Online 3D printing services propose many materials. But they all name them differently and it’s hard to know which one is similar to which one. I created this comparison tables so that you can see what materials are available on the 4 main online 3D printing services: Shapeways, Sculpteo, I.Materialise, Ponoko.
Keep in mind that you can usually get much more 3D printing materials upon request. I know for example that Sculpteo proposes more than 60 materials upon request (including 3D printing of titanium, gold, stereolitography, flexible resin and more) but it’s not advertised on the website yet.
For your convenience, all links below point to each specific material page.
Plastics are widely used in 3D printing. All of the online 3D printing services propose them: Polyamid/Nylon powder (by Selective Laser Sintering), Multicolor composite material (Z Corp), Detail Resin (UV curated). Alumide is a new one in the list, it’s a mix of Polyamid and Aluminium powder, which gives strong products with a slightly metallic look.
|Polyamide||Strong and Flexible Plastic||White Plastic||Polyamide||Durable Plastic|
|Composite Material (Z-Corp)||Full Color Sandstone||Multicolor||Multicolor||Rainbow Plaster|
|Resin||Fine Detail Plastic||Detail Resin||High Detail Resin||Superfine Plastic|
|ABS||ABS (on request)||ABS||Durable Gloss Plastic|
|Transparent Resin||Frosted Detail Plastic||Transparent Resin|
|Objet Resin||Durable Fine Plastic|
|Prime Gray||Prime Gray|
Metals are the next big thing with online 3D printing services. Prices are still pretty high and most metals are only available upon request. Jewelry makers use a lot of silver, bronze and gold for their projects but it is sometimes less precise than making a mold. Lost wax casting is also doable by 3D printing (EnvisionTEC is an excellent brand of 3D printers for this kind of work).
|Silver||Sterling Silver||Silver (on request)||Silver|
|Gold||Gold (on request)||Gold|
|Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel (on request)||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel|
|Titanium||Titanium (on request)||Titanium|
|Bronze||Bronze (on request)||Bronze|
This table is not fully accurate. I invite you to ask your favorite online service is they do the finishing you want. As a quick reminder: resin is the easiest material for getting a great finishing result. Makers of figurines and models usually 3D print in Resin and Paint. Ceramics has also been the big deal of 2012. The product is first 3D printed using the Multicolor material and then glazed like a traditional ceramic.
|Color Dyeing||Dyeing||Colored Plastic||Dyeing/Painting|
Jonas Neubert from Cornell University developed a great tool to compare prices between 3D printing online services prices: http://3dprintingpricecheck.com/