This week's Designer Spotlight focuses on Tom van der Zanden, a talented inventor who turns his mind to making crazy puzzles. The twist in this tale is that his passion lies in creating the puzzles, but he leaves the solving of them up to you!
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I am Tom van der Zanden, 19 years old. I am currently studying Computer Science and Mathematics at Utrecht University. I am starting the last year of my bachelor's degree now and next year I will start on my master's. I live in the city of Nieuwegein, The Netherlands, which is close to the University and only 70km from the Shapeways office! Besides creating puzzles, I also like to play piano and saxophone.
What's the story behind your designs? What inspires you? How did your interest with puzzles start?
I have always been fascinated by how things work and DIY. My interest in puzzles started when my friend introduced me to the Rubik's Cube. I was into competitive solving for a while but I never got far. On the internet I noticed people building their own puzzles which had a strong appeal to me. I really got inspired to build my own puzzles by the work of Adam Cowan and Andrew Cormier, who both helped me a great deal with learning 3D design.
How did you learn how to design in 3D? What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
My design skills are pretty much self-taught, with help from other puzzle makers. I started out working with AutoCAD but I moved to SolidWorks as this software is better suited to my work and better fits with the way I think. My first designs were printed for me by a friend who has access to a FDM printer at the school where he works. Unfortunately his access to the printer is limited so I could not produce many puzzles using this technique. It was Oskar van Deventer who pointed me to Shapeways and I opened my shop in August of 2009. WSF is actually a far nicer material than the FDM material and gradually I got more comfortable using it. Helped by income from my shop I've been able to make many new puzzles.
How did you work out how to put puzzles together? Do you solve your own puzzles?
Putting the puzzles together is relatively easy. From the design process I have a clear idea of where each piece goes and once you actually have the pieces in hand it is usually easy to figure out how to put them together. The hardest part is always getting the last few pieces in place but thanks to the amazing flexibility and resilience of WSF it is possible to snap them in place. I can not solve all of my puzzles, though I can solve some of them - but I rarely do so. The part about puzzles I enjoy most is actually designing them and figuring out a working mechanism for complex puzzles, rather than solving them. I leave that to my collectors!
Check out this video of the Multidodecahedron puzzle in action. It has an internal and external puzzle in one - unbelievable!
Who are your favorite designers or artists?
I have attended two "puzzle parties" where I met far too many amazing puzzle makers to list them all. Andrew Cormier and Adam Cowan are both amazing puzzle makers and do have shops on Shapeways. I already mentioned him, but Oskar van Deventer is an amazing puzzle maker who has been churning out new puzzles like crazy on Shapeways. He encouraged me to start my own shop which really changed a lot for me, because it generated money that I could put towards making new puzzles. Using income from Shapeways I can sustain my puzzle making hobby, which is great as it is quite rare for puzzle making (or any other hobby) to be self-sustainable like this!
If you weren't limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
In my puzzle making I am not so much limited by what shapes the printing technology can make but by fundamental mechanical properties. It's unreasonable to ask for a material that is unbreakable even when 0.1mm thin even though such a material would be very nice. Not directly applicable to puzzles, I find the idea of printing circuitry and microchips very attractive. I would love to see computing devices roll out of printers sometime in the future.
Tinkecad has been turning up the awesome dial on their WebGL browser based 3D modeling application over the past year but they just made it even better with the ability to import 3D STL files....
This will make it SUPER easy to customize an existing 3D model to 3D Print at Shapeways, whether it be your own file you have created in another software, or a downloadable file from Shapeways, or other 3D model repositories like Thingiverse and GrabCad. You can also grab multiples STL files and mash them together, add text, geometry, anything.... AWESOME.
One limitation is the STL import is currently limited to 25,000 triangles so don't go throwing zBrush madness at it just yet, and of course, make sure you have permission to use the 3D files, and if you modify them, be sure to adhere to the terms by which the original 3D model was shared..
Thanks to the Tinkercad crew for such a fantastic move.
If you would like to attend or host a Shapeways 3D Printing Meetup in you area take a look at Shapeways Meetups Everywhere to see if there is a group already in your area, if not, you can always start one to meet other designers, artists, architects, animators, engineers, students, makers and 3D Printing enthusiasts in your local area....
For all fans of Anime, you should be heading to Texas this weekend for the annual AnimeFest!
Held at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel over Labor Day weekend, the festival celebrates all things Anime and features Japanese Guests, Voice Actors, Cosplay, Manga/Comic Artists, Dealer Room, 24hr Video Theaters, J-Pop, Gaming, Arcade, Art Show & Auction, Panel Discussions, Autograph Sessions, Film/Video Premiers, and much more!
Shapeways will be taking part with Randall Arnold (better known as Texrat) giving a panel workshop on Saturday afternoon at 4pm showing how you can use TinkerCad and Shapeways to create costumes and characters with 3D printing. He'll have samples and giveaways so if you're attending feel free to stop by!
We have seen some AMAZING home decor and beautiful vases 3D Printed in ceramics in many different colors but it is always a pleasure to see such an elegant design that takes a modern digital aesthetic inspired by an ancient oriental tradition to make such a timeless form.
These three 3D Printed bicycles by Original Train & Rail are in HO scale 1/87 come in a very handy frame to make sure the tiny models are delivered safely and the bases make it easier for you to hand paint the models.Not quite as small as David Sun's Micro Car, These military bikes are very common everywhere in Switzerland. Civilian use of these bicycles is very popular because they are very tough (perhaps the miniatures are not quite as tough, but still very cool).
Disney are hitting the 3D printer again with their new D-Tech Me Princess (catchy name) in World of Disney at Walt Disney World Resort. They had the Star Wars 'Carbon Freeze Me' option a few months back where you could make like Han Solo but this time they are turning you, your wife, daughter or brother into a 3D Printed Princess. More of Cory Doctorow's Makers coming to reality.
Just how tough are Shapeways 3D Printed iPhone cases? Tough enough to protect an iPhone against New York City subway tracks...
Shapeways Senior UI Designer, Anthony (@loosetony) Cangelosi put his 3D Printed Vibe iPhone Case to the ultimate test when he dropped it (and his iPhone) into the subway tracks in New York City. Soon after dropping the iPhone into the dark, dirty, rat infested tracks along came the subway train, scattering the rats and Anthony squeezed his eyes shut in anticipation of seeing the destroyed iPhone when the train had passed...
When the flying particulate grime had cleared, Anthony was somewhat amazed to see his iPhone and 3D Printed Case, separated but both intact down in the dark depths. He summoned an MTA employee who told him to come back in an hour when someone would be able to retrieve the phone for him.... After another hours of trains, rats and grime, the iPhone and case was recovered from the tracks, the MTA employees put the 3D Printed iPhone case on (backwards), and Anthony's phone still worked perfectly.... Phew.
Once Anthony had taken the case off and put it back on properly, he noticed a small crack on the inside corner, either from the impact from the drop, or from the MTA employee putting the case on backwards. Either way, the iPhone was unscathed, no chips, no cracks, no rat droppings, no problem.
Want to design and 3D Print your own iPhone case, customized to EXACTLY meet your needs? Whether you need a credit card holder, a bicycle mount, an iPad connector, a dog collar, a spork attachement or your logo, come along to the class Design Your Own iPhone Cast to be 3D Printed with Shapeways in NYC to get exactly what you want.
The introductory class will quickly cover the materials and processes of 3D Printing then it will be heads down in Inventor Fusion to design your case.
It is important to bring your laptop, a mouse and power supply and download Autodesk's Inventor Fusion (free) so you can design your own iPhone case to 3D Print.
Decoded Fashion hosted an event focussing on 3D Printing fashion. From fashion-forward dresses and shoes to masculine jewelry, they got together to discuss the latest innovation in 3D printing. At Space 530, the heart of NYC's fashion district, 5 presenters spoke to an intimate audience about this prime example of the FashionTech intersection.
Shapeways: Carine talks how our community of members (you) "make stuff" from jewelry to glasses to handbags.
GothamSmith: These four New Yorkers use "robots" (Shapeways) to 3-D print menswear accessories such as cufflinks.
Continuum Fashion: Part fashion label, part design label (200%awesome), Continuum Fashion uses digital technologies to create user-generated fashion collections.
Shulogique: Imagine a high-end stiletto specially created to fit the biomechanics of your foot.
Clip-it for iPhone converts your Euro iPhone charger to a wall dock; making sure that you can easily charge your phone at every wall socket. Unfurnished rooms, hotels and conference rooms are no longer a problem.
Clip-it lets you wind the usb cable easily around your charger and is also usable as a small table dock during your journeys ore while at work.
Clip-it makes use of your existing Apple Dock Connector to USB Cable. Simply snap it in and lock the cable at the bottom. Clip-it is perfectly engineered to hold the latest two generations of original Apple charging cables.
Clip-it is designed for the latest two iPhone models: the iPhone 4 & iPhone 4S and the included Apple USB Power Adapter (European version only).
Designed by Eric Vergo for the PAW (Puzzle Around the World) project the Pentultimate puzzle is about to make it's way to twisty puzzle forum members around the world.
We will be sending a large Pentultimate around the world to other forum
members to allow them to play with the puzzle, gather signatures for
collector sticker sets, post pictures here, and tell the rest of the
community about themselves. Eric Vergo graciously offered to design the
puzzle and it has been built to survive minor mishaps. I had had a
custom re-shippable box designed to hold the puzzle and the sticker sets
There are 23 participants that will receive the puzzle. Each person will be able to keep the puzzle for about 10 days. Members were selected based on a diverse set of criteria. We tried to
strike a balance between designers, solvers, collectors, and other
It will take about 1 year for the puzzle to travel around the world.
As each participant receives the puzzle they will have the opportunity
to take pictures of it where they live (for example in front of a
landmark) and post them here in the thread. They can tell where they live and what draws them to twisty puzzles. There are 23
sets of Pentultimate stickers that will travel with the Pentultimate.
Each person will sign them and at the end of the project each
participant will be given a set of signed stickers.
This is an amazing community project instigated by Brandon Enright that shows how a community can come together across continents over a shared passion, and a little bit of help thanks to 3D Printing. Good luck Twisty fans...
So you can order your Cory Doctorow bust in Satin Black or Eggshell Blue, Gloss White or Pastel Yellow and it will cost you the same low price of only $0.18 per cm2.Remember our 3D Printed Ceramics is calculated by surface area not volume, and be sure to read the Ceramics Design Guidelines before you order your model to ensure your design is 3D Printable in ceramics.
Take a look at some of the products 3D Printed in Ceramics in the Shapeways Gallery.
3DMTP is a cloud-based software service, focused on making 3D architectural models 3D Printable. 3DMTP automatically transforms 3D designs, from BIM, 3D CAD, SketchUp software and other 3D visualization software into scalable and 3D printable model files.
3DMTP helps overcome the complex challenges sometimes faced in making 3D scaled models printable for architects, developers and designers. The innovation is based on algorithms which study-the geometric structure of the model, identify and AUTOMATICALLY fix problems that would have prevented it from being successfully printed. Sweet.
are ready to turn your design into a 3D printable model, upload your
design file and set your parameters: scale, profile, and desired 3D
printer. 3DMTP automatically processes the file without any additional
operator interface. 3DMTP also fixes holes between polygons and facets,
repairs reverse surfaces, changes the thickness of walls to minimum
print tolerance for the selected printer, fixes non-volumetric geometry
(making objects "watertight"), and fixes many other problems of
degenerated geometry that otherwise would prevent the model from
Check out some of their 3D Printable architectural models already in their Shapeways shop.