Hi-rez 3D "terracotta" printing

The folks at Shapeways -- a firm that prints your 3D models using a variety of materials and apparatus -- have a new toy to show off: an Envisiontec Aureus, which is very, very accurate -- "XY resolution is 43 micron and the Z voxel height is 25 micron." The resulting models can be plated as well.

Very high detail printing... also in wax


  1. Are these too finely detailed for the wax models to be used in lost wax casting?

    Rapid prototyping for jeweler’s wax models would certainly be pretty cool.

    1. I don’t know about the specific models shown(though, based on the lack of any provision for metal input or gas escape, they sure don’t look designed to be lost-wax cast; but the process detail level is just a lower bound. If your model is more complex than the process can handle, ugly things will happen. However, if you want something much less complex, it is perfectly capable of delivering that.

      Assuming a 3d model with the right geometry for lost-wax work, this process certainly looks like it could deliver the wax model(possibly with some hand polishing involved. That slightly “pixelly” look is only slightly annoying in low-reflectivity materials; but would probably look and feel quite unpleasant in, say, high-polish silver…)

    2. The ring shown above looks exactly like it was designed for lost wax, if I’m not mistaken. The second image at the link shows the underside of the ring with what appear to be many small spruces for flowing of metal.

      I could be wrong, through, and those spruces could be an artifact of the printing process.

  2. This is incorrect. Shapeways is CONSIDERING buying this particular model but haven’t made the purchase yet. In the link above, they are soliciting feedback about whether there’s an interest among their customer base in this type of printer.

  3. Let me peer forward into the inevitable and predict a line of ultrarealistic phalluses.

    Of course, their current largest dimension of 100mm kinda shrinks the market potential for now…

  4. the nerd in me immediately thinks about what awesome RPG miniatures you could get outta this thing! ;)


    1. Yeah, I’m an avid follower of Shapeway’s progressively cooler materials, and discussed custom RPG minis with someone who uses the ‘standard’ models. He didn’t think much of it, but I think there’s a market.

      So, I said, well, you might not want to buy them but you could always make some bucks painting them.. (the basic flaw of the 3d models, they don’t get made in color unless you want to spend exponentially more.)

  5. Here some info regarding the blog of Shapeways about printing with envisiontec and their resins.

    The Terracotta ring is made in RCP30. This is an Aluminium Oxide filled light curing polymer and is suitable for making highly detailed prints for making rubber molds. Nice thing about this material is that you can sand, drill, blast with glassbeads, polish, coat, paint, metallise ect it.

    The green material is WIC100 (picture not shown here so look at Shapeways) This material is wax based and specially designed for lost wax investmend casting…threshold is not the printing but the casting of to thin wire or to detailed parts.

    The “sprues” you see on the model are the supports made because of the technique of Stereolyhograpy. It is also possible to make your own sprue if you want to. After printing the support is generated in a special way to break them off very easy.

    The machine dimension can be bigger with the same detailed result…90x67x230mm XY resolution 39 microns..and “voxels depth in z” of 25 microns

    Have fun folks..

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