Quality overall, is a measure of excellence. Taking that a step further, quality control in 3D printing consists of checks and balances meant to ensure the highest standards are maintained in manufacturing, satisfying project requirements without problems, and enhancing customer satisfaction. Shapeways engineers have been relying on and continuing to refine meticulous 3D printing quality control systems for over a decade. 

This focus, combined with full-color 3D printing, was a major point of discussion in a recent webinar detailing how Shapeways produces high quality parts, time after time, complemented by manufacturing partnerships with other industry leaders like Mimaki. 


Enriching 3D Printed Parts with Full Color

3D printing in High Definition Full Color allows for vibrantly colored 3D models and miniatures with intensive detail, but that does not mean that the design process has to be more complicated for Shapeways customers. With exciting, powerful technology performing the bulk of the work, designers also have the opportunity to choose from over ten million colors for applications requiring high quality in production, to include:

  • Medicine – Surgical prep models can be created with unprecedented photorealism; for example, anatomically correct 3D printed medical models are produced with rich colors representing human organs like the heart.
  • Architecture and Real Estate – Designers and developers can make it possible to envision what the entire structure of a neighborhood block will look like, arranging buildings as well as indicating detailed landscapes, roadways, and bridges.
  • Gaming – Countless variations are possible for customized characters and other miniatures, with the ability to offer the finest detail imaginable–right down to the shading in a feather or the breadth of a hair.

Shapeways brings many years of quality control in 3D printing to accompany Mimaki’s perspective in producing impressive hardware, as well as great expertise in reproducing color.


Designing 3D Printing Files for Success 

Knowledge of 3D printing basics, the principles of design, and the use of modeling tools and modifiers to make adjustments is necessary to creating suitable geometries. The desired result in designing a model is clean mesh geometry that is easy to edit when choosing edges and faces, and subdividing–in comparison with a messy topology that could present difficulty later. 

The basics of good file creation also include understanding what is required to work with specific 3D printers, considering requirements like:

  • Part size
  • Supports
  • Fittings and assemblies
  • Specific 3D printing materials
  • Manufacturing environment
  • Tolerances and clearances

Color can be applied to 3D mesh through texturing or directly into the mesh. When adding color to a 3D design, it helps to clearly define the purpose of the model first, considering how thick the color layer will be and how it will affect even minimal features. It’s also critical to understand how certain file types carry color; for example, while many are able to carry colors in high definition, an .stl file can only carry a solid color.

Uploading the 3D Model Activates the Quality Control Process

Quality management is activated as soon as a designer uploads a 3D model to Shapeways. This process is the catalyst for setting the entire 3D printing journey in motion. Once the file is uploaded, the designer receives an instant quote generated according to volume, price of materials, factory costs, and other details. 

The next step is file analysis, one of the main practices for ensuring a quality 3D printed product.

In some cases, customers are able to upload their 3D models successfully; however, if a file is not suitable for printing, the problem is usually due to a common issue like lack of compatibility between the design and 3D printing material guidelines, rejections for weak geometries, details, or wall thickness. 

Personalized feedback is available for file fixing, and the goal of Shapeways is to regenerate any models that may not initially have been possible to 3D print without correction by the designer. This could involve help from the User Application Team at Shapeways too, with analysis and assistance meant to provide the best in quality management overall.

“We are there to help with any and all questions about design, materials, or the processes that make our customers’ models come to life,” says Zach Dillon, User Application Team Lead at Shapeways.

Defining 3D Printing Quality Management, Assurance, and Control

As a long-time leader in additive manufacturing, Shapeways has a comprehensive quality management system, which oversees all the processes required for making quality products and offering the best in customer service too. 

The quality management process encompasses all aspects of planning quality assurance in terms of continued attention paid to products during the course of manufacturing, as well as quality control in 3D printing to monitor progress and then finalize operations with testing and inspection of 3D prints. The last step is in delivering a meticulously manufactured product to the customer, free of any defect or damage.

Every 3D print is just as important as any other, no matter the scale, in terms of excellence in manufacturing, and care for quality from the beginning. For many designers, the ability to add full color for greater depth sets their 3D prints apart, along with relying on Shapeways for advanced technology and rigorous quality management. 

To find out more about how Shapeways 3D prints for full color with Mimaki technology, check out the recent webinar, ‘File Preparation for Texture Based Full Color 3D Printing,’ here.

About Shapeways

Enjoy the benefits of this advanced technology and a wide range of materials from Shapeways for 3D printing your creations with accuracy, complex detail, and no minimum or limits in terms of mass customization or single part orders. Shapeways has worked with over 1 million customers in 160 countries to 3D print over 21 million parts! Read about case studies, find out more about Shapeways additive manufacturing solutions, and get instant quotes here.