Thanks to my jetlag I can(at five in the morning California time) post these first pictures that we made of the Bay Area Maker Faire 2009 during the set up day. As you can see it is going to be pretty amazing.
Today we are launching the Shapeways Stampmaker beta. You can now turn any image into a stamp and then cover every single surface in your life with your own stamps. You can use the Stampmaker to make stamps of your logo's, your signature, your face, your child's drawing, your own drawing, a photograph, anything really.
With the Stampmaker you can take any image, make it black and white, mirror it(flip canvas horizontal in Photoshop) then upload the image to Shapeways. We will then for $25 including shipping 3D print the image in a clear and bendable 3D printing material. The resulting stamp sheet is 9 by 13 centimetres. So, fill up that entire space with lots of different stamps. We will also give you an acrylic block(10 by 7 CM) that you can use to mount your stamps on. We send the whole package to you within ten working days and you can then stamp everything in sight.
The 3D printed stamp actually sticks to the block and you can peel them off easily and replace the stamp with another. We have used clear blocks and stamps to make for more precise stamping. Our initial research into stamping, contact with the stamping community and discussions with stamp thought leaders confirmed that clear stamps and stamping blocks work the best for them. The reason why we have a sheet of stamping material is because hardcore stampers indicated that since they collect a lot of stamps the sheets are now all the rage because they are easy to store.
We are having a lot of fun around the office stamping balloons, desks(don't tell anyone) and any piece of paper we can lay our hands on and hope you guys will enjoy your stamps as much as we do ours!
Today we had some major site updates. Most of those are "under water" so you will not notice them much. One thing we did want to tell you though is that the Photoshaper has been updated. We have doubled the resolution of the resulting Lightsculptures. You sculptures of your photographs will now look more accurate. Furthermore the Photoshaper now puts the darkest colors in your photograph at the highest possible elevation and the lightest colors at the lowest possible elevation. This will make the Lightsculpture light effect more pronounced. Both of these updates were based on your feedback and we really appreciate all the suggestions and ideas we got for the Photoshaper. You can take it for a spin here.
Microproduction is a term coined by Jessica Hasson(who helps us with our PR) that describes the larger movement that Shapeways is a part of.
People expect more from products and they want more control over what they purchase. This is where micro production, the process of producing items on a small on-demand scale rather than in mass, can deliver.
1. Flexibility to Customize. Ecommerce is bracketed by methods of mass customization. Producing on a smaller scale allows companies to give their users options when it comes to making their unique item. Today's consumers do not want to buy one of 100,000; they want to have something unique. Ecommerce sites that can offer options and flexibility in customization are experiencing an uptick in sales.
2. Shorter Shelf Life. Most companies that deal in storing product know that inevitably you have boxes of dinged, nicked, broken or unsellable merchandise. Moreover, the gap between production and sale can be a long wait and it is estimated that 7-8% of all merchandise will be damaged. With micro production, items are only made as needed, reducing the costly expense of reparation.
3. Reduced Startup Costs. Services like Shapeways.com, allow users to individual unique products at a low-cost, without the high overhead of mass production. This allows smaller start-up companies or large companies stay competitive by only creating the amount of product they need.
4. Less Waste, More High Quality Products. No longer is micro production expensive and cumbersome, with plastics and metals printing between 1.29 USD and 3.50 USD per cubic centimeter - individual production of items is the key to tapping into the long tail with high-quality products and less waste overall in production.
5. On the Cutting Edge of Technology. Micro production, is a technology that will constantly be changing and improving making for a boom in ecommerce as new technologies are introduced and faster, easier methods are brought to everyday consumers.
Our new contest is especially meant for the modelers and animators out there. So are you a Maya Ninja or a Zbrush samurai? Join in. Create a model with a beautiful(or not so beautiful) face. The Faces contest is your chance to show the rest of the community your animation skill. What does faces mean to you? What is beauty? What kind of a face would be a good face for a 3D printed model?
I know this is rather vague but we wanted to give you guys a lot of leeway so that you can find your own inspiration. Yes, it is vague, but intentionally so.
The Faces contest starts today and ends the 19th of June. Enter by uploading a model and adding the tag Faces to it. The winner will be chosen by Shapeways and will get $300 in 3D printing. Happy modeling!
As of today you can order your very own 3D printed metal cufflinks. Choose a style & finishing and enter in your initials and you're done. The cufflinks cost $49 including shipping and a nice box. If you're looking for an original gift or want to dress up with something no one else has, here's your chance.
One very important thing: because 3D printing metal is new process it will take us 21 working days to deliver them. So please keep this in mind when ordering something for a birthday or other occasion. For Father's Day we're going to be burning the midnight oil to let you order them up and until the 26th of May. If you order before then we will get them to you on time. We came up with the Customized Cufflink Creator no only to give you guys a unique gift to give, not only to introduce metal 3D printing to the world but also because we hate getting & giving socks. For this Father's Day join us in the war against sucky boring gifts! You can see more pictures and try it out here.
I'm very excited to announce that we have put yet another designing mechanical parts tutorial live. The third tutorial follows the first one that deals with material properties and the second that shows you the design issues of an actual project. This third installment is extra special. This is some of the most in depth information ever published online with regards to Selective Laser Sintering(SLS). Furthermore it is not some marketing blurb that you can find all around. This is actual testing information that if you understand & use it will let you know more about 3D printing than most everyone.
SLS is the process behind our White, Strong & Flexible material. This tutorial is nothing less than initial design rules & in depth information on the detail resolution of the SLS process. This information is based on research conducted by Dominik Sippel for EOS GmbH. EOS one of the world's largest rapid manufacturing machine manufacturers. They have decided to share the accuracy and technical information behind their technology, with you.
Detailed graphs and tables show you gap sizes, gap deviation, wall thickness, hole accuracy, etc. This is huge. An engineering driven company in the very competitive rapid manufacturing business wants to give you, the Shapeways community, accurate hereto internal data so you can use this information to design and make things.
With online and open source we have been coddled with documentation, API's and outreach by the people who make a product to the people who use that product. We think nothing of downloading some source code here, messing about in someone else's Bugzilla or reading release notes. Good luck though in trying to get detailed information on the limitations of your toaster or the schematics of your LCD TV.
In manufacturing it is virtually unheard of to let people in on your own research and to reach out to them as EOS is doing here. A lot of people are talking about opening up R&D, co-creation, reaching out to inventors and consumers alike. But, very few are actually doing it. So, once again, this is huge. It might seem a bit boring and a bit nerdy, but it is huge. On to the design rules tutorial.
In third place is Bulatov's (Vladimir Bulatov) TS Ball II (be sure to read the description!)
We will print out all three models and proudly display them at Maker Faire in California. Afterwards we will send the designers their models. David aditionally gets $300 in 3D printing! Congratulations all round.
We've just put the second designing mechanical parts for 3D printing tutorial live. We would like to thank Dick Tiekink very much for his work and knowledge. If you would like to learn from this we recommend that you first have a look at part one of the Designing Mechanical parts tutorials.
The second tutorial walks you through some of the design decisions, considerations and issues that he encountered when making the Whoosh Machine. This is a gift for a departing colleague that has lots of mechanical parts such as a turning drum, coil springs and buttons.
This is not for everyone, it might be complex at times. We hope to give you guys real understanding of the process and technicalities behind designing for 3D printing. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time a anyone has undertaken such an effort to help people look under the hood in 3D printing and learn to understand the limitations of the process. We know that such an effort is atypical. We are supposed to just chant over and over that 3D printing will conquer the world and that anyone can do it. But, whereas anyone can use our Creator tools and most anyone with 3D modeling or CAD experience can make a design and have it printed out with Shapeways, there are precious few people that can really design for 3D printing. What I mean with that is, "people that understand the process to such a degree that the things that they make make optimal use of the technology." Most of those precious few are Shapeways community members. We hope that with these tutorials we can help 'make' more of these people and give a deeper understanding to those that already get it. Their creations will inspire more people and then we will conquer the world. On to the tutorial.
Richard Gain is not the only one making puzzles on Shapeways. We also are lucky to have Oskar van Deventer. He makes a lot of great puzzles in a lot of varieties and you can see them all in his Shop. My favorite puzzle by far is Plugged Dice. Basically it is a cube where you can insert the plugs to make up the points on the dice. Oskar says of it, "This is quite a puzzle as each plug can be inserted in many ways, but the whole fits only in one way." It sounds fiendishly difficult. Check out the video of the puzzle below.
I was in Berlin last week and surprised to see the storefront above. I still do not understand it, it is a complete and utter rip off. They even have a website. But, how could they possibly get away with this kind of thing? Because it is reversed? Because they are in a different business? Or is it a case of serendipity, two people coming together with the same names as the founders of a certain bank. I clearly have a lot to learn about Intellectual Property.
I officially own the coolest thing ever, ever. I just got a stainless steel 3D printed moebius strip.
It is the model Moebius Ants by Andre Bois. This model has long been one of my favorites on Shapeways. A while back when we were offering our community the chance to make Stainless Steel Ringpoems we did a small trial with our Shop owners. We gave them the chance to order models 3D printed in metal. Their own designs, 3D printed in metal. Whereas 3D printing is ten years old or so(some say 20) 3D printing in metal is a process that is very new. This stuff is going straight out of the lab and into the hands of the Shapeways community. Often with metal 3D printing there are a lot of production issues. The error rate tends to be too high, the finishing is rough or uneven and there are limitations to what you can design. This is why we asked our Shop owners to submit models, so we could field test producing them. I thought it was a great chance to try something out and so I absolutely totally had to get the Moebius ants.
I recieved it just half an hour ago, I've been in a complete rush ever since. It is like I'm 12 and I just got the big red bike. So apologies for any spelling mistakes and such. This thing comes is made in one piece, it comes out of the machine in one piece. Its absolutely wonderful and as of right now I officially own and have the coolest thing ever!
The level of detail and finishing is really good. I didn't expect it to work this well. The model feels heavy, cold, substantial, smooth. The clinking sound as the ants go round the strip is amazing and somehow I can still not get my head around the whole: the ant's head is up, I make it go round the strip and now the ant's head is down. Watch the video of me playing with my ants below. It cost me a $129 and its the best money I've ever spent. So, do you guys hope we get this 3D printing in metal sorted? Or not really?
Did you ever get the dreaded 'Your model has too many polygons for us to process it' message after uploading your model? Then check out our new tutorial in which we explain how to reduce the polygon count of your design using the free open source tool MeshLab.
Richard Gain(of Microcubology) is the designer of, possibly, the world's smallest commercially available puzzle. This is the puzzle that we are dyeing in 3 different colors and giving to the people that order now. Below he has a fun video on how to take the cube puzzle apart and how to put it together. Only watch the second part though if you haven't ordered something this week: it contains spoilers.