Shapeways, the popular 3D print service constantly experiments with new materials and perhaps they have the widest variety of materials one can select from. We've noticed they're now offering a material with a unique property: it's flexible!
The new material, appropriately named "Elasto Plastic" will be tested by Shapeways users until July 20th. Shapeways frequently executes timed experiments with new materials to shake out production issues, test costing and ensure build advice correctness. If all works out, they may offer this material permanently in the future.
As is usual with a new material, there are several design constraints, including a recommendation that all features be at least 1.5mm in size and that the production process will cause the object to increase in size slightly.
The material is printed with a standard Selective Laser Sintering process, in which a laser fuses successive layers of powdered material. After printing the object undergoes a second process where it is "infused" with a strengthening infiltrant.
We believe the flexible capability will generate a great many unique ideas for objects that otherwise would be impossible to create. It's also possible to combine flexible components with "hard" components to assemble even more interesting items. Imagine doors with hinges, squishy handles, etc.