How long will it take to receive a model in this material?
The production time is 15 business days with Priority manufacturing. Shipping depends on your location.
How is this material made?
Aluminum is the only metal Shapeways offers for selective laser melting. Fabrication takes place on a build platform with supports to anchor the part. A bed of aluminum powder sits above a build platform. One layer at a time, the powder is melted by a high powered laser. The melted powder is quickly cooled to solidify the metal. To form the next layer, the build platform is lowered and a new layer of powder is distributed with a coater.
This process is repeated layer by layer until the part is complete. Horizontal areas and edges print with an automatically generated support structure to prevent the feature from sagging into loose powder. The support is then removed and polished away from the part during post-processing. Selective laser melting is unique because the high power laser provides enough energy to heat the aluminum powder above the melting point. This process fully melts the powder rather than just sintering it, creating a solid, homogeneous aluminum alloy.
Why is there a difference in surface structure?
In certain areas the surface can be slightly rougher than others, due to where supports were added. The production planners do their best to orient your models optimally to minimize the amount of support structures needed. Complex geometries might have supports on hard to reach places, leaving an imperfect surface.
Learn more about Aluminum.