Advancing the Mission of Shapeways: 3D Printing for Everyone

Posted by in Shapeways, What's Hot

Today marks a milestone for Shapeways. On behalf of the

Shapeways team, we are truly excited to announce a new round of financing of $30 million led by

Andreessen Horowitz, with Chris Dixon joining our executive board. Our existing investors – Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, and Lux Capital – also participated in this round.

All of our investors believe, like us, that 3D printing has the potential to completely change the world. With this funding, we will grow our team (we’re hiring!), build more factories around the world, and solve challenging technology problems. Though many people have heard about 3D printing, we have a ways to come. We will make our service much easier to use. We will explore the frontiers of 3D printing materials, enabling YOU to make and purchase any product imaginable.

3D Printing for Everyone with Shapeways

As we embark on this next phase in our company’s journey, we wanted to take this opportunity to look back at how far we’ve come.

3D Printing is Changing the World

When we started in 2007, very few people had even heard of 3D printing outside of the engineering and design communities. It was mainly used for prototyping. Today, 3D printing has taken the manufacturing industry by storm and everyone is talking about this groundbreaking technology. President Obama even recently called out 3D printing as one of the important technologies that can bring manufacturing back to the USA.

We believe that 3D printing is fundamentally changing the manufacturing ecosystem in its entirety – how and where products are made and by whom. For the last century, big companies were in charge: they determined what consumers wanted and made those products in large quantities using mass manufacturing. Now, thanks to 3D printing, those days are over. This technology enables everyone to create unique products on demand, putting the customer in control and localizing the manufacturing process.

How Shapeways Fits In

We founded Shapeways in 2007, but weren’t a typical startup: we made things. And we built our business around four key elements:

Creation

We want to enable everyone to turn their ideas into reality. We pioneered the first customization software called Creators, or 3D printing apps, and we’ve now made this technology accessible through our API. Over 1 million designs have been uploaded to Shapeways.com to-date. And not only can you work with a designer to customize a product, you can also create a product from scratch with easy-to-use templates.

Production

Back in 2007, 3D printing was expensive. We knew that if we wanted to make the technology affordable for everyone, the price needed to drop. We’re proud that we have already succeeded in lowering prices significantly, but we‘re not stopping there. Remember, the cost of an iPhone case was about $70 in 2008. Today, it’s below $20. We believe we can lower the cost much further and this will result in lower prices for everyone using Shapeways.

In the early days, in addition to higher costs, the variety of materials was limited and the quality of the products made was quite low. Today, we offer over 30 materials and finishes, including high-quality sterling silver and food-safe ceramics. We plan on adding many more.

Shapeways Shops

Shapeways Shops enable anyone to launch a business and sell products worldwide. Today, the Shapeways marketplace is comprised of over 10,000 shop owners. They are the future of small business: they don’t have inventory, they rapidly iterate on products, and they have direct access to customer feedback. We will continue to invest in tools and resources to ensure they become even more successful.

Community

Our community is a very important part of Shapeways. You share the belief that 3D Printing is incredible and are as passionate as we are about making products. In the forums and during meetups, you continually surprise us with the ideas that you bring to life. We are thankful for your passion and inspiration.

Onwards

Looking back, we are encouraged by how far we have come. But we are even more excited for the incredible journey ahead. We hope you will join us for it!

27 comments

  1. Erik Brinkers

    Congratulations and keep up the good work!

    Wandering if you’re thinking of making it possible to print electric circuits within the models?
    In that way I can get rid of the “old” ugly split line :) .

  2. Tony Byrne

    Awesome. money TALKS…
    Im trying to figure a cleaver tag line/blog name to start some additional mass.
    God-speed folks…

  3. Alfred Jakes

    Have a look at my project. Its history is a failed prototyping and wasted money in the region of hundred of thousends and no product. Today I can produce this with material cost unbeliefable and unthinkable a view years ago. This is really changing the world of manufacturing. This is very well done.

    Alfred Jakes

  4. Jeri Atkin

    To all of you. I spotted you from the beginning and was so excited for you and your company. I’m just an ordinary person, but I knew you would be a success. I took one of
    the articles about you, years ago and showed it to my dentist who was trying (and did) to make an implant bridge for me. He was fascinated with your ideas. It took a couple of years to complete, but the bridge implant is beautiful. Knock a few decades off of me and I’m beautiful too. Too bad we didn’t have your imagination and expertise available then.
    Thank you just for being here, company and people.

  5. Keith Kritselis

    Man… I don’t know.

    I really, really like what you guys are doing, but you’ve taken a lot of investment dollars.

    … and you are the highest profile company in the 3D printing space.

    If you go down as a bad investment, because you took too much money up front and were still a little too far ahead of the curve… it could be a big setback for the burgeoning industry.

    All I’m saying is be careful. We all want you to succeed.

    1. Pete

      Hi Keith,

      thanks for the note and your passion for Shapeways and 3D printing in general. We all agree that this is a great journey we are on and it might take some time. We will work hard to continue to grow and spend the money wisely to continue to make Shapeways easier to use, improve quality and lead-time and reduce prices enabling you to make larger products at reasonable prices.

      In the end I think the investment will actually increase the chance we will succeed!

      best,
      Pete

  6. manish

    GREAT SIR,YOU AND COMPANY’S VISION HAS COME TO THE FORE AND THE DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION LIKE 3D GOT THE PROPER MASTER TO RIDE IT TO ITS FULL GLORY AND YES YOU AND YOUR COMPANY WOULD SURELY BE ON THE TOP.
    KUDOS AND MORE …MORE ..MORE TO COME FROM 3D AND U I TRULLY BELIEVE AND HAS BUGGED ME ON TOO.
    CONGRATS ,GOD BLESS AND MORE GOOD FORTURE AHEAD.
    WARM REGARDS AND GOOD WISHES
    MAN IS H(EART) YOUR EMULATOR IN THE FUTURE

  7. James William Kincaid III

    Hi Peter,

    That’s great news!

    I’ve been watching Shapeways from the very beginning and I am very excited to see each new development!

    From my prospective I think the business model is working beautifully at this point and only needs minor adjustment to fully attain what you initially envisioned.

    I think prices are currently doable, it’s the lead time now that needs to be improved so consumers can get their purchases in a time frame that is comparable to traditional retail.

    Most importantly though, the rejection aspect needs work. This needs to be alleviated so that shop owners that have a previously developed product can invest in advertising without worrying that a future rejection will come up causing their advertising investment to be lost.

    So exciting! I can hardly wait to see what happens next!

    All the best,
    James
    Inventor, designer, Shapeways shop owner.

    1. Pete

      Hi James,

      thanks for the kind note. Yes we are working on lead-time (should be somewhat noticeable already) and the rejection process.

      Pete

  8. Glenn

    I saw where Shapeways (and 3D Printing) was headed right from the start… Jumped on board, and now you have enabled me to grow as an artist and to start my own mini-business.

    Now, hurry up and open a facility in Canada!

  9. Edgar Castelo

    Can I say Congrats, and then, make like Roger Rabbit, and ask you for a Portugal Branch of your Company, Prrrlllease?

  10. Pynchas

    I’m waiting for the day that Shapeways can develop technology to print human kidneys which would abolish dialysis.

    1. Glenn

      I don’t think we’ll get to the point where Shapeways will be offering that, but hospitals will be one day…

    2. Jamika

      I’m gone to say to my little brother, that he should also pay a quick visit this webpage on regular basis to obtain updated from hottest news.

  11. Choice Dalton

    Count me as one of those who think 3-D printing is the future. Thank you for making something for me. I can see and feel the future.

  12. Shaw

    I live and work in Shanghai. I’ve used Shapeways for the past few years, great experience with your service. A one order was tied up for weeks in Chinese customs however. That prompted me to look for a Chinese based service that could do the job for local delivery. We got eight quotes from five companies for SLS, the best quote was nearly twice the price of Shapeways, the highest was 9x the Shapeways price.

    Open a branch in China, please!

    1. Ruijie

      It’s glad to know there are quite some companies can do that, but also sad that they want to charge that much. Are they just trying to make short term profit over the hype of 3D printing?

      What are the other companies in China than Magicfirm? I’m really interested to know what they are doing right now.

  13. Marcel Joosten

    Hi and congratulations.
    I have used you service for prototyping many times and always had very positive and inspiring feedback and products from your guys at Shapeways Eindhoven. Keep up the good work and continue to inspire future industrial designers with groundbreaking technics. The impuls to invest is justified, 3D printing is an established step in industrial design already and can only grow bigger.

  14. Natalia

    Thank you all for your wonderful comments
    We are all really excited to continue this journey with our amazing community!

    Natalia, Community Manager

  15. Ali

    Hopefully this means you will open up a Canadian shipping center soon and we won’t have to pay ridiculous UPS fees.

  16. Gabriel Prero

    This is fantastic for Shapeways, and I hope to see continued improvement. I’d personally love to be able to interface more with my customers. As of now, they are all anonymous sales to me. Just numbers. I’d love to interact with them as I would with the purveyor of my favorite local hobby shop. I’d like to be able to say thank you, and find out what they think. To many customers, this is their first foray into 3D printed products. I’d love to hear the reactions from them.

  17. Art Schwartz

    Has there been any talk among the powers that be of taking Shapeways public?

Comments are closed.