It has been an exciting and busy week for Shapeways in Europe. First of was the Shapeway factory tour on Friday the 28 of march. Later that same week Shapeways took part in the first ever Eindhoven Mini Maker Faire 2014. We were also the proud sponsor of the Makerdays Hackaton.
After an inspiring meetup in Galway it was time to head to Big Ben and meetup with the London Shapeways Community. It was overcast and slightly misting when I arrived, in typical British form. 15 Shapies (and even some of their family) met me at The Riverside, on the South Side of the River Thames.
It was a pleasant variety of Shapies, many of them designers and engineers by day. Entrepreneurs, amateurs and some venerable members of the 3D Printing community came out and shared stories and Shapeways models. Many of the designers, like the one by Terry Wu featured above, were focused on making complete collections and iterating to perfection! Here are some highlights:
We're extremely excited to announce an incredible partnership that shows the true potential of 3D printing. For a limited time, the United States Mint is partnering with Shapeways to make 3D printed coins in our Premium Silver. We are authorized to create a limited number of silver coins with a special bonus. For the first time in history, a lucky few will have the exclusive privilege of having their face embossed on the back of what is slated to become the ultimate collectors item!
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that Shapeways is proud to offer exclusively to our loyal 3D printing community. You are the ones that have helped pave the way for Shapeways to be at the forefront of the 3D printing revolution and this is our small way of giving back and saying thank you.
We have a mintage limit of 50 coins, so as we expect demand to be high, submissions will be taken for the next 48 hours and then will be drawn as a lottery once the period has closed. To take advantage of this offer, message us on Facebook or tweet at us with the hashtag #PenniesFromHeaven. Submissions will be taken until at Midnight PST April 3rd. All entries will be placed into a lottery and the lucky 50 winners will be contacted directly by our dedicated customer service team on Thursday.
This week members of the Community and Marketing team at Shapeways are heading to the California to participate in tech community events and host Shapeways meetups. While we wish we could cover all of California this time, we’re excited to be hosting two meet ups: in Stanford on Wednesday, April 2 and in Ventura on Friday, April 4.
For this weeks designer spotlight, we'd love to introduce Susan Taing. With a background in product marketing and having worked around the world, we highlight Susan on Shapeways today as the proud founder of bhold, a company revolving around practical, well designed products that truly utilizes 3D printing to it's full potential.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located? I am a designer and maker who loves making useful and beautiful things, founder of bhold. I've worked at the intersection of technology and creative for most of my career. I'm originally from and now live in New York...
In case you did not spend your morning with a coffee and a New York Times print edition in hand, you may have missed Shapeways was featured on the front page of the Home section! But don’t worry—the article is also available online here, complete with a slideshow and video.
Our Designer Evangelist Duann Scott discusses how 3D printing is impacting the future of business and design and how Shapeways can be a resource for designers launching new products. The article also showcases a few of our amazing Shop Owners and community members.
Thank you to our talented designers featured in this article for being such amazing ambassadors:
Vladimir Bulatov, Shapeways 3D Graphics Researcher, said this as he explained why our newly launched 3D model Wall Thickness Tools were such a challenge to build. “I am a 3D modeler and when I first started thinking about automatically measuring and fixing a model’s wall thickness for 3D printing, I thought the problem was unsolvable.” How can designers continue to push the boundaries of design with 3D printing, unhampered by manufacturing guidelines? This challenge was too large for us to ignore, and we set off close to four (4!) years ago to solve what seemed impossible.
What are the Wall Thickness Tools?
3D printers, like any manufacturing tool or machine, have limitations on the minimum distance between two points, known as ‘minimum wall thickness.’ Designing with minimum wall thickness in mind is important but difficult, so giving designers feedback on their designs is critical, especially as 3D printing becomes more accessible.
Wall Thickness Tools are two innovations by Shapeways that are available for free to the entire 3D design and 3D printing community.
Wall Thickness Visualization automatically identifies the areas where your model might need adjustment in order to meet minimum wall thickness to survive 3D printing and post processing.
Wall Thickness Fixing automatically thickens your model’s walls to the minimum recommended thickness for a specified material. Fixed models can be printed or downloaded for further adjustment.
We don’t have the silver bullet, but we do think the tools will make a significant impact. As with other creative industries where feedback is critical, giving 3D designers immediate feedback is a leap. It was a substantial undertaking, so we’re sharing why it was such a difficult challenge, our discovery process, how it works, and ultimately how we hope it will impact the 3D print community.
Why is wall thickness such a difficult challenge to solve?
The goal was to create tools to help designers identify and fix potential problem areas prior to 3D printing. The solution had to provide accurate and relevant data, in order to help 3D designers speed up the design and iteration cycle.
Man vs Machine
Take, for instance, a triangle: at the very tip, the wall thickness gradually becomes zero. The same concept applies to the edges of a blade of grass. The wall thickness will eventually get below the minimum wall thickness requirement for 3D printing. Yet these objects are printable and a 3D Printing Engineer would know that. But is it possible to create an algorithm that provides exact wall thickness measurements only when it is a problem?
Another challenge is measurement complexity. For example, imaging drilling a hole into one side of a 1x1x1cm solid cube, but stop short just before the drill goes all the way through the other side. Looking at this model physically would not reveal that the bottom of the hole is too thin to be 3D printed. Thus, even if you were using software to measure wall thickness point by point, you would need to know to measure that particular point.
Furthermore, we see a lot of complex 3D models, designed by our community, that push the boundaries of design. In order for us to accept every creation by any designer, the Wall Thickness Tools can not be limited by complexity.
Our Discovery Process
The ideas of Alexandru Telea and Andrei Jalba, published in the academic paper, Voxel-Based Assessment of Printability of 3D Shapes were our starting point in developing the Wall Thickness Visualization Tool. Over the past four years, we developed three versions of the Visualization & Fixing tools, each building on the learning from the last.
The simplicity of the tool is deceiving, as the algorithmic power required to run the tools against a constant stream of 3D models require up to 25 computer servers running simultaneously. We host more than one million 3D models, receive thousands of model uploads per day, and, as a result, manage the biggest 3D printing database in the world. The breadth of 3D models uploaded by our community plays a critical role in our discovery process, as the designs span organic, geometric, architectural, parametric, and sculptural 3D models, representing a huge range of design complexities and needs. We run the wall thickness tool algorithms across thousands of uploaded models to validate the tool’s performance against actual printability as determined by our 3D Printing Engineers.
How it Works
Now let’s circle back to the question of: “Is it possible to create an algorithm that provides exact wall thickness measurements only when it is a problem?” We answered this question by changing it.
We shifted the question from “What is the wall thickness and is it too thin?” to “How do we enable designers?” The information that is valuable to a design isn’t necessarily the exact thickness of the wall, but to the visual identification of potential problem areas. When designers have information about potential problems, they’re empowered to decide whether it’s a problem worth solving.
The Wall Thickness Visualization Tool does this by automatically measuring the distance between two points, in real-time, through the entire model. It then classifies areas as ‘safe’, ‘suspect’, or ‘unsafe’, for the designer to determine which areas should be fixed (such as a thin wire) and not be fixed (such as details or edges).
The Wall Thickness Fixing Tool creates a ‘thin walls skeleton’ for area suspected of not meeting minimum wall thickness requirements. It then inflates this skeleton to what the minimum wall thickness should be (known as ‘fixes’ or ‘delta geometry’). The fixes are combined with the original model to create the ‘fixed model’.
Fixed models are just one way to adjust a model to ready them for 3D printing, but not necessarily the ideal way for the needs of the designer. The images below demonstrate how the the tool thickens a thin wall, but creates a potentially undesirable protrusion on the flat surface on the right side of the model. Thus, the tool’s value is in providing immediate guidance on preparing a model for 3D printing, as well as the fixes themselves, and are meant to empower designers to update their designs as needed and much more quickly.
The tech world collectively gasped and gossiped yesterday as Facebook announced its purchase of Oculus, a virtual reality headset originally launched on Kickstarter, for a cool $2 Billion Dollars. Safe to say that their 21 year old CEO and his team of are set for life, but what does this mean for the rest of us?
Hello all! I’m Eleanor, your new Community Outreach Coordinator, reporting for duty. I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, tell you a little bit about what brought me here, and what I’m excited to work on with you here at Shapeways.
I’m a Brooklyn-based writer and indie-rock musician who is constantly inspired by the maker and do it yourself community. I’m passionate about supporting creative entrepreneurs and helping them build sustainable creative projects, businesses and lives. In 2013 I published my first book, Grow, which is a field guide for creatives to achieve success and sustainability on their own terms. Grow shares practical advice on goal setting, planning, budgeting, marketing, and establishing a business, especially for those looking to grow a passion-project into a sustainable, long-term opportunity. It comes out of my personal experience publishing zines, organizing events, and booking rock shows in the DIY community and turning that experience into a career in museums and creative companies. One thing I’m really looking forward to working on at Shapeways is to work with shop owners to build and share their business skills and make their shops even more successful.
Top o' the mornin', Shapies! Have you been to the Emerald Isle or always yearned to go? After 3 days here in Galway, Ireland is quickly rising on my favorite travel destinations list. Beyond the gorgeous vistas, the people are unbelievably friendly!
There's a robust community of Shapies here in Ireland and last night I had the pleasure of meeting up with six Irish 3D modelers! Much of this crew understood the importance of prototyping, printing their models in WSF before opting for one of our nice metals. Two of them even had at home printers that they iterate on before uploading to Shapeways.
This week we are highlighting somersault18:24, a duo who is combining their love of science and design to come up with some amazing pieces. Their shop is a window into a microscopic world that, without their creative minds paired the precision of 3D printing, we otherwise would not be able to see... none the less wear as beautiful jewelry.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located? Luk: I’m Luk, I live in Diest, Belgium. I’m a former research scientist, but recently moved for 100% to somersault18:24. somersault18:24 is my creative outlet to combine science and art, my 2 biggest passions. Idoya: And I am Idoya, the Spanish half of somersault18:24. I live in Leuven, Belgium where I still work as a research scientist. somersault18:24 is the way to express my passion for art and science in a creative way.
We welcome you to join us next week at these events:
Additive World Conference
Thursday, March 27 — 9am – 6.30pm
Our CEO Peter Weijmarshausen will speak during this panel at 3.30pm about what is needed to build the largest 3D printing factory in the world.
Shapeways Eindhoven Factory Tour
Friday, March 28 — 3pm – 4.30pm
During this tour you'll be taken down the path a 3D-printed model takes in our first factory. From ordering to printing, through post-production and onto shipping. Meet our team and ask all your questions in person! There is limited space available for attending the tour, so RSVP here!
Maker Faire Eindhoven
Saturday – Sunday, March 29 – 30 — 11am – 6pm
At the first Maker Faire held in Eindhoven, we will have a booth featuring Shapeways Shop Owners who will display their models and talk about their designs. Come and join us at the Klokgebouw over the weekend!
Saturday – Sunday, March 29 – 30 — 10am – 6pm
The final event of the Maker Days is a Hackathon in which groups of four designers will be challenged to create something inspiring and innovative. This is separated in three different categories; Visualization, Arduino and of course 3D printing. Read more here.
To everyone who got tickets for HackBCA this Saturday, March 22 at 3pm, in Hackensack, NJ, stop by and say hello to us! We will be there doing demos of the Shapeways API and ShapeJS.
With so many hackathons being geared toward college students, we’re excited to be part of one just for high school students. And we’re also looking forward to seeing the amazing products that’ll be enabled by the hacks created at HackBCA.
As a sponsor, we’ll be awarding $200 in Shapeways credit to the team that has the best use of 3D graphics. Good luck to everyone participating!
It looks like tickets are sold out on Eventbrite for hackers and observers but some mentor tickets are still up for grabs.
We are excited to share a unique opportunity for creatives in the arts, technology and design space -- a.k.a., YOU.
This summer, NEW INC, is hosting the first museum-led incubator hosted by the New Museum in New York. The shared space will be a place for anyone working in art, technology, or design to come together to support each other, innovate, and develop their crafts. It’s a great place to take your design and 3D printing abilities to the next level, for your art or your business.
Just 100 members are going to be selected to participate in this lab-like interdisciplinary community to investigate ideas and develop a sustainable practice.
What happens if you’re chosen? You’ll get access to full- and part-time coworking desk space, shared resources, events, and professional development programs over a 12-month period. Not to mention access to mentors and advisors who make up the New Museum’s staff and affiliates.
Because this is being hosted at the New Museum, you’ll be working alongside Museum artists-in-residence, programs, and affiliates like IDEAS City and Rhizome, and Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) Studio-X. Not to mention, our headquarters is just around the corner!
For more info and to apply, check out the NEW INC site. The deadline is April 1, and applications will be reviewed and accepted on a rolling basis.
After suffering traumatic injuries from a motorcycle accident in 2012, Stephen Power, of Cardiff, Wales, was left disfigured on the left side of his face. But with a little help from 3D printing and a dedicated team of doctors, his face has been reconstructed. And he’s become one of the world’s first trauma patients to have 3D printing used in every stage of the procedure.
Using CT scans, the surgical team at Morriston Hospital in Swansea worked with designers and engineers at Cardiff Metropolitan University to create a 3D model of Mr. Power’s skull, which resulted in greater precision than in traditional reconstructive work.
Through an eight-hour procedure, Mr. Power’s cheekbone was broken in three places and then refractured using cutting guides, following a 3D printed template. After the remodelling, a medical-grade titanium implant, printed in Belgium, was used to hold the bones in place.
The result? Greater facial symmetry and a happier, more confident Mr. Power.