Jun 16, 2016 | By Andre

When it comes to the desktop 3D printer market there was a time when your material choice was strictly limited to ABS. Then, as years went by, PLA became the de facto standard on account of it’s structural stability along with fewer print restrictions (no heated bed required for example). Since then, nylon, woodfill, polypropylene-like, bronzefill and all other assortment of experimental materials made their appearance. Through all of this experimentation, 3D print reliability was limited so PLA and ABS remain champion to this day.

But the rigidity of these materials had people craving more. Ninjaflex, a popular brand of flexible filament hit the streets late in 2013 and has remained the most reliable of all the flexible materials ever since. It seems New York based Voodoo Manufacturing has noticed an increasing demand for this material and is now offering Ninjaflex (and its slightly more rigid Semiflex) to their repertoire of available materials via their 3D print service center.

Voodoo Manufacturing, started by a group of former Makerbot engineers in 2015, focuses on high-volume cost effective 3D printing via their fleet of 130 Replicator 2 3D printers (without a doubt the best 3D printer released by Makerbot to this date).

Co-founder Jonathan Schwartz notes that “in the last few months, we’ve been testing TPU filaments for 3D printing to see if there’s a way that we can offer this material scalably and reliably. We’re excited to share that we’ve been successful in developing internal technologies that make it possible for us to scalably offer TPU, and we look forward to working with partners to push the boundaries of what’s possible.”

To me the move to offer Ninjaflex through their 3D print service is a great idea. I’ve worked with the material for years now and, providing the object being produced is relatively straightforward with minimal support requirements, it continues to prove to be an incredible versatile and reliable material. And while it’s difficult to produce exact flexibility (durometer) values like one can do on higher grade 3D printers, a little experimentation with model density and wall thickness goes a long way.

I have noticed that Voodoo Manufacturing doesn’t explicitly mention their material is indeed Ninjaflex until you delve deeper into the materials data sheet accessible on their page. Regardless, the Replicator 2 3D printer they use is actually very nicely suited for the material (loads easily compared with 5th generation Makerbot Replicators for example) so kudos to the team over at Voodoo Manufacturing there.

All said, I’m most impressed with the site’s quoting system, the sheer number of 3D printers and their very affordable rates (I ran some STLs through their quotation system and wow!) The compelling case studies that showcase projects they’ve worked on in the past is also worth checking out (the 3D printed dress is definitely a must see).

Sometimes, I feel I’ve just become the rickety old hipster in the 3D printing racket by saying that “I’ve been offering Ninjaflex to clients before it was cool.” But who am I kidding, Ninjaflex by Fenner drives is one the the better material options to hit the market in the last few years so its exciting to see others incorporate its use into their business strategies.



Posted in 3D Printing Service



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Biged Fromny wrote at 6/16/2016 3:26:42 PM:

Too bad they offer services with their Makerbot Z18 3D printers, yet don't have any that are functioning. I wonder what else is malfunctioning with their marketing.

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