One of the biggest questions we see in our forums and online is around which designs work best for 3D printing with paste material. We love experimenting in our E3 lab with design options and variations, but also know talking to the experts is worth its weight in gold. We reached out to our friends over at Pinshape for their thoughts. 

This guest blog post should help clear up any design questions you may have, and hopefully spark your creativity.

A Guest Post From Our Friends at Pinshape

If you’ve just bought a Discov3ry paste extruder kit from Structur3D you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by the possibilities of what to print! With your new accessory, you can now 3D print with flexible material like silicone, clay, biomaterials, and of course, Nutella.

There are many applications for printing with these materials, but what are the qualities that make a good  design that prints well with flexible material?


3 Key Qualities of Designs for Paste Extrusion


1. Simple

Since it’s not always possible to print support structures with paste material, start with simple designs without large overhangs or small details. As you experiment with your printer and different materials, you’ll get a better sense for which materials you can use to print more complex designs.


Very slim iPhone 6 case    by ChR on Pinshape

Very slim iPhone 6 case by ChR on Pinshape

2.  Objects that require flex

Flexible filament can often be frustrating to work with on a regular extruder, so if you want to print a design that requires some flexibility, it’s a good job for a paste extruder.  

Scrubbie    by barb_3dprintny

Scrubbie by barb_3dprintny

3) Objects without round edges

Depending on what material you use, designs that have sharp points like pyramids may not print well with paste.  This is because it takes a longer time for paste materials to cure and the more surface area and time it has to dry, the better the result.


6 Design Applications for Paste Material

1. Prototyping

3D printing has made it much more affordable and practical to make your own prototypes at home with an FDM printer rather than have it made in China and shipped to you. Now this process is even more affordable when printing with silicone material.  Rolls of filament are $30 but with a paste extruder, you can print with, for example, $2 caulking from Home Depot! If you have an idea and you’re looking to play around with the design, this is a great place to start.

2. Accessories

There are a ton of different possibilities to 3D print your own accessories with silicone and other paste materials, including phone cases, watch bands, earrings, and wallets. Save some money and print accessories yourself!

3. Shoes and Foot Insoles

Although you will need a customized design for a foot insole that will fit your foot just right, this is the kind of application that is perfect for 3D printing with paste. Imagine if you no longer had to go to the doctor to get a custom made insole but could hire a designer to make yours and print it out yourself! There are already shoe designs available free online like this one:

Customized shoes    by min-chien+chen

Customized shoes by min-chien+chen

4. Grippy Handles

The great thing about silicone is it has a lot of traction and it’s a comfortable material to hold. This makes it great for printing grips on things like pencils, bike handles, or forks

Rocket Pencil Extender    by FORMBYTE

5. Letters

If you’ve ever hand printed a message to someone on a cake before, you know how difficult it can be to get the letters straight. With a 3D printer and paste extruder, you can print directly on your cake with icing sugar, chocolate, or Nutella and create a picture perfect topper. 

Photo source:  Fast Company

Photo source: Fast Company

6. Vases & Decorations

Some of Structur3D’s backers have played around with printing clay and had success.  There are a ton of awesome designs that would work well with clay, including vases and figurines.  Once you’ve fired your print, you can post-process it with paints for finishing touches.

Vases    by David Mussaffi

Vases by David Mussaffi

These are just some of the many applications of 3D printing with paste, and there are many more that you can discover for yourself. The only way to find out if you can print with it, is to try! If you’re looking for designs to print or ideas, check out Pinshape.  

About Pinshape

Pinshape is the next generation 3D printing community & marketplace for brands, designers and makers. Pinshape specializes in making it easy to find, and successfully print great 3D designs, while mitigating intellectual property risks through secure streaming technology.

Pinshape is a 500 Startups-backed company, with offices in Vancouver, Canada. For more information and to see 3D printed products available, visit