New Material: Copper

Discussion in 'Official Announcements' started by gregorykress, Oct 16, 2019.

  1. gregorykress
    gregorykress Shapeways Employee CEO
    Hello Shapeways Community!

    Today, we’re excited to introduce a new material: Copper. Copper joins the growing portfolio of metals already available to Shapeways users, including bronze, steel, gold, and more.

    Copper is a precious metal with a variety of applications due to its unique properties. Copper initially has an orange-red metallic color but it oxidizes over time darkening and turning green in color. This oxidation process creates a boundary layer on the surface of copper parts making it highly resistant to corrosion and biofouling. While the oxidation makes it a less suitable material for jewelry, Copper is great for marine and aerospace applications or use in other harsh environments. It also has antiseptic properties which protects marine organisms making it an environmentally friendly material for undersea mechanisms like desalination devices and offshore drilling mechanisms. Copper also has excellent thermal and electrical conductivity. It heats quickly with a uniform heating profile and is commonly used in heat exchangers.

    Combining 3D printing and lost wax casting, our Copper manufacturing process is capable of producing creative new geometries that take advantage of the material properties for inventive industrial applications and unique decorative pieces.

    In addition to a Natural finish, we’re also offering a Polished Copper option, which will allow you to print your products with a smoother, shinier surface.

    We’re excited to see how our community will take advantage of this new offering!
    Model_Monkey likes this.
  2. EvieL
    EvieL Well-Known Member
    Is this material food safe?
  3. DaveC1964
    DaveC1964 Active Member
    The pricing on cast metals is way too high. It was practical for some things before the price tripled.
  4. Shea_Design
    Shea_Design Well-Known Member
    And Copper is not a precious metal. The current price of copper as of October 15, 2019 is $2.61 per pound.
    kaadesign and hanelyp like this.
  5. DaveC1964
    DaveC1964 Active Member
    Copper is a precious metal at Shapeways! I mean silver is like $15.00 per Oz. They charge like 100X more than the same model in bronze even though the process is the same. I had a model that was about 1oz of silver and the price was like $200 more for silver. I just tried for reference a model and they had a price of around $700 for bronze but over $1000 for the copper. Bronze is like 88% copper! The pricing makes no sense.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
    kaadesign and MANDELWERK like this.
  6. coelian276
    coelian276 Active Member
    Pure Copper also has a much higher melting point than Bronze. The amount of energy needed to melt a ladle full of pure Copper does cost much more than the same amount of Bronze. The material of the mold also has to withstand those higher temperatures and so the material for that also could be much higher. I work in a steel foundry and there is much more to casting metal than you might think. It's not only the volume of the part, you also need material for the inlet, runners, feeders, in short: the whole casting system. How much of this "extra" material is needed heavily depends on the cast material. For steel it is not unusual to have a yield of 50%. That means you have to cast double the mount of metal than your part will have in the end. For example: For a part that weights 1t, we have to melt 2t + a safety margin of about 10%.
    I'm not quite sure how high this yield is for Copper and Bronze, but even i are supprised sometimes how much of a difference there is between alloys that differ just a few % in just one element. Personally, i would't dare to question the price difference between the two materials because i really don't know all the steps in the manufacturing process. It's just not as simple as melting a pot of metal and puring it into a mold.
  7. coelian276
    coelian276 Active Member
    ...pouring it into a mold. (The system don't let me edit my post because it is SPAM?!?! o_O)
  8. TinyDemon
    TinyDemon Member
    Hey, @gregorykress, I'm trying to figure this out here.

    I've got a model that is 2.01 cubic cm which is about 0.63 oz of copper. If I use the price @DaveC1964 found, that's a little over 10 cents worth of material. If @coelian276 is right, it could easily rise to 22 cents (double plus 10%).

    To get it printed, however? $70.21 — unpolished.

    So, the final material might account for anywhere between 1.5% and 3% of the price. 97% is going to something else. Some is clearly going to the 3d-printed wax (remember when we could actually order wax?) According to the now-completely-outdated metric castable wax was something like $10 + $8 per cubic centimeter. For my little bauble, that would have been $26.08.

    So, let's say $30 to print the wax. 22 cents worth of copper. Where's the other $40 coming from? Remember that this is also assuming that SW was charging us at-cost for castable wax. As long as they were making any profit at all, that part of the cost should actually be lower— potentially much lower. If that cost is accurate and the rest is just labor, can we get the castable wax back? I'll gladly make my own mold (I've done both sand and plaster casting and can access a foundry). I like trimming sprues— it's a relaxing way to start on the final polish.

    It only gets more strange to look at casting the same part in silver. It should be the same process with the same amount of labor. There may be different amounts of material needed, but not quite enough to justify the difference in cost.

    In silver, the same part is $100.30 — also unpolished.

    Silver, however, is currently $17.62 per ounce. Working on the double plus 10% rule, that should cost $23.31 but it has over a $30 difference. It's conceivable that you could have enough waste/spillage to justify the difference (although my jewelry professor would be angry at me if I'd ever wasted that much silver). Needing double plus a safety margin is totally understandable when you're in a jewelry class learning lost wax for the first time. I've known professionals who'd figured out how to get perfect pours with only a tiny amount of waste and the most beautifully economical sprues you can imagine. It is possible, even with needing excess for each pour, to recycle the cast sprues (especially with silver) so the idea of every maker bearing the same cost of extra material is also not quite right.

    SW should be working to make the process as efficient as possible, or at least providing us some reason the cost is so high.

    The message, @gregorykress, is that we want to be excited. We want to try out all your new materials, but it's just not going to happen if we feel like we're being gouged.
  9. crashtestdummy
    crashtestdummy Well-Known Member
    Until about a year ago I did too, your forgetting the material for the inlet feeders and runners as well as over pour is reclaimable for the next run, and only the heat is lost. We ran at such a high volume and speed even that wasn't fully lost as the parts were still hot when they were fed back to the furnaces.

    Not sure if SW cost are that high or if the high pricing is to make up for the past years losses. As for lots of other things shop around, SW does have some capabilities others don't offer at the same time SW is also not the lowest cost provider of everything it once was. If anything it seems like the pricing formula is to take the low cost provider's price than add 30%-50% mark up.

    I haven't given up on SW just the way things are have to change for the good of the company and our business relationship. I may like the company but I juts cant afford to pay 50% or more for a part, I got to make money too.
  10. lawrencekramer2014
    lawrencekramer2014 Well-Known Member
    Thanks for adding copper. It can be used in enameling (as can silver, 18K gold, and maybe bronze) brass can not. I will probably order a few things in copper to test some new concepts.

    My wish list still includes rhodium plated silver.
    EvieL likes this.
  11. javelin98
    javelin98 Well-Known Member
    Yeah, good luck with that! We all tried to make this same point during last year's disastrous pricing model changes, and all we got was a virtual middle finger from the management. It still amazes me that the board of directors hasn't yet fired Kress and the rest of his management team and brought in someone more competent.
  12. RolandR
    RolandR Member
    This is a very niche question, but can Shapeways ship copper to Switzerland?

    I wanted to order and sell my earrings in silver, but due to legal reasons, SW can't ship silver or gold to my country.