Mar.11, 2013 | By Geraldine Bouvry

Shapeways, a Dutch 3D printing service company, has just introduced Premium Silver to its Sterling Silver 3D printing line, which already included Silver and Silver Glossy finishes.

3D Printed Sterling Silver products are made using a three-step process. The products are created with a lost-wax casting process using a high-resolution 3D wax printer. The 3D printed wax model is put in a container and liquid plaster is poured around it to create a mold. After the plaster sets, the wax is melted out and molten silver is poured into the plaster mold. The plaster is then pulled away to reveal the silver and the finished product is polished for a smooth surface.

Sterling Silver comes in Regular, Glossy, and now Premium finishes: Regular silver is mechanically polished so may show print lines and have a rougher surface texture. Glossy is lightly hand polished to achieve a smooth finish but still can have some surface texture.

Which technical secret lies behind this unique finish then?

Manual polishing, with the downside that it may result in very fine details being polished away, warns Shapeways. Therefore, if the design has sharp corners, these will be polished to a smoother, rounder edge.  Also, if the design has very fine engraving or embossing, these details may be polished out.  

Moreover, one should be aware that, as with other precious metals, the polished surface of silver is soft, so scrapes and scratches are to be expected as a normal part of wear. To minimize damage and ensure your product lasts a lifetime, Shapeways gives away a few tips: first, to store the jewelry in a soft cloth pouch and away from other products. Second, to not expose the product to household chemicals during cleaning as they can damage the delicate finish. Last, as silver tarnishes with time, it is recommended to use a silver polishing kit to maintain a glossy surface.  

Shapeways will be offering Premium Silver for a six week trial period, until May 14th, during which pricing and design rules will be assessed. If this new finish proves to be successful among consumers, it will be kept as a permanent material option on Shapeways portfolio.

For Shapeways, this trial phase is the opportunity to fine-tune and “polish” their technology, as well as adapt their design rules and guidelines to consumers.

Price-wise, consumers will have to consider both the handling fee and the material price per cm3:

The handling fee per model is $45 (up to 1.7 cm), $78 (1.7 - 3.4 cm) or free (above 3.4 cm).

The price per cm3 is $28 (up to 3.4 cm), $75 (above 3.4 cm).

As for the design rules for this new Premium Silver finish, they remain the same as the existing ones, keeping in mind that any fine details may be removed during the finishing process.






Posted in 3D Printing Services

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