Category Archives: 3D Printer

The Week in 3D Printing

Houses got built in a day, the hot-but-flawed new Nintendo console got crowdsourced fixes, neon plastic met medical science, and car companies got additive — all this week in 3D printing.

We’re gonna need bigger printers

This 3D printed house went viral this week — with good reason. Built in a day for only $10,000, it’s not only incredibly cute (who doesn’t love a tiny house these days?), but it was also built by an unbelievably cool, enormous Apis Cor printer that had to be moved with a crane. Plus, the house was built in a snowy lot during a Russian winter, which should qualify it to work on Mars, at least in theory.

When you buy the latest toy way too soon

The Nintendo Switch made waves last week for being, well, the latest Nintendo console to hit the market. But, as Gizmodo reported, it’s might not have been… ready — at least as far as the design is concerned. Enter the internet’s most resourceful 3D designers, who’ve been sharing 3D printed solutions for everything from a faulty kickstand to a missing d-pad and inadequate joysticks. Maybe Nintendo wanted people to hack together fixes? Or not?

Fighting cancer with PLA

TechCrunch brought us the story of candy-colored tumors, set in silicone, that are helping doctors practice tricky laparoscopic liver cancer surgeries before operating on real patients. Never before has practicing dangerous life-saving surgeries been so… cute.

Drive it off the print bed

OK, we’re not exactly there yet, but according to Forbes, the largest car manufacturers — including the literal inventor of the assembly line — are starting to incorporate 3D printing into production processes in a typically large-scale way. It might be a while before 3D printing moves beyond the prototyping stage for most cars, but super-high-end rides will likely see more and more 3D-printing-enabled customization. In the meantime, I’ll stick with custom 3D printed cars I can actually afford:

A whole stable of sweet (N scale) 3D printed rides… courtesy RAILNSCALE

Desktop Vs. Service-Based 3D Printing: A Tale of Spaghetti

“What does this error message mean?!” “Wait, why is there only half a print?” “But… I JUST leveled it…”

While owning (and maintaining) a desktop 3D printer may sound like fun, it’s not for the faint of heart… or for those who lack fairly in-depth technical ability. Between constant leveling of the print bed, double-checking to make sure you’re not going to have a filament run-out, and the ever-possible “Whyyy did it just STOP?!?!?”, it can take some serious dedication to the project to make sure that printer is running at 100%, especially when it comes to constantly lubricating, tightening and adjusting. And while desktop 3D printing may SOUND more affordable, you really do need to shell out some serious coin to get a reliable printer. One day it’s running correct, next you’ve got a build plate full of spaghetti: 

Sometimes you need something that just works — and that’s where a service-based 3D printing platform like Shapeways come in.

Upon uploading to a site like shapeways.com, your file is automatically processed through an incredibly intricate system. Model checks are automatically performed to estimate whether or not your file is not only printable, but also what materials it can be printed in. Yes, materials. Metals, plastics, acrylics, porcelain — each material opening totally new doors of creativity.

Aside from providing pricing and lead time estimates, the system automatically checks any potentially problematic areas, and allows you to automatically fix them for the selected material, ensuring that it’s printable. That’s something you’ll only learn by trial and error on a home machine, potentially wasting filament and lots of time in the process. Then, the design is checked manually for printability by a Shapeways employee before it’s sent to the printers. Finally, each piece is hand-finished by production staff.

Once it’s ordered, your order arrives at your doorstep in a matter of days, a finished product of the highest possible quality and resolution in its material class. No more fiddling around with settings, layer height, slicers, or burns from loading up printers.

That said, there are also advantages to 3D printing at home, and ways that it can co-exist with a service-based model. If you’re not concerned about high-resolution finished products and have plenty of time to nurture your hobby, an inexpensive desktop 3D printer might be right for you. If you’re a product designer in the early stages of prototyping your design, having a manufacturing machine in your office can lead to a fast iteration in plastic of small- to medium-sized products. Once you’ve iterated and are happy with your design, then it’s time to send it over to a service-based platform for superior accuracy, minimal stepping, and the ability to receive it in multiple materials, ranging from plastics to precious metals and ceramics.

Tell us your experiences with transitioning from desktop to service-based 3D printing, or if you use both in tandem, in the comments below!

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

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4. Brain Beer Twist Opener by Curiosity Lab

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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

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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.

7 Boredom-Busting Stocking Stuffers

It’s the cherry on top of Christmas morning: the stocking, stuffed with a few extra goodies. It’s also a gifting challenge. Stocking stuffers should be unexpected, interesting — and tiny. Luckily, our designers are experts at delivering big impact in small packages. Helping you to deliver gifts that are the opposite of boring. This week, as we highlight Last-Minute Finds for every budget, discover seven stocking stuffers they may end up liking better than their real presents.

1. Micro Pocket Fidget Spinner

Micro Pocket Fidget Spinner by Idle Hands Development

Micro Pocket Fidget Spinner by Idle Hands Development

Fidget spinners have been big in 2016. Just add a couple of roller skate ball bearings, and you have a handy tool to keep your hands busy while your brain focuses. It’s true — fidget toys can actually help us focus. Plus, this one is small enough to keep your fidget toy obsession on the DL.

2. Santa-Approved Cookie-Dipper

Little Dipper by Craig Kaplan's Mathematical Art

Little Dipper by Craig Kaplan’s Mathematical Art

Some people just want a milk-soaked cookie, and not an entire glass of milk. We suspect that Santa is one of those people. So he’ll feel pretty good about leaving behind the Little Dipper in your little one’s stocking.

3. Bacon Mobius Strip

Bacon Mobius Strip by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Bacon Mobius Strip by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Mobius strips are amazing mathematical objects (read all about them here), and when combined with shockingly realistic bacon details, rendered in full-color sandstone, this one could become a bacon-lover’s favorite — and most unexpected — holiday gift.

4. Kaladesh Die

'Kaladesh' D20 Balanced Gaming Die by Tiny Tokens

‘Kaladesh’ D20 Balanced Gaming Die by Tiny Tokens

Trust us, the roleplayers in your life will go insane over this Magic the Gathering-inspired die.

5. Wow, Such Doge

doge by Ryan Kittleson's Sculpture

doge by Ryan Kittleson’s Sculpture

Doge is the meme that keeps on giving. He’s adorable, and he’s just excited to be here. Give your giftees a dose of doge with this stocking-sized figurine.

6. Klein Bottle Opener

Klein Bottle Opener by Bathsheba Sculpture LLC

Klein Bottle Opener by Bathsheba Sculpture LLC

The Klein Bottle is an amazing one-sided object that math nerds love. Play with the concept with this Klein Bottle that actually opens normal bottles.

7. Knuckies

Cat by Knuckies - Phone Stands, With a Twist

Cat by Knuckies – Phone Stands, With a Twist

These cool little tools are phone stands, phone grippers, and fidget toys all in one. Maybe the most useful stocking stuffer they’ll receive this year.

Check out our full selection of finds in our Holiday Gift Guide, and make sure to order soon. All of our holiday order deadlines can be found here. And let us know in the comments what you’d like to find in your stocking on Christmas morning.

Celebrate 3D Printing Day With Us and Win $250!

For 3D printing fans, December 3 is basically Christmas, Hanukkah, and Thanksgiving combined. It’s a day to celebrate, welcome new makers — and show everyone how versatile, fun, and inspiring 3D printing can be. Today only, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook and reply to our #3DPrintingDay posts with what YOU want to 3D print, and include the hashtags #3DPrintingDay and #contest. You’ll be automatically entered to win one of three prizes of $250 in Shapeways credits. Every purchase you make on the site will also enter you to win. Fine print is after the jump.

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Shapeways Sweepstakes Rules

  1. Eligibility. This contest is operated by Shapeways.  It is open to Shapeways users in the United States over 13 years of age at the time of entry who live in a jurisdiction that does not prohibit this contest.  Employees, officers, and directors of Shapeways and their immediate family are not eligible to enter.  Individuals may enter more than one entry into the competition but may not do so by way of automated means.  By entering this contest, you agree to be bound by these Rules.

 

  1. Prize. Each of the three winning entrants will receive $250 in Shapeways printing credits.

 

  1. Contest period. This contest is open from Dec. 3, 2016 at 12:01 a.m. US Eastern Time to Dec. 3, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. US Eastern Time.  All entries must be received by Dec. 3, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. US Eastern Time.

 

  1. How to Enter.  There are two ways to enter the contest.  First, you can enter the contest via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram by replying to contest announcements tagged #3DPrintingDay with a description of what you want to 3D print and following Shapeways on the entry platform by the end of the contest period.  All public responses must include the hashtags “#contest” and “#3DPrintingDay” in order to be valid and eligible to win.  Second, you can enter the contest by completing any purchase on Shapeways during the contest period.  All purchases on Shapeways are eligible for contest entry.  Eligible participants can enter the contest multiple times.

 

  1. Winner Selection.  Shapeways will select the winner from the pool of applicants on Dec. 6, 2016.  There will be three total winners.  Shapeways will be prepared to award any of the three prizes to a runner-up in the event the winner cannot be contacted in a reasonable amount of time.  Shapeways will determine the winner by randomly drawing an applicant from the entire pool of applicants.

 

  1. Winner notification. The winners will be notified via private message to their social media account if they entered by way of that account, and by way of the email address associated with their Shapeways account if they entered by way of a purchase on Shapeways.  Upon contact, Shapeways may need to obtain confirmation of the winners’ eligibility.  If Shapeways cannot contact a winner in a reasonable amount of time, a runner-up will receive the prize originally designated for that winner.  If a runner-up cannot be contacted, Shapeways will select a third place finisher to receive the prize.

 

  1. Taxes.  The winner will be solely responsible for paying all federal, state, and local taxes that may be due on winnings and, as a condition of receiving the prize, Shapeways may require the winner complete tax documentation.

 

  1. Liability and Jurisdiction.  All federal, state, and local laws and regulations apply; void where prohibited.  All disputes arising out of or connected with this Contest will be resolved exclusively by a court located in Manhattan, New York, USA.  Decisions by Shapeways regarding the interpretation of these rules are final.  By participating in this contest, you agree to release Shapeways and its agents from any and all liability, claims, or actions of any kind of injuries, damages, or losses to persons and property which may be sustained in connection with the receipt, ownership, possession, use, or misuse of any prize.  Shapeways reserves the right to amend these official rules and to permanently disqualify from this contest any person it believes has intentionally violated these official rules. Shapeways reserves the right to suspend or cancel this Contest in the event of hacking, security breach, or other tampering.  Any questions regarding this contest should be directed to seth@shapeways.com.

 

  1. Other Restrictions. Users discovered creating multiple Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Shapeways accounts in order to enter this contest will be disqualified from entry.

 

  1. Additional Considerations.  Sponsors are not responsible for (i) any typographical or other error in any communication relating to the Contest; (ii) lost, illegible, late, misdirected, or incomplete, entries or emails; (iii) interrupted or unavailable satellite, network, server, Internet Service Provider (ISP), websites, telephone, cable or other connections; (iv) any technical failure or jumbled, garbled, corrupted, scrambled, failed, delayed, or misdirected transmissions; (v) hardware, software or network malfunctions; (vi) other errors of any kind whether human, mechanical, or electronic; (vi) any damage to Participant’s or any other person’s computer resulting from participation of the Contest or downloading or uploading any materials.

 

Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to (a) abbreviate, modify, suspend, cancel or terminate the Contest, without notice or other obligation, in the event that Sponsor is prevented from continuing with the Contest or the integrity or feasibility of the Contest is undermined in any respect, including due to fire, flood, epidemic, earthquake, labor dispute, tampering or other unlawful act, or if, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, the Contest is not capable of running as planned by reason of infection by computer virus, worms, bugs, tampering, hacking, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures or any other causes which, in sole opinion of the Sponsor, corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Contest; (b) determine winners from entries received prior to action taken, or as otherwise deemed fair and equitable by Sponsor; and/or (c) disqualify any individual it finds to be tampering with the entry or judging or process or operation of the Contest.

 

This contest is not sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.  By entering this contest you agree to release Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook of all liability related to the contest.

Shapeways receives the first HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D Printer!

Posted by in 3D Printer

Today we’re super excited to announce a massive step in a partnership that will help revolutionize the way the world looks at product design and digital manufacturing. We have installed the new HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer at our factory in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

Why are we excited? Back in 2014 we learned from Hewlett Packard, a company that holds true to a long history of deep innovation, that they were working on a new 3D printer. They told us that the new machine would be built for finished manufacturing (not only prototyping), would deliver great quality, would be 10x faster than existing machines and deliver parts at greatly reduced cost.  We know that better quality, lead times of 1 or 2 days and lower prices are exactly what the market needs.

That is why, in October that same year, we announced a partnership with Hewlett Packard.  This collaboration will enable both Shapeways and HP to work side-by-side to take 3D printing and digital manufacturing to a new level, with the official introduction of their new HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D Printing System.

During the last year and a half, teams at both HP and Shapeways have been working together forging the next milestone, which we are celebrating today; the announcement of this new printer by HP at RAPID and it’s first installation in our Eindhoven factory.

Being the first to take delivery of a prototype on this new platform in our Eindhoven factory, will enable a constant stream of information and feedback between HP and Shapeways.  This work will be focused on making sure the quality, speed, and experience is second to none.  (Seen here with Virginia Palacio from HP with Stefan Rink, our VP of Manufacturing)

In the early stages of testing, we will keep you posted on progress and hope to start using the machine to print your parts soon.

What’s so special about this new platform? Everything. Addressing 340 million 3D pixels or voxels per second, versus one point at a time means that the printer can bring high-quality nylon parts to life up to 10x faster than existing machines, at a much lower cost. This increase in speed could equate to the ability to move from same-week shipping to next day delivery. But that’s not all; Although this revolutionary system is rolling out with one color: Black nylon, over time the range of colors will dramatically increase, enabling the ability to include full-color plastic printing.  Yes, full-color plastic, at a cost potentially lower than current dyed nylons.

Pete

 

 

Halloween 3D Printing Contest

Hey Blenderheads, have we got a (trick or) treat for you!

Design your best 3D printable JACK-O-LANTERN and enter it into the Halloween 3D Modeling and Printing Contest to win $1,000 worth of prizes!  We’re thrilled to work with our friends at CG Cookie and Sketchfab to bring you these prizes and support your spooktacular creations.

We encourage you to get wild with your creations – fun, scary, cute, we can’t wait to see it all. The First Place winner will receive $100 in 3D printing credit with Shapeways, your design 3D printed in orange strong and flexible plastic ($50 value), a one year subscription to Sketchfab Pro ($120 value) + a Sketchfab T-shirt, Cardboard VR kit ($25 value) and a one year subscription to CG Cookie Citizen ($172 value)!

You have until Halloween night (October 31st, at 11:59pm) to submit your entry. Don’t miss out! Not a Blenderhead? You’re still eligible! See the full contest details and submit your entry here.

contest_halloween-2014_social-feature

Mission Print: Shapeways Partners with Future Engineers to 3D Print Tools Designed by Students for Astronauts in Space

“Your Challenge, Should You Choose to Accept, Is To Design A Space Tool”

spacexlaunch

Photo courtesy of SpaceX

This weekend, the first 3D printer launched into space.  This week, we’re proud to announce our partnership with Future Engineers, ASME and Made In Space on a series of NASA developed Space Challenges meant to empower innovative youth to design tools that can be printed and used in space.

Video courtesy of FutureEngineers.org

Together, we are about to make history. Today marks the beginning of manufacturing in space. Are you ready to take on the #MissionPrint Challenge? Here’s the launch video of SpaceX-4 that just successfully carried the Made In Space Zero-G 3D Printer to the ISS:

Video courtesy of SpaceX

Hearing mission control say “…and we have liftoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket and Dragon. CRS-4 is underway. A US commercial spacecraft launching from American soil delivers new technology and science to the International Space Station,” gives me and hopefully every other space lover chills. Knowing that that “new technology” is one that we all are fortunate enough to experiment with every day, the ability to additively manufacture on demand through 3D Printing, is inspiring. Remember, there is no overnight shipping to space; and it is physically impossible to traditionally manufacture parts in a space environment. We really are witnessing, and taking an active part in, making history.

ISS Prize

Screen Shots here and below courtesy of FutureEngineers.org

This is the first in a series of NASA developed 3D Space Challenges that Future Engineers and our other out-of-this-world partners are happy to share with the Shapeways community. Encourage every K-12 student you know interested in 3D Printing to check it out, and remember, ALL students (university, college, trade schools, and professors too) get 10% off ALL their prints at Shapeways ALL the time. What a great excuse to “ground print” and prototype your space tools with us.

Shapeways prints

Tools designed for this challenge are judged on the following well-rounded criteria:

  • 40 Points – Innovation and Creativity of the Solution
  • 20 Points – Ability to communicate the design through the Text Description and/or Finalist Interview
  • 20 Points – Quality of the 3D Modeled Geometry and compliance with the Design Guidelines
  • 20 Points – Usefulness of the design in a Space Environment

Astronaut Doug Wheelock explains further:

Video courtesy of FutureEngineers.org

Kids are powering innovative developments in 3D Printing across the unique web of our industry’s reach. They are opening shops on Shapeways, printing on desktop printers in their classrooms, and mod-ing their toys at home. There are dozen of touching stories of kids literally enabling the future of 3D printed prosthetics. And perhaps most profound of all, they can see what we can’t. Young minds aren’t limited by the bounds of conventional design and manufacturing constraints. Freed of this parameter, they are capable of leveraging the technology and materials available in unique new ways. Inspired by their potential, Future Engineers has an awesome lineup of prizes for the top contestants. The winner of the challenge will even have their tool printed in Zero-G’s on the ISS and get to watch live from Mission Control.  While the #MissionPrint Future Engineers contest is for K-12 students in the US only, we will be featuring innovative designs by makers of all ages on our blog between now and when winners are announced on January 30th, 2015.

Here’s a snapshot of the contest deadlines, for full details check out FutureEngineers.org.

spacedates

Are you ready to accept the #MissionPrint Challenge, stop dreaming and start doing? Keep us posted on your progress in our Space Forum and be sure and tag your space tools #MissionPrint. The best way to ensure your products will be astronaut-ready is to prototype on the ground, and we can’t wait to help.

To infinity… and 3D Printing beyond Earth!

 

 

Made In Space and SpaceX to Deliver First 3D Printer to Space

Imagine… being able to design tools for astronauts in outer space, that could be printed in space, using materials found right there, out in the galaxy. Sound like the start of next Armageddon-esk blockbuster? Well, it’s not.

dragon-lab-e1410581931375

Launching today, is SpaceX CRS-4, another historic Dragon spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station; but this time, it carries more than supplies and moustronauts. This spacecraft is taking a specially tested, groundbreaking new 3D Printer designed by the our friends at Made In Space, to the International Space Station for it’s first in-space testing. This marks the start of a new era, the first step in bringing on-demand additive manufacturing to outer space.

MIS_Printer_black

There are many challenges when designing for printing in 3D. For starters, there’s nothing to hold anything material in microgravity. Even after solving the gravity dilemma, the printer has to get off the ground, and endure 9G’s of force during launch. Ensuring precision with an extruder stabilized by no gravitational force was a problem our friends at Made In Space were committed to solving. After four years of extensive testing on microgravity flights and research at their NASA Ames office, their dream of 3D Printing of space is now being realized. You can watch the this historic moment live during the wee hours of the morning, a sleep sacrifice I’m personally more than willing to make.

After this initial round of tests, including the printing of 21 demonstration parts, Made In Space looks to recycle broken tools, space waste, and even regolith (aka moon dust) as material for the printer. The fact that this space man could be made of the moon dust we first saw Buzz Aldrin’s footprint in someday, quite soon, is absolutely mind blowing.

Astronaute Wireframe by Vidal Design

Oh, and about those Moustronauts. SpaceX will also carry 20 mice that will live on the ISS for 6 months, approximately a quarter of their lifetime, allowing scientists to study the effects of prolonged zero gravity exposure. This data can then be extrapolated out to apply to human life and weightlessness tolerances. Currently, astronauts spend six months in space at a time, missions to mars could take two years or more. The only way to see the effects of prolonged space travel, is to get help from our furry rodent friends. I can’t help but wonder, if things get out of control, will they have to 3D Print mousetraps?

All jokes aside, what is the biggest challenge you see with 3D Printing tools in space? What tools do you want to design for astronauts?

 

The Tribot – 3D Printer, CNC Milling and Injection Molding All in One Machine

Posted by in 3D Printer

It squirts, it cuts, it dices.  The Tribot by Luminar is trying to be the ultimate machine to take your idea from prototype to product using all the super powers required for each step in the manufacturing process.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 4.46.10 PM

The Tribot will retail at $9,950 in early 2015 but Kickstarter backers can back the progress for $7,700 with 8 units going pre-kickstarter (that’s a new thing) for only $5,000. While this may not be the finest resolution 3D printer on the market, the largest CNC milling bed or the type of injection molding rig capable of churning out tens of thousands of injection molded parts with multiple part molds and shut off faces, the ability to make a small run of a simple part in your workshop is something that desktop 3D printers cannot yet achieve.

The Tribot is not being launched by the usual geek/hipster trio that has become the default demographic for launching 3D printers on Kickstarter, the Tribot is being developed by a group of old school engineers and business types with years of experience with machines for making things.

What would you make with the 3DP, CNC and Injection molding combo?

Your Next Tattoo Made with a 3D Printer

Posted by in 3D Printer, Art, DIY, Video

What better use of the computer controlled x y motors of a 3D printer than to give yourself a tattoo.  Tattooing straight lines and perfect circles are super hard so the enigmatic crew of Appropriate Audiences have solved that problem by attaching a tattoo machine to their 3D printer to give the perfect circle tattoo (not the band logo).

3d print a tattoo

This should be listed under ‘do not try this at home’ as many territories have different laws on who and how to you can get tattooed.  To follow their process so you can see exactly how not to try this at home, Pierre Emm and friends have shared their how (not) to on Instructables.

SnowWhite a Low (ish) Priced ‘Cold’ SLS 3D Printer Currently in Development in Italy

The SLS 3D printer market is looking to be shaken up with yet another (relatively) low price SLS 3D printer currently in the research and development stage in Italy.  The SnowWhite is a cold SLS 3D printer by Sharebot that they are getting ready to unveil at the London 3D Printshow.

foto-1-Copia

Looking at the images they are still early on in the process, using a round piston as a print bed (round pistons are easier, ask Andreas Bastian with his Open SLS project) and a fairly small build area.  With the industrial 3D printers Shapeways uses for SLS 3D printing made by EOS, we heat the Nylon powder to just below melting point, then the laser raises the temperature only slightly to sinter the material from powder to solid.  Sintering the Nylon without pre-heating may cause greater thermal shock to the parts, and increase the power required of the laser, but it may also make it faster to cool down which could be a huge advantage to getting prototypes out faster.

foto-3

To get some insight from someone who has actually experimented with ‘cold SLS’ I asked Andreas Bastian to see if he could see an advantage over ‘pre-heated’ SLS.

I would be hard-pressed to list the performance advantages of cold SLS– while it saves on energy and BOM cost, the thermal gradient the material is subjected to is significantly larger (possibly leading to material degradation) and the curling/warping due to the massive thermal contractions of the material require support (really restraint) structures.  It’s the heated chamber in SLS that allows such freedom of form and geometry– an unheated SLS machine will have nearly all the same geometry constraints as an FDM machine, including the necessity of adhering the print to a build surface.  That being said, support/restraint structures for SLS are new territory and there may be viable options there.  As many of the low-cost FDM machines have demonstrated, it may not be necessary to fully replicate the process used at the industry level (heated chambers).  That being said, I would like to see some ASTM D638 tensile testing data before I print any functional parts on their system.

Sharebot are pitching the SnowWhite SLS 3D printer to sell for under $26,000 USD when it hits the market to join the Ice 1 & Ice 9 by Norge Systems  in the first wave of relatively low cost SLS 3D printers that may spread in a similar manner as FDM 3D printers have over the past 4 years.

The First Desktop SLS 3D Printer Now on Kickstarter

We have seen many FDM 3D Printers, a couple of SLA and even a few DLP 3D printers launch on Kickstarter, now the first of the much awaited SLS machines are starting to test the ravenous market for 3D printers.

DIY SLS 3D Printer on Kickstarter

SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) is the core technology behind our 3D Printed Nylon (white strong & flexible) 3D printing at Shapeways, one of our most popular materials.  The SLS process is by far the most versatile as the powder surrounding a sintered part acts as support material, so you can make complex, interlocking parts, with overhanging parts, cantilevers, holes in multiple directions, and hinged parts fully assembled, the excess powder is then brushed and blown away to reveal the part.  No nasty support material or structures to deal with.  In short, it is an incredibly versatile process.

The process is called Sintering, because the layer of powder is heated up to just below melting point, the laser then follows and melts the powder turning it into a solid, without it going to liquid form first.  This helps to control the material warpage and thermal shock so the 3D prints are accurate and strong.

The Ice 1 & Ice 9 by Norge Systems may be the first SLS 3D printer available at a price that is affordable for a small design firm at just over $8,000 USD at current exchange rates for the smaller Ice 1 on Kickstarter which has a Build volume: 200x200x250 mm Layer thickness: 0.1 – 0.15mm.  Not Shabby.  The Ice 9 promises a Build volume: 300x300x450 mm at a price point closer to $35,000 USD.

Ice9, the first low budget 3D SLS printer! from Norge Ltd on Vimeo.

To temper excitement, (oh, and I am VERY excited) the units are proposed to ship in December 2015 which is quite a wait if you have dropped $8,000 as a backer, coupled with the tendency for hardware on Kickstarter to ship late.  The video shows the printer in action, but does not show the printed part as traced by the laser, they do show a different 3D printed part being pulled from the powder so perhaps the machine is not quite fully functional yet.

If you have the cash and patience I would really love to see this unit hit the market so please do support this project and the designers behind it.  Meanwhile there seems to be another play flirting with the desktop (ok, maybe a little big for your actual desk) market with an eerily similar logo to Norge. The videos by Sintratec look to be a little further on in the machine development.

Keep your eyes peeled, either way, the SLS market is going to change, maybe not in the exact same way as the FDM 3D printer market, but it will change.

Announcing the Winners of the Prototype to Product Contest with Formlabs

We had a huge response to the Prototype to Product Contest we ran with our good friends at Formlabs. Entries ranging from highly detailed ZBrush sculpts through to complex, interlocking mechanical parts, architectural models to 3D printed fashion and jewelry,  through to the whimsically weird.  We even received a submission all the way from Gran Canaria (yes we had to google the location, and yes it is crazy remote).

Although we received nearly 300 designs, only one person will have a brand new Form 1+ 3D printer shipped to their door.  The judges deliberated against the criteria, there were was tension, there was joy, they argued long into the night.  The Formlabs team pumped some serious excel magic to tally the votes, Shawn Sims from NotCot cast his well trained eye over the entrants,  The Shapeways team checked that the designs would withstand the 3D printing test and together they deemed the winner of the grand prize to be…

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