Shapeways First to Offer Full Color 3D Printed Plastic
If you’ve ever seen a product printed by a desktop 3D printer, you may understand why the technology hasn’t yet achieved mainstream success. Even the best of Replicators and the most advanced of all the Cubes will still print you not much more than a small, hard, monochrome object. Innovators are working hard to change this but it may take a good few years for us to be able to simply hit print and have a beautiful, multi-textured wallet akin to something we’d see at Nordstrom in our hands minutes later. Until then, Shapeways has broken at least one barrier: The marketplace is now the first to offer full color plastic 3D printed goods.
By ‘full color,’ Shapeways means multicolored. You might be thinking, hey, I’ve seen multicolored 3D printed objects before. And you would be right. A few desktop 3D printers now have multiple nozzles, making them capable of alternating between differently-colored filaments in one print. But every company that offers multicolored 3D printed goods has so far only offered it in sandstone. Full color sandstone, which has a granular look to it, has been around for some time in the 3D printing world whereas full color plastic is relatively new. No marketplace has offered full color plastic goods until now. Kudos, Shapeways.
What’s cool about this latest addition is that it also enables multicolored moving parts. Until now, Shapeways customers could choose between multiple colors or moving parts. You could have a multicolored stationary sandstone item, or you could have moving parts in a product if you opted for SLS one-tone plastic. Now you can have both.
It may not seem like a huge deal just yet, but a quick glance at the comments section on the announcement page says otherwise.
“Fantastic! I can’t wait to start playing,” says one Shapeways designer. “A year ago I designed a model that suits full color plastic perfectly. I’ve put a lot of ideas on the back burner because they’re not right for sandstone or a single color in plastic. I’ll be starting on these immediately and all the new ideas rushing in.”
The material is being released first to Shapeways designers for experimental purposes and will be released to the public shortly.
What do you think about the move? Will it have an impact on the industry? Let us know in the comment box below.
Shanie Phillips is a originally from the UK, but has spent many years in Singapore, the US and now Israel. In addition to writing for Inside3DP she writes for several news and innovation sites.