Running out of things to give your mother for her birthday/Christmas/Mother’s Day? (hint: you’re late on that last one.) Shapeways, an online 3D printing company which already has one of the largest materials offerings on the net, has introduced Glazed Ceramics 3D printing. One of their trumpeted examples is a coffee mug, so it will surely be good enough to print out an ashtray for your non-smoking mother, giving her two gifts in one: an ashtray she doesn’t really need or want and the memories of when, as a child fresh out of art class, you gave her a clay ashtray that she didn’t really need or want.
The Glazed Ceramics material properties of the 3D print are exactly the same as standard ceramics as it’s produced with fine ceramic powder, bound together with binder, fired, then glazed with a lead-free, non-toxic gloss finish. This officially makes it the first food safe material available on Shapeways.
For those of you who haven’t used their service, they accept files in the following formats: .stl, .obj, .dae, .x3d, .x3db, wrl, and x3dv. In my experience, SolidWorks consistently produces printable .stl files, something that requires a lot of 3D printing experience with surface modelers. Also, you can add a mark-up and sell your 3D printed awesomeness direct from the Shapeways site.
Unlike their physical volume-based pricing for all other 3D printed materials, the ceramics is priced on surface volume. So, pull out those ceramic animal files you’ve been modeling on the sly, grab that surface area and save out your .stl. It’s time to print away. Mom will love whatever you make for her. It’s what she does.