Shapeways has just announced that they are the first online 3D printing platform to offer interlocking metal parts in cast brass, bronze, and silver. They introduced interlocking parts in 3D printed aluminum at the beginning of the year. Now not only do designers have more options available to them in metal, and in creating interlocking parts, but unlike Shapeways’ 3D printed aluminum, the cast brass, bronze and silver pieces can be polished. In fact, Shapeways can do that as part of their finishing process (the new materials are available in raw or polished). According to Shapeways:
“Interlocking precious metals is a particularly wonderful material as it allows designers to produce parts that are already linked together in the printing process. If you’re a designer who orders multiple parts and links them together at home, interlocking metals is a perfect solution to cut down on your post production time, and sell items directly from your Shapeways shop.”
Shapeways solicited the feedback of their designers in their pilot to find out their reactions to the new offering. Being able to produce pieces utilizing interlocking metals affords designer the opportunity to get more creative with their designs, creating complex, fascinating structures that astonish their clients. As Lana Lepper of LanaBetty explains:
“To me, to design jewelry specific for 3D printing is to design a piece that could not be made any other way. What I love about interlocking metals, is that it encompasses this idea perfectly. Clients look at my interlocked pieces with wonderment and curiosity, searching for the point at which the metal was cut and re-soldered together. When it clicks and they begin to comprehend how the jewelry was designed and created, is the best moment. They get it and they immediately love the piece even more.”
Since Shapeways’ process to create interlocking metal parts is much more labor intensive than it is for creating non-interlocking metals, the prices are higher as well. However, for a limited time Shapeways is offering designers a discount to encourage designers to try the new materials. Designers can get 50% off when the order interlocking metal models before the end of August. Simply use the code INTERLOCKING at checkout to take advantage of the promotion.
For designers interested in working with these new materials, Shapeways’ Community Manager, Kat Kinkead, offers some tips and tricks. Of note, the tolerances between interlocking metal parts must be a minimum of 1mm apart. Minimum wire thickness is 1.5mm. Additionally, designers should note that models can have a maximum of 6 interlocking parts, and the entire model must fit within a 75 x 75 x 40 mm bounding box.
Shapeways’ Product Material Manager, Blair Georgakas, explains how the new interlocking metal process works in the video below:[Source: Shapeways]