Tag Archives: plastic

3D Printing Materials: From Plastic to Metal to Wood and Beyond

Shapeways 3D Printing Materials

3D Printing Materials: What You Can Make

This is a guest post by Kyle Hurst, whose bio is at the end of the article.

If you look up 3D printing on the internet you’re likely to run into a variety of objects ranging from decorative knick-knacks to full blown prototype models of new inventions. While there’s a lot of emphasis on all of the cool ideas that concept designers have come up with, there is relatively little hype about the development of the various materials and techniques being developed and that are now floating around in the 3D printing community. Here is quick look at the variety of different materials available on the market today.

Hard Plastics

This is the most common material and you can find it all over the internet, or even make your own out of garbage plastic using a home extrusion machine. “Hard” is usually a relative term and depends heavily on the number of layers in your model. Being the first and most prolific material it’s used for lots of different ideas from sculptures, to graphic design, to mechanical models. Sometimes they’re even used to make functional parts and tools.

Flexible Plastics

This is a very significant advancement in printing technology because it allows people to print objects with flexible parts in them to build composite structures. That means that printed items don’t have to be stiff, greatly broadening the variety of functional objects that can be effectively produced. Because it’s a lot more rubbery in consistency it’s very useful not only for making flexible objects, but for any number of practical applications such as shoe soles, handgrips, or grips on the undersides of objects to prevent them from sliding around.


Selective Laser Sintering has been around for decades, but it hasn’t ever been put to this type of use, and it definitely hasn’t been affordable for a private person. The incorporation of laser sintering into 3D printing allows people to build much more durable and heavy objects. While that means producing machine parts that typically have to be cast or ground by machine tools, it could also be applied to make less glamorous everyday objects like a hammer, or a screwdriver.


While some people were out chasing the dream of home manufacturing, others got a bit more creative. Considering that at the end of the day we’re using a robot to dab droplets of sticky things strategically into predetermined shapes, it was only a matter of time before someone thought to use chocolate. Perhaps in the future we won’t be so lazy as to buy a box of chocolate hearts for valentines day, but instead design and customize chocolate sculptures as gifts? The idea might be a bit too romantic, but at least it’s tasty.

Wood Composite

Designed to appeal on aesthetically as well as economically, a German company found a way to create printable wood. It’s made of wood fibers and a lignin based polymer that behaves similarly to plastic. Depending on temperature it will print with different colors, allowing for the addition of artificial “tree-rings” in printed items. The material looks and feels essentially like wood, but more important is that it’s actually made of wood and natural ingredients. That means that we don’t need to rely on artificial non-renewable plastics for 3d printing purposes.

3D printing is becoming increasingly ready to make the jump from fun design toy to essential home-manufacturing tool. If we’re lucky then in 10 years we’ll be sitting in our homes with our own 3D printers building many of the items that we buy at the store today.


About the author: Kyle Hurst has a background in 3D modeling and B2B marketing. He’s currently pursuing his education further and writing about 3D plastic printing in his free time.

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Shapeways Materials Sample Kit photo by Shapeways used under Creative Commons license.

Filabot Reclaimer Turns Recyclable Plastic into 3D Printing Material

Filabot 3D Printing Recycling

Introducing Filabot, a new device that lets you recycle plastic to use as filament in a 3D printer.

Originally conceived as a Kickstarter project by Tyler McNaney, a 20-year-old mechanical engineering student at Vermont Technical College, the startup raised over $32,000 to develop its first product.

Many 3D printers use commercial grade plastic filament to make objects. The MakerBot Replicator 2X, for example, uses requires thermoplastic ABS. This plastic isn’t cheap, and critics of 3D printing suggest that all of this plastic is not good for the environment.

Well, Filabot has the answer to make 3D printing a bit more eco-friendly. With a Filabot Reclaimer, one can deposit recyclable plastic into the machine and end up with 3D printing grade plastic filament.

Here is an overview from the Filabot shop.

The Filabot is the revolutionary system that can turn recyclable plastic into usable filament for 3D printing. This system creates a closed loop recycling environment. Filabot allows for the ultimate personal factory, giving greater control over what type of plastic material to use.

The Filabot Reclaimer, is our flagship system, that allows for the already innovative 3D printing movement, to become more self sufficient, experiment with new materials, and recycle bad prints.

The Filabot Reclaimer includes the grinding, extruding, and spooling systems. The Grinder will tear up bottles and can handle up to a good 3in by 3in chunk of plastic. Material from the grinder can either be stockpiled or fed directly into the extruder. From there the extruder will melt and pressurize the molten plastic to push it thought the interchangeable dies. There are two dies included with the Filabot Reclaimer, a 3mm and 1.75mm, depending on the filament size needed. The spool system will automatically roll the filament onto a spool after cooling and sizing.

And below is a video of the Filabot system.


Photo by Filabot/Whitney Trudo.

3D Printing with Nylon to Create Flexible and Durable Goods [Video]

Nylon 3D Printed Bike Planter

As 3D printing matures, new printing materials emerge that allow us to build more durable goods. Nylon provides both durability and flexibility benefits over standard materials like ABS plastic. With a higher melting point, nylon is less brittle. Products that can be created out of nylon range from iPhone cases to gear parts to a bike planter like in the photo above.

The video below showcases some parts 3D printed in nylon.

And this video shows the printing process.


Via Engadget.

Shapeways Introduces Flexible 3D Printing Material: Elasto Plastic

Elasto Plastic 3D Printing Material

Most 3D printed products today are created in firm plastic, giving a bland and sterile feel. Other materials available have included stainless steel, glass, and ceramics. Shapeways is now testing a new material called Black Elasto Plastic, which has a rubberized look and feel.

This material would be great for a variety of applications. We’ve seen designs in jewelry, tech gadgets, erasers (yes it can function as an eraser), stress toys, gloves and so much more! Let your creativity shine and please give us feedback to help us learn about this awesome experimental material!

3D Printed Elasto Plastic Ball