Category Archives: 3D Printing Materials

3D Printing Material Torture Test – FIRE

Ever wondered what would happen if you set fire to your 3D prints?  Yeah, me too.

Following is a video of a quick flame test of five of shapeways core 3D printing materials including Alumide, Acrylic (FUD + Detail) , Full Color Sandstone, and Nylon (WSF).  Watch this 3 minute video to see how each of these materials reacts to a quick encounter with a blow torch. Please do not try this at home.


A little surprisingly the Alumide was the first to melt down like a powdery napalm candle.  Both of the Acrylics (both of which are UV cured resins) caught fire super easily and burnt steadily emitting a terrible odor.  The full color sandstone did not really want to stay alight with this geometry.  It is actually the Cyanoacrylate (super glue (Kragle)) final sealing process that really burns in the full color prints, I tried other prints that had not been dipped in Cyanoacrylate and they would not stay alight at all.  Finally the Nylon caught fire but did not maintain the flame for very long.  In other geometries I have seen the Nylon keep alight for longer, again dripping like napalm whilst still on fire.

In the end, these materials are in no way resistant to fire, keep them away from naked flames as it will most likely result in a hot dripping, smelly mess.

I will share more videos of each of the materials with different geometries so you can see in detail how each material reacts.

And, what material torture test would you like to see next?


 

3D Print in Nylon with Selective Laser Sintering – Part 1

It’s now been almost six years since we started offering White Strong and Flexible (WSF) to you, our community and it’s a good time to share what we have learned.

So, this is the first of a series of three blog-posts that I am writing about Strong and Flexible 3D-printing. Please share your feedback by commenting, we would love to learn your thoughts and ideas!

First and foremost we are extremely happy to see the result of what you have made with WSF and later the color variants (together called Strong and Flexible Plastic). Over the last six years we have printed more than 2.5 million parts in Strong and Flexible. These part range from jewelry to cases for the iPhone, quad-copter accessories (see picture), to the fabulous Animaris Geneticus Parvus (see picture), lighting shades and more.  White Strong and Flexible Plastic and the colors have been and are still by far the most popular material on Shapeways.

Animaris Geneticus Parvus

3D print of Animaris Geneticus Parvus or Strandbeest

DJI Phantom accessories

3D printed DJI Phantom accessories

Let me share what it means to make something in Strong and Flexible Plastic. The current system on Shapeways is based on files. After you buy 1 or more copies of a product represented in a file, the work for us starts.

First, for new products, we have to check whether the products in the file are printable. Are the printers capable of producing the details? Are the products strong enough? Are the walls thick enough? Checking each new file is done by software and by hand to make sure you get what you want. If we believe we cannot print something, our team makes a clear report about the issues, including screenshots. As you can imagine this takes quite a bit of time. The checking and rejection process has become quite a challenge, more about this in the post next week!

After checking we plan the files into the tray of the machine. Depending on the size of the machine, each tray can hold hundreds and sometimes thousands of products. If the files hold multiple parts, here’s where it becomes hard. We sometimes need to increase separation of the parts (to prevent them to melt or fuse together) or reorient or simply separate them to optimize maximum tray fill. As we put more parts in a single tray, it increases the efficiency of the print run and in turn enables us to offer reasonable prices.

Now that we have planned the tray the file containing all parts for the print, called a slice file, is sent to one of our big SLS printers (picture below shows one of our massive EOS P7s). One printing run typically takes 24 hours, but our big P7 machines can print for up to 3 days! When the printing is done we quickly remove the full tray to let it cool. Cooling takes as much time as printing.

EOS P7 SLS printer in Shapeways factory at LIC

EOS P7 in our factory at LIC

After the tray is cooled down to room temperature, we retrieve the parts from the tray, which is now filled with nylon powder and parts. Digging the parts out of the powder one by one is actually a super fun process. You never know what you are going to find! The hardest to find are the very small parts, since distinguishing them from little plastic lumps is challenging. At one time someone tried to print parts as small as 1x1x1 mm!!

Now we need to remove the excess powder from each part, which is done with compressed air. Then we sort all parts. Some will be ready to go to our packing stations and be shipped, while others need post production. We either polish (see pic below of our polisher), or polish and dye the parts. After each step we need to sort again, since polishing and dying puts all parts together in batches again. So we spend a lot of time sorting parts and luckily we have gotten quite good at it ensuring everyone of you, our customers, get the right parts with the right finish. Files holding multiple parts are hard to sort. Our systems use the file as the unit and if it contains multiple parts its hard to recognize and to make sure we have all parts. Some files hold over 100 parts and even counting them takes a lot of time!

Shapeways Polisher in LIC

One of our big polishers at our LIC factory

We can typically do all the above steps in less than four days, which is quite miraculous given the amount of time the printing itself takes. Once all of these steps are complete, the products are ready to ship and are collected in the distribution wall of bins (see picture below). When the order is completed, our distribution team packs them up and sends them to you our customers to enjoy.

Shapeways Distribution Area wall of bins

Our distribution area with the bins holding parts ready to ship

Next week I’ll spend time diving a bit deeper in the specific challenges we face and how they influence the cost of 3D printing in nylon using Selective Laser Sintering.

Please feel free to ask questions in the comments below, or make suggestions for the deeper dive next week!

all the best,
Pete / CEO Shapeways


 

Faster 3D Printing in Our Most Popular Materials

We’re always striving to make 3D printing more affordable and to get your products in your hands as fast as possible. So we’re excited to share that today, we’ve reduced lead times globally for Full Color Sandstone! We’re also increasing speed in the Strong and Flexible Family for our European and worldwide customers.

Textured Cuff by Ina

Textured Cuff by Ina

You can see the new ship dates reflected on our Materials page, upon checkout and below in this chart. In order to maximize the reductions we’ve broken the Strong and Flexible family into new sizes. Currently we only have a split between small WSF (<20cm) and large WSF (20cm>), by adding the medium category, we can make all of them faster, and let you get your small parts really fast: in just four days!

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 7.09.20 AM

Big thanks to our Supply Chain and Manufacturing teams for making this happen. These new faster speeds and size breakdowns are currently available ONLY for our European and worldwide customers, and we hope to roll them out soon to the USA and Canada. Stay tuned!


 

Not Everyone Has a Heart of Gold, But You Can Get One 3D Printed in Silver

The Anatomical Heart Pendant by leorolph is a beautifully detailed heart pendant that looks amazing 3D printed in Sterling Silver by Shapeways.  Of course you can order the pendant in solid 14k or Rose Gold, it just costs a little more.

Anatomic 3D Printed Silver Heart Jewelry

Take a look at the Owned Shop on Shapeways to see more unique jewelry by this Australian designer.

Remember, we have upped the speed on our Silver, Gold and Brass to get your 3D printed jewelry to you as fast as possible, so if you have an anniversary, wedding, or birthday coming up, Shapeways 3D printed jewelry can make the perfect, unique gift.


 

Intricate Sugar Skull Ring 3D Printed in Sterling Silver

As we introduce more 3D printing materials suitable for jewelry we are seeing the Shapeways marketplace evolve to include more amazing designs such as this Sugarskull Ring  by lougon.

3D Print Silver Skull RIng

Showing the intricate detail possible in our Sterling Silver 3D printing, Lougon post processed his 3D print by oxidizing to blacken the Silver, then polishing to return the raised sections to high polish, giving a rich contrast.

You can try this process yourself using egg yolks to blacken your Silver 3D prints to give the same affect.


 

Show Us Your Elasto Plastic 3D Prints

We introduced Elasto Plastic as our first 3D Printing maker material back in May last year so that the Shapeways community could have access to a impact resistant, flexible 3D printing material.  The team at the factory in Eindhoven get to see the amazing products you design with this unique material but because it is a Maker Material, and not available for sale as a product on Shapeways, many of us do not get to see and be inspired by your designs.

flexible 3D print material on Shapeways

We would love to see your Elasto Plastic designs shared in the It Arrived forum so that we can all see the range of products you are designing and get inspiration to explore the material in different ways.  We are looking forward to seeing photos of your designs on the Shapeways forums soon.


 

Beautifully Painted 3D Printed Sculpture

Even though we have over 40 material options at Shapeways for you to choose to 3D print with, sometimes you are looking for something a little different.  By post processing the 3D printed materials yourself, you can take your design in a whole new direction, be it functional or aesthetic.  PIXOLforge has taken our polyjet acrylic material known as Frosted Ultra Detail on Shapeways to a whole new level painting his sculpture with matte scale model paint after a quick cleaning with mineral spirits.  Once the paint was dry he hand rubbed down his 3D print with artist oil to get this amazing result.

high detail 3D print painted

What processes do you use to take your 3D prints to the next level?


 

Ultra exciting news for Frosted Ultra Detail

We’re happy to announce that, thanks to a recent machine upgrade, the Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD) Plastic bounding box has increased its maximum to 284 x 184 x 203mm, from its previous maximum of 127x178x152mm; a 220% x 3% x 34% increase respectively. This train by our Shapie Customer Service expert Mitchell shows off the new bounding box quite well.

bigFUD-train-split-top-onblk

While most FUD products will still ship within six business days, please allow up to 10 for products that are over 70mm in each bounding box dimension.

bigFUD-train-angle-onblk

bigFUD-train-split-angle-onblk

So, what will you be printing in our new, bigger FUD?


 

Introducing our newest color: Orange

You asked for it, so today we bring you orange! That’s right, all our new colors are World Cup related. Last weeks Green and Yellow launches were for Brazil, the host country* and today we are rolling out Orange, for our Netherlands team ORANJE!

Flowers Bangle by Marmalade Park 

This brings our color palette for our dyed strong and flexible family to a full rainbow, just in time to show our support for Pride Month here in the USA.

Join in the Orange conversation in the forum or let us know your feedback here in the comments. We are trialing this specific shade of orange for four weeks, so let us know your feedback about the shade and we may adjust after the trial.

What will you make with orange? Will it be as good as Van Persie’s goal? What other colors do you want for your team to 3D print in?

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Introducing Castable Wax: Our Newest Maker Only Material

We know you’ve been asking for it for a long time and we’re beyond thrilled to announce our next Maker Material: Wax!

From the moment we introduced metals, you asked if we could just ship the castable wax. As of today, you can order the wax of your model, ready for you to cast into any number of metals, either in your studio or at a casting house. Our wax can be cast just like normal investment casting wax, for which there’s a large variety of methods. 

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Top 8 Amazing Products 3D Printed in White, Strong and Flexible Plastic

At Shapeways we pride ourselves on having the most high quality materials available for 3D printing. One of our popular and readily available materials is our white, strong and flexible plastic (WSF) which is laser sintered nylon plastic in a variety of colors and finishes. This material is incredibly versatile, and can be used for a wide variety of applications. Check out these incredible sculptures printed using our plastic material.

1) Quaternary Tree Mobile by mobiles

2) Worm Hole by TonyEnn

3) Iron Bridge by Nathan2012

4) Articulated Mantis Shrimp by chosetec

5) Venus de Milo by CosmoWenman

6) “Chimaera” – Greek Vase Painting by printedCat

7) Mobius Nautilus by joabaldwin

8) Illustrious sculpture by cosmic.ollie (http://shpws.me/ooWm)

Our plastics are also a great and inexpensive material for prototyping and testing your designs. For more information and a in-depth overview on our strong and flexible plastic click here.


 

Get your Shapeways Gifts in Time for Christmas

Feel like the Holiday season is flying by? So do we! That’s why we wanted to give you a friendly reminder about your Holiday deadlines by material. You can see a full list of Material deadlines on our Holiday planning page, but here’s a quick overview as the Brass family’s cutoff is today!

This Gift Panda by WillSculpts is excited his friends planned early this holiday season. 

Note: All deadlines listed here assume overnight delivery in North America or Europe, rest of world specifics are available on our planning page. 

December 5th: 
Premium Silver
Polished Brass
Raw Brass
Raw Bronze
Ceramics

December 9th:
Polished Silver
Tumbled Silver

December 10th:
Stainless Steel
Elasto Plastic
Large WSF (20com +)

December 13th:
Dyed Strong & Flexible
Detail (Frosted & Frosted Ultra)

December 16th:
White, Strong & Flexible
Polished WSF
Full Color Sandstone
Alumide
Polished Alumide

Happy Shopping & Selling Shapies ;) !


 

Testing the Melting Point of Nylon 3D Prints (VIDEO)

Some of you may be subjecting you 3D prints to extreme forces like impact, sheer weight, constant flexing and maybe even a little heat, but have you ever wanted to know how hot you can go?  Shapeways material tester Brandon has shared a video on his YouTube Channel heating Shapeways Nylon (WSF) 3D prints in mineral oil to deformation then melting point.

“To test I heated WSF in mineral oil and tested how it behaves at higher and higher temperatures. The material starts to soften at around 155-165C and starts to significantly deform and melt at around 170-180C.”

The video runs for around 17 minutes but the good stuff (deformation) starts to occur around 155c at the 10:00 minute mark and total failure at around 15:00 minute mark at 170c.

Thanks again to Brandon for sharing, if you have an material torture tests please let us know in the comments on the blog. Below is some wet Nylon I tortured in the microwave


 

Three Materials on the Fast Track

At the request of Shapies far and wide, we’re doing all that we can to ensure you get the items you care about even faster. So we’re excited to share that we’re reducing lead times for three of our materials! White Strong & Flexible Polished and Polished Alumide will change from 12 to 9 business days, and Frosted Ultra Detail from 8 to 6 business days. So now you can have your 3D Printed products in your hand quicker than ever before!

Animaris Geneticus Ondularis, by TheoJansen.


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Shop Ceramics at New Lower Prices!

As you may already know, we recently lowered the pricing of our Ceramics! As a result, Shapeways Shop Owners got really excited and wanted to share their newly priced models with you. Check out the amazing deals now available on classic ceramic models from espresso cups to vases, candle holders to chopstick holders!

Plateless Espresso Cup was $77.58, now $44.99!

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