3D Printing Material: Sterling Silver
Here you will find all the information, tricks, know-how, and advice to help you print your 3D model in our silver material. You will learn about the:
- General Information & Printing Techniques
- Color & Finishing Options
- Design Guidelines
- Technical Specifications
General Information & Printing Techniques
Our Silver Material
Sculpteo's silver material is composed of 92.5% sterling silver and 7.5% metal alloy. The final product is solid but susceptible to scratching and wear as would a sterling silver product purchased from a mass producing jewelry store.
Processing Times and Pricing
The printing price of your design is calculated automatically the moment it is placed online. As you modify your object you will note that the price changes automatically. The pricing is based on a series of factors, including: total volume, object size, and bounding box.
Turn around time for our silver material is 15 to 21 business days. That delay can vary depending on our 3D printers' load. The estimated shipping time is also calculated automatically as the object is uploaded.
Delivery time is in addition to the processing time. The shipping speed is determined by the shipping option you choose at checkout.
For our silver 3D prints, we use a lost-wax casting technique, where the original wax model is first printed using our 3D printers. From there a mold is made around the wax, before it is melted and filled with silver, creating your object. We go into further detail below:
- Model transferred to 3D printer
- Wax object is printed
- Object casted
- Cast removal and finishing
After creating your design with a program dedicated to 3D modeling and uploading it to our website, we automatically generate a set of supports for the model so it can be printed in wax. Those supports are removed after the printing process.
Our in house 3D wax printer is a ProJet 3500 CPX HD. The printer uses a Multi Jet Printing process to fabricate the wax model. In short, small liquid wax layers are deposited on a printing bed in a series of layers which fabricate the final product. This particular process allows for an extremely high level of precision in your designs.
Supports that were printed to maintain the objects stability during the wax printing process are removed, and the wax model is covered with a stone-like material. Two holes are left in the stone to heat and drain the wax and refill with sterling silver.
The cast is then removed by hand to ensure the solidarity of the object. If any polishing or sanding techniques were ordered, they too are carried out by hand to ensure the object does not break.
Uses and maintenance
Our silver models are assumed to encounter prolonged skin contact, and will cause no harm in doing so. In fact, our silver models are particularly adept for jewelry creation.
We propose 4 different finishes for your silver object's exterior surface.
- Rough: The model goes through a quick sanding process, removing any of the large impurities in the object. The remaining surface is rough but wearable as a ring or otherwise.
- Mirror Polish: The model is polished to a mirror shine in three steps through a tribofinishing machine. The hand polishing uses a method of subtractive polishing, thus finer details may be less visible after the process. The inside of the object will also not be polished as it cannot be reached by hand.
- White rhodium plated: Your design is plated using electroplating. This process allows to covered your design on top with very thin layer of white rhodium. White rhodium is a precious metal that looks like white gold. White rhodium plated finish protects you object from oxidization.
- Black rhodium plated: As for the white rhodium plated, your design is plated using electroplating. This process allows to covered your design on top with very thin layer of white rhodium. Black rhodium is a precious metal that has a dark grey tint. Black rhodium plated finish protects you object from oxidization.
|Standard layer thickness||25µm|
Our 3D printer, the Project 3500 CPX HD, allows us to print in high definition with a layer height of only 0.025 mm.
As a result, it is important that your uploaded file is the highest quality possible, such that no triangulation will occur in the final print. Yet, keep in mind that your 3D file cannot be up to 50Mb in size.
|Maximum size||60 x 80 x 100 mm|
|Minimum size||2.4 x 2.4 x 0.8 mm|
The maximum size of your models are limited by the physical size of our 3D printers - nothing can be printed larger than the printer bed.
The minimum size of your model was determined as a result of the casting. A model smaller than the parameters given is unable to complete a successful cast to be refilled with silver.
Minimum Thickness and Geometry of Your 3D Model
|Minimum wall thickness||0.8mm|
|Minimum wall thickness stemmed elements||1 mm|
|Minimum wall thickness particular design aspects||1 mm|
The walls of your design must adhere to a minimum thickness of 0.8 mm in order to guarantee the structure will be supported without breaking under its own weight. If the walls of your model are less than 0.8 mm, you should simply thicken the walls in 3D designing program or choose a material more adapted for thin designs.
A stemmed element is a design aspect which is at least twice as long as it is thick. For unsupported and stemmed elements or parts of the design with a particular design constraint, it is also important to respect a minimum thickness of 1 mm in order to guarantee the object will not break.
With a 0.8 wall thichness, your design will be slightly flexible. To obtain more rigidity, we advice a 2mm wall thickness. Silver is a relatively malleable and heavy material, it can be distorted if too much weight is applied on an area of your object. We recommend that you thicken the most stressed parts, or choose a more fitting material to your design.
Silver is a relatively malleable material. Most stressed and fragile area may be distorted. We recommend that you thicken them to avoid distortions.
Sculpteo offers an online solidity check tool which highlights parts of the print that may be too thin for a print. From there you are able to tweak your design in order to create an object that is an appropriate thickness. To use it, you just need to upload your 3D file, select your material and clic on “Verification” tab.
Keep in mind that our solidity check tool does not detect physical aberrations such as floating parts, unstable position, part supporting too much weight relative to its thickness, etc. Particular care must be given to the geometry of your design and the most stressed parts must be thicken.
Etching and embossing
|Minimum size of details||0.4 mm|
|Minimum height and width for a readable text||width : 0.5mm
height : 1.5mm
For silver, the main determining factor in a details minimum size is the casting process. As an object is copied into a mold then refilled with silver, some etched and embossed details become more complicated to fill. Thus in order for a detail and text to be visible and will not break we recommend following our recommended sizes at the very least. To ensure a better visibiliy, details' width must be at least as big as their depth.
Enclosed and interlocked volumes
|Enclosed parts ?||No|
|Interlocking parts ?||No|
Silver models do not have the ability to be printed with objects enclosed within another object. This is because the object is first printed in wax, which requires supports for otherwise free-floating objects.
Minimum spacing and clearance
|Minimum spacing between fixed walls||0.3 mm|
For a successful 3D print in wax that will later be casted into silver, a minimum space of 0.3 mm is required. This allots enough space for the excess was liquid to drained from between the object’s walls during the printing process. A gap of less than that will result in a fault in the final design.
Assembled pieces are currently not possible with our silver printing option.
As the print is first carried out in wax, the object cannot be hollowed in the manner some of our other materials are able.
|Files with multiple objects ?||No|
This is not possible to 3D print a 3D file containing several objects in silver.
|Composition of our silver material|
|Pure silver: 92.5%
Metal Alloy: 7.5%