3D printing technology uses may expand even further with the invention of a new type of plastic. Two 3D printing services announced almost at the same time the creation of new flexible 3D printing materials.

Called Elasto Plastic and Rubber-like, the two flexible materials could be used to create a wide range of 3D printed items, including clothing and footwear.

Elasto Plastic & Rubber-like: Flexible 3D Printing Materials

Elasto Plastic could be used to print footwear.

Elasto Plastic was revealed by 3D printing one-stop shop Shapeways. It is a strong plastic material that is nonetheless flexible, squishy and soft, which would make it the right choice for printing things that cannot be obtained with the current rigid plastic and resin-based materials available.

The material is still in an experimental phase and is not yet available for the general public, according to Shapeways. It is only available for uploaded designs, meaning that people will be able to order items they have designed, printed in Elasto Plastic, but not the actual material.

Shapeways will test the flexible material until July 9, selling it for $1.75 per cubic centimeter plus $1.95 handling fees per model. After the test run, the company will decide whether to keep the Elasto Plastic as a design material permanently.

Meanwhile, Belgian 3D printing company Materialise also announced that it would be testing a new flexible material for 3D printing. Just like the Elasto Plastic, Materialise’s Rubber-like will not be available in raw material shape to the general public. The material is priced at $2.6 per cubic centimeter.

rubber like piggy bank

A coin purse printed with Rubber-like.

The Belgian company has already used the Rubber-like to create an haute couture dress that was paraded at the Spring Fashion Week 2013 this year. Besides clothing and accessories, Rubber-like could also be used for various functional designs and gadgets that require shock absorption, the company said.

If the materials are successful, this will pave the way for a significant expansion in the scope of 3D printed technology and 3D printed items. The flexible materials can be used to create clothing and footwear, but also many other objects that cannot be obtained from hard plastic, from furniture joints and flooring to medical devices or accessories.

[Images via 3ders.org & Shapeways]