1.75mm: Shorthand for a filament diameter. Better for high-detail prints on both small and large build envelopes.

3mm: A larger diameter filament. Doesn’t handle detail as well, but prints faster than 1.75mm.

3D printer filament supplier and materials we carry a large volume of several different plastics and metals.

ABS Plastic Filament: Stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or the plastic that’s used in Lego bricks. Known for being resistant to shattering when dropped or hit.

Bacteria: An experimental 3D printing process where bacteria are placed in a specific pattern and then allowed to grow. Creates microscopic 3D prints.

Cement Polymer: Similar to concrete, but can be printed over a fiber framework, which makes the polymer stronger than concrete.

Ceramic Powder: A material used in a type of 3D printing called selective laser sintering. The powder is fused together with a high powered-laser.

Chocolate: Some 3D printers can be adapted to use edible materials like chocolate; the candy is melted down and fed through an extruder similar to the way plastic filament works.

Eutectic Metal: Any metal that is mixed in a specific way so that it has a lower melting point than similar types. For example, the metal wire used in soldering is a mix of tin and lead, and melts easier than either substance does alone.

Flexible Plastic Filament: A new generation of 3D printer filament that’s still in the experimental stages. Where current plastics are rigid once cooled, flexible plastics like Shapeways’ new Elasto Plastic squishes and returns to its original shape.

Glow-in-the-dark filament: Both ABS and PLA plastic come in many colors, including several shades that glow in the dark.

Graphene: A one-atom thick layer of graphite. Not yet a 3D printing material, but American and European science groups are trying to find a way to make it one.

HDPE: Stands for high-density plolyethylene. A type of thermoplastic made from petroleum. Used in plastic bottles and plastic lumber.

Icing: The sugar compound is fed through a modified extruder head. Usually used for detailed/complex cake decorations.

Metal Alloys: A mix of a metal and non-metal element (ex: brass is an alloy of copper and zinc). For 3D printing, the alloys are spooled, like wire, and fed into the extruder head.

Metal Foil: Very thin sheets of metal that are fused together, and then cut with a knife or laser cutter in a 3D printing process called laminated object manufacturing.

Metal Powders: Either pure metals or alloys that are ground into a fine powder. For use in 3D printers that do selective laser sintering.

Neon filament: Very bright shades of blue, green, yellow, orange, pink, or purple. Available in ABS and PLA plastic.

Nylon: An alternative to printing with plastic. Comes in spools like plastic filaments do, but doesn’t need a heated bed, is less prone to warping than plastic, and it can be custom-colored with fabric dye.

Paper: Comes in very thin layers and is coated with an adhesive. Used in laminated object manufacturing.

Photopolymer: A compound that changes properties when exposed to light. Used in stereolithography.

PLA Plastic Filament: Stands for polylactic acid. Made from renewable resources (i. e. corn starch, tapioca roots, or sugarcane).

Plaster: Is placed in the build envelope of a 3D printer as a dry powder, then the extruder head sprays a liquid binding material along the shape of the first layer of the object. Then a new layer of powder is placed down and the process repeats.

Plastic Film: Very thin sheets of plastic that are glued in layers and then cut into shape via laminated object manufacturing.

Plastic Pellets: The material used to make the spools of plastic filament.

Sand: Can be fused into glass with a powerful enough heat source. An experimental solar array has been used to make several glass objects.

Sandstone: Shapeways’ company name for a type of 3D printing that uses gypsum (also known as alabaster) powder and fuses it into shape with a laser.

Salt: An experimental 3D printing material. Salt-rich water is sprayed onto a frame. As the water evaporates, the salt form takes shape.

Silver (color): A metallic color option for ABS and PLA plastics

Silver (material): 3D printers cannot print directly with silver or other jewelry-grade precious metals (yet) so printed jewelry is often made using a 3D printed wax-mold that the silver is then poured into. Shapeways uses this method.

Soil: A new 3D printing process that combines soil with a liquid binder to make rough, large-scale objects.

Stainless Steel: Begins as a powder. Layers are fused together with a liquid binding agent and then solidified using very high temperatures. Doesn’t rust.

Thermoplastics: An umbrella term for any plastic that gets soft at high temperatures, and solidifies as it cools. Both ABS and PLA are thermoplastics.

Thermoplastic powder: A fine, powdered form of plastic that’s used in selective heat sintering, where heat is applied in very specific places to fuse the powder together.

Transparent filament: Also called clear filament, a common color option for ABS and PLA plastics.

Wax: Usually used in powder form and melted/fused with a high-powered laser. Often used to create molds for further manufacturing processes, like casts for metal jewelry.

Wood: Used in pulp form under an experimental process being developed by Emerging Objects. The layering process creates a realistic grain effect.