Limited Edition Finishes (Subject to change)
Gloss Oribe Green
See current status
20 business days for US, CA, NZ and AU
22 business days for ROW
Designing for Porcelain
Porcelain is a unique material created by Shapeways. Utilizing our expertise in 3D printing and countless hours of R&D, we’ve developed a unique porcelain body which can be cast using individual 3D printed molds. This opens up the possibilities for creative textures, surfaces and geometry while providing a strong material with low shrinkage. Porcelain is food, dishwasher and oven safe.
Because of the unique production process to create porcelain, our design guidelines go beyond general values for thickness. For certain geometries, it is not possible to generate a useable mold. Please review the following information along with a summary of how porcelain is produced to gain insight into the types of products we can print.
Design Guidelines for Porcelain CeramicThe rules to follow in order to create successful products in Porcelain Ceramic. Read more on model checks
|Max bounding box||
125 × 125 × 200 mm
For us to be able to make a product, each of its pieces must fit within these dimensions.
To ensure the successful creation of your product, make sure the bounding box fits within our maximum limit. If it does not, you can try scaling it down, removing unnecessary features to reduce the bounding box, or considering another material with a bigger maximum bounding box.
|Min bounding box||
40 × 40 × 10 mm
For us to be able to make a product, each of its pieces must be bigger than these dimensions.
For Porcelain, the minimum bounding box is determined by our ability to successfully cast very tiny products.
To ensure the successful creation of your product, make sure the bounding box of your product is larger than our minimum. If it is not, you can try scaling it up, thickening, combining, or enlarging parts and features, or trying a material with a smaller minimum bounding box.
Models must be able to stand on their own:
Models must be able to stand on their own during firing in the kiln. Any surface touching the floor of the kiln will be left unglazed. It is best to have a defined or flat surface that will not roll or move through normal use.
|Miminum Wall & Wire Thickness||
Porcelain is strong enough for thin walls, but the tight mold cavities that create thin walls are difficult to clean. 5mm is recommended, but walls as thin as 3mm are possible with some geometries. As geometry becomes larger and more complex (i.e. holes and wires) we recommend thickening walls to increase our ability to generate a castable mold.
|Minimum Detail||1.0 mm|
The base porcelain has the same detail as our Strong and Flexible materials, but glazing reduces this detail slightly. Bear in mind that glazes are all chemically different and look unique depending on the model’s surface.
|Maximum Wall & Wire Thickness||50.0 mm thick|
Models that are excessively thick or have parts where geometry abruptly transitions from thick to thin may cause the model to crack in firing.
3.0 mm clearance
Clearance is the space between any two parts, walls or wires.
Features less than 3mm apart are likely to become connected during glazing.
|Interlocking and enclosed parts?||No. Interlocking and enclosed parts will fuse during glazing and firing.|
± 3% shrinkage + 0.2-1.0 mm of glaze.
During firing, porcelain shrinks and the glaze redistributes across the surface. Both are geometry specific, and therefore hard to predict but highly repeatable.
|Multiple parts per model file?||
Yes, up to 2.
Feel free to include up to 2 parts per file, but remember that you’ll be charged labor per part.
Cleaning excess powder from the 3D printed molds is our biggest limitation in manufacturing porcelain. The mold is an inverse of the product itself, where solids of the product are empty space. Laser sintering the mold leaves its interior full of loose powder. We carefully blow it out with compressed air through the flat base of the model, but tight cavities far from the base opening are hard or impossible to clean. This means that models which are complex and have multiple holes in walls or long wires become increasingly hard to print. If you need to troubleshoot, try making the model solid and based on a single "core".
Because of the molding process, some surfaces may contain seam lines and marks from the funnel. We do our best to repair the surface of the model but because this is done manually there may be some trace memory of these marks left on the surface.
|Surface and Glazing||
Glazes are more than just pigments, they are colored glass being added to the surface of model. Because of this, each glaze behaves differently and will yield different results. Glazes may vary in thickness depending on the geometry, this could include dripping and ripples. Porcelain tends to chip when very thin and glazes will be extra thin on sharp edges, so we recommend rounding off all edges.
Matte Black, Gloss Black, Gloss White, and Gloss Red go on the surface of the model in a consistent, opaque tone. Small details may be reduced due to the thickness of the glaze.
Gloss Celadon Green, Gloss Oribe Green, Gloss Cobalt Blue, and Gloss Blue are more translucent and edges may break, causing embossed detail to appear whiter and engraved details to be a deeper color. Because of how the glazes move on the surface during firing the thickness of the glaze may vary based on the geometry.
The process starts when you upload and order a model in porcelain. Left: View of the model. Right: Cross section of the model
Our Porcelain Checking Team uses special software to generates a mold which, after printing, can be taken apart and cleaned. The mold may require multiple parts in order for the internal spaces to be properly cleaned of raw unsintered powder. The mold making software also adds a funnel to the mold, through which the porcelain is poured.
Left: Cross section of 3 mold parts
The porcelain material is poured in and allowed to dry
When the porcelain dries, the mold is removed and the product is fired in a kiln.
The funnel for pouring is cut off and any seam lines or defects on the surface are manually repaired. Because the seam lines are repaired by hand, internal surfaces that are not accessible may be left as is.
Depending on the geometry, the Porcelain product is either dipped or sprayed with glaze and then fired again. This causes the glaze to melt and coat the surface of the product. Any spots left unglazed will remain white.
Denser Can Be Better
Unlike most of our other 3D printed materials, for which the cost depends on product volume, Porcelain is priced based on the surface area of the part. This means that often times, hollow parts are more expensive than solid parts, since they have greater surface area even if there is less volume. Thicker, denser parts are also easier to manufacture and ship, so they are more likely to be successful products.
Large flat bottoms offer better access for cleaning and add stability in glaze firing. Flat bottoms can be removed in the mold and any defects are easily repaired. Models without flat bottoms need to be designed with consideration for how the model will sit in the kiln during firing.
Too Many Holes
Holes in the walls of models will generate connections between the inside and outside of the mold. These can be extremely difficult to separate, take apart and properly clean out.
Hollow molds tend to make overhanging geometry inside of the model. These can prevent our tools from accessing the interior and cleaning it fully. Instead of fully hollow parts, consider making the model as solid as possible.
Wires and Complex Geometry
Long wires can turn into tunnels which can be difficult to airblast fully.
Some geometries with thin cantilevered walls and wires may easily break in production. Extended features should be short and well supported.
Details and Printing
Embossed and engraved details are limited by the resolution of the SLS printing along with the cleaning and casting process.
Glaze Access for Internal Surfaces
An internal surface, such as the inside of a tube or hollow cavity, can only be glazed if we can physically reach it. To ensure that the interior of a product is completely glazed, please make sure the cavity opening is at least 15mm in diameter. This is particularly important for products intended to hold water, such as vases. If the opening of a vase is under 15mm, the inside will not be fully glazed, and the vase will not be water tight.
Choosing a Glaze
The glazing of each model is done by hand with special attention by our inhouse ceramicists. Because the glaze is applied by people and not machines, the application of every model will be slightly different. This is part of the beauty of a ceramic object - it also means the glaze choice for your piece is extremely important.
Glazes are a type of glass used to achieve a wide variety of effects on the surface of a ceramic product. They can have a variety of characteristics:
Gloss Celedon is a transparent blue green perfect for objects with small details
Gloss Oribe Green is a transparent emerald green glaze. The unique nature of this glaze is its slight color variation depending on application. This glaze is good for medium sized details.
Gloss Red is a glossy opaque glaze that will often completely obscure details
Gloss White is a Semi-Opaque glaze. It has thick coverage on surfaces, and thinner coverage on high points and sharp edges. This glaze will show some detail but is ideal for designs with large details and/or smooth surfaces.
Gloss Black is a glossy opaque glaze that will often completely obscure details
Matte Black is an opaque glaze that will often completely obscure details.