, our latest innovation lets you experience your prints like never before. Just in time for spring, this new material is sure to please your senses.

Watch the video below as Shapeways Material Explorer Anton Sensenbrenner and colleague Ralph discuss this amazing new frontier in 3D printing.

 

Click HERE to get started adding scents to your 3D prints!

And be sure to support Anton’s flower pot business here

3D Printing for Fashion: Interview with Alexis Walsh

Fashion Week may be wrapping up here in New York City, but that doesn’t mean that we’re finished exploring all the great work our fashion-driven community members are producing here at Shapeways. Today, we’ll be exploring the work of Alexis Walsh, a fashion designer turned 3D modeler who designed the LYSIS collection and the Spire Dress, recently featured in the Nire - Hopscotch music video.

ALEXIS-WALSH-SPIRE-DRESS-1024x708
Spire Dress, Designed by Alexis Walsh and Ross Leonardy

Alexis Walsh is a New York tri-state native that studied at Parsons the New School for Design until 2014. During her time at Parson’s, Walsh took a combination of fashion and product design courses. As her primary focus was in fashion, she became interested in exploring ideas about wearable sculptures, and utilizing non-traditional materials and techniques to create fashion items.

“Throughout my academic career, I’ve been interested in the idea of wearable sculpture. I’ve explored using materials like metal and plastic to create garments, even welding a dress out of steel rods and making a corset out of aluminum paneling. All of this was very rooted in the notion of handcraft. After doing some research and discovering that 3D printing allowed for the creation of incredibly complex forms, I decided to pursue it for fashion design. With additive manufacturing, you are enabled to create structures that would be impossible to produce through any other medium, and this seemed like the perfect vehicle to experiment with fashion design.” – Alexis Walsh, 2016

It was around this time that Walsh began to conceptualize The Spire Dress, which was one of the first 3D printed projects that Alexis worked on. The dress was printed at Shapeways in our White Strong and Flexible material, constructed out of 400+ individual tiles that were assembled by hand using metal ring connectors. While this is quite an ambitious project for anyone just getting started in 3D modeling, we asked Alexis about her experience teaching herself the tools of the trade.

“The idea of learning CAD modeling from scratch was definitely intimidating. There are so many programs, and there’s a pretty steep learning curve when first attempting to 3D model. It took countless hours of YouTube video tutorials, trial and error, and reading online troubleshooting forums before feeling comfortable with Rhino and Grasshopper. But once you get a handle on it, you can begin to learn everything fairly quick. You need to simultaneously be concerned with creating a model and with how the model will function as a physical printed object. 3D printing generally involves plastic, which takes some creativity to work into a wearable piece.” – Alexis Walsh, 2016

Realizing the tactile limitations of using only 3D printed plastic, Walsh set out to create her next fashion line, the LYSIS collection. The LYSIS collection features handmade garments that are combined with 3D printed components to give structure to each of the pieces. These works were able to come to life after she received the Shapeways Education Grant in Fall 2014.

ALEXIS-WALSH-LYSIS-COLLECTION-1
Piece from the LYSIS Collection, 2016

Alexis is certainly not afraid of pushing the limits when it comes to combining materials and techniques to create fashion items. The LYSIS collection was created using a combination of software and hand-touch techniques to apply the fabric and leather. Alexis even went to far as to use the 3Doodler 3D printing pen to apply details to her smaller accessories, such as belts and chokers.

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 1.55.53 PM
LYSIS Collection, Alexis Walsh

Alexis is one of the few designers that we’ve seen successfully created an entire collection of fashion items using 3D Printing, and we wanted to hear about her projections for the future of this budding industry are. How will this technology evolve, and what are her hopes for the future?

“3D printing for fashion is undeniably in its early stages. There has already been so much innovation happening within the past couple of years, and this will only further continue into the future. I’m very excited to see how the capabilities of printing textiles will progress, specifically softer and elasticized textiles that behave like fabric. There are enormous possibilities for 3D printing within the performance and athletic-wear industries. It’s been great to see iconic brands like CHANEL embracing 3D printing in their runway shows, and I’m looking forward to seeing more 3D printing in high fashion.” – Alexis Walsh, 2016

And finally, as we mentioned in last week’s blog post, we posed the question to Alexis about her thoughts on the viability for 3D printing as form for fashion manufacturing.

“There’s potential for 3D printing to be a viable method of fashion manufacturing, but I don’t think that the current technology is there yet. There’s a huge market for 3D printed jewelry and accessories right now, and in that regard additive manufacturing is a great method of production. With the way the industry is evolving, fashion is sure to follow suit, as soon as more advanced printing capabilities can be developed.” Alexis Walsh, 2016

On that note, within our conversations with Alexis she teased a few of her upcoming projects that specifically focus on jewelry and accessories. We’re so excited to see what she comes up with next!

Stay tuned for our continuing series of blog posts as we continue to talk with designers about the future of Fashion, Tech + 3D Printing.

 

3D Printed Steel Frequently Asked Questions Explained (Video)

One of our community’s favorite materials that Shapeways offers is our 3D printed stainless steel. We often get commonly asked questions that aren’t often easily explained for those without a technical or material science background. In order to better explain and educate the community about our steel material to help you guys better design your products, we’ve partnered with our steel 3D printing manufacturing partner ExOne to put together a few educational videos explaining the steel 3D printing process and commonly asked questions.

In this video ExOne technician Brandon Cary answers FAQs on our steel material.

This video demonstrates the process and technology involved in creating 3D printed steel parts.

We hope that you find these videos valuable and that they provide you with insight on the process and technology involved in creating your 3D printed steel parts. We plan to continue to creating useful and educational resources like these for the community.