Below are the primary materials that we work with. Due to the rapidly evolving nature of 3D printing technology this list can (and certainly will) change in the future. Additional materials are also available that are not listed here; contact us if you want something special!
Composite stone prints are created using a 3D printing method known as Binder Jetting. In this process, ink and a binder are selectively deposited on a bed of powder to build the print layer by layer, using technology very similar to a desktop inkjet printer, but scaled into the third dimension. The powder used is composed primarily of gypsum; essentially Plaster of Paris with additional additives to improve various characteristics.
After printing the parts are carefully removed from the powder bed and cleaned of excess powder; they are very fragile at this stage and can easily break. The parts are then infused with an infiltrant to strengthen them and help bring out the colors, typically cyanoacrylate (AKA Superglue). The final print is hard and brittle with a rough, grainy texture, similar to an unglazed ceramic statue.
The printer can print in 390,000 different colors. Due to color mixing certain colors are difficult to reproduce consistently, most notably blacks, browns and skin tones, and some variation in the print’s coloring (including from one print to the next) is unavoidable.
Printer: ZCorp Zprinter 650/3D Systems ProJet CJP 660Pro or similar
Protective Gloss Coating
The exterior surface of the prints may be hand coated with a thin layer of epoxy. This has several advantages: it improves the strength and durability of the part, seals the part exterior, greatly improves its water resistance, helps smooth layer lines from the 3D printing process, adds a glossy finish and brings out the colors even more. Coated prints are similar in appearance to glazed porcelain. The bottom and interior of the prints are left uncoated. This coating is highly recommended for parts that may be subjected to a lot of handling, such as magnets, and comes standard on some of our more fragile products, such as LEGO® minifigure heads. We use a resin that is formulated with exceptional longterm non-yellowing properties, so your prints will look great for years to come!
Composite Stone Care and Feeding:
- Prints are fragile and are not toys. They are for decorative purposes only and should be handled carefully, similar to porcelain figurines.
- Do not expose prints to water. Prints are somewhat porous; water may make the inks bleed, similar to spilling water on a color inkjet photo, and may also affect the structural integrity of the print.
- Do not expose the prints to heat or electricity. The maximum temperature that the prints should be exposed to is 140°F, beyond that the print’s material properties will be significantly altered.
- Do not expose the prints to strong UV light, including direct sunlight. This may cause the colors to fade.
Bronze-infused stainless steel parts are made in a two step process. The first step uses the Binder Jetting 3D printing process with layers of stainless steel powder and a binder. This “green” part is then infused with bronze, which replaces the binder and forms a strong, solid metal part. The color of the final piece can vary from bronze to silver, depending on how the bronze infuses the part. The piece can also be plated with a layer of gold, bronze, or matte black.
Printer: ExOne M-Flex or similar.
Overview of the printing process: