Category Archives: Ask An Engineer

Full Color Plastic 3D Print Material Torture Test Video

We are testing Full Color Plastic 3D Printing at Shapeways and what better way to test than with material torture videos.  We 3D printed a few basic parts to test for strength, flexibility, water and fire resistance.

Take a look at the video above to see the material under all of the different torture tests (oh, I was gentle as I wanted to test some of the parts in real world applications).  Overall while the material is not as refined or durable as SLS Nylon, which is the benchmark to which I compare all 3D printed materials, you can still do interlocking parts AND it is in almost full color (CMY, no K).
Shapeways Full Color Plastic 3D Printing is Flexible ish

The material is not as strong as our popular Nylon SLS material but is definitely less brittle then Full Color Sandstone.  At 3mm thickness the material is relatively stiff with only a small amount of flexibility (depending on geometry) yet at 1.5mm thickness the parts flex quite easily, to the point where the material may fail after just a few cycles of bending.  At 1mm thickness of wires, the prints can be very easily broken with very little effort so I really recommend at least 2mm walls/wires unless you never, ever intend to  touch your 3D prints.

Shapeways Full Color Plastic 3D Printing is machinable

I also gave the material a quick grind with a Dremel which the full color plastic held up fairly well to.  If you have a printed part that fits on an existing component that is too tight, you could easily and reliably grind away excess material with a clean finish.  I imagine it would respond to sanding with similar success as the color is impregnated approximately 2mm into the surface of the 3D prints, you could smooth the parts without removing all the color as long as you are not too heavy handed.  I am still experimenting with the parts in a tumbler to see if we can automate the smoothing process.

Shapeways Full Color Plastic 3D Printing is Waterproof

I am quite excited that the full color plastic is entirely waterproof, after soaking for over 24 hours there is no bleeding of colors, no degradation of material strength, stiffness or any swelling.  I have not had a chance to really UV test the pigments but as far as moisture is concerned this could be used for outdoor applications.

Shapeways Full Color Plastic 3D Printing is flamable

Another concern may be exposure to heat, the material feels as though it will deform under high temperatures but it definitely catches fire easily and stays alight emitting a terrible smell. So please do not expose you full color plastic 3D prints to exposed flames.

If you have any other tests you would like me to do to our Full Color Plastic, please leave a comment in the blog.


 

Introducing Maker Materials & the New Improved Elasto Plastic

The backbone of Shapeways is the 3D Printing materials we
offer to our community. From the versatile Strong and Flexible Plastics,
to the beautiful, hand-polished finish of Premium Silver, materials
inspire everyone to create new products that no one ever dreamed of
before. 

Our mission at Shapeways
has always been to enable anyone to make anything they want. First, we
built a system to allow Makers to design and purchase models for
themselves. Then we created Shapeways Shops to enable anyone to launch a
business and sell their products worldwide. Now, we want to make it
easier for Makers 
to gain access to the newest 3D printing materials on the market and test them with us. Think about it like one big, global 3D Printing R&D team.

Shapeways New Elasto Plastic 3D Printing

We’re
excited to announce the launch of our first ‘Maker Only’ material: a
flexible, rubbery plastic called Elasto Plastic! The finish, color, and
properties are not yet ready for sale to a wider audience, but it’s a perfect
material for any Maker out there who can work with a textured surface and
maybe a little extra powder arriving with their model.

The new, improved Elasto
Plastic
is a great option for Makers as it is an incredibly durable
material with a lot of really interesting properties such as high impact
resistance, flexibility and compression (depending on the geometry), along with a high level of static friction because of the surface
texture. Though not strictly water-tight, it can hold liquids, but it does
not like high temperatures or fire. It is a valuable addition to our 3D  Printing material options here on Shapeways that we are sure you will
find incredibly useful and fun.

Continue reading


 

Ask Your 3D Printing Questions on Fridays at 5 with Shapeways Engineers

Fridays at 5 is our regular Google hangout where you get to ask Shapeways Engineers your questions about 3D Printing with Shapeways.  Last week we talked about the upcoming launch of our new elasto material, how we 3D print our high detail acrylic and we set fire to a couple of Nylon and Full Color 3D prints to prove they are not suitable to put into a kiln.

Shapeways Burning 3D Printing

Join us again this Friday to ask your questions or enter them in the comments of the blog so we can be sure to address them first.  We are beginning to record these sessions so that we have an archive of answers to your 3D printing questions, thanks to Todd Blatt for the screen capture and ‘interesting’ questions. 


 

Ask Shapeways Engineers Your 3D Printing Questions Today at 5pm

Do you have questions about Shapeways 3D printing materials and processes? Want to know how to optimize your design to ensure it gets 3D printed first time? Do you need advice on what software might be best to best make your ideas for real.  Join us for a Google Hangout with Shapeways 3D printing engineers this Friday at 5pm NYC time and we will answer as many of your 3D printing questions as possible.

Ask Shapeways 3D Printing Questions

If you have a specific question ready to go, please ask in the comment section of the blog and we will try to address those questions first.

See you soon. 


 

Hang Out with Shapeways 3D Printing Engineers: Fridays at 5 in the Factory

Fridays at 5 in the Factory (NYC time) is a Google Hangout to give you an opportunity to ask the Shapeways 3D printing engineers your questions about Shapeways materials, processes and how to design for success.  We had an impromptu hangout last Friday that included a brief introduction to some of the Shapeways team along with a shaky, noisy virtual tour of the factory.

Register on Google+ to Fridays at 5 in the Factory or just virtually drop in to listen, ask questions and give feedback. 

Please note this is a virtual hang out as we cannot yet host people in the factory, those events will come once we have finished building out the site and all of the machines are safe in their cages.

We are looking forward to seeing you online and talking 3D printing with you. 


 

Ask an Engineer re-do with Scan and Solve for Rhino

Posted by in Ask An Engineer

We’ve had some great feedback to the Ask an Engineer videos, and while we assure you we ARE getting a microphone and will find a quieter space to film than the factory, Vladim Shapiro took the opportunity to scientifically test our coke can strength test.

The models we used in the Strength and Structure video are available for free download so he tried structural analysis on them using free simulation software. Scan&Solve is a Rhino plugin that can do structural analysis on any b-rep or meshed solid model directly without any preprocessing.

Here’s his video, remember to watch with CAPTIONS ON to follow along. 

Pretty neat right? You can try it yourself for free with an evaluation version by going to Scan&Solve. Thanks Vadim!

If you have any 3D printing questions you would like answered by our 3D printing engineer Matthew Hagan please email askanengineer@shapeways.com


 

Shapeways Ask an Engineer #2: Strength and Structure (VIDEO)

In the second episode of Shapeways Ask an Engineer, we demonstrate how slight modifications to your models can double their strength.

With the help of good old Diet Coke, we see how many cans we can stack on two different cube structures before they break. The first is a basic cube composed of squares, while the second is a little more complicated and composed of triangles. Our test reveals that the addition of a few more lines allows a structure to withstand two Diet Coke cans before snapping, while the basic cube snaps almost immediately after a can is placed on top of it. The difference in price between the two models is only fifteen cents — definitely worth the extra money!

What would you like us to break next time? If you have any 3D printing questions you would like answered by our
3D printing engineer Matthew Hagan please email
askanengineer@shapeways.com

For more information on Shapeways 3D printed materials visit our materials hub and and more design tips take a look at our Design for 3D Printing 101