The Shapeways 3D Print Flex-Contest

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Want to get your design 3D printed in a flexible squishy new material we have been experimenting with? 

Enter The Shapeways 3D Print Flex-Contest to get your own flexible, squishy 3D prints.

We have been playing with the material in the Shapeways office for the past few months, teased you with a video and given community members a chance to feel the material at our Meetups but now we want to give you a chance to get your models 3D printed in the flexible material. 

Please note that this material is in a somewhat experimental phase for us so we are not sure exactly how the material will react to different geometries, stresses and levels of detail so your designs will help us to understand what is possible.

We are going to choose six winners in six different categories by six different judges from the Shapeways team

For the contest we have set some experimental design rules for the new material as follows

Minimum Wall: 1.0mm

Minimum Clearance:  1.0mm

Minimum Detail: 1.0mm

Maximum Size:   200 x 150 x 300mm

How To Enter

To enter the contest:

  • Upload a new design to Shapeways with the tag Flextest by 5pm EST the 11th of May 2012.
  • Your entry must have a total volume of less than 50cm3.
  • Upload a description of your design specifying the use/context.


    • Innovative Use of Material: Judge: Nancy Liang
    • Design for Squishability: Judge: Duann Scott 
    • Best Product Hack: Judge: Charlie Maddock
    • Best Kitchen Related Design: Judge: Christian Arca
    • Fashion and Jewelry: Judge: Carine Carmy
    • Chindogu – Exceedingly Non-Functional: Judge: Mary Huang

    Terms and Conditions:

    • Free prize draw, closing date, 11th of May 2012, 5pm EST.
    • Winners will receive their 3D print in the flexible material.
    • The winner be notified in writing by May 15, 2012.
    • No purchase necessary.
    • Entry must be a new design uploaded between April 11 and May 11th.
    • By entering this competition, entrants will be deemed to have accepted and agreed to the conditions.
    • No cash or other alternative prizes available.
    • The prize draw is not open to Shapeways employees or their families.
    • The promoters decision is final

Indicative Material Qualities

  • Rubber-Like Flexibility
  • Durable and Tear Resistant
  • Long Term Stability/Memory
  • Fully Recyclable
  • Material does not dissolve in hydrocarbons, ketones, ethers or alcohols, but may lose some mechanical properties. May swell in some solvents or solvent mixtures. 

We will be using the results of the contest to work out the best design rules, printing cost, color to print in and naming of the material so your feed back is really appreciated. We are really looking forward to seeing your new designs.

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  1. Anonymous

    “Your entry must not have a totalΒ volume of less than 50cm3.”

    In other words it must be GREATER than 50cm3?? That is huge.

  2. Lincoln

    Exciting! Is this material food safe? What temperature could it withstand if I heated it in an oven?



    1. Duann

      Hey Lincoln.

      We will check the temp stats for you.
      The material also has a powdery ness that makes it a little unsettling in contact with food as particles may come loose.
      The previous rubbery material was classified food safe but I am not sure about this one

    2. WillLaPuerta

      “The previous rubbery material was classified food safe but I am not sure about this one ”

      One of the categories listed above is Best Kitchen Related Design, so we really need to be a bit more certain about this.

    3. Duann

      Hi Will,

      The best way to go will be to make something for the kitchen that does not come into contact with food?

      menu holder?
      Cupboard Handle?
      Sink Plug?
      Teapot trivet?

  3. Roofoo

    Interesting. Would this material work like a pencil eraser? I’m thinking of how it could make novelty eraser shapes, like what kids sometimes buy. πŸ™‚

    1. Duann

      I will test it for you and let you know

  4. Kiran

    Does this material have a name? If not, I would call it, “Cheese.”

  5. stop4stuff

    Hi Duann,

    What kind of size holes need to be in a hollow model?


    1. Duann

      Hey Paul, let’s say 1mm hole to remove support material.

  6. Peter

    Couple of questions:

    1. What is the heat resistance?
    2. What colours are you offering?
    3. Can we paint or dye it ourselves? What process is recommended?

    1. Duann

      We will check the temperatures for you

      We will most likely print it in black for the contest

      The coloring process looks like a complex impregnation process and we have not yet tested with fabric dyes…

  7. stop4stuff

    me again with a couple more questions.

    Does the uploaded model need to be made public?

    And how strict is the 1mm wall thickness rule? – I have a model with walls that vary from 0.98 to 1.03mm


    1. Duann

      Yes. Model must be public

      Let’s try and stick to the rules of 1mm but we will not check unless you win πŸ˜‰

  8. Xanthe

    can we make an artistic sculpture or does it have to be a product of some kind?


  9. nancyliang

    You can make any product! We will be judging on quite a few categories including general innovation and creativity in using the squishy material.

  10. stop4stuff

    Hi Duann,

    Only me (again)

    Do you know what it would take to break a 3mm diameter solid rod?

    I have a model in mind but don’t know if the mechanics would work, I can PM you with details if needs be.


    1. Duann


      Depends on the stress, we have found once we color it elongation snap is at 150%….

      is it stretch, shear or compression?


    2. stop4stuff

      Hi Duan,

      It would be stretch, the rod would be attached at one end within a larger outer tube.

      sorry, another question;
      What kind of % reduction in dimensions would be expected for a cube-like frame to snugly fit a cube.


  11. kcwinter

    How well might this material work with a design that had a magnet to be inserted into it post-printing? I’m just worried it might be too squishy. Also, what’s the abrasion resistance of it as well, like would it deteriorate pretty quickly after a few scratches or could it hold up to some abuse? Thanks!

    1. Duann

      Magnets sound fine, it is fairly robust,

      Abrasion would depend what it is rubbed against,
      concrete bad
      itself good.

      Does this help?

  12. Callum

    Are you allowed to upload multiple entries? I’m definitely going to try this.

  13. Magic

    I see you printed various version of the Stich Bracelet (with a wire diameter of 2mm and 1.5mm I would say). I am wondering: is the meterial flexible enough to remove (without breaking it) an entire row from the bracelet? If it is the case then you could break apart two or three bracelets of different colors and then re-assemble them after mixing the colors…
    Would be really nice…

    1. nancyliang

      re: Stitch Bracelet

      Yes, you can remove the individual links no problem!! Even the thinnest one is fine.. though you have to be careful with the thin pieces. πŸ™‚

    2. Magic

      That’s a great piece of news.
      Mixing different colors for the bracelets would be a real advantage.
      Thanks Nancy.

    3. nancyliang

      Ahhhh I see what you are getting at πŸ™‚

      The thickest stitch bracelet worked well, the thinner ones kind of fell apart. The thinnest one just kind of came apart by itself, since it was squishier due to the thin walls.

      Also, after doing a few test prints, it looks like we need to up the min wall to 1.5mm. Even on “normal walls” (like BAROBA’s bunny) at 1mm, the walls often crack during before its infiltrated.

  14. peterhguk

    Well, I shall be making an entry, but: “powderiness”? No, no, could we have a glossy one please :o)

    1. duann

      IF we could get a glossy finish we would offer it for sure.

  15. anachreon


    Not food safe/bio compatible is a real downer for me.
    It really narrows down it’s flexibility (if you’ll excuse the pun…).



  16. VeryWetPaint

    The search is case-sensitive: it currently gives two results for *flextest* and four results for *Flextest*

    I sure hope that won’t affect anyone’s eligibility. Will the judges include both tags?

    1. duann

      We will incude both terms πŸ™‚

  17. Wahtah

    Two questions:
    – Do you need to choose a category yourself or will the judges decide on that?
    – Are multiple entries allowed?

  18. Marcus

    Can we order the new material before the end of the contest?

  19. nancyliang

    Hey guys,

    So this material is super new, and unfortunately we just don’t have all the data with regards to elongation, etc. The video should give a good idea of the bendability.. we know it is over 100% elongation at break though. We are also playing around with infiltration to make the material stronger (and thus will change the material properties).

    It is not food safe, but maybe you can use it for handles and food equipment that doesn’t directly come in contact with food.

    As for categories.. just submit, and we will consider all entries for all categories. Heck, you might even win TWO categories!!

    Multiple entries are more than welcomed! The more the merrier!!

    Order the new material before end of contest? We are moving as fast as possible, and if it’s ready before the end of the contest then maybe… but, no launch date as of yet.

  20. Callum

    In the contest video, is that a Rubik’s cube that is brought out when it mentions interlocking parts?

  21. kitemaker

    Yes,definitely interested. Would be ordering some parts today if you offered it now.

    Do you know the durometer of the new flexible material? Can the durometer be varied, ie stiffer or softer? Is this made in the Objet system that enables printing with stiff material in the same piece? If so, will you offer this?

  22. nancyliang

    This is not an Objet material. The durometer could vary depending on machine setting, but not by much. From my understand it’s the infiltratant used that will change the durometer. We don’t have any numbers yet as we are still tweaking the final process, but you can see from the video how stiff/flexible it is. It’s not a quantitative measure, but should give you a sense of the material. Does that help?

    I look forward to seeing your design in the contest!!

  23. Shapeways Blog

    The first entrants are starting to appear in the Shapeways 3D Print Flex-Contest and we are really excited to see what you make with the squishy, flexible material. What will you design? What is the wildest idea you can think of? Whic

  24. MidnightLightning

    How scratchy is the material? I’m wondering for mobile device cases; is it close enough to a neoprene-like material that it won’t scratch the device or wear itself out if it’s in constant contact with the device?

    Can you test an existing model designed for one Strong and Flexible printing with the new material and let us know if there needs to be a sizing adjustment? The Strong and Flexible material can “snap” around objects, which I’m guessing this new material can’t, but if it’s printed a hair smaller it may be able to stretch and cup the device corners?

  25. nancyliang

    It will definitely stretch to fit. We tested a rubber band iPhone case, and it was too loose to fit on an iPhone. However, we wrapped it around a Vibe iPhone Case, and it fit better (still a hair too loose). If you submit an iPhone Case, we can work together to figure out what the “conversion” should be in terms of sizing. We’ll have to print it in a few sizes to be sure. One idea is to have the design wrap around the phone more, like this:

    As for scratching, it’s not scratchy, but it’s not completely smooth either. I wouldn’t worry about it damaging my phone though because it is a soft material so it’s rough but not as abrasive.

  26. nancyliang

    No.. the material is not air or water tight.

  27. belgian

    hi ,

    how manny models can i use to participate ?
    and how can i find find the models of other contestants ?

  28. nancyliang

    You can submit as many as you want. Just remember to tag them “Flextest”.

  29. Duann

    Hi Belgian,

    You can enter as many times as you like.

    To find other entrants search for FlexTest on Shapeways

  30. peterhguk

    Not airtight! Bah, I thought it was! Anyway, I have made my entry, which Nancy will recognise :oP

  31. xGATOxMALOx

    Do you have to make the models public?

    1. Anonymous

      Yes. Models must be public.

  32. TheCartographer

    Do we enter the tags under the description or in the model name itself?

    1. Duann

      You need to enter the tag on your product page, on the lower right hand side is an option to add tags.

      you need to use the tag


      Good Luck

  33. ilcanario


    just read this last post on the “tag”. I uploaded my file on time, but overlooked to tag it flextest. updated the model tag now. Does this mean i’m … out ? (pulling my hear out as i type)

    1. Duann

      You are good,

      An hour to spare πŸ™‚

  34. ivorivetta

    Glad I saw this and was able to come up with an idea quick enough πŸ™‚

    First upload to Shapeways so I posted the description on the product comment. If there is no better place, then we’re all good.

    glhf all

  35. ivorivetta

    nvm figured out where the product description goes from other entries πŸ™‚

  36. KGB

    Don’t know why my comment doesn’t get posted…..what are the results of the contest?

  37. nancyliang

    Contest winner will be announced later today. πŸ™‚

  38. xGATOxMALOx

    What happen to the results?

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