Shapeways: metal 3D printing in Titanium contest

will be holding a metal 3D printing contest from today until the 15th
of January. The winning entry will win his(or her) own model printed
out in Titanium.

To start
off: Wow! Can we really 3D print metal just like we do with White
Strong and Flexible now? Well, yes
and no. 3D printing in metal (or
direct metal printing) is not as accessible a technology as the
regular 3D printing technologies that we use at Shapeways at the moment.
The material that is used is also more
expensive, because it is a
Titanium alloy. The machines and the process itself are much more
expensive also. Just how expensive? To give you an indication: we
estimate that the contest winners prize(which can be 10 cubic
centimeters)will cost us around $1000 to $2000 depending on its size!
To top it all off there are design rules that you will have to follow
when designing for 3D metal printing. Check out the half scale Light Poem in Titanium to the right. 

We are
not offering metal as a material right now; however this is a unique
opportunity: your unique object 3D printed in titanium. As far as we
know you will be amongst the first people ever to be able to have
your own personal design made and then 3D printed in titanium. There
are some companies out there using the technology, but even their
usage is rather limited and direct access to these machines? Unheard

you’re interested in entering in the contest or want to know more
about Direct Metal Laser Sintering(aka Metal Laser Sintering or Metal
3D printing) you can go to our special contest page here.

you’ve probably heard by now this contest will not be a walk in the
park. It is by far our most challenging contest so far but then again
it is not every day you get to win something that no one has ever won
before. Good luck!

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    1. Cylvre

      From the special contest page:

      *The maximum dimensions of your model can be up to 50x50x50mm.*

      You model dimensions are 1.9 cmH x 5.9 cmW x 30.9 cmD. Your model is too large in two of three dimensions and therefore a non-valid entry. Think smaller, like a sword pendant.

    2. aws357

      Aaah well, I guess I’ve been overenthusiastic :)

      5cmx5cmx5cm is more appropriated for jewelry and small things indeed…

  1. aws357

    Uh another question, it’s about the angle thing… I don’t really get it to be honest.

    What angle are we speaking of? Could you show some practical example of thing we can and things we can’t do?

    Sorry if I appear a bit slow but I think it might interest other people.

    1. aws357

      That’s exactly the image I am confused about :)

      What does it represent and how does it relate to the nice designs in the contest page?

  2. Joris Peels


    I’m sorry its confusing.

    If you make a 3D design and want to get it printed out in Titanium:
    Right angles and other steep angles will tend to look good. Low angles set at less than 35 degrees will tend to look uneven and not as attractive. If you make an overhanging angle as the “table” picture shows, the bottom of it will look ugly.

    So if you want to make the prettiest possible design to win the Titanium contest you will have to take these things into account.


    1. aws357

      Mmmmh I guess I am starting get it… (will nag in the forum in case I don’t anyway :) )

      “”"As you’ve probably heard by now this contest will not be a walk in the park.”"” <— I tought you where joking :p but no…

      Time to see if I have some creative juice in the fridge…

  3. Rob Mack

    It’s a REAL challenge to pack those design rules into the 50 x50 x 50 box… Thanks shapeways for firing up my synapses so strongly once again!.. I look forward to seeing where everyone else goes with this

    1. Joris Peels

      Yep, I’m really really curious too to see what you guys will come up with.

  4. Peter Zich

    What is the strength of this stuff like? Would I be able to make tools out of it?

    1. Peter Weijmarshausen

      Hi Peter,

      it is really strong!


  5. Anthony Tammaro

    “As far as we know you will be amongst the first people ever to be able to have your own personal design made and then 3D printed in titanium. There are some companies out there using the technology, but even their usage is rather limited and direct access to these machines? Unheard of!”

    I do appreciate your enthusiasm. But some of your assertions are a bit overstated. DMLS has been on the scene for some time and there are a number of private companies who can offer this process to a knowledgeable designer/artist. I applaud your desire to raise the awareness of this process. You may want to include a bit more information about how this process works so your designers can maximize it’s potential and approach their work in a iconoclastic manner. This could result in an out come that justifies the process, and not vice-versa.

    1. Joris Peels


      What information do you think we should add to the contest page in order to improve the contest? If you have any insight or previous experience we’d love to hear from you!


  6. Peter Zich

    What sort of clearance is needed for non-fused hinges?

    1. Peter Weijmarshausen

      oh no! ;-)
      Are you really going to try hinges straight away?!

      Will try and get you the info, but I assume if you are a few tenths of a mm apart it should be ok.


    2. Peter Zich

      Oh, no (don’t worry). I’m just curious for possible future use. Although I may not get to because of the price :(

  7. aws357

    Is the high price due to the use of a metal like titanium?

    Would it be cheaper with magnesium (macbook hulls) or plain steel or aluminium?

    What about gold :p ? (I can imagine the people out there getting paranoïd and vacuuming the place everyday to spare any speckle of gold dust…)

    Even shorter : “Why titanium? Why no other metals (yet)?” :D

    1. Joris


      The process we use: DMLS can work with several other materials(such as steel or bronze alloys). We opted for Titanium because we liked the results and the look of the finished products better in Titanium.

      This contest is an initial exploration of 3D metal printing. If you guys are enthusiastic enough and want to order models made with 3D printing in metal we will see how we can offer this for you.

      At that time, depending on what you guys want, we will decide which metals to offer.

  8. toraishikuru

    Regarding the contest rules, would it break the rules to have a design that, when molded, fits the max dimensions/volumes but is designed to be unfolded or cut apart and reassembled into a shape that is larger than the max dimensions allowed during molding?
    Thanks much.

  9. Peter Weijmarshausen

    Hi toraishikuru,

    this would not break the rules. Actually sounds like a cool design.
    Can’t wait to see it.

    kind regards,

  10. Ethan Parker

    This is great for some people, I personally think i will try and get some rings, or ornamental items made if you start to offer this.
    It would also be a great way to make special replicas or replacement parts for small machines that use metal gears, sprockets, screws, etc.

  11. Greg Walker

    How do we enter the competition? Is it simply we’re entered if we upload a model & it’s within dimension & volume limits?

    1. Peter Zich

      “Enter the contest by uploading your own design to Shapeways with the tag: metal3dprint.”

  12. eMansipater

    Hi Joris,

    Do you have more details on the material which will compose the printed model? I was curious in particular about temperature ranges (need something more concrete than ‘low’ or ‘high’) but I thought in general people might be interested in this information when designing their entries. Thanks!


    1. eMansipater

      I should also add I was curious as to whether walls would be watertight at .2mm (and if not, at what thickness would they be? )


    1. Arjan Moors

      The resolution is 0.2mm, the layersize is the same.

  13. Fabian Fricke

    I sent in my entry yesterday evening, could you please update the contest page.

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