Firsrt, Materialise released the “Magics Metal SG” software package that should make life a little bit easier for 3D designers:
Magics Metal SG provides metal AM professionals with a comprehensive build support generation toolbox. This enables build supports to be fully customized and optimized for almost any part geometry. Magics Metal SG contains two new styles of robust build support structures and a range of build support editing tools, all developed specifically for metal AM.
The Shapeways material is “Alumide”, which is not totally metal, but it provides a means to produce a metallicish surface:
Alumide is White, Strong & Flexible with Aluminum dust mixed in. It is made with the Selective Laser Sintering process. The material has a higher heat resistance than regular plastics. Its melting temperature is above 172 Celsius.. The surface is smoother than White, Strong & Flexible and is a matte grey with speckles of shiny aluminum dust thrown in.
This new material should enable designers to produce metal-like objects at far lower cost than using full metal. Just don’t put the object in your dishwasher!