pr3Shapeways is really becoming an incredibly useful ecommerce website. The ability for customers to customize items, pick between dozens of possible colors and materials, and find just the right product they’re looking for has helped the company grow rapidly over the last year. The materials side of their business can be credited for a large portion of this growth as the company seemingly rolls out new materials almost monthly.

Some of the coolest materials, in my opinion, are the precious metals which many products are available in. The problem though, is that the pricing makes many of these products out of the reach of the average consumer. For instance, objects available in 18k gold will run you $800 per cm3, while objects which are available in 14k gold are slightly cheaper at $600 per cm3.

This weekend, Shapeways announced several new materials, ones which should appeal to those customers seeking the precious metal look, without having to pay the extraordinarily high prices. Precious Plated 18k and 14k Gold, 14k Rose Gold and Rhodium are the new material options that Shapeways has just unveiled.

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Objects fabricated with these new materials undergo a similar process to those created with polished brass, with a few additional steps. First a wax cast of the model is 3D printed. A plaster material is poured around the printed cast and then the brass is poured into the cast, cooled, and then taken out. At this point, a thin layer of palladium is layered onto the brass to provide further durability before the final 0.5 micron coating of precious metal alloy is placed on.

Compared to objects created with solid precious metals, the plated option is substantially more affordable, at just $22.00 per cm3, plus an additional $30 handling fee. All products fabricated with plated metals will take 15 business days to ship.pr2

For those of you designing with these new plated materials, the following guidelines should be kept in mind:

  • Minimum Clearance: .3 mm
  • Accuracy: .125 mm
  • Maximum Bounding Box: 89 x 89 x 100 mm
  • Minimum Bounding Box: 2.4 x 2.4 x 0.6 mm
  • Minimum supported & unsupported walls and wires: 0.8 mm
  • Minimum Embossed & Engraved Detail: 0.4 mm and .35 mm
  • Minimum Escape Hole Width: 4 mm if just one, 2 mm if 2+ Holes

It is also important to note that Shapeways will be discontinuing their ‘Gold Plated Brass”‘ option, replacing it with the ’18k Gold Plated’ option. They have taken the liberty of updating all sales pages to show the new material in its place.

Let’s hear your thoughts on these new Shapeways materials. Have you purchased an item with any plated material yet? Discuss in the Shapeways Plated Material forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Check out the short video below showing the new Shapeways plated materials in more detail.

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