Binder Jetting

Binder Jetting 3D printing, developed in the mid-90s, is rightfully hailed as a unique and powerful technology. Named for the agents used to bond granular metal particles together layer after layer, the Binder Jetting 3D printer relies on one or more nozzles to build green parts which emerge in a delicate state until being cured. Binder liquid serves as a glue for creating the dense, complex structures which are then often coated or even sintered during post-processing.

What’s so special about this technology?

With the added capability for 3D printing with metal powders and alloys too, high-performance prototypes and parts can be manufactured efficiently; however, there is also the opportunity to create complex geometries never before possible with conventional technology.

Like Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), support structures are not required in metal Binder Jetting either. This is due to the intrinsic support provided by unused powder bolstering parts during printing.

Additional, exceptional benefits

  • Speed is a huge factor in Binder Jetting, with the potential to boost manufacturing efficiency exponentially.
  • Precision parts are 3D printed with accuracy and repeatability.
  • Freedom in design is expanded in metal Binder Jetting as all the potential complications of creating support structures can be avoided. This also means that the quality of parts is protected as challenges in removing supports and the potential for damage are eliminated.
  • Parts can be nested, making better use of materials and promoting greater volume in production as many parts can be strategically packed into the same print build.

Materials & Applications

Shapeways customers may be interested in using Binder Jetting due to the ability to print with nearly any powder. Metal and alloys are popular for manufacturing strong yet lightweight parts, while sandstone is used for production of full color Binder Jetting. Find out more about the materials offered with Binder Jetting below:

Stainless Steel 316L

Stainless Steel 316L is 3D printed with Triple Advanced Compaction Technology by ExOne, in partnership with Shapeways. This material is unique as a corrosion-resistant single alloy, offering high strength that extends to extreme temperatures too. Shapeways customers use this material for the following industrial applications: Mechanical machinery, surgical tooling, heat exchangers, and fasteners and brackets.

Stainless Steel 316L is available in a natural finish, blasted with ceramic media for a slightly rough surface and a matte finish. It is also offered in a polished finish, with 3D printed parts tumbled for a smooth surface.

For this material, 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:

  • Bounding Box Min: 15 x 15 x 3 mm  
  • Bounding Box Max: 127 x 127 x 76.2 mm


Find out more about the design guidelines for Stainless Steel 316L


Steel materials from Shapeways are 60% stainless steel and 40% bronze matrix material, and are recommended for strong metal parts that require an industrial look and feel. This material is recommended for consumer products at any size, including applications like tools and accessories, home decor, and small goods requiring intricate structures.

This metal is available in the following colors: Bronze, gold, nickel, bronzed-silver, and black.

A matte finish is available for Steel, featuring an unpolished, rough surface. A polished finish is also offered for shiny, smooth parts; however, note that parts larger than 150 x 150 x 150 or those with thinner details will be finished with bead blasting instead to avoid breakage. This may also present a rougher, less consistent result.

For this material, 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:

  • Bounding Box Min: 6 x 6 x 3 mm
  • Bounding Box Max: 762 x 393 x 393 mm (Bronzed-Silver, Bronze, Black), 178 x 178 x 178 mm (Gold, Nickel), 152 x 152 x 76 (Polished models), 178 x 178 x 178 (Plated models)


Find out more about the design guidelines for Steel

Stainless Steel 17-4PH

Stainless Steel 17-4 PH is 3D printed with Binder Jetting by Desktop Metal, in partnership with Shapeways. This material can be highly optimized for manufacturing strong metal geometries with extreme toughness and corrosion resistance. Shapeways customers rely on Stainless Steel 17-4 PH for industrial manufacturing of: Fasteners, jigs and fixtures, machine tools, parts for oil and gas, pump components, and valving.

Stainless Steel 17-4 PH is available in a Processed finish, with a semi-matte appearance and a rough surface. Parts are media blasted after the sintering process is complete.  

For this material, 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:

  • Bounding Box Min: 15 × 15 × 3 mm
  • Bounding Box Max: 127 × 127 × 76.2 mm


Find out more about the design guidelines for Stainless Steel 17-4 PH


Sandstone allows for full color Binder Jetting in applications like architecture, medical models, and figurines.

While this material is excellent for products like decorative models, Sandstone is not generally recommended for applications where the material would be handled extensively, due to its low strength and brittle nature.

In either plain or multi-color, Sandstone is available in a natural finish with a slightly textured, rough surface and matte finish, or glossy–to enhance colors and provide both UV and moisture resistance.

For this material, 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:

  • Bounding Box Min: X + Y + Z > 10 mm 
  • Bounding Box Max: 250 × 380 × 200 mm


Learn more about the design guidelines for Sandstone

Why you should choose Shapeways for Binder Jetting production

At Shapeways, Binder Jetting is a simple but highly industrial process suitable for customers requiring a large volume of metal (or sandstone) components printed fast, and often on the larger scale too. Ordering and manufacturing is as easy as uploading one or more 3D designs, requesting instant quotes, checking for printability, and then waiting for parts to be manufactured—whether on an average, priority, or rush basis.  

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