Mar 27, 2017 | By Julia
Popular 3D printing service i.materialise has just unveiled its newest 3D printed metallic: rhodium-plated brass will now be available as a 3D printing material for those using the online-based service. The smooth, glossy surface of rhodium is perfectly suited to jewelry designers working in precise detail, however, the new material launch is also expected to open the door for metal workers of all persuasions, as a new alternative to more commonly used metals such as gold, silver, bronze, and brass.
I.materialise explains that 3D prints made out of the new rhodium-plated brass option will be constructed via wax 3D printing and brass casting. In other words, a wax 3D print of users’ models will be manufactured for use as a mold. The wax will be burned off the mold, and replaced with liquid brass, which will then be poured into the cavities left behind in the mold. Finally, the brass product will be electroplated with a thin layer of rhodium.
The new release is a clever move on i.materialise’s part for several reasons. Typically, rhodium (a rare, silvery-white member of the platinum family) is one of the most expensive metals there is. At almost double the price of platinum, many 3D printing companies have been reluctant to adopt the metal to date, and with good reason.
By only applying a “razor-thin” electroplated rhodium layer to brass prints, however, i.materialise has effectively been able to harness the precious, expensive look of the metal while keeping costs down.
The 3D printing service also reports that rhodium-plated brass will increase the long-term durability and brightness of the printed piece, with the added benefit of being hypoallergenic.
“This new finish will give your brass object a shiny, white, and precious-looking surface, which makes it a great and affordable alternative to high gloss silver items,” writes i.materialise on their website. “It’s the perfect choice for jewelry designers interested in 3D printing!”
A cursory glance through the sample pieces i-materialise highlights in their blog, which includes rhodium-plated brass jewelry by Vulcan Jewelry and Frederik Brussels, confirms that the new offering lends an expensive look to the relatively affordable 3D printed jewelry. The reflective, bright surface handles complex angles and minute details well, and is somewhat reminiscent of white-gold.
How the rhodium-plated brass will turn out on less decorative items remains to be seen, but i.materialise makes clear that the new material launch is best geared towards jewelry for the moment, stating that rhodium-printed brass items can be printed up to a size of 88 x 88 x 125 mm.
For users ready to try out the new stock material, i.materialise walks you through the ordering process, which essentially consists of uploading a 3D model, selecting “brass” and “rhodium-plating” from the online material menu. Give it a go for yourself here.
Posted in 3D Printing Service
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