We are testing Full Color Plastic 3D Printing at Shapeways and what better way to test than with material torture videos. We 3D printed a few basic parts to test for strength, flexibility, water and fire resistance.
Take a look at the video above to see the material under all of the different torture tests (oh, I was gentle as I wanted to test some of the parts in real world applications). Overall while the material is not as refined or durable as SLS Nylon, which is the benchmark to which I compare all 3D printed materials, you can still do interlocking parts AND it is in almost full color (CMY, no K).
The material is not as strong as our popular Nylon SLS material but is definitely less brittle then Full Color Sandstone. At 3mm thickness the material is relatively stiff with only a small amount of flexibility (depending on geometry) yet at 1.5mm thickness the parts flex quite easily, to the point where the material may fail after just a few cycles of bending. At 1mm thickness of wires, the prints can be very easily broken with very little effort so I really recommend at least 2mm walls/wires unless you never, ever intend to touch your 3D prints.
I also gave the material a quick grind with a Dremel which the full color plastic held up fairly well to. If you have a printed part that fits on an existing component that is too tight, you could easily and reliably grind away excess material with a clean finish. I imagine it would respond to sanding with similar success as the color is impregnated approximately 2mm into the surface of the 3D prints, you could smooth the parts without removing all the color as long as you are not too heavy handed. I am still experimenting with the parts in a tumbler to see if we can automate the smoothing process.
I am quite excited that the full color plastic is entirely waterproof, after soaking for over 24 hours there is no bleeding of colors, no degradation of material strength, stiffness or any swelling. I have not had a chance to really UV test the pigments but as far as moisture is concerned this could be used for outdoor applications.
Another concern may be exposure to heat, the material feels as though it will deform under high temperatures but it definitely catches fire easily and stays alight emitting a terrible smell. So please do not expose you full color plastic 3D prints to exposed flames.
If you have any other tests you would like me to do to our Full Color Plastic, please leave a comment in the blog.