The leader when it comes to on-demand 3D printing services is Shapeways. They lead in both, total business, as well as the variety of products and printing materials they offer to consumers. The company seems to be on a road of continued improvements, making sure they stay well ahead of the competition.
One of the more popular materials offered by Shapeways is their colored sandstone. Because of its ability to be printed in multiple colors, with extremely accurate color gradients and resolution, many Shapeways designers find that this material outsells the others by a wide margin. One thing which sandstone lacks, however, is versatility and agility. It has absolutely no flexibility, and if dropped will likely shatter to pieces. Many of the more popular items on Shapeways tend to be objects which feature flexible and/or movable parts, such as action figures, toys, and smartphone covers. Such objects are not suitable to be printed in sandstone, meaning that dull, single colored plastics are really the next best option.
That’s until today! This afternoon Shapeways officially announced the launch of their full-color plastic material. Printed utilizing the latest technology, the objects fabricated with this new material, not only have high resolution in terms of shape, but also in terms of color. Shapeways claims that the color resolution is about on par with that of their popular sandstone material.
Here are the specifications of this new material for those thinking about designing for it:
- Min supported wall thickness 0.7 mm thick
- Min unsupported wall thickness 0.7 mm thick
- Min supported wires 0.8 mm thick
- Min unsupported wires 1.6 mm thick
- Max bounding box 150 x 150 x 150 mm
- Min bounding box X + Y + Z ≥ 10 mm
- Min embossed detail 0.2 mm high & wide
- Min engraved detail 0.2 mm high & wide
- Min escape holes 4.0 mm diameter for one escape hole
- 2.0 mm diameter when there are two or more escape holes
- Clearance .5mm
- Interlocking and enclosed parts? Yes
- Multiple parts per model file? No
Initially, the new material will be released to a select group of Pilot Designers. Once the testing phase is complete, it will be made available to the public in full. Designers wishing to be granted access to the new material may apply here. As for pricing, during the test period, rates will be as follows: $3.00 Start-up Cost + $2.00/CC. Adjustments may or may not be made to the rates prior to full release.