Michael Williams, Shapeways forum moderator, had an idea one day...
It started one slow day at work. I wanted to sit my phone in a way that I could see the screen, charge it, and listen to a podcast. I set it up against my scanner, and the charger would make it fall over. When I put the phone in a cup I instantly noticed the sound being amplified. I could see the screen, hear the phone, and charge it! But I could not touch the screen as practically half the phone was in the cup. So I looked for something I could put my phone in that would solve this. I put it in a bowl, and was instantly sold.
So I decided to prototype my design using 123D Make. I tried some different versions and even made a paper model. I ended up making one out of cardboard using the stacked slices option. This option will make a fully solid model. So you will have more pieces to cut, but if you are using scissors as I was, it will make it so you do not have interlocking pieces that would be hard to cut out. After a few hours of cutting the paper, tracing onto the cardboard, cutting the cardboard, and hot gluing the cardboard, I had my prototype!
It worked great! With my prototype I noticed I was not able to hook up my charger while it was in the Acoustabowl. So I raised up the stand, and moved it out so that it would still hold phones leaning back and would now be able to hook up a charger.
Today Michiel Cornelissen is introducing the US/Canadian version of The Wrap, a little accessory that attaches to the USB end of the iPhone charger. It mirrors the charger's prongs, to create a convenient way to store the charger cable.
I originally designed The Wrap for the European iPhone charger, simply trying to get rid of an annoyance I'd been experiencing myself. Of course, the European iPhone charger is very different from the one in the US and other countries, so on the web page, I put up a note, saying that if I received 100 e-mails requesting a US/Canadian version of The Wrap, I'd try to design one. I thought that, at most, a trickle of e-mails over a few months would amount to the 100 e-mails.
You can compare and select 3D Printing materials based on price, detail level, strength and smoothness so if you are new to 3D Printing it can help you find the right material for your needs and/or budget.
If you have a 3D model ready to 3D Print and you want to choose the right material you can enter the volume, surface area, thinnest walls or model size in bounding box to choose what 3D Printing materials can be used with your model.
This is especially handy if you know your model has very thin walls as it will let you know what materials are possible to reduce the chance of your 3D Print being rejected after upload.
By now you have seen we have given the styling a much needed refresh on Shapeways but we have also improved features across the site. One feature that was a little hidden in the previous layout was the ability to contact a designer. We have lifted the Contact Designer button to the top left corner of every product page to make it easier for people to communicate with the designers of 3D Printed products on Shapeways.
The spark. It appears late at night, in a daydream, while doing a million other things. It often scurries across the forefront of your mind when you least expect it. But that fleeting spark, that spark has the potential to turn into a design, a product, a company, a community.
Starting today, Shapeways has a new look and feel. It starts with the spark - the idea, the laser - and continues with you, and the future that the Shapeways community is making a reality.
Why the change? Just as the 3D printing materials have improved and your designs have increased in complexity and beauty, we started growing out of our old clothes. We felt the need to break out of the box as this future is boundless. We also wanted to show your designs in the best possible light, and alas, our old sad dolphin blue isn't flattering on anyone.
Most importantly, though, we wanted to make sure that the experience you have on Shapeways.com and in the wild has deep roots in our core values.
While we could continue to wax poetic about our inspiration and color
theories, hopefully the design speaks for itself. Many thanks to our
talented designteam and engineers who made this real. And big thanks to the whole team for tirelessly shaping what's to come.
3D Printing's legal advocate Michael Weinberg was part of a discussion on This Week in Law on some of the legal issues surrounding 3D Printing. An interesting debate worth a watch/listen with Shapeways getting a mention as online access to high quality 3D Printers.
And there's always the upacking videos, sharing the excitement of a new product, like this ceramic Acoustabowl
As a bonus, here's two even more creative videos featuring Shapeways products that are slightly NSFW (not safe for work!), a bit Freaky Friday but fun - check out an Ether Nightmare and this Voodoo music video.
Fablab Amsterdam is offering the opportunity to build your personal 3D
printer and learn all there is to know about 3D printing. After an
introduction of the Fablab and the basics of 3D printing, you will learn
how to set up a model for printing (day 1). In the next three days you
will build your own printer, this is a model based on Orca (RepRap Mendel). On the last day (day 5) you will be printing your model(s) and get a hands-on troubleshooting on operating your 3D printer.
We have seen 3D Printed experiments in variable structures in concrete and the potential it has for creating intelligent structures for architecture. Netfabb have recently uploaded a really simple, interesting video of the capillary effects of 3D Printed structures.
There is massive unrealized potential with 3D Printing to make the materials function in much more intelligent ways than they are currently being used. There are two main factors that contribute to the current underuse of the materials and processes.
The first is the capacity of the human mind to understand the true potential of a new material. When we are given a new material we often use it in the same way, or as a direct replacement for an existing material. As we did with Bakelite to plastics and now with 3D Printing. As we begin to better understand the materials and processes we start to use them in more sophisticated ways until we make the most of their potential, using them for their unique material properties.
The second is the tools we use to design and fabricate the materials. From hand tools to power tools and now the 3D modeling tools, we are limited by the forms that the software will allow us to create. With tools within 3D modeling software like Grasshopper, Netfabb or those being developed and used by Nervous System we are starting to see the very tip of the iceberg of intelligent tools to design for digital fabrication.
We will start to see 3D printed forms being innovative not just in the external forms as we currently see in the Shapeways galleries but also in their internal structure. The structure of the materials will start to be optimized for strength, weight, porosity, flexibility, impact, abrasiveness, friction and many more factors through data input, not just manual crunching of CAD. We have seen it start to happen in the arts with form such as Joris Laarman's Bone Chair and Bridge Table and in medicine with porous ceramic structures used to aid in bone grafts but it will eventually be a standard practice in design to enter requirements to define both material structure and form for digital fabrication.
Hopefully Netfabb's simple video will act as inspiration for us all to start think of digital fabrication in this way.
OK, it's Friday, getting your mind prepared for the weekend, when thoughts wander from work and onto some of the more fun things in life (unless you work at Shapeways where work is fun). Earlier this we we stumbled across a couple of 3D Printing memes on Meme Generator and a few of us at Shapeways could not help but play, for a moment... So if you find yourself easily distracted on a Friday take look at some of the 3D Printing memes and maybe have a little play yourself and please share them with us if you create any...
Steve Tung has produced a short video featuring Shapeways online 3D Printing service alongside DIY 3D Printing with 3D-Bots and experimental processes such as 3D printing wood with Ronald Rael, Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley.