New 3D printing materials: clear plastic, skateboard-tough plastic

Last December, Objet (a company that makes 3D printers and supplies) released a video preview of its upcoming 3D printer materials for 2011. The highlights are a clear plastic and a plastic that's durable enough to print a usable skateboard.

Objet Gives A Peak at New Materials for 2011


  1. Why does he have subtitles? Do some English speakers really have trouble understanding him, surely not.

  2. Oh. My. God. I want one of these SO badly. My wife is a goldsmith, and it’d be handy enough for that; but I can think of any number of day-to-day applications for this.

  3. @Michael Dawson: You’ll see this on many TV programs shown in the US. If the person speaking as any discernable accent they get the sub-title treatment.

  4. I’ve been continuously disappointed by anything labeled Skateboard from boing boing…
    That’s the kind of skateboard you’d have gotten from K-mart for 5 bucks in the late 80s. Show me a 7.25 used for a boardslide, then I’ll accept it as legitimate.

    1. Wow dude, sorry the brand new 3D printing technology can’t print a high quality skateboard for you yet. Are you serious? If you are kidding then I am sorry for not catching the sarcasm. This technology blows me away. It is like something out of a science fiction novel. I find it hard to wrap my mind around the fact that someone could just say “meh” about it. It is like standing on the shoulders of a giant and complaining about the view.

      1. The article says skateboard. That isn’t a skateboard. Seems like it’s false advertising.

        Look at this amazing FOOD this printer can make! NOTE: Food not edible.

  5. I get that lovely “disruptive tech” shiver from the speed at which 3D printing is moving. What’s the rubber stuff demoed on some of the parts?

  6. “And it took all your weight?”

    “Yes, the metal alloy trucks I’m actually standing on took all my weight on those 2/3 or 3/4 scale deck! Isn’t it amazing how when you decrease the length while maintaining thickness there is less stress in the middle?”

    mutha’ fuckin’ science.

    1. And the fact they added in ribs on the bottom to help strengthen it as well…

      I still don’t get what is so “awesome” about 3D printing with plastic. Granted, if (and this is a big if) I can pick up a really really good 3D printer for like a grand and turn out stuff like this for about the cost of buying one in the store (or have a company do the same for me) then great. But right now I really see this as a company’s R&D dream. Easy fab products for demos, fitment, anything they need a real scale mockup for.

      I guess it’s not exactly the same as doing circuit boards, but there are companies that will custom make those as well. But, as it is with the scales of economy, your base price is bad until you get to a couple hundred or so.

      1. The Makerbot cupcake is down to $900, but currently out of stock. You could probably build a reprap for a couple of hundred cheaper if you shop around carefully. These things print for the cost of raw plastic+electricity, and you can already get some things cheaper by printing if you already have a printer. The cost is falling all the time.

      2. I’m not real excited by this budget 3D printing either. I have a Sherline CNC mill that will make the same thing out of metal (it would take a while), for not much more money than these low end 3D printers. But the flexibility to drill insanely precise holes, mill steel, engrave, and add a digitizer is a big plus. With a budget stepper driver board, and some decent steppers, you can get going with CNC for about $1500. The one advantage I see to the 3D printing is the ability to produce shallow undercuts without repositioning the work piece. I would like to see one of these squirting a bismouth alloy.

      3. Not to mention that skateboard sucked! They could have made it a lot cooler by integrating impossible to make truss structures on it, heck they could have put 3d dimensional gothic styling on it! Heck at the very least, they could have textured it for a better grip!

        3D printing in anything is cool because you can make just about any arbitrary structure you want, even things that are IMPOSSIBLE with current technology.

        At the current time, 3D printing in plastic is much more than an R&D dream. Aerospace companies are using plastic 3d printing processes to make parts that are going into airplanes TODAY. Turn’s out it’s cheaper to make parts that way. With 3d plastic printing, you can integrate several parts into one and cut down on assembly costs.

        Sure, it’s not one of the coolest application, but it shows that 3d printing is being used to make “parts,” and not just “prototypes.”

    1. Agreed. I’m impressed with the speed with which the tech is progressing, and the possibilities for the future. The guy obviously has it on the ball when it comes to tech here, and I wouldn’t deny that for a moment..but let’s add a little old-fashioned production value, here, huh? Hearing every second or third word be “um” was enough to make me twitch, and there’s only so many times you need to say “that’s an interesting application.”

      tl;dr – Good job on the plastics, keep up the good word, now practice your lines or hire a spokesperson. I’m available for insanely low rates.

  7. Wow. Those pieces were beautiful. I know that because he said “beautiful” approximately 900 times.

  8. These new materials really are breakthroughs, in terms of their properties. Transparency on that level, not to mention ABS-like toughness and flexibility, are astounding and unprecedented for rapid prototyping part printers.

    This is excellent news for product developers, as well as those who want to use these new materials in actual functional applications.

    I think I can safely speak for many in the product development community when I say, “We get it, and it’s significant.”

    Thanks for the heads up, Cory.

  9. I’m a simple man.

    What this means is that we can finally all start making our own highly playable action figures, and give them all different heights and bodies.

  10. I’m still waiting for 3D printers that can use meat so I can reenact that scene from “The Fifth Element” and make my very own Milla Jovovich.

    1. @obdan:
      Hmm, now where to start building my spaceship parts…
      (Or were you referring to the movie instead of Civ4?)

    1. I believe autoclavable plastic is available, but not for the objet. 3D Systems SLA machines print nylon that you can autoclave. Objet machines are pretty neat, Burton uses them for R&D. They print a snowboard binding, ride it, get feedback, and print a new and improved one overnight. Collapsing a design cycle that used to be a year into 24hrs. Also, printing a 1:1 skateboard from this Objet material will probably set you back about $10k.

  11. Now anyone can rapid prototype a working zip gun like Malkovich’s character in In The Line Of Fire!

  12. Hmm, you could use a printed collagen substrate and grow your own Milla mignon…

    Benher – AFAIK, since most of these techniques use thermoplastics, they won’t take the high temperatures of an autoclave without turning back to goo. At the end of the demo there’s a teacup holding water at 80c, which (contradict me, makernerds?) is the state of the art.

  13. I wonder what kind of lenses (not camera lenses, but light source focusing lenses) and light modifiers could be printed for photography

  14. I guess I shouldn’t read the comments, but do.. For the development of rapid prototyping this is a significant leap and has he colourfully illustrates, in his second language, offers properties that surpass the low budget explanation.. Beyond the tensile strength and transparency, the resolution of the material and bond strength for unsupported surfaces is impressive.. nice.

  15. Are these plastics food-grade? I’d love to print a new outer cylinder for my Aeropress — my current one is all scratchy and no longer air tight when I plunge it.

    … hmmm, although printing out my own version of the aeropress may not be legal, even if I have already bought two…

    1. Foodgrade ABS was my thought as well. As soon as the price of 3D printers and this magic printable ABS plastic comes down in cost, these guys are going to bankrupt the chinese manufacturing industry. Did junior lose his sippy cup? No problem, just print him another one. Why buy little Joey a yo-yo, when you can print him one in half the time it takes to drive to the store? Did you snap off that fold-away cup holder in your car? No problem. Just print another one.

      My guess would be that there will be a breakthrough in 3D printer technology on the same level that there was with inkjet printer tech within 10 years, and 5 years after that, engineers will own them for hobby use at home, much like 5 axis CNC is starting to see an uptake as a hobby — or as engineers started building computers in their garage in the 1970s. The new future isn’t that far away.

      1. With the ABS grade materials it could even print parts for various household machines. The only question then is how one get hold of the models.

        The next step would be that one could dump the broken part into a grinder, mix it up with some additive and use the mix to print a replacement.

  16. 5-6 years ago I pitched this tech to a company I was working for. 3-4 years ago I tried again and was told, go away. I did, & went to work for myself. 1 year ago polymer and compound development surpassed even my expectations to the point where 1 year from now we will likely be supplying production quality parts in 1-3 days in an area that to this day can take as long as 6-13 weeks to develop a prototype part.

  17. magicmodel says this looks like a very nice material. Lots of new applications for see through transparent material. Nice one Objet

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