Cheaper metals?

Discussion in 'Suggestions & Feedback' started by AcetheSuperVillain, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. AcetheSuperVillain
    AcetheSuperVillain New Member
    I would love to have a metal material that is cheaper than, or around the same price as ShapeWay's steel options, but suitable for smaller detailed models like D&D or wargaming miniatures. The detail level of brass/bronze is fantastic, but of course, very expensive. I don't know if the cost of Shapeway' copper alloys are driven by the cost of copper or because of the complex 5-step used to make them. I would love to be able to offer customers an attractive looking but cheap metal material.

    I know a lot of miniatures are cast in pewter, such as Ral Partha's. Most of history's pewter was 90% tin and 10% lead, but modern pewter is usually made lead-free out of 92% pewter, 7.5% antimony and 0.5% copper. Other combinations exist. My understanding is that lead is not dangerous as long as it doesn't get in your mouth, but that might be a legal hassle that Shapeways would rather avoid. I'm assuming that the lower melting point of pewter would reduce the costs of working with it. Unfortunately, and this a surprise to me, it seems that Tin costs 3x as much as Copper right now.

    Another cheap, low melting point metal is Zinc. I'm less familiar with this material or its alloys, except that pennies are made out of it (only the outer coating is copper), and pennies are generally known for being cheap, sturdy enough and finely detailed. Zamak, white metal and pot metal are popular zinc alloys.

    Aluminum is the poster child for cheap metals, but it seems dubious since Aluminum is not used for small detailed models. However, aluminum alloys might be suitable for 3D printing, such as Magnalium or Silumin.

    Lead and cadmium are also inexpensive, but they are poisonous.

  2. Not quite. Don't eat it. Don't breathe the fumes if you melt it. Don't rub any on your skin, as it may get absorbed transdermally. Ever seen a lead dildo? No? Same reason. Basically, it's a good idea to stay away from it entirely. Lead is not particularly dangerous so long as you leave it unmined in the ground. After that, all bets are off.

    As for Shapeways, any foundry metals are going to follow the same process as silver, brass and bronze, with the possible exception of those following the same process as stainless steel. That is to say, slow, expensive, and labour intensive.
  3. AcetheSuperVillain
    AcetheSuperVillain New Member
    There are other metal 3D printing techniques out there, though, such as the new Vader printer. Raw Brass and Bronze cost way less than Raw Silver and the market price of Zinc is less than the market price of copper. The lower melting points of zinc and pewter may also factor into the price of the procedure. I'd love to at least learn more about the numbers involved.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
  4. The Vader printer is not yet available for sale. As such it is not yet independently proven, much less ready for a production environment.

    Silver is a precious metal.

    The cost of the metal itself is only a small portion of the production cost.