3D printed and hand polished ‘Water’ bracelet

At Shapeways, the possibilities are endless when you combine innovation in design with the best materials for 3D printing. Successful product development, 3D printability, and manufacturing are heavily dependent on making the right choices in materials, which is why Shapeways continues to expand options for customers with different 3D printing materials and finishes–from nylon plastics to premium and precious metals

Shapeways customers rely on us for help in deciding which materials are best for 3D printing. With numerous options available, it is key to consider what types of applications they will be designing for, whether rapid prototyping or manufacturing end-use products, what volume, what size and level of detail, and other project requirements that must be considered. 

In choosing the proper materials for a 3D model, consider whether the product will be an exclusive piece or a versatile design that can be manufactured in a variety of textures and colors. This allows for better understanding of the design and material guidelines, compatibility between 3D printing technology, and project requirements from the beginning of a project..

Listed below are our most popular materials for 3D printing, with specifics on the accompanying 3D printing technologies.

Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] is a 3D Printing Industry Favorite

Aptly named, versatility for this 3D printing nylon material is linked to the combination of Selective Laser Sintering 3D printing and the material’s high ductility. Shapeways customers use Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] for countless applications. 

Without a need for supports, expanded design freedom in SLS is a huge advantage–eliminating the need to make intricate structures for stability during the 3D printing process, making it possible to pack hundreds or even thousands of parts into one build via nesting, and decreasing the potential for damage in post-processing. 

Options for Nylon 12 3D Printing Finishes

Shapeways Premium Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] offers an upscale finish, elevating designs with a smoother and glossier surface, and resulting in a surface texture that is soft to touch. The Premium finish is recommended for the following:

  • Interlocking parts
  • Fine jewelry
  • Home decor and art pieces
  • Accessories like phone cases

Shapeways employs a multi-step tumbling, polishing, and dyeing process to create a consistent color and surface finish, while removing the grainy feel and layered look of 3D printed parts.  

Other finishes and colors for Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] include:

  • Natural – This matte standard finish has a slightly rough surface.
  • Processed – Some material is polished away to create a smoother surface.
  • Smooth – Offering the smoothest surface, with a slight shine, this finish is attained via vapor smoothing.
  • Colors: Versatile Plastic is naturally white. Shapeways also offers Black, Pink, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple. Colors other than White are dyed and will wear through over time with handling.

For Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic], 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:

  • Bounding Box Min
    • X + Y + Z ≥ 7.5 mm (Natural)
    • X + Y + Z ≥ 25.0 mm and axes must be ≥ 2.5 mm (Processed & Premium)
    • 10 x 10 x 10 mm (Smooth)
  • Bounding Box Max
    • 650 × 350 × 550 mm (Natural White)
    • 180 × 230 × 320 mm (Natural & Smooth Black)
    • 200 × 150 × 150 mm (Processed & Premium)
    • 345 × 375 × 440 mm (Smooth White)
    • [Parts over 330 mm long in any direction may have a visible line due to our dual laser printer]
    • Find out more about the design guidelines for Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] here.

Nylon12FullColor-MJF-Smooth-3Dprinting-Bracelet-Email-800x450

Full Color Materials for 3D Printing

No matter the application or product, color plays a huge role in 3D design, elevating style and making it possible to innovate. This holds true in the case of full color 3D printed gaming miniatures, architectural models, and 3D printed medical models. 

Full color 3D printing may be chosen for more utilitarian and industrial applications like electronics, where sensors must be different colors to delineate specific uses. Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] is available in an array of colors, but Shapeways also offers more expanded materials for 3D printing with color, to include:

High Definition Full Color

  • High Definition Full Color is in demand by customers seeking more intense detail, and the ability to choose from ten million colors. The range of 3D print colors includes a full spectrum of eye-popping hues, achieved by using color profiles with specific data for characterization. High Definition Full Color allows for pre-visualization of models, exact color matches, shading, and contrast that were only possible with meticulous hand-painting.
    • Amazing shading and contrast options are available for applying color and design details. Most designers choose High Definition Full Color when seeking fine detail with expanded gradients and textures. Designers can use 3D models with thinner walls for more complex designs, even at a minimum of 1 mm, which amounts to the thickness of a plastic credit card.
    • For High Definition Full Color, 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
      • Bounding Box Min
        • 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 mm
      • Bounding Box Max
        • 495 x 495 x 300 mm
    • Full-color models produced with High Definition Full Color are available in standard and matte finish. Some staircasing may be noticeable in hard light conditions. Final parts can be coated and hardware can be attached easily.
    • Find out more about High Definition Full Color 3D design guidelines here.

Nylon 12 in Full Color with Multi Jet Fusion

  • Nylon 12 in Full Color with Multi Jet Fusion possesses superior mechanical properties, dimensional stability, and good resistance to impact–as well as chemicals like oil and grease. Defined by the capacity to deform under tensile stress, Nylon 12 Full Color (MJF) is flexible for structures with a thinner design but becomes rigid for use with thicker parts, offering the durability and density required for end-use parts.
    • This versatile material is also available for Nylon 3D print in Natural and Smooth glossy finishes–suitable for products like jigs and fixtures, braces and casts, interlocking parts, medical models, and prototypes for testing.
    • For Nylon 12 Full Color Multi Jet Fusion, 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
      • Bounding Box Min
        • 4 x 4 x 1 mm or X + Y + Z > 9 mm (Natural)
        • 10 x 10 x 10 mm (Smooth)
      • Bounding Box Max
        • 130 x 75 x 99 mm
    • Explore the design guidelines for Nylon 12 Full Color Multi Jet Fusion here

Heat Resistant Materials for 3D Printing

Some Shapeways customers use the same advanced 3D printing materials for prototypes and functional products, enjoying continuity throughout the entire product development, manufacturing, and reordering process. Using the same materials means placing a priority on materials like Nylon 11 [PA11(SLS)], seeking the best heat resistant 3D printing materials, impact-resistance, and corrosion-resistance.

Shapeways offers the following in heat resistant 3D printing materials:

Nylon 6 Mineral Filled (PA6MF) 

  • Especially suited for 3D printing automotive applications–including 3D printed auto parts in close proximity to the engine–PA6MF is 3D printed with Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and offers great heat resistance, strength, and stiffness. Filled with mineral reinforcements, this 3D printing material is imbued with enhanced impact resistance, featuring isotropic rigidity and properties similar to injection molded parts without causing added time and expense. Designers and engineers choose materials for 3D printing like PA6MF for both structural parts and high-performing, functional prototypes.
  • The heat deflection temperature for PA6MF is 209°C. 
  • For PA6MF, 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
    • Bounding Box Min
      • X + Y + Z > 10 mm
    • Bounding Box Max
      • 375 x 375 x 440 mm
  • Find out more about this industrial 3D printing material and accompanying design guidelines here.

Nylon 11 [PA11(SLS)]

  • Nylon 11 [PA11(SLS)] offers durability and heat resistance. Nylon 11 [PA11 (SLS) parts are 3D printed with Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and built to last over time. Often targeted for use in automotive, aerospace, and drone applications, this material is well-known for its ability to hold up to rigorous conditions like heat and weather. Excellent impact resistance makes it suitable for parts like protection equipment for sports. Nylon 11 [PA11(SLS) is also resistant to a wide range of chemicals. 
  • The heat deflection temperature for Nylon 11 [PA11(SLS)] is 180°C. 
  • For Nylon 11 [PA11 (SLS), 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
    • Bounding Box Min
      • 0.7 × 0.7 × 0.7 mm
      • X + Y + Z ≥ 7.5 mm
    • Bounding Box Max
      • 200 × 200 × 300 mm 
  • Find out more about this versatile 3D printing material and accompanying design guidelines here.

MJF Plastic PA12

  • MJF Plastic PA12 is 3D printed with Multi Jet Fusion. A heat-resistant thermoplastic meant to support complex geometries and detailed parts, MJF Plastic PA12 is in demand for dimensionally accurate products with finely tuned mechanical properties. This material offers great strength, durability, and stiffness. Suited for a wide range of applications, MJF PA12 is 3D printed for durable end-use goods to include high-performance industrial parts, smaller components like mounts, brackets, consumer goods, and more.
  • The heat deflection temperature for MJF Plastic PA12 is 95°C. 
  • For this material, 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
    • Bounding Box Min
      • 4 x 4 x 1 mm or X + Y + Z > 9 mm (Gray and Black Natural)
      • 10 x 10 x 10 mm (Smooth)
    • Bounding Box Max
      • 284 x 380 x 380 mm
      • Note: Parts covering the exact maximum bounding box dimensions might not be printable due to printer limitations.
  • Find out more about this popular 3D printing material and accompanying design guidelines here.

MJF PA12 Glass Beads (MJF PA12GB) 

  • 3D printed with Multi Jet Fusion, MJF PA12GB is an excellent choice for applications like large, flat parts that may be prone to warping with other materials. This material is suitable for high-performing 3D printed parts that require high strength and dimensional accuracy. Engineers 3D print with MJF PA12GB for applications like robotics, drones, medical, housings and cases, and tooling. 
  • The heat deflection temperature for MJF PA12GB is 114°C. 
  • For MJF PA12GB, 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
    • Bounding Box Min
      • 4 x 4 x 1 mm or X + Y + Z > 9 mm
    • Bounding Box Max
      • 284 x 380 x 380 mm
    • Note: Parts covering the exact maximum bounding box dimensions might not be printable due to printer limitations.
  • Find out more about this popular 3D printing material and accompanying design guidelines here.

Aluminum

  • Relying on Selective Laser Melting (SLM) technology, Aluminum alloy AlSi10Mg provides good heat resistance, as well as offering a lightweight material that is also strong, durable, and accurate. This Aluminum 3D printing material provides excellent corrosion resistance, high electrical, and thermal conductivity. 3D printed Aluminum can be machined, milled, and tapped, making it ideal for outdoor applications.
  • The heat deflection temperature for this Aluminum 3D printing material is 570° C. 
  • For Aluminum, 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
    • Bounding Box Min
      • X + Y + Z > 30 mm 
    • Bounding Box Max
      • 250 x 250 x 200 mm
  • Find out more about this material for 3D printing and explore the accompanying design guidelines here.

Stainless Steel 316L

  • This extremely heat-resistant metal is 3D printed with Binder Jetting technology. Offering excellence in corrosion resistance and tensile strength, this metal 3D printing material is a single alloy, 100% Stainless Steel. Shapeways customers rely on Stainless Steel 316L for 3D printing mechanical machinery and parts like heat exchanges, fasteners and brackets, and surgical tooling for medical applications.
  • The heat deflection temperature for this metal 3D printing material is 1375-1400° C. 
  • For Stainless Steel 316L, 3D models must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
    • Bounding Box Min
      • 15 × 15 × 3 mm 
    • Bounding Box Max
      • 127 × 127 × 76.2 mm
  • Find out more about this popular metal 3D printing material and accompanying design guidelines here.

Precious Metals for 3D Printing Jewelry

Bronze

  • Bronze is a copper-tin alloy made up of 10% tin and 90% copper. This material is often used for jewelry with a vintage appearance, featuring a deep red color, marbling, and silver highlights. 
  • Bronze jewelry at Shapeways is made through Wax Casting, and is suitable for bracelets, earrings, and cufflinks—all available in natural matte or polished finishes. 
  • For Bronze, designs must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
    • Bounding Box Min
    • 2.4 × 2.4 × 0.6 mm
    • Bounding Box Max
    • 89 × 89 × 100 mm
    • 75 × 75 × 40 mm for interlocking parts
  • Find out more about this popular 3D printing material for jewelry and accompanying design guidelines here.

Brass

  • An alloy made up of 15% zinc, 5% tin and 80% copper, Brass is popular for jewelry designs like pendants and tie bars requiring intricate detail in manufacturing. Made via Wax Casting, brass jewelry from Shapeways is available with a natural matte finish or a shiny polish.
  • For Brass Wax Casting, designs must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
    • Bounding Box Min
      • 2.4 × 2.4 × 0.6 mm
    • Bounding Box Max
      •   89 × 89 × 100 mm
      • 75 × 75 × 40 mm for interlocking parts
  • Find out more about Brass and accompanying design guidelines here.

Gold

  • Gold is another precious metal from Shapeways. Both 14K and 18K gold are available in yellow, white, and rose. Gold is one of the highest quality materials Shapeways offers. Capable of showcasing intricate details, Gold offers a professional, finished look. 
  • For Gold, designs must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
    • Bounding Box Min
      • 2.4 × 2.4 × 0.6 mm 
    • Bounding Box Max
      • 89 × 89 × 100 mm 
  • Find out more about Gold for making jewelry, and view accompanying design guidelines here.

Platinum

  • Platinum is one of the highest quality materials available. A white metal used for high-end men and women’s jewelry, Platinum products like cufflinks, tie bars, rings, bracelets, and necklaces are made via Wax Casting. 
  • For Platinum, designs must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
    • Bounding Box Min
      • 2.4 × 2.4 × 0.6 mm 
    • Bounding Box Max
      • 89 × 89 × 100 mm
  • Find out more about Platinum for making jewelry, and view accompanying design guidelines here.

Silver

  • Silver is a high-quality alloy used with Wax Casting to make cufflinks, tie bars, rings, bracelets, and pendants. This metal tends to be more malleable and is always a favorite for jewelry makers. Shapeways offers Silver with the following finishes: natural, polished, fine-detail polished, and antique.
  • For Silver, designs must meet the following minimum and maximum bounding box sizes:
    • Bounding Box Min
      • 2.4 × 2.4 × 0.6 mm
    • Bounding Box Max
      • 89 × 89 × 100 mm
      • 75 × 75 × 40 mm for Interlocking Parts
  • Find out more about this material and view accompanying design guidelines here.

As the leading 3D printing service provider, Shapeways sets the stage for helping businesses succeed. This means a dedication to encouraging innovation and vision through making technology like 3D printing and all its accompanying materials accessible. Shapeways offers over 90 materials and our team is always willing to source additional products when possible due to unusual 3D printing project requirements.

About Shapeways

Enjoy the benefits of this advanced technology and a wide range of materials from Shapeways for 3D printing your creations with accuracy, complex detail, and no minimum or limits in terms of mass customization or single part orders. Shapeways has worked with over 1 million customers in 160 countries to 3D print over 21 million parts! Read about case studies, find out more about Shapeways additive manufacturing solutions, and get instant quotes here.