3D Printing Polished Silver

I’ve been finally delving into sterling silver printing with Shapeways, and it’s really remarkable what they can do, of the level you would expect from ‘actual’ metal casters and jewelers.  You can choose both polished or the basic unpolished.  I’ve always opted for polished for just a few bucks more per print.

However, I’ve seen significantly inconsistent print and polishing results; some of which unfortunately mean the model is worthless to me.

On the following images, the ones on the left are gorgeous, and the ones on the right are significantly less polished.

Red Blood Cell pendant (see more on the Etsy page) – this is the one that worries me the most; it came out really grainy in the center but actually polished around the edge, compared to my earlier print on the left which has just the tiniest amount of grain in the center.


Inner Earrings (etsy page here) – notice how much lighter and ‘frosted’ the right pair appears.  Although I don’t hate the effect on the right, it’s the principle that I don’t know what I (and my customers!) will get when I place an order of these that concerns me.


The Shapeways website does say “The glossy is hand polished to achieve a smooth, shiny finish. Please note that only well-reachable surfaces can be polished!”  Given that these my models do have some hard to reach surface, why do sometimes they still come out gorgeously smooth (esp the earrings above).  And it seems hard to believe the red blood cell indent is ‘hard to reach’.


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