Update: Shapeways has removed this from their marketplace. I'm trying to find out some more information but more than likely I won't be able to make this available again :(
Hope you've read my Team Fortress 2 sentry posting, because I'm not just putting one product up for sale but a second one also. This time it's the Portal pressure plate .... mini style! This isn't going to really be much of a documentation on the build as it's pretty much the same as any other project aside from the additional UV mapping and texturing, so I'm not really going to document much on that front this time around. A basic summary of it is that everything was build from scratch in solidworks, all UV mapping was done in Modo and all texturing was done in Photoshop.
As normal (when I have a video available that is), I'll start with an embedded Youtube video. This video will show you the fully coloured piece as it arrives from Shapeways and also my version once I smoothed it out a little bit and clear coated the piece.
The pressure plate comes fully coloured from Shapeways and is printed in a different material than my regular plastic pieces. This is printed in a gypsum based powder which gives it a slightly rougher texture than the plastic pieces, but it comes full coloured so you don't have to paint anything yourself, which is pretty damn cool! As it has a rougher texture, I advise you to give the base a light sand with some fine sandpaper to make it a bit smoother (be careful doing this though as the ink only permeates around 1mm deep. The more you sand, the more faint the colour can become and in the worst case, you can remove the ink altogether). You could also give it some coats of clear coat which will help smooth out the roughness of the piece (keep reading for a warning on clear coat).
It looks a bit speckly here, that's mainly because the semi-gloss finish reflecting the light towards the camera making it look worse than it actually is. In real life, it looks pretty good.
It's very rigid and as a result should be considered to be more fragile than plastic (as it can't absorb an impact like flexible material). However, even with that said, it's pretty sturdy, it just wouldn't survive being thrown across the room or a large enough force.
The pressure plate is perfectly sized as a coaster! (The ink can fade when wet, so if you do use it as a coaster, make sure you give it a few coats of clear coat/varnish to protect the colours. Also keep in mind what I've said at the top of the post about the surface).
I use mine as a coaster so for me, it was important to seal the piece with some clear coat. I gave the entire surface a light sand with some fine sandpaper to smooth out the surface texture. This caused a little bit of frosting, but once I applied some clear coat, this then removed the frosting and made it look really nice.
A word of caution when it comes to clear coating!
When the "full colour sandstone" pieces are printed at shapeways, they are actually dipped into a CA solution (similar to super glue is a basic comparison) to harden the piece. Some clear coats may react odd to this, so I strongly advise you to first test your clear coat out on a discreet part of the model (for instance th bottom).
Below are pictures of my coaster once I had finished sanding and clear coating the piece. As you can see, it looks really nice and to the touch, it's incredibly smooth.
You can find my shop here!