We are proud to announce our new Creator. The Shapeways Ice Sculpture Creator! For the first time we've developed our own proprietary technology in the realm of 3D printing. We've come up with a tool that firmly takes the process out of the realm of thermoplastics and into new artistic endeavors. Best thing: anyone can use it, as with our other Creator tools no 3D modeling skills are required. Find out how the process works and how you can get started here.
It is really too bad that other modeling tools do not support such sophisticated and handy applications as Blender and 3DS Max do. I would have though that Zbrush, Maya or Rhino could also do something like this?
From today until the 31st of March you can order your Ringpoems 3D printed in bronze.
You can now make your own bronze sculpture in a few minutes. Your words, thoughts, ideas, poems, declaration of love: in bronze.
Just go to the Ringpoem Creator, type in the words of your choosing, choose a font, then order it for $49 including shipping and tax.
Then you will get your message: 3D printed in bronze.
I know I seem to be repeating myself but: WOW. That is pretty darn amazing right? We can now, for a limited time, let anyone everywhere create a metal 3D printed object that they get to design.
If there is demand for the Ringpoems we will see if we can extend this process to the rest of the models on the site. But, hold your horses because we're ironing out some kinks with that at the moment. So we can not guarantee that.
So how does it work? An inkjet head deposits binding material on the build tray. The build tray is lowered. A very thin layer of powdered metal is spread over the build platform. In this case the powdered metal used is Stainless Steel. This continues layer by layer until the part is built. Then the part is removed from the metal powder that has not been bound by the binding material. The last step is to heat the part and infuse it with bronze. And presto you have a 3D printed metal part.
The process leaves you with a heavy, stainless steel and reddish bronze Ringpoem. Depending on how long you make your text it will be around 4.5 by 4.5 by 4.5cm and 3mm thick. It feels and looks smooth. It also feels nice and cold to the touch and the material is strong. The process is much much much cheaper than titanium 3D printing. I think its amazing that you can now 3D print in the same material roman swords are made of, the same material that Henry Moore made his sculptures are made of! Enough of this though, I'm going to go make a bronze 3D printed sculpture!!!!
If this is not the coolest thing you have read all day please retweet our message on twitter telling us what you have seen today that is
cooler than our Bronze Ringpoem. If this is the coolest thing you've seen all day then please also retweet this message with a comment. The best answer will get a free Bronze Ringpoem of their all time favorite tweet. A twitter tweet 3D printed in bronze!
One of our most important promises, to ourselves and you, when we launched Shapeways was to make 3D printing cheaper. We've done that since the beginning by offering all our different materials at unprecedented prices. We're very happy that we can now outdo even that.
As of now we have made White, Strong & Flexible 10% cheaper. Not as a temporary discount, but as a permanent price cut. Every single model on Shapeways just got 10% less expensive, 10% more affordable!
So run along to the Shops and buy more stuff so we can make it cheaper again. Scale is a wonderful thing.
Photo credit: Larry Page, Creative Commons Attribution.
When I give presentations I often talk about "the Singer problem." A
lot of people are hyping desktop manufacturing, mass customization and
mass personalization. They talk of a world where we will each have
desktop machines capable of customizing or making almost anything.
These machines will be compact, inexpensive and easy to use. The inputs
for them will be cheap and widely available. Designs will be traded,
sold and distributed to everyone.
We will all use our
creativity to them move away from a world where everything is mass
produced and mass marketed to one where we make products based on
functionality. People will be able to sell or be self-sufficient and
these devices will have massive implications for society. This is the
"big idea" around a lot of the desktop 3D printer hype.
Well..theres a gaping hole in this future and that is The Singer problem.
have all been able to do pretty much everything described above for the
last 150 years. All one has to do is buy a Singer sewing machine. You
can pick one up for $100. The inputs: cloth and thread are widely
available in a wide selection for low prices. You can buy or get
designs or patterns as they are called worldwide. The machine is
relatively easy to operate. You can customize many of the things you
own. And as far as clothing goes you could even make everything
So why is it that I only know five people who
actively use sewing machines? Why is it that even they buy most of
their clothing off the rack? It has to do with several things:
1. brands do manage to elicit meaning from us
2. sewing is "for girls" and not cool
3. sometimes people just want to be followers, even though they say they want to be unique
4. most people generally can not be bothered
5. most people think they can't do things, so they don't try
The perception is that it is 'cheaper' to buy clothing than to make it
because of the perceived large investment in time and 'bother.'
7. We would all like to make beautiful things but risk having to put in a lot of effort before we can do that.
8. We would all like to make beautiful things but risk spending a lot of time and then ending up with an ugly thing. Or worse yet, a thing that others find ugly
Apart from 2 all these questions apply to desktop 3D printing also. In the case of two however just substitute girls for nerds and you will encounter another future roadblock.
Brands and mass produced items solve all these issues. The perceived cost is less, it is much easier, it is per definition popular(and beautiful etc.) because it is in shops(and because they tell you it is), you only run the risk of making a bad purchase not creating something 'bad' etc.
The true cost of desktop manufacturing is not the printer or the inputs. It will not take off at some magical point like DVD players did, as easy as DVD players did. DVD players went from $2000 to $20 because people perceived having them as valuable and everyone could do things with them. DVD players took off because they fit into traditional patters of media use and made these easier and better. DVD players took off because they augmented existing infrastructure. DVD players took off because there were a lot of movies to watch on them. Demand drives supply.
The ease of use, utility and price of things made by desktop 3D printers will have to exceed that of mass produced goods before this revolution is to happen. 3D design will have to be simple and designs plentiful. Only then could some semblance of this global revolution occur.
But wait..I work for Shapeways, shouldn't I be cheering this revolution on? Yes, and I do. Indeed Shapeways could have been a 3D printer offered for sale. Instead Shapeways is a community that gives people access to a lot of different machines and production processes.
Why are we the latter? Because when even better production processes emerge they will be expensive and the equipment will be expensive and we will still be able to offer the process directly to our community. You will make lots of stuff and we will be able to lower prices. Rinse, repeat. Meanwhile our Creator tools, and all our community members will make lots of different designs. These designs will be inspiring and useful and they will draw in more people. That is how we will do our bit to make the mass customization revolution happen.
The magical moment for 3D printing will not be that someone makes a $5000 desktop 3D printer. The tipping point will be one of these three:
1. when someone develops a 3D modeling application that anyone can use and many can master(and that produces good printable files).
2. when someone develops a post consumer recycled 3D printing material
One thing that really excited me at the Newcastle Maker Faire was the
Arduino. This is an open source microcontroller that you can buy for
about $30. There are a lot of people tinkering with the Arduino and
making lots of very interesting stuff. Basically it is an I/0 board, so
an input/output device: a piece of hardware that you can program with
your computer. It seems to now have found a niche in making LED's go on
and off but this kind of tool can grow to be a very powerful one in the
years to come simply due to the creativity and numbers of the Arduino
community. I was so enthusiastic about it that even though I'm an
electronics noob I got an Arduino book and am planning to tinker with it also.
Rich Gain of Microcubology has made the worlds smallest puzzle(as far as I know). You can check it out here in his Shop. The puzzle is $9.95 and is 3.5 by 5.5 by 0.9cm and looks very challenging. Rich has made a video where you can see him playing with his puzzle below. You can solve it in two ways by building a cube or by building an "inside out cube" that is hollow on the inside. Pretty nifty, ya think?
Peter Paul and myself are at Maker Faire Newcastle right now. The atmosphere is great and a lot of people are asking all sorts of questions about Shapeways. The only problem with being at a Maker Faire is that invariably someone has something much cooler than you do. I really new that Maker Faire had started when we heard a loud screeching sound and Peter Paul said: "It seems that the robotic horse is here." Look at the pictures of it below.
I think that this will be an interesting weekend.
Our newest machine is an EOS Formiga P100. To the left you can see a picture on it. The thing with the wires in front of it is not part of the machine by the way, it is a webcam so the production guys can keep an eye on it. The EOS Formiga P100 is a Selective Laser Sintering machine made by EOS gmbh of Germany. EOS was founded in 1989 and has revenues of 70 million Euros and is the largest manufacturer of Laser Sintering systems. You're supposed to call them E, O, S but most say EOS.
The SLS process works with a laser that selectively hardens your part. The object is made from a very fine powder. With SLS the build platform on which your part is being built goes up as your object "grows." The powder is applied to the build platform, the laser hardens the part and the rest of the powder remains. Then the platform moves higher and a new layer of powder is applied. The hardened part is then at the end lifted out of what has by now become a big block of powder. The remaining powder acts as a support material and can be re-used(for a limited amount of time).
You can SLS plastics, sand and even metals such as titanium. The Shapeways White, Strong & Flexible material comes out of the EOS. The material used is called Fine Polyamide PA 2200. The term polyamide might not be very well known but Nylon is a rather famous polyamide. Nylon 6 is a very common hard polyamide. The PA 2200 material is a polyamide 12.
It is white and feels powdery to the touch. The material melts at 80 degrees Celcius and consists of spherical powder that has an average grain size of 60 μm. 60 μm is about 8.5 times bigger than an X chromosome or twice the size of a skin cell as this nifty graphic tells us(use the slider!). If you want detailed information about the material we have the Material Safety Data Sheet here.
The good thing about White, Strong & Flexible is that it looks good and is an interesting material to touch.The resolution or accuracy is also high compared to other systems. The material can get dirty with the grease on your hands though. The material is also strong & flexible as you can see here. You can make live hinges with it as well as mechanical assemblies. It is very versatile and you can use a lot of different paints to paint it. It looks good for sculpture type objects and has translucent properties when thin that we used for our Photoshaper.
The EOS Formiga P100 itself is the baby of the EOS family. Having said that it is still as big as a coke machine and costs between $150,000-240,000 depending on what you buy along with it. It uses a 30 Watt carbon dioxide laser and is capable of a layer thickness of 0.1mm. The maximum build volume is 20cm by 25 by 33(7.9 inches by 9.8 by 13).
The advantages of the machine are that removing support material is simple and quick compared to other processes. You simply take it out and for delicate parts use compressed air to blow away the powder. The laser does require some time to warm up though. All in all it is a great machine and definitely outperforms any other SLS systems in its price category.
Shapeways community member Virtox made something completely truly awesome for 3D Studio Max(3DS Max, is how they want us to call it) users the other day. He made a script that calculates the volume and price of your model including or excluding VAT. The script also allows gives you a warning if you go over the maximum polycount and helps you see what scale you can use to price your object as you would want to have it. This is a Studio Max script so you can check all of these things from within the application!! I think that this is a wonderful thing and hope that all the 3D Max users on Shapeways help Virtox by testing his script and giving him feedback. You can check it out and download it here.
We just launched our Photoshaper this is a tool that can take one of your photographs and turn it into a 3D printed image. The result is similar to a frieze or a bas relief and when lit from behind makes for a lovely effect. The Photoshaper is an attempt by us to create a tool that anyone can use to take anything and turn it into a 3D printed object. Of course the resulting Lightsculpture is not full 3D but rather has depth based on the contrast in your actual image. It will also look 3D when held up in the light. Excluding tax but including shipping, the Photoshaper Lightsculptures cost $41. If you want to make your own Lightsculptures you can do so here. Below is a video showing a Lightsculpture in the light.
Some of you might have noticed that a few days ago we launched problem visualization for non-manifold models. This is a tool to help you guys upload your models easier. It allows you to actually see on Shapeways what the issue is with your model.
If you upload a model that is non-manifold then we send you an email telling you that you have a non-manifold error. You can click a link in that email and this link will take you to a part of your my designs page, there you will see a log of your non-manifold errors. These are kept for 14 days.
You can then click on the model name and you will be taken to the analysis page. On this page you can see where the non-manifold areas are in red. You can use the viewer to spin your model around and look at it in 3D and then go back to your 3D app to repair it. In actual fact it is an online 3D mesh analysis tool. You can probably guess where were going with this?
A little background: Every shape that can be 3D printed has to be 2-manifold, so each edge has to be shared by two faces(no more, no less). A model can be non-manifold if it for example contains two cubes that share one edge as you can see below. The edge itself is shared by four faces, so the resulting shape is not 2-manifold. For a little more detail about non-manifold you can check out this link.
Jay Leno likes 3D printing too! He uses the same Dimension printers that we do, and it is great that he is so enthusiastic about the technology. My only gripe: they make scanning and using the resulting file look a bit too easy. I'd love for it to be so simple but generally once a part has been scanned it still requires quite some work by an experienced modeller to make the mesh manifold so that it actually can be printed.