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Spice Up Your 3-D Prints With Custom Plastics

• http://www.wired.com, By Joseph Flaherty
 Plastic companies aren’t generally thought of as “cool.” They focus on being commodity processors that make a raw material that, at best, might spark the creativity of designers. A small U.K. operation called Faberdashery is trying to break free from that mold by creating and supplying custom plastics for owners of 3-D printers.

Based in Somerset, England, Faberdashery grew out of the joint passions of Clare Cunningham, an eco-designer, and Andrew Dent, who has a Ph.D. in materials science and worked as a supervisor on the RepRap project at Bath University. Dent describes their goal to create “a place that offered a haberdashery like experience: friendly, tailored, highly skilled and attractive, that provided an emporium of fabbing resources. So Faberdashery was born.”

As much as plastics can be, their materials are technically impressive. They’re made of polylactic acid (PLA), an advanced material that quickly solidifies from liquid to solid state, helping to ensure dimensional stability. They allow for tight manufacturing tolerances, usually ± 0.1 mm, keeping print jobs consistent. And the materials stand out from standard 3-D plastics by being pleasant to look at, biodegradable, sold by the meter instead of spool, and having a sugar-like smell when heated.

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