National Day of Making: 3D printing powers small businesses

Posted by in Shop Owner

In part three of our series celebrating a Nation of Makers today, we are highlighting how Shapeways is inspiring and empowering makers with tools to build their small, creative businesses. Shapeways entrepreneurs are different. They are creatives unsatisfied by other manufacturing and fabrication options on the market, elevated by their ability to 3D model, and their fueled by passion for their craft. 

Read on for more case studies on how Shapeways and 3D printing is liberating design from the constraints of traditional manufacturing, serving underserved markets, empowering 3D modelers to build businesses, and lowering the barrier to entry to start a creative business.  

I: Designers Now Liberated From the Design Constraints of Traditional Manufacturing

Susan Taing
“While going back and forth with an overseas manufacturer one day, I got frustrated and thought: what if we could just 3D print all of this? So I looked into it and haven’t been able to stop since…” – Susan Taing, bhold
Previously bound by traditional manufacturing constraints, New York City resident Susan Taing felt immediate relief when learning products could be manufactured with the same level of quality through 3D printing, leveraging Shapeways’ industrial 3D printers. Susan now designs full-time and was a featured Designer in Residence at the Museum of Art and Design this winter.
Ryan Kittleson

Ryan, a VFX artist by trade, was used to sculpting digital designs when he found Shapeways. Having been constrained to doing work for clients in the past, Ryan now is one of our most succesful Shop Owners because of his ability to responsively design. Ryan is a meme master, translating viral digital images into physical products. Highlights of Ryan’s shop include Doge, Success Kid, and Socially Awkward Penguin.

II. Serving the Unserved Market: 3D Niche Market Design
Before Additive Manufacturing, product designers and the consumers they served were limited by the need for volume to control product cost. 3D printing now means that 1 unit costs the same as 14, 400 or 4,000. This cost is based on volume of material used, not the complexity or customization of products, opening the door for an era of mass customization and signaling the end of the reign of mass manufacturing.
Chuck Stover
Chuck has been a long-time fan of Role Playing Games, and after discovering Shapeways, combined his conventional manufacturing factory experience and a desire to learn 3D modeling with his love of gaming. The result has made Chuck one of the top Shop Owners on Shapeways, as well as a full-time Shapie. His Dice go viral on a near weekly basis, and they are beautiful! To learn more about Chuck read our designer spotlight on him.
Jeremy Burnich
“I finally enjoy waking up in the morning and ‘going to work.’” – Jeremy Burnich, Joy Complex
Jeremy is “spreading the love” with his sound wavelength pendants of the words “I Love You” in various languages. He’s found explosive success on Shapeways recently and we’re optimistic his innovative product line will continue to be a winner on the platform. 
III. Entrepreneurs Partner with 3D Modelers to Build Businesses
Ina Suffeleers
“I’ve always loved making stuff. I have worked in the technology industry and have been designing jewelry as a personal interest with passion for years. Discovering 3D printing brought these two worlds together.” – Ina Suffeleers, OLA Jewelry
Ina found a 3D modeler in Uruguay to get her jewelry line on Shapeways. She “was never able to really design and create [her] own pieces. 3D printing changed all that!” Shapeways is proud to be not only enabling people with 3D modeling skills, but anyone who wants to design a product line.
Victoria’s Secret and Bradley Rothenberg
Entrepreneurial endeavors that leverage 3D printing aren’t limited to individuals. Big brands like Victoria’s Secret use Shapeways and Shapeways Shop Owners to create one-of-a-kind products as well! This year, Bradley Rothenberg, a Shapeways Shop Owner, designed the Angel Wings for the Snow Queen at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. He’s subsequently designed a jewelry line to complement the wings and his career is exploding as a result. We are elated to have StudioBRAD in the Shapeways community.
IV. Enabling First-Time Business Owners: 3DP Lowers the Barrier

Half of all Shapeways Shop Owners are first-time business owners. To illustrate just how much we’ve lowered the barriers, here are two Shop Owners not yet old enough to drive, but already making great products on Shapeways. 

Zach Tsiakalis-Brown
Zach is a 13-year-old Seattle resident who became interested in 3D modeling “when [he] was younger.” He had been modeling for awhile but had never printed anything until he found Shapeways. Zach is very pragmatic about the challenges of being a young designer: “As a designer my age, people are fairly likely to just be impressed with a kid with a skill set like mine and pat me on the head—then walk away. So it is hard to really be taken seriously.” At Shapeways HQ, we take Zach very seriously, and are fans of his peace bike and awesome finger hats!
Brendan Chang
We first discovered Brendan a year ago when he tweeted: “Proof Shapeways is for everyone, I’m 12 and I designed my own iPod case.” We immediately interviewed him and were impressed by his desire to customize products for himself, his family, and his friends. Now 13, we look forward to what comes next from this inspiring young man. He is currently undergoing some renovations in his Shop.