What to consider when working with Alumide?

Discussion in 'Technologies and Hardware' started by Noshaper, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. Noshaper
    Noshaper New Member
    My consideration of Alumide is based on the assumption that Alumide will give me - almost - the same features of WSF but will have a much smoother surface. (though I would love to have the finer detail of WSF).

    As Newbie I am still reading thru the huge knowledge base in this Forum. What I have not yet found is the following:

    - Is there a level of shrinkage when printing Alumide?
    - How to colour Alumide objects?
    - How strong is Alumide really?
    - does it need to be preserved in any way?

    Would love to hear feedback from the people who have already used this material - and how it compares to other materials like WSF!
  2. bitstoatoms
    bitstoatoms Member
    Hi and welcome.

    I am a big fan of alumide as the smoothness allows for crisper edges and greater definition, also making it easier to photograph..

    - Is there a level of shrinkage when printing Alumide?
    No more than WSF, possibly less

    - How to colour Alumide objects?
    Sorry have not tried

    - How strong is Alumide really?
    qualities are similar to WSF but, it is more rigid and more fragile with greater heat resistance.

    - does it need to be preserved in any way?
    Are you worried about discoloration or oxidization? I have not experienced either..

    Best of luck
  3. Noshaper
    Noshaper New Member
    Hi and thanks for your response!

    As for shrinkage, I read that WSF shrinks but that this can/should be ajusted by the printer operator. Not sure what that means for the drawings. Should I just keep it to 100% and hope it will be correct?

    As for preservation: I read that WSF needs to be treated otherwise it will change colour. As Alumide consists mostly of WSF.....
  4. clsn
    clsn Well-Known Member
    Take a look at http://www.shapeways.com/forum/index.php?t=msg&th=3693&a mp;start=0&#msg_num_13 for my single attempt so far at dyeing alumide. It was successful, I think; I just haven't needed/wanted to do it again.

    I don't know if alumide is "much" smoother than WSF; I guess it depends on what "much" means. It *looks* cooler and more detailed, certainly. It is more brittle and less strong than WSF.
  5. Noshaper
    Noshaper New Member
    the dyed objects look great!

    now for smoothness, my take of WSF was that the surface was very grainy and I thought that wouldn't be the case with Alumide.

    Probably the best thing for me to do is to get a sample package of all the available material before picking the right material
  6. stop4stuff
    stop4stuff Well-Known Member
    From my sample kit, by running my thumbnail across both , I'd say Alumide and WSF are about the same for surface texture, however Alumide looks smoother due to the 'sparkly bits'
  7. gibell
    gibell Well-Known Member
    I agree that the surface texture is similar for WSF vs Alumide. My understanding is that Alumide is just WSF with metal powder thrown in with the nylon powder.

    Flat surfaces seem smoother than curved surfaces for both materials. Especially planes parallel to the print surface can be quite smooth. Something like a sphere always seems to have the most texture.

    I don't use Alumide any more because it is significantly weaker than WSF. Where WSF bends, Alumide breaks. Depends on what you intend to use it for, I suppose.
  8. Noshaper
    Noshaper New Member
    Thank you all very much for your feedback, that's very helpfull.

    I think I'll try WSF first. Now I only have to fix the shrinkage problem, as my models should be "exactly" to scale.
  9. gibell
    gibell Well-Known Member
    My models are very sensitive to size variations, and I haven't noticed any shrinkage problems with WSF. If I print a part out at 12mm, I can measure with calipers and it will be 12mm to within 0.1mm.
  10. torweis
    torweis New Member
    Ops, Sorry, I can't confirm this. I have just received a job where the Alumide shrunk a lot! Same file was printed with WSF and this material was exact size whereas Alumide shrunk. ~ 2% !! (It was a hollow Container with dimension about 40 x 10 x 10mm)

    Could someone from Shapeways answer if the material Alumide is supposed to shrink please?

    I could not find anything about shrinkage on the material sheet.