What 3D Printed Material Would YOU Like to See Next on Shapeways?

As 2012 comes to a close it is time to look forward to 2013 and what exciting new things we can do at Shapeways.  One thing we really love is to experiment with 3D printing new materials and post processing.  What would YOU like to see us introduce next year?
3D Print Question
Should we look at new colors or new finishes, new metals or new ceramics, different plastics or something completely new like 3D printing wax?  We have a few ideas and have been experimenting behind the scenes but would love to know what you would like to see next and why. We will read EVERY comment and investigate what is possible.
So, what is it going to be???
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    1. Duann

      Thanks Wesley,

      We would LOVE to share a new rubber material soon and we have seen some amazing titanium samples…
      There was a plasticised wax that may be shipable but it does not have quite the same level of detail..

      Would that make a difference?

  1. WuLongTi

    I’d really like to see something akin to ABS plastic or similar to the WSF in properties but smooth in texture like injection molded plastics are. I doubt this is possible right now, but that’s what I’d like to see.

    I was keen on trying out some of the flexible rubber material but it looks like that’s gone away :(

    1. Duann

      We have seen a smooth ABS-like material but it is not quite as durable.

    1. Duann

      Aluminum would be interesting, what would you make with it?

    2. Anonymous

      Heat Sinks and functional mechanical parts, ex. durable casings

    3. Duann

      Ahhh, making things for real…

    1. Duann

      The plasticized wax we have seen is not SUPER detailed, would that be a problem?

  2. Christina Westbrook

    It would be great to have a polished strong and flexible neutral color. I know polished is hard to get to a dark black, but a nice (as dark as possible) grey would be nice, for many products and jewelry people want a color that is neutral enough to match everything.

    1. Duann

      Hey Christina,

      That is actually fairly easy for us with our new process.

      What colors in particular?

  3. Eric S

    I’ll second what Wesley GA said. Titanium would be cool, and wax could be taken into a lost-wax casting process.
    And while it’s not 3D printing, I’d like to be able to order custom water-jet cutting. Steel, aluminum, titanium, plexiglas, whatever.

    1. Duann

      We have not seriously looked at subtractive processes yet but you never know..

  4. Michae Mueller

    It would be great to have more materials that are using the lost-wax casting process, like the current silver. I’m sure it could be used for brass, copper or bronze, too.

    1. Duann

      Ooooh, Brass, Copper & Bronze,

      I can imagine your designs in that…

  5. Roger H.

    I’d like to see black-strong-flexible-polished. If you could make brass stuff through the same process as the silver (lost wax) that would be great, too.

    1. Duann

      Polished Black is totally doable in the near term, any other colors you would like to see?

  6. Alex Martin

    +1 Aluminium – I want to be able to print custom bicycle parts that are structurally strong enough for something other than decorative purposes
    (it’d need to be printed in an inert atmosphere otherwise all you’re going to print is aluminium oxide)

    1. Duann

      Hey Alex, that would be cool, what if we could offer it anodized???

      @natalia what do you think?

    2. Alex Martin

      Anodized would be the coup de grace, just start taking my money damnit!

  7. Matthew Schneider

    Wax: I too would like to see wax offered as a purchasable material- and I think that you’re going to get that as an answer from many people. I know that you already print in wax to create silver objects, and so perhaps you could give people the option to purchase the wax prints alone. I can foresee this creating a problem with shipping though, if the wax is too soft, so perhaps you could consider using a harder sculpting-type wax if you don’t already.

    Foam: I think it would be fantastic to have to chance to print out lightweight foam parts- this could be useful for things like antenna toppers, stress balls, protective covers for sharp mechanical parts, and custom-shaped packing foam inserts for shipping.

    Silicone Rubber: In addition to making flexible parts for constructions (think button pads, billow-pumps, and rubber feet) this could be used to make silicone rubber molds, which could have cement, plaster, and other cold cast materials poured into them time and time again. If you could manage to make this work with food-grade silicone, people could make their own silicone cake pans or ice cube trays.

    Multi-Purpose Golem Matter: 3D printing has taken a good many forays into the medical field- an injured bald eagle was fitted with a 3D printed beak, and an 83-year-old woman was given a 3D printed replacement jaw. What’s next: Entire arms? New lungs made from 3D printed cell matter? I say, why stop there? Imagine printing an entire sheep, with fully functioning organ systems. We could even print out household servants for ourselves! Get a jump on the industry and start offering organic matter printing now!

    1. Duann

      We have seen some foam urethane from 3D printed parts but there is a limitation to the possible geometries so some of the coolest things about 3D printing are not possible.

      Would you be interested even with limited geometries.

    2. Matthew Schneider

      Hmmm… by limited geometries, I imagine you mean that it could not have detailed hollow parts, like a bird in a cage?

      I still think it would be a nice thing to have available, at least as a limited run test to see how other folks like it.

    3. Matthew Schneider

      (I feel like I should clarify that the last item on this list was completely in jest. The day 3D printing living beings becomes possible, I will be 3D printing myself a concrete bunker and packing my things.)

    4. Duann

      I can only imagine the zombie apocalypse that will follow…

    1. Matthew Schneider

      Wow, looks like a very useful product. I can’t say how much I’d use it, since the few things I’ve printed are decorative rather than functional, but for those who make mechanical designs this would be a great addition!

      I may even be tempted to take some courses in mechanical design just so I can try it out!

    2. Duann

      It turns out the Carbonamide is kinda carcinogenic and our team would have to dress up like astronauts preparing for a journey into the center of the sun. So that may not be an option, at least until the entire process is handled by robots….

  8. Mike

    Optically clear plastic.
    “TANGO” elastomeric.
    Smooth alumide.

    Everything would then be perfect!

    1. Duann

      We have smooth Alumide,
      The clear takes quite a bit of hand work to make it clear. Would you want to do the hand work or pay for us to spend extra time on finishing?
      Elasto, we would love to see that too.

    2. Matthew Schneider

      I think it is difficult for them to make smooth alumide even after polishing it, since it is a mix of two different materials. I wonder if they could figure out a way to give it a very thin coat of metal plate?

      I definitely second your desire for optically clear plastic, though. I’d love to print out clear windshields for model cars or make tiny little clear potion bottles.

  9. Ryan

    I would really like to see RUBBER! It would be great to be able to print out tires for model cars and such.

  10. pretty

    Rubber or something similar to it. With variations on density, flexibility, colour. Something to replace the squishy plastic you tested previously. Unless you already have a replacement and I missed the information somewhere. Thanks.

    1. Duann

      Sounding like the Objet multi material options.

      They are kinda hard to program with our current system, but would be an amazing addition to our material roster.

  11. Geoff

    Silicone, or another heat-resistant, flexible material

    1. Lou

      Realistic how close is printing in food grade silicone , such as molds. AF

  12. Dolf

    Anything as long as it can print much bigger than the current tech…. and affordably of course

  13. Tim

    I’d like to see other metals. Aluminum would be very interesting. Or nickel. Or cobalt (a subtle blue hue?) I’d also like a greater choice in metal color. You’ve got natural colors gold, silver, and bronze, but I wonder how difficult it would be to do all the colors of the spectrum.

    I’d really like some sort of green substance.

    1. Duann

      Aluminum, we can see pathways to make happen,

      Green, do you mean green Nylon?

      Or eco = green?

    2. Tim

      Yeah, green meaning eco.
      But hmm. Green Nylon would be very very interesting. I wonder if that would even be possible?

  14. Tom

    I’d really like to see some kind of strong & rigid food safe plastic for bottles/pipes/valves/etc. Aside from that, +1 on that Carbonmide material.

    1. Duann

      Yeah, Carbonmide look VERY promising for our workflow… (William)

  15. Brian

    A bit outside the box: chocolate. There are companies online that let you make custom chocolate bars, but that is just adding ingredients (i.e. gummi bears and marshmallows in a dark chocolate bar). But custom chocolate shapes, even with low detail, would be popular: chocolate placeholders at wedding tables with guests’ names, chocolate donkeys or elephants with a candidate’s name at a political fundraiser, etc. This would be an easy way for a lot of people to be introduced to 3d printing, and since the products are consumable, volumes might be pretty high, giving Shapeways a solid revenue stream.

    1. Duann

      food has issues with quality control..

      Is it worth the effort/expense for you?

    2. Brian

      The effort is represented by the expense, I think. Chocomize charges $5.95 for a 3.5 oz bar (no design, just custom ingredients). TotallyChocolate charges $2.50 per 1.2 oz bar, minimum order 125 bars, but allows you to add custom text. This is an area where 3d printing has a great advantage: no need for a minimum order. It also gives you an idea of the prices the market would bear. There does seem to be a lot of interest for 3d printing in chocolate (957,000 Google hits for 3d printer chocolate, for example).

  16. Anonymous

    i would really love a clear material, and as long as its not to expensive i would pay for the finishing. But if that doesnt happen a rubber flexible material would be awsome. By that i mean mabye one thats a car tire kind of rubber, and the other is more like squishy foam material.

    1. Duann

      OK, rubberish looks simple, but clear will take human time which equals money….

      Do you REALLY want it?

  17. Anonymous

    1. High detail stainless steel
    2. Titanium
    3. Optically clear plastic

    1. Duann

      high detail stainless steel, how much would you like to pay per cc3

      Titanium, how much would you like to pay per cc3

      Clear, would you like us to do the post processing or would you do it?

  18. Reno

    Aluminium would be great. It’s been used for building a lot of things. But always just that little component just is not for sale in the size we need. Or it’s just not made jet…… Just go 3D printing is would be the bomb.

  19. Bill Bedford

    1. High detail ceramics, eg http://www.lithoz.com/en/

    2. Wax. If the resolution was about the same as FUD that would be acceptable.

    3. High detail stainless steel

  20. Susan Sanders

    As a goldsmith, I would very much like to see a hard wax that I could cast myself. Black rubber (or something rubber-like) would be good, and I would prefer my plastics with a matte finish.

  21. ivanf

    another wax if it was at the fud level of detail.

    I’d still like to be able to fix the orientation of small fud models so results are more predictable. Happy to pay more for it.

  22. KC

    Has there been any development in a fabric like material? Perhaps sort of along the lines of felt?

  23. Stergios

    My vote would go to spray-painted polished WSF and next-day shipping on the materials that support it. I believe i.materialise already offers next-day shipping on WSF for a 30% overhead in price. I can clearly see that the tumbling process has improved significantly. In fact, the latest polished WSF looks much better than ever. When I spray-paint it now, I can barely distinguish it from injection molded parts anymore.

    1. woody64

      yes I would definitely like that ….
      do you have some photos of your results …

  24. Robert

    1. clear plastic; can consider to do the finishing myself (depends however how much work, what tools required)
    2. FUD in colors (e.g. red/RAL 3000, orange/RAL 2011, black/RAL 9017)
    3, FUD like material without the layering/lines

    1. woody64

      find in colors would also be great.

    2. woody64

      FUD in colors would also be great.

    3. Duann

      Oh, we tried that, seems to have worked but not on super fine detailed parts yet, they may warp…

      What colors would you like to see?

    4. woody64

      Always when coloring is mentioned here we speak of a post process. Also in that case?

      Are there any experiences with a FUD (or any other material) where the color is given by the powder/or material.

      I think Black Detailed is done like that (but not very satisfying)

    5. FredrikB

      Another vote for a plastic material with FUD levels of detail but with a smooth surface without the weird roughness caused by the support material.

  25. Dave Mason

    It’s not the material choices that concern me, I would just like to have the option of specifying how my print layout would be set up. An item printed flat comes out perfect but then it gets printed again on edge and is unusable. This can be quite annoying when I have customers depending on these for parts.

  26. Ben Dansie

    +1 for other metal options like *Pewter, Brass, Copper & Bronze.*

    The wax itself is an interesting option as mentioned, but not as interested if it is less detailed or too fragile to ship properly/easily.

    Main reason I would want the wax would be to try other metals, so if the other metals were an option at Shapeways it sort of defeats that purpose.

    Might still be nice to have wax though to carve in and clean up the last few details ourselves before casting.

    1. Duann

      Yeah, the wax as is does not ship well, but the one that may ship is less detail..

    2. Ben Dansie

      I thought something like that would be the case. Thanks for explaining.

  27. Anonymous

    Definitely bronze and aluminium. A lot of people in the Nerf modding community (myself included) are always looking for solutions to manufacture stronger replacement or custom parts, and being able create small runs in an additive process would be very beneficial.

  28. MrNibbles

    My potentially unrealistic wish list.

    1. A Frosted Detail while allowing different colors or shading in the same print would be interesting. I’m not necessarily thinking of super high detail color changes like sandstone, just something that might look like a multi-colored lucite or polycarbonate plastic like this example even if it is not as transparent:
    The color should be able to fully penetrate the inner structures of the print unlike the sandstone process where colorization is only skin deep.

    2. A colored process, perhaps sandstone, with predefined options for surface colorization that mmic real world materials such as wood grains, stone types, or geometric patterns like stripes, checkerboard, etc, with a pattern size scaling option. That way you could design an object and have it automatically look like it was carved from a piece of wood, chiseled out of stone, or machined out of a man-made laminate material, complete with realistic random internal grain patterns or natural defects such as knot hole patterns that might exist in that particular material.

    3. An option for the sandstone material that allows color pattern penetration through the entire thickness of the object. This is useful to reveal additional color if the item is machined for some reason. For example, imagine a red box with a black rod passing through it from one surface to another. If the box is cut in half on a bandsaw you would see the rod pattern passing through the resulting new surfaces of the cut plane.

    4. An aluminum or zinc type metal material cheaper than stainless steel, preferably not highly porous, that would be water tight for a wall thickness that exceeds a minimum value.

  29. wedge

    A food save Plastic, Silicon or Metal material. Ceramics is expensive, heavy and cannot be printed in small walls. Thinking about cookie cutters, (cup)cake baking pan.

    More colors for S&F green, yellow, ?

    1. Duann

      We have a few greens we have been experimenting with, any particular hue that you are interested in? Bright, Fluorescent or olive green?

  30. psalmu

    Aluminum, high detail steel; in general more materials for making fully functional mechanical parts.

    1. Duann


      We are seeing a lot of requests for metals…

      The price point for most metals we have seen are not really low but we are still looking into ways to make high quality metals affordable.

    2. psalmu

      Despite metals being expensive, all kinds of tinkerers, hobbyists and inventors would still gladly pay at least for small objects rather than machine them.

    3. Anonymous

      …and for the small things you can’t machine yourself, Shapeways would most likely be cheaper than having something machined.

  31. Alan Hudson

    1) High detail shinny metal for jewelry(rings especially) with low wallthickness requirement. Around 0.3-0.4mm wallthickness would make a lot of designs feasible. Fairly cost insensitive for this, a custom ring that costs between 200-400 is still sellable with markup.

    2) More polished WSF colors, green in particular.

    3) Higher detail ceramics.

    1. Anonymous

      Not sure of how it’s implemented. Was just giving my desires for new materials. I’d like to be able to do jewelry and small housewares with ceramics and for that you need higher detail then the current.

    2. cissell

      High detail ceramics?? YES.

      Also, I would LOVE ceramics, especially high detail ones, that customers could have the option of glazing ourselves.

    3. woody64

      Yes I vote for WSF polished in grey.

  32. Anonymous

    Hard candy

    1. Duann

      Of all of those I think rubber might be the first to hit Shapeways.

  33. cissell

    1.Objet’s connex printer would be the coolest, but I don’t see this happening because we, the designer’s, do not have Objet’s software to do the material-blending, and I don’t know if it can be gotten for free. And on Shapeway’s end, you would have to have like 90 of these machines running to do all the material combinations? Or constantly purging the machine of its cartridges, or only offer one blending option.

    2. Although expensive, titanium would be awesome and well worth it. And because the EBM process is so freakin cool, too.

    3. Get some of the Form 1 Stereolithography printers. Perhaps a cheap stereolithography option. And they will hopefully be coming out with multiple materials. I’d like to see some samples from this printer in person, anyway.

  34. Kyrie

    Something metal that can handle very fine detail & is sturdy. Aluminum would be wonderful. Anodized aluminum would be even better.

  35. Bart

    An option to select your own color for dyed S&F – not just selecting from a limited number of options.

  36. Luis

    ‘Of all of those I think rubber might be the first to hit Shapeways.’

    Please, if you’re going to add rubber, or any new materials, make sure they are useful. Not rubber that disintegrates. A rubber/Silicone that can be food or medical grade has more market uses than ‘just’ rubber. Don’t limit the market by the material, rubber or not. Food grade plastics that can withstand weathering and microwaving/dishwasher have more practical implementations than a plastic that degrades after two weeks in the sun.



    1. Duann

      Hey Luis,

      The previous rubber was pulled because of it not performing as we had hoped.

      The UV cured rubber’s are not for the most part heat resistant nor particularly UV resistant as the heat and UV Light it is exposed to in the fabrication process cannot really be exceeded.

  37. Mark T

    I would like food-grade versions of glass, ceramics (not just the glaze), stainless steel, PETE. Food-grade glass and stainless steel are first on my list.

    Then in general, for the various materials you add and currently have, additional finishing techniques to help in the smoothing (but I have yet to physically see a product of yours to know if this request is even valid — I’m new to this). But what I see online, the finishes appear rougher than “ideal”.

    I’m getting excited to start designing custom printed things that I just cannot find in the market.

  38. Jamie

    I would like to see metalic abs colors. Chrome, gold, copper, aluminum, hemitite. ABS that looks like metal.

  39. Bill Bedford

    I see that 3D systems has just introduced a new ABS like material for their ProJet printers. Will Shapeways be considering this in the near future?

    I hope that if you do decide to run it, it will be in *addition* to FUD and not as a substitution.

  40. Mitchell

    Some sort of foam light enough to make RC models- if such a thing is possible

  41. Christopher Cordingley

    I would really love to see something of similar cost and strength as WSF but with smoother and 3-5x tighter clearances, dyed, or in color. This would open up a world of possibilities for producing very complex kinetic parts with no assembly required. Something I am very excited about! Current WSF is nice and strong, but a bit rough and just barely not precise enough for what I would love to do. I have a lot of ideas, and am in the process of retro-engineering them to fit WSF requirements.

  42. Christopher Cordingley

    I would really love to see something of similar cost and strength to WSF but with smoother and 3-5x tighter clearances, dyed, or in color. This would open up a world of possibilities for producing very complex kinetic parts with no assembly required. Something I am very excited about! Current WSF is nice and strong, but a bit rough and just barely not precise enough for what I would love to do. I have a lot of ideas, and am in the process of retro-engineering them to fit WSF requirements.

  43. Christopher Cordingley

    I would really love to see something of similar cost and strength to WSF but with smoother and 3-5x tighter clearances, dyed, or in color. This would open up a world of possibilities for producing very complex kinetic parts with no assembly required. Something I am very excited about! Current WSF is nice and strong, but a bit rough and just barely not precise enough for what I would love to do. I have a lot of ideas and am in the process of retro-engineering them to fit WSF requirements.

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