Dyeing Shape Ways Puzzle Pieces

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  • 8/6/2019 Dyeing Shape Ways Puzzle Pieces


    Dyeing Shapeways Puzzle Pieces

    George Bell ; June 10th

    , 2011 ;[email protected]


    This document refers to dyeing puzzle pieces made from the Shapeways materialknown as White, Strong and Flexible (WSF)or PA 2200, produced by the SLS

    (selective laser sintering) method. Other Shapeways materials can also be dyed, but

    not all can tolerate boiling water.

    I use RIT brand fabric dye, but other fabric dyes are probably similar. RIT dye comes in

    both powder and liquid forms. In my experience, there is no difference between the

    same color in powder or liquid. However, the liquid form is a bit easier to work with. If

    you spill a single grain of the powder, it can lurk undetected in your kitchen until it gets

    wet. Most likely it will be your wife who discovers this and then you will have to look for

    another place to dye puzzle pieces. You have been warned!

    Step 1: Wash the puzzle pieces. This removes surface powder and hand oils whichmay have been absorbed into the pieces (if you have been playing with them). I use

    dish soap and warm water, scrubbing each piece vigorously with a toothbrush. Rinse

    the pieces and keep them soaking in a bowl of water.

    The WSF material is relatively porous and readily absorbs water. If you dye dry puzzle

    pieces the color may be uneven. I have had much better luck soaking the pieces in

    water for 10 minutes before dyeing. Since it takes almost 10 minutes to heat the water

    for dyeing, I let the pieces soak during this time.

    Step 2: Heat up the dye bath. I use an old camping pot on the kitchen stove. I use 3to 4 tsp (15 to 20 ml) of liquid dye to 1 liter or quart of water. For the powder dye, use

    this amount by volume. It does not seem to matter if you add the dye when the water is

    cold or hot. If using powder, be sure to stir thoroughly to dissolve, and do not spill

    any. When the dye bath starts to simmer, turn the heat off. You do not want to boil the

    Colors (L to R): Lemon Yellow, Fuchsia, Tangerine, Scarlet, Purple, Kelly Green, Royal Blue.

    mailto:[email protected]:[email protected]:[email protected]://home.comcast.net/~gibell/http://home.comcast.net/~gibell/http://home.comcast.net/~gibell/mailto:[email protected]
  • 8/6/2019 Dyeing Shape Ways Puzzle Pieces


    puzzle pieces (although I have done so with no ill effects). I live at 1650m where the

    boiling temperature is 94C. Shapeways suggests a dye bath at a constant 90C.

    Step 3: Take the puzzle pieces from the water and put them in the dye bath. They willprobably float, so keep stirring and dunking them down to ensure a uniform color. The

    amount of dyeing time varies quite a bit depending on the color. Royal Blue is one ofthe easiest colors to work with, and the pieces should be a nice light blue after only 30

    seconds, and will be quite dark blue in 3 to 5 minutes. Lemon Yellow is the slowest. I

    use double the amount of dye, and soak them for 15 to 30 minutes.

    Step 4: When you like the shade of color, remove the pieces from the dye bath andrinse them in warm water. I let them soak in a pot for 3-5 minutes, refreshing the water

    every minute or so. Dump the dye water down the sink.

    Step 5: Toss the puzzle pieces back in the soapy water. I have a second toothbrush

    and I give the pieces another scrub. The purpose of this step is so that your guests donot have dye coming off in their hands when they are handling your puzzle.

    Step 6: Rinse thoroughly and let the pieces soak again for a few minutes. If you see

    any dye coming off them (primarily for hollow pieces), keep them soaking. Set on paper

    towels to dry. You are done! Hollow pieces may take over 24 hours to dry, you can

    speed this up by using a hair dryer.

    Colors: The recipe here results invibrant and well saturated colors. Allcolors seem to come out much darker

    than indicated on the package. If you

    want lighter colors use less dye or work

    at a lower temperature (Shapeways

    uses a 90C dye bath for at least 20

    minutes). Some colors are also easier

    to work with than others. The easiest

    color to work with is black, which always

    comes out perfectly. Green and yelloware tricky, taking longer and/or hard to

    keep from becoming too dark. I still

    have not found a satisfactory green.

    Easy RIT colors: Black, Royal Blue,Royal Blue, Kelly Green, Scarlet,

    Lemon Yellow, Tan(!), Purple

  • 8/6/2019 Dyeing Shape Ways Puzzle Pieces


    Scarlet, Fuchsia, Tangerine, Purple.

    Hard RIT colors: Kelly Green, Lemon

    Yellow, Pearl Grey, Tan (last two can

    easily become too dark).

    Not recommended RIT colors: Teal,

    Wine, Dark Green, Navy Blue, Denim

    Blue (these come out too dark).

    Note: Dyeing a six piece puzzle in 6different colors is a time-consuming

    process. This can easily take three

    hours! I usually dye several puzzles in parallel.

    Note: The WSF material starts out as a fine nylon powder which is fused by a laser,layer by layer. Since Shapeways charges by volume of the fused material, one can

    save money by making pieces hollow. One can add holes to let the interior powder

    escape, OR add very tiny holes which will fuse over, trapping the powder. If the puzzle

    pieces appear solid, they may contain trapped powder. These pieces can be more

    difficult to dye, and Shapeways refuses to do it. What can happen is that the dye soaks

    into the pieces and then into the powder unevenly, producing a mottled appearance

    (yellow in particular seems prone to this problem). If this should happen to you, dont

    panic. I have found that once the inside powder dries up, the mottling goes away. The

    problem is that this drying out may take many weeks or months. I live in a very dry

    place, and it took over a month for the mottling to go away.

    Reference: Shapeways describes their dyeing process athttp://www.shapeways.com/tutorials/dyeing_sls

    Peanut puzzle pieces dyed at a lower

    temperature by Ginda Fischer


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