Shapeways to fabricate press parts?

I was browsing through threads, and came across an earlier discussion of 3D printing. Not to reopen the linguistic can of worms, but- I was wondering if anyone has used Shapeways (the 3D printing service) to fabricate press parts. They can produce a variety of materials including stainless steel, composite plastics, etc. You’d need to supply some sort of file with a model of the item, I suppose (I’m just starting to look into this) but perhaps this could be an easy way to create small pieces that don’t take much stress.
Specifically, I’m thinking of a small piece on a Model press that advances the ink disc (snapped in half) and possibly the roller support arm for the same press. (I don’t really plan to print on this guy, just restore it and look at it. Unless I can find a chase for it.)
Check it out at and let me know if anyone’s tried it or other processes for small parts!


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Sounds totally possible, there are few services like this popping up ( is another i have seen). Easiest compatible program on their list for modelling the part would be sketchup (free and easy to learn). The only issue would be how tight the tolerance needs to be; for parts like the ink disc pawl, would probably work great. On the other hand, if a part needed to be fit to machined tolerances, might take some experimenting.


What Model do you have a broken arm on? I need to get an arm on one our models cast. Maybe we have working opposites.

I think it’s a Model number 1? I’d have to go look at it again. It’s a different version than the one previously shown on the Museum section (not as ornate) but it has the big counterweight balls on the ends. Someone wrote 1896 on it. Will try to get a pic and # next time I’m at the shop.

If you are just talking about restoring for looks, then my following comment doesn’t really matter…

One thing to consider is the material characteristics. Cast iron is plenty different than stainless steel: strength, hardness, ductility, brittleness, thermal properties, etc. You’d want to watch where you are replacing one with the other…especially where moving parts are bearing. I’d also be hesitant to have one of two matching components (arms for instance) made out of different materials—particularly if they expand and contract with temperature differently, throwing the balance of the machine off.

If it had the material range and tolerances to make replacements in production machines, I’d be SUPER excited.

Interesting point- this machine is probably going to be for show, but if I were going to print I’d certainly make sure both arms, etc are of the same material. I’m sure that the 3D printing process is not ideal for production, but for demos and restoring a display piece it seems like it’s worth looking in to. I’ve found a few places that will do a 3D scan of your item that you can then send to be produced, but it’s a little pricey for my current budget; if I ever get around to it I will post here!

bowerbox, have you tried a good local machinist? I’ve had parts made from raw stock not pricey at all, no scanning
just collaboration between the machinist and me. A tried and true method that has be around for a century,also feeds the local economy not some behemoth corporation, with a bogus name for a product.Another idea since your part seems to be for display why don’t you carve it out of wood paint it black and slap it james

not yet, I’m pretty much just thinking out loud right now. I’ve got a few other things that I need to find a good machinist for (trucks for the Colt’s, among others) but was trying to find a quick solution for this little detail. It’s a part not easily made out of bar stock or flat metal.
I’ve used another outsourcing service for laser-cutting (Ponoko) and just wondered if anyone here had tried this one.