3D Printing

i.materialise's 3D Printed Bling Receives 18k Upgrade

As Shapeways has continued to up its precious metal game, Belgian-based 3D printing service provider i.materialise is keeping pace with the competition.  Not long after Shapeways announced the ability for customers to purchase prints that could be cast in platinum, 18k gold, and 14k rose, yellow, and white gold, i.materialise has expanded its own materials portfolio. The company has added to its precious metals line, which previously maintained a 14k gold option, 18k yellow gold, red gold, and white gold.

materialise 3D printing 18k and 14k gold
via the i.materialise blog.

i.materialise’s gold objects are produced in much the same way as Shapeways’ precious metal products, through wax investment casting. The object is 3D printed as a wax cast, which is then covered in plaster and burned out in an oven. The resulting mold is then used to cast the object in gold, which is polished and finished manually. The service provider notes that the design criteria for 14k and 18k are the same, but that there will be a slight variation in color between the two metal types, as 14k gold is made up of 58.5% pure gold and 18k is made up of 75%. i.materialise has also expedited their shipping days for yellow gold, listing the following shipping times: for yellow gold, 10–13 business days; for red (rose) gold, 12–15 business days; and, for white, 10–13 business days.

the investment casting process for mateiralise 3D printing

As far as I’m aware, I don’t believe that i.materialise offers platinum or precious metal plating options, like Shapeways.  On top of that, Shapeways is yet to offer 18k for their rose and white gold options. Also, due Materialise’s status as an industrial printing service, the bureau does offer materials like titanium, which they use for the production of custom medical implants, among other things. And, with its software suite and advanced medical and engineering divisions, the company has a lot more to offer than consumer 3D printing services.