In the context of a personal project I would like to reproduce the appearance of a commercial product of which I send you a cropped image.

I would also like to point out that I do not have the object in question, but it would seem that it is made from a polymer.

The product is a case with an embedded electronical card, so heat dissipation is important.

I'm interested by what kind of plastic is really used here. I plan to have the part manufactured by a company, so I think the method used will be SLS

I therefore rely on your expertise in the field of 3D printing to try to identify the material used.

enter image description here


  • $\begingroup$ Plastic has markings in a triangle. Tell us what your markings are, they tell what your plastic is. $\endgroup$ – Trish Jan 8 '19 at 10:59
  • $\begingroup$ As I may have said initially, I don't own this product.... $\endgroup$ – joshuac Jan 8 '19 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ Does it matter what kind of plastic it really is, or are you just interested in a similar finish? There are a couple of filaments that can reproduce/mimic the looks. Maybe you should make that clear in your answer by edit. Furthermore it would be great if you say something about 3D printing, i.e. how are you trying to make it: FDM, SLS. As is, the question has not got a real 3D Printing value/link. $\endgroup$ – 0scar Jan 8 '19 at 14:05
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    $\begingroup$ @joshuac without knowing the product or the markings we can't know. The polymerdatabase.com does know 86 different basic types of plastics, at times lumping very different ones together based on their chemistry. One example: Polyamids is a group of 16 different plastics, among them 11 different Nylons, Nomex and Kevlar - while chemically similar to some degree, their physical characteristics differ vastly! $\endgroup$ – Trish Jan 8 '19 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ Are you solely concerned with visual appearance, or must the part meet any functional needs such as strength, resistance to fluids, etc.? $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jan 8 '19 at 15:28

Surface finish does not really map to the substrate material, Visually, what you have shown could be glass, ceramic, plastic, epoxy or metal.

The surface finish is a combination of the shaping process, any post processing, and any surface finishing. Most significantly, there are a wide variety of custom paints which are designed to mimic specific surface finishes. This means you could carve an object out of clay, then spray it to give the appearance of being sand-blasted steel (to give a specific example).

The underlying material is mostly irrelevant to the appearance. It will be driven by mechanical/thermal considerations (is this a mock-up, or does it need to have functional wall-thickness), and production volume/cost considerations (is it a one off, or are you making hundreds/millions)?


Is there anything else about this object, but its picture? Softening temperature, biodegradability, is it stiff of flexible, hard or soft, anything could help identifying its material.

Also, post-processing (sanding down or chemicals like acetone bath) greatly enhances the range of filaments that can be used.

Just from the picture, my first guess would be: it looks very much like what ceramic powder added filaments can yield with when you sand them down afterwards. Take a look at pictures of prints with LayBrick, CERAMO, etc.

On second thought, the answer is: Polyamide/Nylon. It must be either a polyamide case or polyamide coating of some other material. For home projects, MJF polyamide prints can easily be ordered online. Ordering polyamide coating of plastic parts can be trickier depending on your location, although definitely doable.

Going with Nylon at home prints may require a non-basic 3D printer and some expertise.

  • $\begingroup$ In fact, it is a box containing an electronic card. I can give you the brand of this product : FLTER. $\endgroup$ – joshuac Jan 8 '19 at 10:00
  • $\begingroup$ What you base the PA/Nylon on? There are 16 different types of Polyamid(relative)s. $\endgroup$ – Trish Jan 8 '19 at 19:11
  • $\begingroup$ They all look similar while their mechanical properties are different. Not sure if all copolymers are available for hobby printing, most brands don't even mark what PA they are, you can try to guess by properties. Pure Nylon 12 is hard, resistant though brittle. Nylon 11 is more flexible, and so on. Reinforced nylons have wide variety of properties. Choose the one that is right for your printer and your application. $\endgroup$ – Anton Jan 9 '19 at 20:46

If you want to 3D print this, you could try post processing with some acrylic or fiber glass filler, and then use some stone texture spray paint like this one.

Edit: SLS printing will never be heat efficient, if that product (in your example image) is an electronic case, it was either machined or molded, and the finish is some sort of paint with a ruff or stone like finish.

However, you might be able to pull it of with air flow redesign, and as long as the temperature does not exceed the glass transition temperature of the thermoplastic or resin used, you should not face any deformations on the case.


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