You’re Invited: Join Shapeways’ HP Early Access Program Today

We had an overwhelmingly positive response to the launch of our HP Early Access Program, and, over the last three months, we’ve gradually admitted all who signed up during that first round. Now, we’re happy to announce that we’re welcoming a new round of makers to join the Early Access Program — instantly. We need your ingenuity and input to continue to refine and optimize these groundbreaking printers. The Early Access Program will allow you to order your own models in the new HP Strong & Flexible nylon plastic. To join the Early Access Program today, just visit the signup page.

So far, your designs for the HP printer (and your excellent feedback) are not only impressive, they’re also helping us challenge the HP Multi Jet Fusion printer and calibrate it for the unique and ever-growing needs of our community. Thanks to you, we’ve learned that the HP MJF printer performs well on rounded surfaces, smooth finishes, and on items requiring rigidity, density, and strength. Overall, testers have told us that HP Strong & Flexible prints “feel like finished products.” Some issues we’re still ironing out include difficulties with thin wires, and a slight “raised edge effect” on flat surfaces.

As you join the Early Access Program and think about what to make next, take some inspiration from the work that other community members have shared:

Solving a Perfect Puzzle

For veteran Shapeways community member Oskar van Deventer of Oskar’s Puzzles, dimensional accuracy is everything. Like anyone making a functional part, Oskar’s biggest concern was whether the pieces of his incredible puzzles would still snap together perfectly. The HP MJF printer was able to deliver above and beyond his expectations:

From Eyeglasses to Wine Glasses

Michael Mueller of Pookas chose some challenging pieces to test out the HP nylon material. While his shop focuses on small personal accessories and jewelry, he decided to up the ante for the HP printer, testing out a pair of glasses and an ingenious Wine Bottle Lamp Cap.

3D printed glasses

Mueller’s glasses in black and grey HP Strong & Flexible (available in other materials in his shop)

“Nylon is a great material in which to print a glasses frame. It is flexible and, once polished, it has a nice and smooth surface… The glasses frame is printed in one piece. This means the hinges are made of nylon, too. The flexibility of the material is really great. It works perfectly.” – Michael Mueller

“The cap is part of an upcycling project I’m working for a while now. It’s a Wine Bottle Lamp. The model looks simple, but the buttons for releasing the cap from the cable caused me headache for a while. Now it works really nicely, and the HP material is indeed as strong and flexible as was needed.” – Michael Mueller

An Umbrella Gets Back to the Beach

Like so many members of the Shapeways community, Shapie Vladimir Bulatov doesn’t just throw something away because a part on it breaks — he prints a new part. Vladimir used the HP nylon material to replace a broken housing on a beach umbrella. That’s the piece that locks the top and bottom poles together. When he received the part, he noticed that part of a screw hole in the piece was 0.2mm smaller than the design had indicated, but the strength and flexibility of the material meant that the part still worked as intended.


Sturdy, Smooth, and Just What Her Jewelry Needed

Mathematician, educator, designer, and Shapeways magazine contributor Mathgrrl has probably worked our materials harder than any other designer in our community. In her Shapeways Shop, Geekhaus, her math art and jewelry feature forms normally unseen outside the world of geometers, topologists, and knot theorists. Mathgrrl used HP Strong & Flexible to print her STEIN Cuff Bracelet, which is “derived from a Type 14 Stein tessellation of the plane by irregular pentagons.” She was thrilled with the results:

HP black nylon

“Wow, this HP material is AMAZING. Nice smooth finish, rounds out corners a bit but in a way that is good for some of my wearable designs. […] The surface is very matte but not powdery. Extremely happy with this, thank you Shapeways!” – Mathgrrl

High-Detail Designs That “Don’t Look 3D Printed”

Marthijn Westrup detailed his HP Strong & Flexible experience in this excellent LinkedIn post. Beginning with three very different designs, he tested smoothness, strength, and dimensional accuracy.


“First impression is great; the black and gray models seem to have very high quality and don’t look 3D printed. […] Strength seems very high. I haven’t broken any parts, but the wooden shoe key chain has a small ring, I tried to bend it a bit but it feels very strong.” – Marthijn Westrup


“Tolerances are very promising. I altered an STL I usually print with FDM (Gear bearing) and I have printed those with pretty high quality machines. […] The gears run smoothly and almost fall out of the outer ring. Details are great. I have some lettering on the prints that are very small, but everything printed fine.” – Marthijn Westrup

Read Marthijn’s full review on LinkedIn.

Now that you’ve heard about the material’s characteristics and applications, join the Early Access Program today and get making! We can’t wait to see what you’ll do with this exciting new technology.

About me
Editor in Chief, Shapeways Magazine + All Things Content, Shapeways
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