Shapeways Flexes Its Materials

By on June 1st, 2013 in Service

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3D print service Shapeways has made a history of pioneering new 3D print materials for makers. Typically they experiment with a new idea and if it proves popular and feasible, they’ll add it to their growing list of material options. 
This week they announced a rather unusual material: “Elasto Plastic”. If the name makes you think of something bendy, you’d be correct. Elasto Plastic is a new material that is extremely flexible. With a flex material one could make many more interesting designs – think of objects with flaps, folds, squishy snaps, squeezable forms, buttons, shock absorbers and a lot more. 
Elasto Plastic is priced at USD$1.75 per cubic centimeter, which is comparable to their “White Strong & Flexible” material. Which, come to think of it, isn’t so “flexible” in comparison anymore. 
One slight issue – or advantage, depending on your usage – is the appearance of small powder deposits in recessed portions of Elasto Plastic prints, as you can see above. This could be an advantage for certain designs, as it highlights the surface texture.
Another disadvantage: inability to precisely measure objects due to extreme flexibility. Ok, we’re just kidding, but flexible items imply some changes in procedures. 
The new material will be considered an experiment for now, as Shapeways will not only be gauging the popularity, but also technical details, such as reliability of production, quality, refining the design guidelines, etc. 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!