About 3D-Printed Parts

See Also our list of 3D Printed Products.

What is 3D Printing?

3D Printing (Rapid Prototyping, Additive Manufacturing) is a general term for various methods of “printing” a solid object from a 3D CAD file.  Different printing processes print a variety of materials at various resolutions (surface smoothness).  For more information on this increasingly popular technology, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing.

Shapeways Printing Service

We provide printer-ready 3D CAD models while Shapeways handles payment, production, customer service, and shipping.  All of our model part listings in our meatballrocketry.com Shop have links for purchasing through Shapeways.

Production & Shipping

This is “rapid prototyping” technology.  Each 3D-printed part is made to order by the printing service; there will naturally be a bit of a delay between ordering and shipping, depending on part size and material.  More info available at Shapeways.com.


Parts are priced based on Shapeways’ costs plus our markup.  Parts with larger volumes can get a bit pricey (more material used = higher cost).  Keep in mind these parts are not produced en masse; every 3D CAD file is printed individually to order.

014 Nose Cone in White Strong & Flexible
Printing Resolution/Finish Quality

The smoothness of the final product’s surface depends on the material and printing process used.  Many items suitable for sport models (such as nose cones) are fine for printing in the White Strong & Flexible material (WSF), but the finish is somewhat grainy.  Some non-detailed smaller parts can use the Polished version of WSF for a smoother finish.

img_20140813_144652264 1:72 J-2 Engine in Frosted Ultra Detail
For scale model parts or other parts where higher quality finish and detail visibility is top priority, the Frosted Detail or Frosted Ultra Detail (FUD) are better options, albeit more expensive.  In some cases (such as our models of real rocket engines) we will limit the material options to higher quality materials by default.

Click here for a close look at a nose cone printed in White Strong & Flexible (WSF) plastic.

Wall Thickness for Large Models

Shapeways has specific design rules for large items in order to avoid printing problems and wasted time and materials.  Objects over 117mm must have a wall thickness increase of 0.006mm for every millimeter beyond 117mm.  The drawback is that the wall thickness may be greater than structurally necessary, driving costs up somewhat.  We have modified our CAD files were possible (e.g. separating shoulder from nose cone) in order to reduce the total length of some parts and avoid excessive wall thickness.