This image above shows Charles Darwin printed as a 1 inch tall, nickel steel charm or pendant. As you can see, it's scarcely taller than a quarter. It is considerably grainier and more striated then the Shapeways renderings would suggest but, I have to admit that I love the effect. It seems more distressed and ancient than something fresh out of the 3d printer. In certain instances the striations mimic the hatch work in old engravings. When the 3d print arrived, it was quite a bit duller and darker as well. A few minutes of nylon brush and cotton wheel on the old Dremel tool brought the shine up in a jiffy while leaving the darker oxides in the deepest details. This piece is currently available at this link for under $30.
Shapeways is an online 3d printing service that prints in a variety of different plastics, metals and ceramic. The plastic prints are either SLA or SLS products depending upon the particular plastic. Most of the metal prints are actually printed in wax and investment plaster molded. The wax gets melted out of the plaster and is replaced with molten bronze. Once the bronze cools, the plaster is then broken off and the bronze may be hand finished.
The price range is nearly as astonishing as the available range of materials. A one inch tall head or bust in matte polished nylon can be printed on demand for as little as $5.25 or, for as much as $2,600.60 in platinum. My favorite finish is the premium silver for $130.31 but, the polished nickel steel is nearly as handsome and $100.00 less. An 18k gold version can be printed for $1,314.56 but a gold plated brass copy can be had for as little as $75.00. On the other side of the size spectrum, a life sized head can be printed for as little as $1,200.00 in polished nylon or, $8,986.66 in bronze. That may seem pricey to those unfamiliar with the costs of sculpting and casting an original portrait but, in truth it's never been more efficient or cost effective. While Charles Darwin may not be everybody's choice for an ear ring, charm or, pendant, anybody's portrait or head could be processed in this way.
Any loved one or, lover or, spouse or, child, anyone near, dear or, important to you can be commemorated and or celebrated in this medium. Beyond that personal but, miniature scope, The Darwin bust or head, especially in it's largest configurations would serve the collections and displays of any museum, library, school, office, scholar or, evolutionary biologist's study very well indeed.
On a final note I must mention that while all of these images appear to be photographs, they are in fact based on renderings generated through Shapeways. Before making a purchase, I strongly suggest studying Shapeways site so that you may fully acquaint yourself with their products, methods and actual photographs of pieces in different materials that have been produced by them.