3D Printer Materials

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Commercial and Industrial materials


Alumide: This sparkly material is created by sintering a mixture of nylon and aluminum powder. It has medium strength and detail, and can be polished to be smoother. Ideal for paperweights and jewelry. “Not watertight, not dishwasher safe, not recyclable, and not foodsafe. It is heatproof to 172/342ºF degrees.”

Strong and Flexible Plastic: This material is created by a sintering process, and it has high strength, detail, and flexibility. It can be dyed several colors and be polished. Ideal for phone cases, wearables, and quadcopter frames. “Not watertight, is dishwasher safe, not recyclable, and not foodsafe. It is heatproof to 80C/176F degrees.”

Detail Plastic: This acrylic-based photopolymer creates objects with high levels of detail that are less resistant to heat and stress. Ideal for small objects. “Is watertight, not dishwasher safe, not recyclable, and not food safe. It is heatproof to 48C/118.4F degrees.”

Frosted Detail and Frosted Ultra Detail Plastic: With Multijet Modeling (MJM) molten plastic is deposited on a platform through several nozzles and each layer is cured via UV light. The process allows for very detailed features and thin walls. Ideal for miniatures and models. Paints well. “Is watertight, not dishwasher safe, not recyclable, and not foodsafe. It is heatproof to 80C/176F degrees.”

Stainless Steel: By applying a binder in layers onto a bed of steel powder, strong objects are created. They’re then sprued and infused with bronze for added rigidity. Ideal for jewelry and structural parts. Can be plated with bronze and gold. “Is watertight, is dishwasher safe, not recyclable, and not foodsafe. It is heatproof to 831C/1528F degrees.”

Sterling Silver (92.5%): This material is not 3D printed, but created by 3D printing a wax cast that’s converted into a plaster mold. Molten silver is poured in. Can be mechanically or hand polished. Ideal for jewelry.

Elasto Plastic: This a material that’s being evaluated, so it’s available only as a “Maker Material,” meaning you must own the model you’re printing. It’s sintered from a powder. It’s incredibly strong and flexible but with low detail and smoothness. Ideal for phone cases and shoes. “Not watertight, not dishwasher safe, not recyclable, and not food safe. It is heatproof to 90C/194F.” It’s also flammable.

Full Color Sandstone: So far this is the only totally additive 3D printing process that allows full color objects. Z Corp printers are used for this, and a binder is applied in layers to a bed of gypsum-based powder. Objects are then finished with cyanoacrylate sealant for durability and more vivid colors. Ideal for figurines and Sad Keanu. “Not watertight, not dishwasher safe, not recyclable, and not foodsafe. It is heatproof to 60C/140F degrees.”

Ceramic: This is the first foodsafe material from Shapeways. It’s created by applying binder to layers of ceramic powder, after which objects are fired and glazed. They’re not very strong or detailed, but they are heat resistant. Ideal for cookware and tableware. “Is watertight, not dishwasher safe, is recyclable, and is food safe. It is heatproof to 500C/932F degrees.”


Polyamide: Sintered from a powder, this material is fairly strong and slightly flexible. Can be polished and spray painted or dyed in various colors, and velvet texture can be added. Ideal for figurines, toys, and wearables.

Alumide: By combining aluminum powder and polyamide, the same sintering process creates slightly stronger but more brittle objects with an aluminum sparkle. Ideal for jewelry and functional models.

Multicolor: This is the same Z Corp technology used by Shapeways.

High Detail Resin: Objet’s PolyJet technology involves inkjetting layers of a photopolymer that’s UV cured each layer. The result is highly detailed and smooth objects. Ideal for figurines and objects with small details.

Paintable Resin: Stereolithography creates highly detailed objects that have medium mechanical resistance. Paints well. Ideal for presentation models and figurines.

Transparent Resin: A clear resin in stereolithography creates transparent objects that are very smooth, and color pigments can be added. Ideal for demo models and figurines.

ABS: Stratasys’ Fused Deposition Modeling extrudes plastic in layers to create objects that possess 80% of the properties of injection molded ABS. Can be printed in four solid colors. Ideal for phone cases and functional parts.

Titanium: Direct Metal Laser Sintering (by EOS?) sinters titanium powder into very strong objects with high detail. Can be polished. Ideal for jewelry and functional parts.

Stainless Steel: Same process and properties as Shapeways.

Silver: Same process and properties as Shapeways.

Gold: Same process as silver, but with 14 carat gold mixed with a bit of copper for extra strength. Ideal for jewelry.

Prime Gray: Stereolithography creates objects that are exceptionally smooth and highly detailed. Ideal for prototypes, display models, and desk toys.

Brass: Copper and zinc are combined in the same process that silver objects are created. Can be coated with polyurethane or electroplated with gold. Ideal for jewelry, figurines, and testing for silver and gold objects (because brass is cheaper).

Bronze: Created like steel objects, by binding layers of bronze powder and then infusing with bronze. Rather strong. Ideal for decorative objects like statues, keys, and coins.

Ceramic: Same process and properties as Shapeways, using Z Corp printers.

High Detailed Stainless Steel: Same process as regular steel, but using 316L steel. Retains more detail with the same strength. Ideal for jewelry, game pieces, stamp molds, and small functional parts.

Rubber Like: Selective laser sintering by EOS creates objects from a bed of polyurethane thermoplastic that is quite strong and flexible. Ideal for phone cases, grips, and anything that needs to give a bit under pressure. In trial mode.


Durable Plastic: 3D Systems’ selective laser sintering fuses nylon powder into sturdy objects. Ideal for prototypes and functional parts.

Ceramic: Same Z Corp process as Shapeways and i.materialize.

Stainless Steel: Same process as Shapeways and i.materialize.

Gold Plate: Stainless steel plated with gold.

Superfine Plastic: The Objet Connex uses the PolyJet technology that’s used for Shapeways’ High Detail Resin.

White and Rainbow Plaster: Same Z Corp printers that are used by Shapeways Sandstone and i.materialize Multicolor.


3D Systems can print Titanium, Stainless Steel, Cobalt Chrome, and Tool Steel with their Direct Metal Selective Laser Melting (SLM) systems.

EOS can print Aluminum, Cobalt Chrome, Titanium, Nickel Alloy, and Steel with their Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) systems.

Arcam can print various Titaniums and Cobalt Chrome with their Electron Beam Melting (EBM) systems.

ExOne can print steel and bronze with their digital part materialization.

Optomec can print Stainless Steel, Inconel, and Titanium with their Laser Engineered Net Shaping (LENS) systems. Conductive materials can also be printed with their Aerosol Jet Technology.

Personal Printers

ABS: Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene is extruded in layers to form rigid objects. Generally a heated bed and/or chamber is necessary to prevent warping. Can be refined with acetone. Many say ABS is stronger than PLA, but others posit print parameters and quality of filament are greater determinants of strength.

PLA: Polylactic acid is made from plant sugars and has similar properties to ABS, but is slightly more brittle. A heated bed is not necessary as it doesn’t warp when cooling; fans can improve print quality. Puts off a more pleasant smell when printing than does ABS. It’s also biodegradable.

Polycarbonate: With a low warp factor, it’s also strong but more flexible than ABS. Extrudes at a higher temperature that some 3D printers are not capable of.

Nylon: Taulman nylon is more flexible than ABS and doesn’t require a heated bed or fans to achieve detailed surface finishes. T-glass is a translucent material that is FDA approved as food safe.

LayWoo-d3: Recycled wood is combined with a polymer binder to create wood-like filament. Objects have low warp and can be drilled and cut like wood. Looks, feels, and smells like wood.

LayBrick: As a mixture of natural mineralic fillers (super-fine milled chalk) and harmless co-polyesters, LayBrick has a stone-like feel. It works well for architectural models, is grindable, and requires no heated bed.

BendLay: Translucent, impact resistant, and flexible, BendLay is ideal for belts, phone cases, and anything that needs to bend. Claimed to be foodsafe.

Clay: The unreleased Hyrel printer can create objects from clay, which can be fired and glazed like sculpted clay.

Silicone: The Hyrel printer can create objects from silicone. Objects are strong and flexible.

Plasticine: The Hyrel printer can create objects from plasticine, which is similar to clay.

Play-Doh: The Hyrel printer can create objects from Play-Doh. Objects can be reused and are nontoxic.

Foods: Foods with creamy viscosity, like chocolate, frosting, and cheese can be printed through syringe extruders. Sugar has also been printed with high levels of detail.

Other Materials

Emerging Objects has developed printable paper, cement, salt, and wood materials that work in Z Corp printers. These materials are intended for furnishings and eventually houses and building components.

The D-Shape printer creates large cement structures, which is intended for repairing and constructing buildings.

Mcor Technologies printers create full-color objects out of letter-sized paper.

The experimental Solar Sinter makes glass objects by concentrating sunlight onto sand.