(Via Gadget Lab)
Shapeways, a 3D printing shop in the Netherlands, has added stainless steel to its lineup of materials, meaning you can now design spare parts for machines and have them made up and sent to you in the mail (yes, to the US). Here’s how it works:
The process lays down a thin layer of stainless steel powder, this is bound by a binding material. Layer after layer is applied and the resulting model is then lifted out of the powder. The model is then heated, cured and infused with bronze. Then in this case it is polished. This is a very new process and we’re taking it straight out of the lab and bringing it to you.
Essentially, it’s like an inkjet printer, only instead of making a 2D image by laying down ink line-by-line, it makes a 3D object by laying down powdered metal one layer at a time.
Keep in mind that this 3D printing process does not provide for as smooth a finish as you might be expecting. You will see some layer definition in your final object like the Möbius strip with the ants (below). In some objects the polishing process might not be able to get all the nooks and crannies. For example, you can see that the underside of the ant legs are not polished.