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Steel

60% Stainless Steel / 40% Bronze Matrix Material

Colors

Steel Bronzed Silver Steel Polished Bronze Steel Polished Gold Steel Black Steel Polished Nickel

About Steel

Steel is an affordable and strong metal that is well-suited for consumer products both small and large with an industrial look and feel. It's printed using a binder jetting process and is later infused with bronze, creating a material that is 60% steel and 40% bronze and can range in color from a silver gray to reddish bronze. It is strong enough for metal parts like bottle openers and dice, but is not recommended for industrial load bearing applications.

Common Applications

Tools & Accessories, Dice, Home Decor, Small Sculptures

Material Properties

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Good Strength
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Many available colors
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Supports larger parts

Handling and Care

Not Food Safe Icon
Not Foodsafe
Heatproof
Heatproof to 831C/1521F

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Frequently Asked Questions

What colors and finishes are available for this material?


Finishes

Matte: This finish is unpolished for a rough and matte surface.
Polished: This finish is polished for a shiny and smooth look and feel.

*Results may vary depending on geometry and model detail.

Colors

Bronzed-Silver: A metallic silvery color with a bronze tint.
Gold: Thin layer of 24K gold plating that will wear with handling
Nickel: Thin layer of nickel plating providing a shiny silver gray color than can darken over time with exposure to skin.
Bronze: This finish gives the material a brown antique bronze look
Black: The black finish gives the material a dark gray to black look

Would you recommend this material for rings?

After printing, the model is sintered in a furnace. During this process, there is some shrinkage which can be unpredictable. We don't recommend creating rings for accurate ring sizes in this material due to this unpredictable shrinkage.

How is this material made?

To build steel models, special 3D printers deposit small drops of glue onto layers of stainless steel powder, one layer at a time, until the print is complete. We carefully remove these models from the printer. At this stage of the process, the objects are very fragile, similar to wet sand. The models then go through an infusion process that replaces the glue with bronze, creating a full metal product. Models are then processed to achieve your desired finish, sprayed with a sealant, and shipped to you.

What are the circle marks that are sometimes seen on my product?

The bronze infiltration process requires the addition of supporting stilts that are broken off and polished away after infusion. This can create small, round marks on the final product that appear smoother and more polished than the rest of the product.

Technical Documents

More Materials

Many colors & finishes

Good strength & durability

Good value

Applications
Prototypes
Tech Accessories
Home Decor
Technology
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
High Strength & Lightweight
High Accuracy
Good corrosion resistance
Applications
Mechanical Parts
Bike Parts
Structural Parts
Technology
Selective Laser Melting
  • Bounding Box
  • Wall Thickness
  • Wires
  • Surface Details
  • Escape Holes
  • Clearance
  • Interlocking Parts
  • Multiple Parts
  • Sprues
  • Accuracy
  • Design Tips
  • Pricing

BOUNDING BOX

Maximum
762 × 393 × 393 mm (Bronzed-Silver, Bronze, Black)
178 × 178 × 178 mm (Gold, Nickel)
Minimum
3.0 × 3.0 × 3.0 mm

Your model should be within the minimum and maximum bounding box sizes. The maximum bounding box represents the largest model that that we can manufacture. The minimum bounding box size is the smallest dimension in which we can manufacture in this material.

WALL THICKNESS

Wall Supported
Min Supported Wall Thickness
1.0 mm
Min Unsupported Wall Thickness
1.0 mm

A supported wall is connected on at least two sides. Walls in your model must meet the minimum measurements to ensure it survives the printing and cleaning process. Thin walls are prone to warping during printing and are fragile to clean. Objects that meet the minimum requirements may still be rejected based on the geometry in which case our production team will communicate with you if the design needs improvements and can assist you to strengthen your model. The minimum wall thickness may vary by length and can be checked using the 3D Tools for a given model.

WIRES

Wire Supported
Min Supported Wires
1.0 mm
Wire Free
Min Unsupported Wires
1.0 mm

A geometry is considered a wire when it's thinner in both unconnected directions than its length. Wires that are under our suggested minimums are prone to breaking in the cleaning process, or warping.

SURFACE DETAILS

Embossed
Min embossed detail
1.0 mm high & wide mm thick
Engraved
Min engraved detail
1.0 mm high & wide mm thick

We recommend these minimum measurements for details like embossing or engraving, based off of printer resolution.

Although 0.2mm details will show up in this material, we find that text raised at least 0.5 mm shows up most clearly. If you want crisper text or embossed details, try bumping the thickness up to 0.5 mm.

ESCAPE HOLES

Escape One
Single Escape Hole Diameter
4.0 mm
Escape Two
Multiple Escape Hole Diameter
2.0 mm

Pressurized air is used to blast excess powder from models that are hollow, or contain hollow cavities. In order for us to safely do this, escape holes need to be larger than 4.0 mm in diameter. For models larger than 50.00 mm³ we require two or more escape holes at least 2.00 mm in diameter.

Escape Blocked Escape None
A single escape hole at the end of a cavity will not allow material in the corners near the escape hole to fully escape. So we recommend multiple escape holes at both ends of the cavity.

CLEARANCE

3.0 mm

Clearance is the space between an two parts, e.g. space between gears or a ball and socket joint.

INTERLOCKING AND ENCLOSED PARTS ?

No.
Steel is printed by depositing a liquid binder onto a bed of steel powder one layer at a time. The product is then removed from the printer and infused with bronze. While the product is being transferred from the printer to the infusion chamber, it exists in a delicate "green state" which does not support interlocking parts.

MULTIPLE PARTS ?

Up to 250.

SPRUES

We cannot print Steel parts with sprues. Any part with sprues will be rejected.
Since sprues are inherently thin by design, Bronze will not be able to be infiltrated between parts that are sprued and the model will fail in production.

ACCURACY

±5%
The bronze infiltration of each steel part makes this material less dimensionally accurate than other Shapeways materials. Shrinkage is more prevalent, especially on small holes and inner diameters. Accuracy and tolerance can vary greatly depending on the model, and are hard to predict because they are so geometry specific.
A 5% deviation on a ring is around 1 US ring size. So if you order a size 6, the deviation could cause the actual print to be a size 5 or 7.

DESIGN TIPS

Print Lines or "Stepping"

A "staircase" effect, or print lines, can occur on the surface of your print. These can become more pronounced on curved and angled surfaces.

Color Variation

The way that bronze infiltrates the steel can vary, and this changes the color of your product. If there is a higher concentration of Bronze near the surface, it will take on more of Bronze's deep brown color over steel's gray color. This has the most noticeable impact on Stainless Steel, but can also affect the shade of other finishes. The color can range from bronze to silver.

Sandcastle Rule: If this structure was made of wet sand, would it break?

There's a part in the production process for stainless steel 3D printing during which the model is fragile and brittle. It's basically like wet sand. When you design, ask yourself this question: if I made this out of wet sand or brittle clay, could I lift the design without it breaking? If the answer is "no," then your design might break in production.

Nickel and Gold Finishes Can Wear Through

Matte Gold, Polished Gold, and Polished Nickel Steel go through an electroplating process that deposits a 100 micron layer on the outside of the product. This gives them a unique finish and is great for aesthetic purposes, but will wear off on functional products that are exposed to friction.

Nickel Allergies

Some people may have a nickel allergy, so we do not recommend using the Polished Nickel finish for wearable items, particularly jewelry. Shapeways Steel is not completely corrosion-resistant and may tarnish.

Small Engraved Details and Sharp Corners

Steel products are tumbled with a corn polishing media to smooth out their surface. If your product has small engraved details or sharp corners, this polishing media may get stuck. To avoid this issue, make your engraved details over 2mm wide and avoid sharp corners.

Too Delicate or Large for Polishing

Products larger than 150 x 150 x 150 mm and products with particularly thin features or details will undergo bead blasting instead of the regular polishing process in order to avoid breakage. This may lead to a rougher and less consistent finish than usual.

Plating

Models containing a liquid holding cavity that are difficult to fully dry run the risk of corrosion and cannot be plated.

PRICING

How will the price of my model be calculated?

  • Material Volume - the amount of material needed to 3D print your product
  • Number of parts - a part is a piece of a model that can be separated from other pieces of the model
  • Production - associated production costs including labor; quality control; machine maintenance; general utilities; and other supporting services required to 3D print your product

What is the minimum price per part?

The minimum price per part is $15 or $0.30 x Parts Bounds Volume [cc]. The Parts Bounds Volume is the sum of the bounding box volume of each part in a model file.

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