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.
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!
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...
Our VP of Engineering Josh Levine shares what's in store for Shapeways this weekend and moving forward:
Last month, we announced that we have taken on a seemingly impossible task: to rebuild the architecture of Shapeways.com. Over the past few months, all of us at Shapeways have contributed to this massive undertaking and through hard work, determination, and a lot of listening to our customers, the time has come to reveal the fruits of our labor!
Notice the little man standing next to this massive 200 ton stone in the
temple Baalbek. This stone is a metaphor for ~60% of our current
software architecture. Most of what you'd like us to build involves moving
the "little" stones (several tons each!) laid neatly beneath the 200
Tonight we are rolling out a major milestone for Shapeways - internally this project is called Inshape 2.0. Tonight, we're moving the 200 ton monster.
Inshape 2.0 completely replaces our back-end systems for Order Placement and Order Fulfillment systems with up-to-date, state-of-the-art technology and processes. In the past, we have had to hold off on so many great ideas from the community - 99% of that is washed away with this release. We anticipate faster turnaround times on orders, and on improvements to our systems.
What is the future of manufacturing, design, and creativity? How are 3D printing and the maker movement shifting the global economy?
Big questions, we know...That's why we've lined up two leading experts (Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine and author of The Long Tail and Makers, and our own Pete Weijmarshausen) to discuss how 3D printing is revolutionizing manufacturing and democratizing creation for everyone.
Here's a little snippet of the proposal:
Sharing their perspectives from the front lines, Chris and Peter will outline the key trends of Industrial Revolution 3.0: collaborative design, open access, creative commerce, green production, and a DIY ethos. They will discuss the limitations of mass manufacturing and explain why digital fabrication enables individuals to find and make products that truly meet their unique needs.
What open source did for software, 3D printing can do for physical things...
Last year at SXSW, mobile-social-local apps were the talk of the town. This year, we hope to shift the conversation from bits to atoms.
SXSW Interactive Panels are selected based on community voting and input from the SXSW Advisory Board and Staff...so make your voice heard! PanelPicker voting will close on Friday, August 31 (11:59 PM CST). We'll be much obliged for any support you offer.
Note: Please use your own discretion when
entering into agreements with other users. Shapeways is not liable for
any transactions that take place between users in the forum, we just want to make it easier for you to find each other.
If you have an idea for something you want to 3D Print but do not know how to 3D model, or if you have a 3D model that needs some love to make it 3D printable, you can either post your project in the 3D modeler needed forum or take a look at designers offering 3D modeling services to find the right person to help you out.
Again, Shapeways is not liable for any transactions that take place between users in the forum, we just want to help you get started 3D Printing.
Now you can cook direct from the 3D Printer with Ruben Alexander's Tea Light Cooker 3D Printed in Ceramics by Shapeways.
Whether you want to cook Portugese sausage with green tomatoes and garlic, a mini fondu or bake a small spice cake.
This little cooker is designed around the lowly tealight. First meals
have been with a standard tealight (38mm x 38mm x 16mm) as the heat
source and safflower oil inside the cooking vessel with minced green
tomatoes, Portuguese sausage, and sliced garlic. After those tasty
results, I progressed to make a variety of dishes.
I first came a cross this great little cooker when we had our Shapeways Meetup at the Quirky office, Ruben was augmenting our catering efforts with some freshly cooked delights direct from the 3D Printed ceramic cooker.... Take a look at the product page to see the experiments and limitations that Ruben has found so far.