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The future of fabrication is here: Shapeways announces stainless steel printing

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Sure you’re not going to make a Hatori Hanzo sword – yet – but Shapeways, a 3D fabrication service, has just announced stainless steel printing, allowing you to make steel objects as easily as you would made resin or plastic prototypes. That’s right: something that took our ancient ancestors generations to perfect is now available to anyone with a CAD/CAM program and some Red Bull.

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First, the press info:

Innovation Takes the Stage with Metal 3D printing for modelers and creatives
Shapeways offers 3D Printing in Stainless Steel

SIGGRAPH (August 4, 2009) — Many 3D modelers have found their way to Shapeways to bring their personal designs to life by using 3D printing. Until now the materials were limited to different kind of polymers. Today Shapeways becomes the world’s first company offering 3D printing in stainless steel for everyone.

Technique
This is a completely new technique which deposits stainless steel powder in a very thin layer, combining it with a binding material. Printed objects are built up like this, layer by layer, gradually creating the form just as you designed it on the computer screen. When complete, they are infused with bronze and cured in an oven. After cooling, the models can be left in the original steel finish or tumbled to get a great polished look.

So, as you see, the objects aren’t carved in steel like Terminator parts. Instead they are made of layered steel powder. This would allow you to build heavy-duty items including jewelery and, dare I say it, car parts. The possibilities, in a sense, are endless.

That said we’re proud to announce that one lucky commenter will receive a stainless steel item of their choice. This could include items from the website or a small object you design yourself. Leave your email in comments below and we’ll pick one winner at random on Friday at noon Eastern.

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