Dear community members, I will be leaving Shapeways as per tomorrow. I'll continue to do some Shapeways blog posts but will no longer be your Community Manager. I'm leaving Shapeways in order to pursue other opportunities.
The past two years have been the most invigorating & exciting of my life. To be able to let Shapeways grow from a group of beta testers to a large and vibrant community with tens of thousands of members, tens of thousands of designs and more than 8000 models ordered a month was an incredible experience.
Those first few months were rather chaotic. It started with a bang with articles on TechCrunch and Boing Boing. We were inundated by email, questions & problems (and in one fell swoop thousands of members). Materials had to be introduced Black Detail, White, Strong & Flexible; Transparent Detail, Full Color, Stainless Steel, Glass, High Gloss Glass and above all else we were impatient.
Impatient to show you what you could do using 3D printing technology. We were getting to grips with letting you "upload and print" but already working on the Creators, the Co-Creator platform and all the other features you've seen. The learning curve was steep, not only for our growing community but also for us. Nonmanifold, open edges and coming to grips with software packages we'd never even heard of meant we were learning all the time. Bugs were popping up everywhere, as if we were gallivanting around the jungle tossing sugar cubes every which way. At the same time we had to organize and visit events such as SIGGRAPH, Dutch Design Week and Makerfaire. As a net result I've explained 3D printing to more people than I'd ever think I'd meet in a life time. Somewhere along the line I managed to write 347 blog posts: some of dubious quality, many in dire need of editing but hopefully some good ones in there somewhere.
I also got to dive into model trains, 3D puzzles, space ships, design schools, jewelry designers, Fablabs and many other communities we engaged. So not only has Shapeways let me meet a large number of people and these people have been very diverse. I've also gotten to learn about 3D printing and: graduation ceremony deadlines, N & H0, sculptural intent, live action role playing, remote control helicopters, replica steam boats, racing teams, 3d scans of clavicles, jet engines, fashion accessories, dinner wear, knives & forks, Snoopy, the Virgin de Guadalupe, LEGO swords, fractals, elves, chocolate molds, brass knuckles, Facebook games, UAVs, action figures, Second Life, insects, proteins, DNA, photography, stamps, RFID tags, augmented reality, watches, chess sets, manga, robot arms, fighting robots, board games, desktop wargaming and many other things. Opening up your eyes every day to new communities, new designs and new challenges was wonderful. Thank you all for letting me learn about your community!
We've spent the time since trying to encourage and marshal the incredible skill and energy level of the Shapeways community by holding contests and reaching out through You Tube, this blog and our lively forum. Whereas initially we were focused on just letting people upload to Shapeways, later on it became a question of inspiring people in creating more and more diverse things. The quality of work in the gallery and on It arrived (Ralph's idea!) has continually improved remarkably as people have mastered designing for 3D printing. The sheer variety of the designs on Shapeways right now is mind blowing. While I'd like to think I played a small part in this I know that it is really the community that made this happen.
Fairly quickly the first heroes started to emerge in our community. Whether by tirelessly submitting bug reports or suggestions, spending hours helping on the forum, writing tutorials or by spreading the word it was these community heroes that really have made Shapeways what it is today. Shapeways is a very high engagement community and it is these people's pioneering work that has made this possible. We've had members spend 10-12 hours fixing someone else's complex design and others have spent over a 1000 hours on Shapeways. We've seen hundreds of blog post and tweets by community members spreading the word.
These heroes were brought to us by sites linking to us and writing to us (over ten thousand!). I'd like to especially thank Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing, the Wired Blogs, the guys at Makezine, Gizmodo and Engaget for bringing us talented creative people that have helped shape Shapeways. I'm intensely proud of Shapeways and the Shapeways community. Not only am I proud of what we've all achieved together so far but I know I will be proud of what you'll achieve after I've left. I would like to thank each and every community member from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for your friendship, ideas & encouragement. I am indebted to you for inspiring me with your creativity and hard work for this community.
New software (GA 3D) imports .gml files (Graffiti Markup Language)captured using Graffiti Analysis,
creates 3D geometry based on the data and then exports a 3D
representation of the tag as a .stl file (a common file format
compatible with most 3D software packages including Blender,
Maya and 3DS Max). Time is extruded in the Z dimension and pen speed is
represented by the thickness of the model at any given point. Roth then
have this data 3D printed to create a physical sculpture that serves as
a data visualization of the tag. For the Street and Studio
exhibition at the Kunsthalle Wein, Roth collaborated with an anonymous
local Viennese graffiti writer and had the GA sculpture printed in ABS
plastic. Graffiti motion data of his tag was captured in the streets
(for the first time) at various points around Vienna.
It is always interesting to see how the 'low-brow' arts appropriate technology such as motion tracking and 3D printing in a very clever low tech kinda way. The Graffiti Analysis Sculpture has a very loose feel that comes across similar to a mash-up between the Sketch Furniture series by Swedish trio Front Design and Johnny Lee's Wii remote hacks, both from 2007/2008. It would be great if the Z-Axis could be controlled by something other than time to give more control over the 3D model and make it a really intuitive sketch modeling tool. Sure this kind of interface may never be used to 3D model the latest mind blowing rubik's cube, but playing around with the Graffiti Analysis Capture Application with nothing more than a webcam and a torch is fun and very addictive...
A few weeks ago Steve of Third Fate Creations approached us about showing off
his painting skills on some of the space ships on Shapeways. Steve
works with mini designers in a very selective way. He chooses designs
that inspire him and then paints them. Mostly this is for a fee and sometimes when Steve is really inspired it is in return for credit and keeping the painted mini. You can
check out the pricing and also a lot of airbrush and painting tips on his
We gave Steve a few models so he could show off his
skill for you guys and hopefully get you all to start thinking of the
possibilities of combining airbrushing with your 3D prints. For
Shapeways Steve painted two of Charles Oines intricate and wonderful
spaceships: the Ryuushi
Warleader and the Martian
Icaria Class Strike Cruiser.
Steve, "used an airbrush on all but the "gem/glass reflection
spots" and on
those used a 00 brush. The paint is a combination of GW, Createx, and
Autoair, depending on what effect I needed. It took, roughly, 4-6
hrs total time to prep and paint each one."
If you look at Charles' Shop
you can see that the models are tiny.The Dominator for example of 0.9
by 3.6 by 3.9 cm. The intricate painting detail that Steve managed to
with at this scale is just crazy.
Our design intern Artur made a wind chime for you. This wind chime uses the musical properties of glass to full effect and mixes 3D printed glass with White, Strong & Flexible, fishing wire and wooden beads. Combinatory manufacturing ftw. The video is below.
Attention all SolidWorks users, following is a quick tutorial on how to export in Full Color from SolidWorks using a VRML file. The process uses the built in 'appearance' colors not any sort of image mapping so it is a relatively basic and easy process.
Step 1. Fire up SolidWorks and open or create a Part file. I have chosen to model a very clunky calculator looking telephone type object.
Step 2. Go to Photoworks>Appearance and in the sidebar you will see a dialog with color and mapping options, so you can select an entire part or just a single or multiple component such as faces. Repeat this process using surface selection to color up your model. Using darker hues in recessed areas may help to give the model more punch, you could also do some tricks like extruding really shallow text on a screen then coloring the text different to the screen to imply a digital readout.
Step 3. Once you are happy with the overall coloring of your model, you will need to scale it down to prepare to export as a VRML. Select Features>Scale and scale about centroid, uniform scaling at a rate of 0.001. This is because the VRML file reads any units as meters. (handy)
Step 4. Convert the file to VRML by Save As>VRML ensuring in the Options that you select VRML .97. Now you have saved the file you only need to upload the VRML file to Shapeways, you do not need to indicate the units as VRML are always in meters. You are now ready to order your full color 3D print colored using SolidWorks.
If I can figure out a way to include decals and material mapping I will be sure to let you all know, and don't forget the Shapeways Add-in for SolidWorks to upload your files direct to Shapeways.
We can now offer you two new glass materials: High Gloss Black Glass and
High Gloss White Glass. Open the floodgates of your creativity. What
images does their super shiny sheen conjure up in your mind? What will
you guys make with these materials?
The materials have a start up cost of $5 and will cost $6.99 per
cubic cm. Initially the start up costs for Glass were $15 so this
represents a significant price drop in the start up costs. The start up costs of the Milky White Glass has also been reduced by $10 and this material will cost $5.99 per cubic cm. Even though the design rules are the same, the gloss materials are nicer to the touch and stronger.
The materials are made by 3D
printing recycled glass. The fine powder is built up layer by layer and a
binding material is applied to the glass powder that will become your
product. When the 3D print is complete it is baked in an oven to fuse
the glass powder. Your products are then
subsequently enameled to get their glossy finish.
As you can clearly see in the Angel picture
there is a fair amount of "definition" from the 3D printing process in
the form of bumps and the like. The enamel smooths the 3D prints out
considerably and these prints are closed so not porous as the Milky
White Glass material is. The models are however far from completely
smooth. A lot
of the objects made with this process look really good and very arty.
But, significant warping may occur and the overall dimensional accuracy
of this process is still limited. 3D printing glass is amazing but also
very new and a very experimental process.
SolidWorks users can now upload their files directly to Shapeways thanks to a proprietary add-in developed by Design Solutions and Shapeways, making it easier than ever for SolidWorks users to turn their 3D designs into physical objects.
This will automatically convert the model to STL format (as defined by the user settings in SolidWorks) and upload it to “My Designs” in your Shapeways account. The tool will also prompt users to enter any tags, provide a description and select whether the model is for sale or display only.(you will need to agree to Shapeways terms and conditions on the Shapeways site once it is uploaded).
As mentioned this is the BETA version which should be replaced with the second iteration in 6-8 weeks so please do provide us with any feedback you have in this time so we can improve the add-in so we can use this to improve functionality.
From today until the end of the month we will be holding a super quick SIGGRAPH competition. Just add the tag SIGGRAPH2010 to your best model to enter. There will only be one winner this time, winner takes all! This winner will have their model displayed at SIGRRAPH as the centerpiece of our stand. After the show we will also send you the model and give you an additional $250 coupon in 3D printing. We will be looking for the best, most impressive display model. The model can not cost more than $200 and must be inspiring as well as show people the possibilities of 3D printing. Don't forget only two weeks to design! Fame and fortune await! Enter now!
Mitchell Jetten is a great guy and despite his young age is a successful Shop owner on Shapeways. Jettuh as he is known on here, exclusively models Dutch model trains & model train accessories for his SpoorObjecten Shop on Shapeways. Despite asking for very low mark up per model sold Mitchell has made over $4000 with us so far. He is an enthusiastic & very helpful community member and it has been a pleasure to see him prosper. Indeed my "power lunch" with Mitchell in Amsterdam on a sunny Gustavmahlerplein surrounded by basking bankers was not only thoroughly enjoyable but also a professional high point for me. Mitchell is on the right in the foto below next to his good friend Niels.
Joris Peels: What modeling software do you use? And how long have you used it?
Mitchell Jetten: In general I only use 3ds Max for my trains. At school I learned how to use SolidWorks, and for the company I work for
(freelance) I also sometimes use Autocad 2000 for CNC projects. Funny thing is, I started using Gmax (a free version of 3ds Max) in 2004,
but I couldn't make more then a station platform with a texture on it back then. But when I discovered this great place where you can 3D print
your objects, I started doing research about how I would have to build it, and
what I could build with it (because, who wants an expensive easy
station platform?). This happened in February 2009, a month later I finally had my first
model in my hand, a Dutch small train signal So, to get back to the question, I've only known how
to 3D model for a year and a half right now.
Joris Peels: How old are you?
Mitchell Jetten: I think I'm one of the youngest shop owners on Shapeways, I just turned 19 on the 7th of June.
Joris Peels: How did you happen to find Shapeways?
Mitchell Jetten: If I remember correctly I heard something from my dad about 3D printing,
and I thought he was nuts. I think I reacted the same as all people do that haven't heard about
3D printing........"What, you make a 3D picture,, and you print it on a standard printer?" Only after a month or so, I had nothing to do on school and found a Shapeways clip on Youtube a and this made me interested!
Joris Peels: What do you make?
Mitchell Jetten: I make Dutch model trains in the scale 1:160 (N Spoor) and my next step is to
try making an affordable train in 1:87 (H0)! So for this moment just trains and scenery for model railways.
Joris Peels: How is your Shop doing?
Mitchell Jetten: My shop is doing really great, seriously, thanks to Shapeways I met my
girlfriend in some sort of way. Because of the earnings I made with Shapeways, I had enough money to fly
to Munich with a few friends. Over there I met my girlfriend that weekend! I will fly to Munich again next month thanks to my Shapeways earnings! I eventually see myself getting rich with Shapeways' service.
Joris Peels: What is your most successful product?
be honest i don't really know! At the moment the VIRM 9500 part 1/3 and VIRM 9500 2/3 are sold the most but that is also the first model I created so it has been online for a
I think most people want it, because it's a very common train in
Mitchell Jetten: Ok, just a small sneak peak of my thoughts: In the future, I see myself building my next train...wait I'm doing that already... but not printing it in White, Strong & Flexible, but in a perfect and smooth
material (like Envisiontec Perfactory). After the print I will cast it with resin, and make about 10 of those
trains (not just the body, but the entire train completely finished).
Joris Peels: How do you market and sell your products on Shapeways?
Mitchell Jetten: There are 2 forums where I promote my trains, well not really
promoting, but i do show the pictures of the model, and show
them where they can buy it if they like, but it's not that I do a
lot of promotion for my models. Also I've been to several model railway exhibitions to sell trains and
also just to inform people about this amazing Shapeways website! Maybe I need to promote myself better, but i don't have a lot of time
lately because of school!
Joris Peels: Do you do market research?
Mitchell Jetten: Not really, I think that's just 10% of the reason why I created the
trains I have finished. I just build them because I like those trains. And if people like them to, then that's a big plus.
A lot of people want me to build old trains, but to be honest, I don't
feel a lot for old trains, I like modern stuff!
Joris Peels: Why trains?
Mitchell Jetten: Because I like trains, I never had a working model railway in my room,
but I do have Dutch trains in my room. So by making my own trains I feel special, because not a lot of people
own the trains I've made!
Funny thing people ask me is:
Why 1:160? Most people use 1:87!
The answer to that is: In 1:87 almost all trains I like have already been made and sold by the big
companies, so it's useless to sell an unfinished train, if they can already buy a good finished train, right? In 1:160 there aren't a lot of Dutch trains, also because of the small
scale, it's a lot cheaper to print those trains.
Joris Peels: Is Shapeways a job for you?
Mitchell Jetten: In some sort of way you can say that Shapeways helped me making my dream
come through. I always liked to make 3D models, but i never knew how to do it. (Yes I
knew how to make a station platform, but that's easy) Since Shapeways I've learned a lot about how to 3D model an object. So now I do freelance work for a company, making 3D models for them. But I also have my own company (SpoorObjecten) because of what shapeways does! So, yes, i think it's a job for me, maybe not 100% yet, but give it
Everbody, keep up the good work with your models!
@Shapeways, thank you so much for the wonderful website! Without Shapeways I wouldn't have been to Munich.......
Designer Banlu Kemiyatorn
has a lot of great designs in his Shop. My personal
favorites are his Bracelets. Each of them is a co-creator and you can
customize the inner diameter of the bracelet. Bracelet
Number 6 looks very modern to me. I also love Bracelet
Number 9 and the mega spiky Bracelet Number 3.
They're high tech without being cold, if that makes sense.