You can stop pounding on that anvil now; steel fabrication has moved onto the web. Shapeways, a company that made its name offering custom 3-D printing in plastic and resin, will now print your designs in stainless steel. All you have to do is upload your brilliant CAD design (or pick from a range of stock items). Shapeways will print it out in cold, shiny steel, and mail it to you.
As with any 3-D printing, the object is built up in layers. In this case, powdered steel is laid down, alternating with a binding material, in thin layers until the whole piece appears. Then your finished model is heated, cured and, according to Shapeways, "infused with bronze."
Steel printing from Shapeways is limited to models that pass specific size and detail guidelines. The printing leaves some lines and visible layers in the object, they say, so be prepared: your finished piece probably won't look as smooth and perfect as other bits of metal you own. Shapeways' cost chart quotes $10 per square centimeter for steel printing, which could add up to a hefty price for larger items. That said, being able to make your own metal objects without big equipment or the threat of horrible burns is pretty cool at any price.
wow thats pretty neat
i want to print my own legos
very impressive ..
could anybody tell me how this machine do the job..tq..
It's something like an ink-jet printer that sprays ink on a page, only in this case, it's spraying a powdery substance on a substrate in multiple passes. Each pass builds up the next "level" or "layer" of the object. Consider a stack of coins, for example. By using varying coin sizes, you could create a simple "3D" tower of varying width over the height of the tower. With this kind of printing, they can build an object of hundreds or thousands of layers, and of course the shape is not constrained to a coin.
I'm no metallurgist, but I have to wonder if the stainless steel object created in this process has the same strength properties of something similar that is cast, forged or machined. I would think not, but again, I'm not an expert on this process.
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It's similar to cold casting. Look-up cold casting. Basically a resin, infused (mixed in) with a fine metal powder.
This gives the impression of actual metal, for the fraction of what it would cost to make a full metal casting. Metal casting also requires huge amouonts of heat to smelt the metal and a trained professional.
The downside is, you cannot cold cast any kind of stress-component or load-bearing member.
It's basically plastic, with metal flakes inside. :-)
Still, it's great for making relistic prototypes though.
ProtoCAM is where we get all our 3d printing needs fulfilled. 2 day turnaround from quote to in my hands. Can't beat that with a stick!
www.protocam.com has full info on this.
The stainless steel process that we use at Shapeways results in metal objects. The objects are stainless steel and bronze all the way through. There is a little binding material in there also.
So you could use it for stress components. It is not "plastic with metal flakes inside", it is metal.
Wonder if it would be good for making flatware samples.
My school was working on this very process while I was working on my Met BS there.
Until the technology allows greater control of the microstructure of the parts created, 3d printing techniques like the adhesive aided 3d-printing followed by sintering that I believe shapeways uses will not be able to match the mechanical properties of parts fabricated traditionally, by material removal. In particular, metals that are formed by cold work (rolled, pressed, drawn, etc.) are hardened by the buildup of dislocations within the metal's microstructure. The process of 3d printing does not lend itself to the production of a part hardened by cold work. There's a whole lot more to mechanical properties than cold work and microstructure, though.
3d printed parts can, however, be subjected to heat treatment like any other part. This, combined with real-world experience in the fabrication and use of 3d-printed parts will enable engineers to design for the unique properties of parts produced in this manner.
kstauff, shapeways lists the material properties on the support > materials page on their site.
blaxpear, it's a little like cold casting but they seem to sinter, as well.
joris, how did you come up with the mechanical property values listed on the site for stainless? Did you print tensile coupons and have them pulled, or what? Also, I can't seem to find anything about the chemistry of the metal on the site. What's the alloy?
I am lost for wards. This is really quite amazing if we really think about it. Stainless steel sprayed on paper. Really why would we want to do this? When metal fabrication meets the job adequately.
It's nothing like spraying on paper. the end result is a solid 420 stainless steel metal part, made of metal, with the strength of metal that looks like, feels like, sounds like, tastes like metal all because of just one reason... it's metal!
rings, pendants, watch cases, earrings, mechanical components, personalized novelty items, tools, keys, game pieces, art sculptures, architectural models, and basically any item can be made this way. Far more than can be made in even the most high tech traditional machine shops.
The best thing about shapeways is that you can make just one, or 1000 and the pricing structure is not as brutal as traditional methods. 1 item costs exactly 1/100 of 100 items.
Hi, I think that discountdisplays has got the wrong end of the stick here. These machines actually produce solid metal objects, it is not a metal covering over paper!
In fact rapid prototyping machines have been around for a while that will produce plastic 3D prints but this is the first I have head to a machine capable of producing metal. I guess it was a matter of time!
RP ceramics have been around for a while. I recall reading something about using laser sintering to build a ceramic engine for a prototype race car. There really is no reason you couldn't do the same thing with metals, aside from the fact that your mechanical properties may be significantly degraded compared to other forming processes.