The MothBees Have Come!

After being very happy with my MothBee printing and finishing experiment, I decided to send the file to Shapeways to see how materials that I cannot print would look. After placing an order for MothBee in black glossy glass, white matte glass, antique shiny bronze, and stainless steel, Shapeways said I would be getting the objects the week of October 3rd. Perfect timing as I am going on vacation next week and would come home just in time to receive the package. Much to my surprise and delight, a ring of the doorbell this evening led me to find a box resting against the door with all my objects!


When I was getting ready to upload the STL file to Shapeways, I decided that I should increase the size of the model before sending, so as to make it sized between my first and second ABS prints. Apparently my math sucks. They turned out about the size of my first print (seemingly smaller, actually), which really threw me for a loop. I double checked my STL size on Shapeways and it was the correct STL. Whatever — I messed up, but at least I had my MothBees!

The black glass print has the most detail, which means it looks most like the ABS prints in that the detail on the wings and back retain their interesting artifacts from the extrusion process. (These aren’t printed via extrusion, but are printed in layers which still gives the stair-steps seen in the photo).

The white glass does remind me of milk glass, but is not smooth. The details are a little less clear compared to the black, and the object feels super fragile.

Given the size of the object, I’m actually surprised that the stinger made it through printing, handling, and shipping. Very cool.

The two metal pieces are really nice, but not what I expected. Turns out they are too small, or have too small of details, to be polished by the normal methods used. No biggie, now I know. If I had correctly sized my object, this might not have been the case and I would have gotten something closer to what I originally envisioned based on the examples on the site. Live and learn.

Overall, I’m pleased on several levels. First, I’m getting really good plastic prints on my own so I’m not going to worry about getting plastic prints from Shapeways. Second, the materials I chose were the most likely candidates for things I’d have them print and all came out really well. The glass objects are super delicate (like super super delicate) and the metal objects have a real weight to them. If I can polish the metal ones by hand to get the desired look, even better.

The range of options available now to at-home designers is staggering compared to even 2-3 years ago. The growth of these technologies and abilities is phenomenal, and I’m glad I’m able to experience it now, to watch it grow, and in 10 years when everyone has a 3D metal/glass/plastic printer in their den, to understand where it started.

(Side note — the only negative to the whole thing: I’m not sure I like the quantity and value of items on a sticker on the outside of the shipping box… Next time I’ll have it shipped to work in case its value is more than this one was — don’t want neighbors to find it if we’re not here).

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