Shapeways Full color 3D printing

The image above is an actual picture of Alien Grey by Jiovanie. It is 3D printed using our Full Color Sandstone material. This is our least expensive material and the pricing is $0.99 per Cubic Centimeter ($16.22 per cubic Inch + $ 1.50 start up costs per model, these prices include worldwide shipping). 

You can check out the video here:

Several community members have been making some wonderful things over the past months to showcase Full Color 3D printing.

Upload an image and it will be made into these wonderful marbles that cost $10

We turn any image into a color 3D printed depth map so you can see as well as touch your holiday snapshots for $29. Check them out here.

For Character modelers & animators this really means they can now take their avatar or their favorite character design and put it on their desktop. Designers can now come up with Co-creators that can be turned into any color, any pattern such as this Ipod accessory below. You just upload any image or pattern and the designer easily makes your object this color or pattern.

Expectation Management

The type of 3D printer we use for this process are Zcorp 650. We however are using a finishing technique that strengthens the 3D printed parts using rapid thermoset composites. Additionally we also use a one of a kind machine to resin infuse the models. This unique process makes the models much stronger and the colors much brighter, than was possible previously. We believe that people that have been exposed to Zcorp previously will be blown away with the results.

Having said that we do have to temper your enthusiasm somewhat. The resolution of the printer itself is low compared to the other processes we use. So the details and features will be less accurate. However, the color resolution is high so high detail in images is possible. The models are much stronger than traditional Zcorp processes but still fragile compared to the other things you can make with Shapeways.

We have more technical information here in the Design Rules for Full Color 3D printing here. The most crucial information is to realize that the wall thickness is 3mm and that fragile dainty models can not be made with this process. For a quick overview of the material you can check out our material page for Full Color Sandstone.

You can currently add color to your models by using a VRML file with texture map or by using x3D. You can find out how that works here.

Please tell us what you think and especially in the first weeks of this new material, let us know what needs to be improved.


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  1. Robbie MacGillivray

    Bravo! Amazing addition to the fantastic toolset you guys have made available. Great looking test images and honesty in descriptions.
    Good luck with this, will definitely spread the word to the digital sculpting community

  2. greg downing

    I am very interested in making the marble type images, only I would like them much larger. How do I calculate cost and resolution that I can use? is there a fomula for how thick the material must be if made larger?

  3. Zachary Williamson

    What do I think?

    This is absolutely fantastic! Shapeways continues to amaze me. Keep up the great work, everyone.

  4. crsdfr

    Grats Shapeways on getting Z-Corp running. Its a cool process. But also impossibly frustrating.

    Can I ask, your infiltration system, you suggest its a one of a kind. Its not the Xlaform machine by any chance? I’ve looked into these but they’re terribly expensive for what is essentially an automated vacuum chamber. I know figureprints uses them. It seems that its the only reliable system for Z-Corp part infiltration available that is suitable for consumer level production.

    If you guys have worked something else out, I’m pretty sure you definitely won’t be telling me, but hey, I can always ask ;)

    1. Joris

      Yes, we do use xlaform. But, the “unique machine” does refer to a unique machine not the xlaform process an zich. I’m pretty sure figureprints doesn’t use the same process :) . Of course I’ll tell you, I still want to interview you for the blog.

  5. Anvariel

    THAT is so *COOL* (there’s no better word for it!)!!! I really have to get my modelling going again so I can try it out! Absolutely brilliant! You really do improve all the time you guys!

  6. 3dRend

    Progress is impressive, very interesting technology
    I apologize for my English

  7. toxi

    Great news about the z650 support. Is there any chance you could support colour directly via the optional tags in STL rather than just as texture maps? (see http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/STL_%28file_format%29#Colour_in_Binary_STL) This would open up great possibilities also for people interested in generative design and allow us embedding colour directly for each face. I’m also asking since I already have written a Java library for this purpose (Materialise & SolidView formats) and was kind of waiting for this moment you’d announce colour support…

    1. Anvariel

      I was also thinking about this! Thank you for bringing it up!

    2. Joris


      the issue with color STL is that it is one proprietary format and there are several alternatives. We looked into supporting it but we did not think that enough software packages supported it. If there was an industry standard color STL (as we hope STL 2 will be) we’d love to support this.

  8. Michael Williams

    Does anyone have a tutorial for creating textured VRML’s? I got excited when I saw my software exported it, but cursed them mightily when I found it doesn’t support textures or individually colored faces.

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