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So Shapeways recently introduced Full Colored Plastic as a new printable material. I was super excited to try it out.

Compared to Full Color Sandstone, Full Color Plastic is stronger. The colors don’t fade with exposure to water.

We have tested this by submerging the FCP models in water for 2 months and the colors stayed the same. No color bleeding. ~Shapeways Customer Support

However, it also cost about twice as much per cubic cm, which comes out to a lot.

I printed a smaller version of my ArcheAge figurine. Here’s the result!full color plastic

Overall I’m a little disappointed. The resolution wasn’t super great and a lot of the colors didn’t come out.

You can really see the stripes and spots on the arms and legs. There was also a white graininess to the whole figurine.

full color plastic

Full Color Plastic

Full Color Sandstone

Full Color Sandstone

To be fair, my Full Color Sandstone version is about 4 times bigger than Full Color Plastic version. My hunch is that even if I scale the plastic version up, the white graininess won’t go away, and the colors will still be a lot lighter.

Due to the price, the sandstone version still cost less than the plastic version, despite the size increase.

Summary:

Pros:

  • Can print smaller / thinner models than Full Color Sandstone
  • Colors won’t fade with exposure to water
  • Stronger; thin parts are flexible

Cons:

  • More expensive than Full Color Sandstone
  • Have a white grainiess
  • Colors are a lot lighter / less saturated
  • May not have as great resolution

For future prints, I’d probably limit gradients and shading, and stick to sharp contrasting colors.

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Shapeways recently launched an automated thinness visualization for models.

It helps detect what areas are potentially problematic for 3D printing, based on the thinness limit of the specific materials.

It’s kinda neat!

When I heard the announcement on launch day, my first inclination was to try it out on the super high polygon models, to see how long it would take. I tried it out on Oona, and it seemed to take hours. However, I retried today, and it finished in a matter of minutes. Maybe the Shapeways engineers changed it? I’m unsure. But it’s pretty awesome.

When you upload a model, it automatically gets checked for thinness. For older models, you need to be in the “Edit Model” mode.

Any problem areas will be flagged.

Error

Clicking the “View Thin Walls” link will bring up a detailed window with problem areas highlighted. Each of the links is material specific, and gives you material details.

Oona Shapeways

I compared this to the Sculpteo thinness check.

Sculpteo

Both checks seems to highlight approximately the same areas. I like the way Sculpteo highlights better, with the intensity of the red indicating levels thinness. For speed, on a single pass, Sculpteo is faster. However, Shapeways has a couple spiffy design decisions that make it faster in the long run. First, Shapeways decouples thinness checking from model viewing, so you don’t have to run a check when you purchase the model. Second, it saves the results of the thinness check, so you don’t have to re-run the check, if nothing’s changed. Third, and lastly, it runs the check for all materials at once, so you don’t have to re-check when you select a different material.

I think this feature’ll definitely help speed up Shapeways’ turnaround time.

Of course, just because areas are highlighted doesn’t mean it’s not printable. Oona came out beautifully despite the warnings.

Oona

I’d like to see a better algorithm, in the future, from all folks.

For now though, Shapeways’ new feature is pretty slick. Go check it out.

A little while ago, I went to a Meetup that featured ShapeJS, a platform by Shapeways to create objects for 3D printing.

voxel

It uses a voxel system to create shapes, which is super neat. It bypasses a lot of potential problems with meshes.

Beekey

Beekey, a software engineer at Shapeways, demo-ed a lot of cool apps you could make with ShapeJS, like the 2D to 3D converter. I’ve used the converter, and it’s been really helpful. Previously, I’d import my 2D vectors as surfaces in Maya, and then extrude. Now, it’s a super easy, one-click process.

Sculpteo has a similar app called Image Extrude (which I believe came first) but it doesn’t let you export the models, which is a bummer.

Beekey said they haven’t super stressed tested ShapeJS. I’ve definitely crashed Shapeways’ mesh fixer (Mesh Doctor / Netfabb) before, so I hope it holds up.

the horrors!

As from ShapeJS, I learned a lot about powder-based SLS from Beekey. However, I was shocked to discover he’s never heard of MAKE!

C’mon Shapeways engineer, gotta get with it! 😛

3D printing services have the best customer service.

When when I get frustrated, and turn into a whirlwind of anger, they know what to do.

For Shapeways, the “Contact Us” button is magic. Recently, I had a print that didn’t color correctly. One click of the “Contact Us”, and I got a message the next day saying Shapeways’ll generously replace it. Super awesome.

For Sculpteo, my go-to person is Nora. If anything went terribly, Nora is there to help me out. From an typo in the shipping address to a last minute design disaster, Nora helps me get the order right, like a miracle worker.

Thanks 3D printing services for being so awesome.

Yeaa

Just when I thought all was gloom and doom, I get a shipping notification from Shapeways on one of my orders. YEAAAAAA!

I was so bummed this morning, because one of my Shapeways orders didn’t pass manual check, and I thought the rest of my orders were gonna get cancelled too.

BUT NOPE! I JUST GOT SHIPPING CONFIRMATION!

If it gets shipped today, this would be the fastest turnaround I’ve had with Shapeways. Only 4 business days! That’s seriously awesome!

3D printing is a real emotional rollercoaster.

{Edit: They didn’t switch the order of the emails. It actually failed on the printer. D: ]

3D printing can be so frustrating.

I usually get an email from Shapeways many many days after my ordering, saying my model can’t be printed.

The latest episode was especially hair-tearing-inducing.

Previously, Shapeways only sent me the “your model is en route to the printer” only after manual checks have passed. I used to celebrate when I got this email, because it usually meant my models would actually be printed. Any failures after that would be due to failures during printing. However this time, I think Shapeways changed the order of the emails.

I believe Shapeways now automatically sends out the “en route” email, the day after an order has been placed, which makes that email kinda meaningless. I was so expecting my model, only to be let down a week and half later.

Also, this time, I know the model can be printed. I ordered it through Sculpteo a little while ago, but it broke during shipping. I was trying to test whether Shapeways had better packaging, not expecting it to fail manual tests.

Maybe Shapeways have less tolerances?

I don’t understand since they and Sculpteo use the same ZCorp printers.

*end of rant*