Shapeways introduces a soft plastic for 3D printing


May 31, 2013

A shoe designed using Shapeways' new Elasto Plastics material

A shoe designed using Shapeways' new Elasto Plastics material

Image Gallery (3 images)

Shapeways, one of the biggest names in 3D printing, is adding a new squishy plastic material called Elasto Plastics to its available printing options. This new material offers some interesting applications for anything wearable, specifically for sandals and other kinds of footwear.

The material is off-white in color, and quite a bit more flexible than most other printable materials. Shapeways says that it has a "rough, grainy finish." It is also claimed to be quite strong, as long as it's printed with features greater than 5 mm in thickness.

Because of the experimental nature of this new material, it is only available for uploaded designs. This means that items in the Shapeways store will not be available in Elasto Plastics, at least not for the time being. The company plans to test the material until July 9th, at which time it will decide if it wishes to keep it around as design material.

Should this material be successful, it will open up a ton of options for 3D printers that could not be possible with hard plastics. It will take some creative designers to see if this material is worth using, but when they do, 3D printing could change for the better.

Source: Shapeways

About the Author
Dave LeClair Dave is an avid follower of all things mobile, gaming, and any kind of new technology he can get his hands on. Ever since he first played an NES as a child, he's been an absolute tech and gaming junkie. All articles by Dave LeClair

When 3D starts printing something really worth something, then I will look at 3D with a different eye. How about this. Print nuts and bolts.. wow what a concept. Print parts for my lawnmower. Print a part for my washer and dryer. Print a part for my bike, car, motorcycle, fishing poll, part for my garage door. In short PRINT SOMETHING USEFUL. Not half baked ideas like shoes, bras, and toys...

S Michael

re; S Michael

They do but everybody understands a sandal and the advantage that increased flexibility means but the flexibility needed In an air duct escapes many. Besides shoes are useful but being able to print on additional quality sole material onto broke in boots would be nice.


Do do realize that 5mm is nearly 1/4" ???

Unless you're talking about jello, just about anything is "strong" if you make it that thick.

Anne Ominous

Seeing many other applications in the shock proofing and custom padding inserts, etc...

Bob Flint

I could see something like this being awesome for making custom insoles with "just right" arch support. Generally arch support is either too little or too much, both of which are uncomfortable.


If there is something that 3D print customers want is for their 3D prints to be durable so that it will last long. The elasto-plastic material is quite promising as it lives up to its toughness.

Jacob Wadsworth

S Michael

I foresee this argument being used right up until the point that Walmart is only selling spools of 3D inks, and to be honest, what is the point of it? What will satisfy you? A whole car? Do you buy whole cars every time one part on yours breaks? How many cars have you, personally, junked because the repairs and parts have gotten to be too much to source? 3D printing will eventually, inevitably end that. Never mind that a shoe and a bra are both useful, everything you list has parts available for it on thingiverse - granted only the parts that fit the mechanical capabilities of current materials printable, but they exist nonetheless searched for 'bike', first page searched 'car', first page 'motorcycle', first page 'fishing pole' 'garage door'

Anything else?

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