White Glaze: our new 3D printing material

Until the 2nd of October we will test White Glaze with you. It is a smooth, bright and shiny 3D printing material that looks a lot like porcelain from a distance. The model above is Bathsheba’s CTRL-ALT-Whelk. The material is tough and strong. There is another blog post here explaining the 3D printing process, Stratasys’ FDM Vapor Smoothing that is behind White Glaze. We also have a materials page for White Glaze here that summarizes the relevant materials information.

We’ve selected this material because a lot of you were asking for smooth 3D prints. We’ve been looking and testing for months. This is the smoothest material we could find and it looks great. The material will be available until October 2nd.


The detail on this material is less than that of our White, Black & Transparent Detail materials and our White, Strong & Flexible material. Therefore, I would not recommend it for models where details are of critical concern. However, the material has a high dimensional stability. I would use it for designs where the overall shape is of primary importance such as Rob Mack’s Elegant Bowl Sixties Series I above. Because it so dimensionally stable it is also very suited for housings and parts. When making a housing or part though I would recommend ‘oversized’ connectors or holes since the Vapor Smoothing process limits surface detail. You can get an indication of surface detail by looking at BAROBA’s Bowie the Bunny below.

From a few feet the material looks very smooth. If you are extremely close you can see some unevenness but it still has a glossy smooth finish. 

Material Details

  • The material is a white ABS plastic.
  • The minimum detail is 2mm.
  • Minimum wall thickness is 1.4mm.
  • Maximum build volume is: 35 X 40 X 40 CM.
  • The delivery & production time is 15 working days in total.
  • It will be our cheapest material at $1.45 per cubic centimeter.

 ”But the minimum order amount per model has to be $23(16 cubic CM). People often think that we just push a button and then the 3D printers do the rest.
But, a substantial cost component for us is people. People have to
clean your models, take them out of the machines, check them, package
them. Every single model is expensive because each requires individual
handling, checking and tracking. By having a minimum order amount per
model of $23 we can substantially bring down the overall cost of the
material. We understand that designers that make tiny models such as
Woody with his great Minifig customs are negatively impacted by this. But, this is just an experiment for White Glaze and we hope you all appreciate that we are also trying to be innovative in our pricing in order to make Shapeways as affordable as possible.”

I hope that the pricing decision is clear. We are not trying to disadvantage any one individual group on Shapeways. Our mission is to bring production capacity, the ability to customize and make to as many people as possible for as many applications as is possible. We will concentrate on making 3D printing as cheap as it can be and then stand back and watch you guys make amazing things.

Since we’re testing both the material and the pricing model for you we’d really like to get any feedback you have here.


  1. Shapeways Blog

    This is a  post showing you how the Stratasys Vapor Smoothing process works. There is another blog post here showing you more photos and things like build volume etc. This FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) finishing process makes FDM models look real

  2. George Bell

    Can you dye it? Or paint it? I notice all the examples are white …

    1. Joris Peels


      The material is an ABS plastic so you should be able to paint it regularly such as other ABS’s. I would not think Dyeing is an option, but have not tried it.

      The material itself, as you buy it from Shapeways is currently White.

  3. Wil Wade

    Would this be usable as a dish and dishwasher safe?

    If you could stack the plates into “one” model, you could make a full set for really cheap. Talk about taking custom dishware to a new height.

    1. Joris


      For all of our materials and the products that we ship we explicitly say that thy meant for decorative use only. You could put this material in a dishwasher though.


  4. Davioware

    Wow, I can’t wait to print my first 3d models. I’m really loving the pricing on this site, it seems a lot cheaper than other sites I’ve seen. how big of a model will the 25$ order get me approximately?

    1. Joris


      We should at all times be cheaper than anyone else. If this is not the case tell us, but this hasn’t happened yet.

      $25 would get you a model that is a bit bigger than 17 cubic centimeters if it were completely solid. That price includes shipping.

      So a solid cube would be around 2.6 by 2.6 by 2.5 CM. Not very big, to be frank. But since our pricing is based on volume a hollow cube could be much bigger.

      This Beltloop Cardholder for example: http://www.shapeways.com/model/52150/beltloop_wallet_cardholder.html

      Is 6.2 by 9.4 by 1.7 CM. So much bigger in size but the volume of the model is similar to that tiny cube. The Beltloop would cost $23.

  5. John Wilson

    why is it only available for a couple of weeks?
    Is there plans for it to be permanent?

    1. Joris


      With all our materials we have a testing period of a few weeks. We do this to see what the uptake of the material is in our community. We also then go over any production issues, costs and unforeseen problems. Once we get the community feedback we determine your enthusiasm and how happy you are with this material.

      If you guys want to continue with the material we will. But, if for some reason it does not inspire you or you guys simply are not buying it then we scrap the material so we can concentrate on fewer materials.

  6. Klaus Nordby

    The new glossy “porcelain” looks great! Sometime soon I’ll place my first order with you, to try out this material and maybe some others (budget allowing).

    But I’d like to ask you to make one really good Materials Samples page. This page would have:

    (A) Large photos — your current photos are all puny pixel images, rarely larger than 500 pixels on the longest, so please give us at least 1500 pixels sized images.

    (B) Good photos, with professional lighting which really showed off the look and feel of the materials. Most of your present photos are really bad, with one-source flash lighting and harsh shadows.

    In sum, putting some more efforts into the photos would *drastically* increase your ability to showcase materials and printing quality to their best advantage.

    That aside, please keep printing in as many dimensions as possible! :-)

    1. Joris Peels


      We’re working on a new type of materials page and this is the first peek: http://www.shapeways.com/materials/white_glaze

      We’ve never been asked for 1500 pixel images but if people want those we can see what we can do. We’re going to work on improving the photos also.


    2. Tommy Strömgren

      That preliminary version looks great!
      An overview-table would still be necessary for a quick glance but that is pretty clean and simple yet very informative :-D

  7. T. Shawn Johnson

    Hello, I’ve put my order in for a large gazebo to check this material out. It looks very exciting.

    My questions are based around what the support material is like:
    -Will it easily fall out as with SWF?
    -does it have to be picked and washed out as with the detail materials?
    -Is the support material expendable as with detail materials such that we can actually enclose it in a model or is valuable as primary material so that we could not enclose it?


    1. Joris


      The support material is explained here: http://www.shapeways.com/blog/archives/89-FDM-and-3D-printing-support-material-explained.html

      There are two variants a brown break away by hand/soluble material and a gunky hair gel like material that is water soluble. Either may be used this depends on the machine/how much of either is about etc. The support material is not as easy to remove as with White, Strong & Flexible. Depending on the machine, process and model it might need a waterjet.

      Our first video shows you how to remove it in a simple model: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQoTro9WfbQ&feature=related
      Bart’s puzzle though is kind of a best case scenario for removing support material. We don’t get many orders that are that simple to do.

      I would not do the enclosing thing with this material. If the brown material is used it would look ugly. And even the other stuff just looks like you dropped your model in a vat of hair gel. Also because of the nature of the FDM process the support material also surrounds the model. Check out the pictures on the post.

    2. T. Shawn Johnson

      That’s too bad … Because it makes the human element of creating the model that much more expensive. It must be so much easier to just dust out the SWF :) And it seems like it makes semi hollow models (like my wizards, gnomes, santas, and the nifty lil new squid someone produced recently) very hard to clean. Is this true?

      Would you advise against semi-hollow models because of the possible breakage in the cleaning process?


    3. Joris


      The models are indeed a bit harder to clean than White, Strong & Flexible.

      That kind of information is something we hope to learn from this trial. I would not advise against making hollow models per se but hollow models with very delicate structures inside might be problematic.

  8. Richard Gain


    I’m disappointed to hear that my puzzle cubes cannot be printed in White Glaze. I was hoping to display them at Dutch Cube Day.

    I placed a $42 order for my latest design but it has been rejected. I can only assume that this is because *each piece* has to be over the $23 threshold. Is this correct?

    If so, multi-part models like puzzles will never be economical to print. This puzzle has 9 pieces of different sizes. The smallest piece consists of 6 unit cubes and the whole puzzle, 122 units. If I had to scale the smallest piece up to a $23 size, the whole cube would cost nearly $470!


    1. Joris


      Puzzles do pose a conundrum for this particular pricing model.

      Since the process is very manual, small models and multi-piece models would be prohibitively expensive to do. We tried to cap that here with a price per model and did not fully consider that then it would not be possible to do muli-piece models.

      So, I’m sorry that the restriction makes it less than economical for you right now. But, if we look at all the costs of all the materials you might be happy to find out that typically the pricing model has been skewed in your favor until now.

Comments are closed.