Can We Talk About Steel Again?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Ontogenie, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. Ontogenie
    Ontogenie Well-Known Member
    I realize that steel is the problem child of the materials. Sometimes it's absolutely an angel (see EvieL's beautiful Acanthus bracelet), and sometimes it's a monster.
    I think that the design tips for steel need to be rewritten to reflect the changing polishing policies at ExOne.
    spiroidea fail.jpg
    Case in point, my Spiroidea Radiolarian figurine that has been printed AND polished multiple times and always looked like the one on the left in the photo. Until this year, that is, because ExOne has decided it can't be polished. I received the one on the right, which clearly hasn't been given any love. I submitted a complaint, I received a replacement, and again, it looks exactly like the one on the right. The order was for an Etsy customer in Norway. I sent her the ugly one but refunded her the full cost of the item. I have since taken this particular design off the market.

    If ExOne's idea about what is polishable has changed, that is fine. Just give us designers a heads up, please, and tell us what we're doing wrong. Their caprice is messing with my business. :mad:
  2. LoveAndShapes
    LoveAndShapes Well-Known Member
    Beiing unhappy how some silver pieces where polished, I started to do my own polishing.
    Its not my favorite part, but at least I can confol how it looks :)

    Regards, Robert
    Ontogenie likes this.
  3. 8_Perf
    8_Perf Well-Known Member
    I always wondered if something like a rock tumbler with a very fine polishing powder inside would work on any of these type pieces.
    Ontogenie likes this.
    MANDELWERK Well-Known Member
    @Ontogenie, I share your experience with bad quality steel prints lately.
    They also look like they havn't been polished, and inner structures looks almost rusty.
    I filed a complaint about one of the prints, and got a refund because they didn't think it would be better next time they printed it (I have made similar models before which came out great).
    I am reluctant to put those models up for sale, not knowing what customers will receive.
    Also the vendor (new?) who prints it suddenly started to reject models which had been printed perfectly before because of "too fine details, nowhere to place the stilt". :rolleyes:
    BeepBeep3D and Ontogenie like this.
  5. FerretDesigns
    FerretDesigns Well-Known Member
    I had a long period of terrible steel prints (polished bronze and stainless on the whole) where I had perfect prints one time, then a string of terrible ones including terrible reprints that got past QC...and then suddenly...most of my prints were coming out perfect every time. I've had a few bad ones creep in again recently, but it's still on the whole better than a year ago for me.
    Like this Grey Steel I had to reject yesterday. The texture looks like crap, and this design has been very consistent recently. This is raised, pitted, scratched and almost like they dumped a load of the coating on top and then just left it. Thankfully it looks like they'll be reprining it, but it was for a waiting customer and I've had to explain that it'll be another 2-3 weeks wait. I hate it when we have to do that. Black_Rat_Poorfinish.jpg
    BeepBeep3D likes this.
  6. Ontogenie
    Ontogenie Well-Known Member
    I hear you on not wanting to set the steel models for sale. As far as I know, there's been no change in's still ExOne. They've just become much more reluctant to take on challenging pieces.
    FerretDesigns and MANDELWERK like this.
  7. Ontogenie
    Ontogenie Well-Known Member
    This is one possible solution. I might have to invest in a Dremel one of these days.
  8. Ontogenie
    Ontogenie Well-Known Member
    I know this has been a constant battle for you. I don't really understand the lackadaisical approach to quality control by the steel printing company but I guess it's because jewelry and other one-off items are not their main profit source. I'd like to see another company pick up the baton and provide better quality. I think steel is an amazing material when it's done well.

    And, yes, I haaaate it when it affects an Etsy order!!!
  9. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    In the past, quaiilty issues with the steel material have been excused with the special contract that supposedly allows shapeways to offer the material at bargain prices. So a not too far-fetched conclusion could be that the new CEO negotiated even better terms and conditions...
  10. LoveAndShapes
    LoveAndShapes Well-Known Member
    I use a flex shaft with various silicone polishing discs to remove the majority of the unwanted texture (sterling silver only), after that I put the pieces in the tumbler. Don't know how a dremel would work but I can highly recommend taking this in your own hands. Btw.... i'm going to buy a vacuum pump and some other stuff, prepare to do some silicone moldsing experiments. Let me know if you are still interested doing something like that.

    Kind regards, Robert
  11. MrNibbles
    MrNibbles Well-Known Member
    I got back a fishing lure spoon in regular steel that looked pretty good. I even had to add the customization myself since CustomMaker wasn't working (does it work yet?) . Of course the fish don't really care so much about finish quality.
  12. Brazen123
    Brazen123 Member
    I just recieved a steel piece that wasn't printed/polished correctly and emailed a complaint a few days ago. A service teammate told me she'd see about having it reprinted for me but I'm curious. How long does it usually take to get an update email? Should I give it a week or two? A month? Never had this happen before so I don't know the timeframe.
  13. FerretDesigns
    FerretDesigns Well-Known Member
    I've had it as quick as a couple of days, and as long as a week.
  14. JoyComplex
    JoyComplex Active Member
    I've given up having high expectations for steel. I just accept it for what it is and polish the pieces at home with a cheap bench polisher. If I have to do any detail work I'll bust out the Dremel.