Your Questions Answered: Premium Strong & Flexible Nylon Plastic

A few weeks ago, we announced Premium Strong & Flexible nylon plastic, our most popular and versatile material, redesigned with a high-end look and feel. Since then, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about how it’s different from regular Strong & Flexible. So, today we’re bringing you a deep-dive comparison, with your biggest questions answered:

Material Properties

“Are the material properties the same between regular Strong & Flexible and Premium Strong & Flexible?”

Yes. The same material and printing process is used for Premium as our regular Strong & Flexible plastic material.


“But how different is it from regular Strong and Flexible? Do you have any comparison photos?”

Premium adds a sheen to your product, giving it a more finished look. Due to the way it is processed, Premium will also have more color consistency across the geometry of the part. We know that there’s nothing like seeing the product in person, but hopefully these pictures provide a bit more detail.

Premium Shapeways Nylon Plastic Soft 3D printed bracelet

Orchid Bracelet by Collected Edition

Black Strong & Flexible (left) and Premium Black Strong & Flexible (right)

Premium Shapeways Nylon Plastic Soft 3D printed bracelet

Bracelet Bluups ORIGAMI R by Bluups

Black Strong & Flexible (left) and Premium Black Strong & Flexible (right)

Premium Shapeways Nylon Plastic Soft 3D printed bunny

Black Strong & Flexible (left) and Premium Black Strong & Flexible (right)

The sheen is more subtle for White. However, if you do any post-processing on your own, such as dyeing for your own custom color, your product will have much better color consistency with Premium. Additionally, you can expect the product to have a bit of sheen, as shown with the Black.

Feel & Surface Roughness

“How much smoother is Premium?”

Just saying Premium is smoother is vague. We get it. To quantify how much smoother Premium really is, we did some surface roughness tests.

A surface roughness tester quantifies the texture of a surface by measuring the distance between the peaks and valleys. The larger the distance and the higher the value, the rougher the surface. Small values indicate a smoother surface.

Surface roughness is measured by its Ra value. Ra is the average of these distances between the peaks and values on the surface to its “mean line.” You can think of the mean line as center line between the peaks and values.

We took 6 measurements on each sample. The averages of these values can be seen in the table below.

Finish Average Ra value (micrometers)
White Strong & Flexible 10.0
White Strong & Flexible Polished 7.9
Premium White Strong & Flexible 5.1
Black Strong & Flexible 10.1
Premium Black Strong & Flexible 5.0


But so what? What does this mean?

Looking at the values in the table above, the Ra of Premium measured around 5 micrometers whereas regular Strong & Flexible measured around 10 micrometers. This means that in comparison to Strong & Flexible, Premium is about twice as smooth.

Dimensional Accuracy

“Is the dimensional accuracy different for Premium Strong & Flexible?”

We also tested the effect of our Premium finishing on the dimensional accuracy of the part by measuring multiple dimensions both before and after post-processing. Six measurements were taken on six different parts.

On average, the parts decreased in size by 0.9mm. The maximum material removed was 0.1mm.

We recommend slightly scaling up your design to account for this difference if dimensional accuracy is important for your product’s application.

Detail Level

“Do you lose more detail with Premium?”

Although the dimensional accuracy changes slightly with Premium, we did not notice any visible difference in details. Both embossed and engraved details looked very similar before and after finishing.

Premium Shapeways Nylon Plastic Soft 3D printed sample

PremiumWhite S&F (Left) and White S&F (right)


“How is the surface for painting?”

We had a suspicion that Premium Strong & Flexible would be better for painting. After all, the surface is smoother and less porous.

After a quick test using acrylic paints, no noticeable difference was seen between Strong and Flexible and Premium Strong and Flexible. The paint seem to apply about the same and there was no noticeable visual difference. The picture below shows the surface with one layer of paint. However, we encourage you to test it out for yourselves!

Premium Shapeways Nylon Plastic Soft 3D printed bracelet

Bracelet Bluups ORIGAMI R by Bluups
Black Strong & Flexible (left) and Premium Black (right)

We hope this was informative and answered your most pressing questions. Now, go test it out and tell us what you think!

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