Shapeways Ask an Engineer #3: Polishing Strong & Flexible Plastics (VIDEO)

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In this third episode of Shapeways Ask An Engineer, we take a look at the polishing process for Strong & Flexible Plastics products. Production Engineer Sven takes us through all the steps. Take care – this machine is LOUD! :)

What would you like us to do next time? If you have any 3D printing questions you would like answered by our 3D printing engineers please email

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


  1. bonooobong

    Nice video, thanks for sharing your post-process;) my only question is: what about the smaller things? And the inner arches and surfaces of the objects? I guess they cannot be polished, just from the outside. Which material do you use for grinding and polishing? (what kind of ceramics and stones?) Does this process work with PLA bio-plastic as well?

    1. Bart

      We actually have two smaller tumblers with smaller media to polish extra these objects (like jewelry). If the ceramic media cannot reach a surface, it won’t be polished :)

      We haven’t tried with PLA yet – this is not a material that we offer. But as I have some MakerBot prints lying around, I’ll give it a try ;-)

    2. Andy

      I’m getting 1/144 scale Biplanes from the various dealers… We are talking very tiny struts. Does this weaken the Model? I know I’ll find out in April, when my order arrives!

  2. Paul Benjou

    A good educational video. Thanks. I also am given to understand that Makerbot’s Replicator does not require washing or polishing post manufacturing. It appears the 3D Printing process is making progress across the finished product front.

  3. Sander

    Cool machine, would never have guessed this was the process.

    And nice names, Tarzan and Jane. At our company we have a copier called Herman.

  4. David Fitterman

    How much material is taken off a model when it is polished? If I am trying to get a particular wall thickness, how much thicker do I need to design it to accommodate the loss from polishing?

    1. Bart

      Hi David,

      I checked with our engineers and the amount of material that gets taken off by the polished is really minimal: they estimate around 0.01mm. Because of the forces involved, there are some different design rules for polished materials though. You can find them on the following page:



  5. brian

    Where can I get the “Made in the Future” t-shirt?

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