I was very intrigued by the possibilities offered by the new 3D printing services so I tried one that, reading on various forums, seemed to have a good following.
The service offered is through the website: http://www.shapeways.com
First of all, I checked which types of files are supported and the compatible programs. I found oud that the STL format and 3D Studio MAX were supported so I thought of something that could be nice to my wife … a jewel of course!
Then I checked which type of materials and their prices, they can print on many materials, precious or not, the list contains 15 types from platinum $ 1,750.00 per cc to ceramics $ 0.35 per cc.
To this cost, you must add a “management” fee that ranges from $ 1.5 for the white plastic to $ 100 to 18K gold and platinum, of course, must be added the shipping cost.
Having all of us in common both the first and last character in the name, I created a letter A containing inside the three names, Andrea, Alessandra and Arianna.
The main problems came from having to include in an object, already very small itself, the names and complied with the constraints of minimum thickness of the chosen material. The instructions are very detailed, and having chosen the silver, the minimum thickness of details is 0.35 mm.
The website is very complete and includes a tool that lets you graphically in 3D, based on the material, check the critical points in the model. I updated the model by enlarging certain parts of the letters and everything went smoothly with consecutive updates.
The result is very close to the model created and lost only a few details that were below the tolerance limits of this material.
The shipping was fast, they have respected production times and expected delivery, the site allows selling your creations, allowing anyone to create his own collection.
For sure, this will be the first of a long series of projects printed in 3D!