Monday, June 3, 2013

Shapeways introduces Elasto Plastic, a new flexible 3D printing material

You can 3D-print just about anything today, but the end result is almost always a rough and rigid creation. Elasto Plastic from Shapeways may allow your next design to have a little more flex to it.
While there are several kinds of materials you can us in 3D printers, the end result often looks and feels the same. High-end printers can create smooth surfaces with barely visible lines in your prints, but the finished product almost always feels like a rock solid piece of plastic. Some have found ways around this by using printed materials with rubber rings and other flexible interlocking materials, but the objects that come out of the 3D printer are solid and often brittle. Shapeways is announcing Elasto Plastic as a new build material for their printing services, which will allow for flexible — even downright squishy — printing projects.
In the demonstration offered by Shapeways, it is clear that the new material is used in the exact same way as a nylon filament. The wire goes into the printer, where it is heated and extruded onto the printing plate. The finished products all look the same, sitting next to one another. When you pick up something made of Elasto Plastic and squeeze it in your hands, you immediately know which is which. Unlike a nylon print, you can bend and flex this print without worrying about breaking it. Shapeways performs several stress tests on the new material to give creators a feel for what can be done with this material.
There’s more than a couple of things that Elasto Plastic would be really useful for, but like anything else there’s a time and place for it. You’re probably not going to completely replace nylon filament with Elasto Plastic, but having the option is an exciting addition to your 3D printing adventures.
Now read: All items from The Legend of Zelda get 3D printed
View the original article here


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