We offer our models in different types of 3D print material. For most models you can choose between two material types. Below you find more in depth information about the materials offered through Shapeways.
Smooth Fine Detail Plastic and Smoothest Fine Detail Plastic
Smooth Fine Detail Plastic, formally known as Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD) and Smoothest Fine Detail Plastic, formally known as Frosted Extreme Detail (FXD) have the highest degree of detail possible in 3D printing. The difference between FUD and FXD is the printed layer thickness. FUD is printed in 29 micron layers and FXD in layers of 16 microns. The smaller the layer thickness, the higher the degree of detail. FXD costs more than FUD, because it takes a longer time to print. We mostly use FUD. For very small, very fine or richly detailed models we use FXD. We always preselect a default material for you, that gives the best price-quality performance.
Both FUD and FXD utilize a waxy support material that is dissolved after printing is completed. The support material slightly changes the texture of the product. Because it isn’t applied to the entire product, you will see slight variability in texture over the surface of the model. Painting the model reduces the variability.
Frosted Ultra Detail and Frosted Extreme Detail are both made of a UV cured acrylic polymer. The material is heat resistant up to 80°C / 176°F degrees.
FUD/FXD models are printed using the Multijet Modeling (MJM) process. Molten plastic is deposited onto an aluminum build platform in layers using several nozzles, essentially like a large print that sweeps across the build layer. As the heated material jets onto the build plate, it solidifies instantly. After each layer is deposited, it is cured, or polymerized, by a wide area UV lamp. The next layer then applied, and through this repeated process layers of thermoplastic build up into a model. When printing is finished, the models are removed from the tray and put into an oven that melts away the wax support material. Next, the models are put into an ultrasonic oil bath to remove any remaining wax residues, and then an ultrasonic water bath to remove any oil on the model. When you receive the model from Shapeways, you will notice there might still be some wax or oil on it. This is why you need to clean the model before painting. Read our cleaning instructions on how you can easily do that.
Versatile Plastics are available in various colours and surface qualities. White Natural Versatile Plastic, or White & Strong Flexible (WSF) is a nylon (polyamide) and has a reasonable degree of detail. The material is strong and flexible. The advantages of WSF are it’s relative low pricing and ease in use. We use WSF for our larger scenery models and some tools.
Some scenery models can be ordered in Black Natural Versatile Plastic, or Black Strong & Flexible (BSF) as well. The material is identical to WSF, except for the colour: black. The colour makes it ready to use without having to paint the product.
Few products are available in monochromed coloured Processed Versatile Plastics. The surface quality is slightly smoother than the Natural Versatily Plastic products. Versatile Plastics are heatproof to 80℃ / 176℉ degrees. It is printed layer by layer with a laser that fuses together nylon powder. The average grain size is 56 micron. When you receive the model from Shapeways, you might find some nylon powder left inside hollow cavities of the model. You can simply blow or brush the fine powder out (not near your model layout!). Then it is ready for usage or painting.
Full Color Sandstone (FCS)
FCS is created by printing binder material and coloured ink layer-by-layer into a bed of gypsum-based powder. After printing, the models are finished with a cyanoacrylate (super glue) sealant to ensure durability and vivid colors. The final product is a hard, brittle material with a reasonable degree of detail. Due to material limitations FCS is not suitable for small and fragile kits.
FCS is heatproof to 60℃ / 140℉ degrees. FCS should be handled carefully, and not exposed to water as it will cause fading.