Endless Pastabilities: How Protopasta’s Subscription Services Enable Continuous Experimentation

By on May 28th, 2024 in materials, news

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Multicolored 3D prints [Source: Protopasta]

I had an interesting chat with Alexander Dick, co-founder of Protopasta.

Protopasta is one of the more unusual providers of 3D printer filament in both the products themselves and the manner in which they deliver them.

They’ve long been known as a supplier of filaments with unusual and unique colors. There’s a reason for this, it turns out. Dick explained:

“We take more of a fashion approach to product creation. We challenge ourselves to keep moving forward without resting on our laurels. We believe more in sharing and collaboration as a means to growth than hiding and protecting.”

They create unique colors for their products using custom masterbatches, which are precise mixes of base colors during the filament extrusion process.

One of their innovations that’s beyond the products themselves is the method of delivery. Some five years ago they introduced a service called “Endless PLA”. It’s exactly that: a subscription service that delivers new and unique colors of PLA on a regular basis.

Endless PLA is provided in a range of options based on the weight of spools delivered. You can subscribe for 50, 100, 500 or 1000 grams, and three units are supplied every two months.

It seems to be an ideal service for 3D printer operators that thrive on trying out different colors. Protopasta develops unique colors for each release, making it endlessly interesting.

But that’s just PLA, which is not always the best material for mechanical parts or other applications. This year Protopasta introduced a second subscription service, “Endless Exploration”. In this service Protopasta doesn’t focus on colors, but instead on other properties of the materials, such as surface quality, part strength or other aspects.

Dick explains their approach:

“Now being known for our wealth of PLA colors, but also our high quality, creative flexibility, and collaborative spirit, we are getting back to our original interest in material performance and properties with a second subscription introduced this year. Endless Exploration is takes us beyond color by putting other material innovation on an every two month timeline. Our first deliveries were High Flow and cMatte PLAs.”

The materials delivered from the Endless Exploration service can be abrasive at times, whereas the Endless PLA service’s materials are not. This distinction ensures 3D printer operators don’t accidentally damage their equipment by using abrasive filaments on a non-hardened device. But it also opens the opportunity to use highly unusual exotic materials on a regular basis.

These services are not designed for 3D printer operators that repeatedly print objects in the same material. For them the issue is acquisition of bulk identical materials for 3D printing.

The Protopasta options are quite different: they are for explorers and experimenters, 3D printer operators that appreciate new color and material innovations — and want do try them on a regular basis.

It’s more than just that, however, as continuous exposure to new and varied materials can make you a better 3D printer operator. Colors can be leveraged in different ways to change the appearance of a 3D model, just as engineering materials can change the properties of a part.

If you’re an experimenter, you might want to take a look at Protopasta’s offers, or as they like to say, “Endless Pastabilities”.

Via Protopasta

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!