Materials You Can Use for Your 3d Printer

Strong white plastic is a popular material for use with online 3D printing services. This material is inexpensive compared to other materials so it’s a good choice when you are starting out and want to prototype 3D objects or try out different designs.

Strong plastic is flexible and strong and much a much more tolerant material that others of details in your 3D printing design – another reason why it’s good to start with.

You’ll see the terms Polyamide, nylon and PA 2200 used to describe strong plastic materials.

This material is usually available in white and a small choice of strong colors which are applied as dyes.

White plastic 3D objects are produced using a process called ‘laser sinistering’. The powder is printed in layers and a laser melts the plastic and bonds it together to form your object.

White plastic is somewhat porous and it can go yellow with exposure to the sun.

It’s good for making key-chains, household objects and prototypes.

Shapeways White, Strong & Flexible 3D Printing

White, Strong & Flexible 3D Printing

This video shows the 3D Printing process of ‘White, Strong & Flexible’ – the strongest thermoplastic material that we have at the moment. The material is a polyamide 12, powder. The machine used is an EOS Formiga P100 SLS machine. SLS stands for Selective Laser Sintering and this is the 3D printing process used by the Formiga.


Acrylic is another option for smooth detailed models.


Alumide is an interesting material that has become popular for 3D printing. It’s based on white plastic polyamide, but also includes aluminum powder which gives it a rough texture and aluminum color. Alumide is popular for ornaments and jewelry.

Alumide 3D Printed Models

The Scrappies 3d models by designer Ulrich Schwanitz are commonly referenced as 3D printing successes. In this video you can see a Scrappies model in 3D printed alumide.

Stainless Steel

I’m sure you’re familiar with stainless steel as a material. It’s strong, fairly heavy and has a very modern and stylish look to it.

Stainless steel is the cheapest kind of 3D metal printing. As well as the default silver-colored stainless steel you can also get finishes like bronze and pewter.

Stainless steel is good for model parts, jewelry, modern art, steampunk designs and lots of functional and decorative uses.

3D Printed Stainless Steel

3D Printed Stainless Steel

This is a metal 3D printed stainless steel moebius strip. The design was made by Andre Bois, a Shapeways community member. I ordered it for myself and now I have a moebius strip, 3D printed out in Stainless Steel! You can see how the moebius strip works by looking at the position of the ants.

Silver, Gold and Titanium

More 3D Metal Printing Materials

Other metals available for 3D printing include silver, gold and titanium. These materials are popular for jewelry. Titanium is strong and good for precise models.


Multicolor or sandstone is a really interesting 3D printing material. It’s made using a mineral-based powder with a special 3D inkjet printer. This means that the material can be colored as it is layed down, created designs that can use many colors.

The material is brittle and needs to be handled carefully so multicolor is only suitable for decorative objects such as ornaments and models. It does look amazing though!


Ceramic is another interesting material to 3D print with. Glazed ceramic is food safe (check individual services to confirm) so it can be used to make your own mugs, how cool is that! You can also use ceramic for ornaments.

As you would expect, ceramic is breakable. I haven’t seen a 3D printed ceramic that can go in the dishwasher yet, but it can be handwashed.

This video shows the 3D printing process of ‘Glazed Ceramics’ material on Shapeways.

Shapeways 3D Printed Glazed Ceramics material properties are exactly the same as standard ceramics as it is produced with fine ceramic powder which is bound together with binder, fired, glazed with lead-free, non-toxic gloss finish.

Glazed Ceramics are food safe, recyclable and heat resistant. Read more about Glazed Ceramics at