Author Archives: Eleanor

Conversation with designer Ning Hua about launching a 3D printed jewelry business

Interview by Xiaoxiao Zhang, Shapeways Crew member and founder of MCreatures, a 3D printing shop in Shanghai.

When Ninghua first got to know 3D printing through an article in Time magazine he was not yet a designer. Inspired by the possibilities of 3D printing he followed his passion and is now a jewelry designer with a shop on Shapeways and his website Plain Orb, featuring pieces that infuse his signature clean style with traditional elements of nature, Chinese patterns, and Catholic symbolism.

Ning Hua

Ning Hua

So, Ninghua, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Well, I am from Fujian (a province in South China) and now working in Ningbo. I grew up in a small town. Not like in big cities, the life there is so close to nature. And nature has become one of my main design inspirations.

Another major source of inspiration for me is my religion. My family is Catholic and my religion has guided me, so I incorporated Catholic symbols such as PX or the fish sign in my designs as they are of special meaning to me.

As I Chinese designer, I also love to use patterns from traditional Chinese art to give my design some personality. For example, the Xiaozhuan font from Chinese calligraphy and the ice-breaking pattern from ancient Chinese wood window frame design. My habit is to keep the essence of those and give it a clean and simple presentation. Many of my non-Chinese customers love the idea.

How about your educational background?

My major in university was English, nothing to do with design or 3D printing, and got into international trade field later on. Working in this trade company got me to realize that the manufacturing industry of China is growing weaker and less competitive on the global stage since we are not good at producing our own original designs. Thus, it makes products “Made in China” less valuable. I believe design is at the core of mass production. However, many times my I was not able to execute my ideas for products through traditional manufacturing. 3D printing is different because I can make an idea into a real product without too much hassle or cost. This makes me think 3D printing is capable to inspire individuals to design more incredible things.

BingLie Bottle Opener designed by Ning Hua

BingLie Bottle Opener designed by Ning Hua

How did you know about 3D printing and why did you want to make it as your own business?

I first learnt about 3D printing from an article on Time magazine, and it was about Shapeways! I was quite bored at work one day and was reading Time magazine. This article popped out and I felt overwhelmed, though also a little bit confused, about this new technology called 3D printing.

The concept itself is so cool to ignore. It is called printing, but it is nothing like printing on paper. In addition, a product could be produced without using a traditional mold sounds attractive. At the time I was working on a start-up and was looking for some a unique product to launch. No mold, no stock, small investment, all these features of making 3D printing products sound like an appealing way to manufacture my future products.

I studied what material can be used for 3D printing, its basic cost, and what software I could use. After understanding this concept rationally, I decided that entering into the 3D printing field and make it my business was do-able for me. I opened my online store selling jewelry even if most of my friends around me who had heard of the 3D concept consider the idea new, bizarre and irrelevant. Now, of course, I am very glad that I did trust my own gut and started my 3D path.

BingLie or "cracking ice" pattern has been used as a window pattern in China for over 600 years. Photo by Ning Hua.

BingLie or “cracking ice” pattern has been used as a window pattern in China for over 600 years. Photo by Ning Hua.

What was the first 3D product you designed?

It was a leaf-shape USB port cover. It was the very first product I designed and produced after I intensively studied industrial design for 2 months from level 0. But it did not sell very well.

When did you start to design jewelry?

After the USB port cover, I was struggling to decide if I should mainly design products that are more practical or fancier and more decorative. After the testing of a few prototypes, and inspired by a few other designers on Shapeways, I finally decided to put my focus on jewelry. The main reasons jewelry became a desirable business focus for me are: 1) the cost of 3D print is still not cheap and my clients generally find the high price is more acceptable if the product is jewelry. 2) Jewelry can always be a piece of meaningful gift to oneself or to others and people can wear them for a long time.

Xiao Zhuan cufflinks based on a popular font in ancient China from 2000 years ago

Xiao Zhuan cufflinks based on a popular font in ancient China from 2000 years ago

What are the difficulties when running your 3D print jewelry store all by yourself?

At this stage, I am doing everything by myself. I worked out lot of things by myself, my website, how to use design software, etc. And my business volume still allows me to do that.

In this business, the challenging part for me is marketing and promoting my products effectively. I am working on using the social media channels such as Instagram to promote my products to more of my target customers. I need to figure different channels to reach Chinese customers and international ones as their habit of using social media is difficult. It’s important to use social media to convey the the quality of 3D print jewelry and build trust if customers have never seen a 3D product before.

What has exceeded your expectations?

My design. When I started to learn 3D design from scratch and I was not even sure how the final product would look. I kept improving my models with more and more test products so I got more experienced. Now I do think a lot of my designs have exceeded my original expectations.

Do you have tips for other people who are fascinated by 3D printing and want to make their own products from scratch like you?

Very simple. Your design shall always represent no one else but you. Your own design and your style will remembered by the market.

 


 

At Work on the Road: 3D Printing, Designing and Living Around the World

One Infinity small pendant in polished grey steel at Mondello Beach, Palermo, Italy

One Infinity small pendant in polished grey steel at Mondello Beach, Palermo, Italy

by M.G., a member of Shapeways Crew and an American artist living abroad who sells her work she creates on Shapeways through her shop Sloris

Reduce the entirety of your belongings to two suitcases; all the clothes, accessories, documents, electronic devices and toiletries that you’ll need for the foreseeable future.  Don’t forget a sample of your 3D printed products.  Take a minute, or two.  

That’s how I live.  My partner and I run our business, www.sloris.com, from the road.  Our traveling home office consists of two laptops, two external hard drives, a tablet, a point and shoot digital camera and a HD digital camcorder.  And, of course, Shapeways.

My first ex-pat experience was living on the west coast of Mexico at the age of 24.  My most recent adventure was in the South of Thailand.  I lived four years in each location, which seems to be as long as I can happily settle in any one place (Brooklyn being the exception ).

Even considering this history, my current lifestyle is a radical change.  I’m moving every month or two, until either I find a place I’m so enthralled with I can’t imagine leaving or I’m too exhausted to continue.  My next move remains to be determined; it’s exciting, it’s scary. There are many considerations, but the main factors are attraction to the culture, the availability of inexpensive housing and transportation possibilities:

A combination of research, persistence and creative thinking is required to make this a reality.  I consider being really good at this my own little superpower. How does all this affect running a business and my creativity?  The running a business part is made possible by two factors:

  • Online networking:  its importance, accessibility and value makes living and working from the road not only possible, but effective.  Facebook is a good base, but my recent foray into Twitter and Instagram have helped me to engage a wider audience.

  • Shapeways: acts as my support staff by handling payments, returns, refunds, customer service and shipping.  Print on demand technology eliminates the problem of over and under stocking and the need for a storage facility.

Holeyware Espresso Cup at Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Italy

Holeyware Espresso Cup at Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Italy

Conveying exactly how this lifestyle affects my creativity is trickier.  When I’m stationary for a time, I build my environment very carefully.  I like my surroundings to be placid and inviting, completely free of clutter.  Routines are essential.  Having all the odds and ends of life scheduled gives my mind the chance to roam freely, unencumbered with worry and little decisions.  Being on the road makes everything I just listed impossible, but is equally inspirational.

On the move, I’m at the mercy of the environment and the apartment I find to rent.  I’ve already experienced a variety of decors; retro hippy, uber modern minimalist, French country and a split personality atmosphere where Mom enjoyed doilies and tea sets and daughter thought IKEA was the answer to everything.  The extent to which I’ve enjoyed living amongst and using other people’s belongings has really surprised me.  I’ve read things I never have before; gossip mags to improve my Spanish (I know more about princesses than I ever cared to) and décor trade rags.

Office view in Fuengirola, Spain

Office view in Fuengirola, Spain

I love learning the differences, substantial or seemingly insignificant, between cultures.  Thailand has an amazing cuisine and no matter how big or small the city, you can find many restaurants offering a wide variety of delicious complete meals priced at 30 baht (approximately 1 USD).  In Spain, I experienced an absolute dedication to siestas.  In downtown Granada at 2:00 pm every single business, except restaurants, closes and locks their doors.  The buses bulge with passengers as everyone makes their way to meet up with friends or family.  In my current apartment in Palermo Italy, there’s a toaster like I’ve never seen before.  I know it sounds ridiculous to mention such an insignificant product, but consider how many people across the globe use a toaster in the morning.

These shifts in behaviors and items affect my creativity because they spark interest in a way of life or an object that usually goes entirely unnoticed.  It revives a sense of newness and proves that there is still space for original concepts and products.

Then there are the things that can sap my energy levels and temporarily crush my spirits; fighting grouchiness after close to 48 hours of straight travel, sacrificing creature comforts to stay within our tight budget, trying to communicate in a language I don’t speak and living and working 24-7-365 with my partner of 23 years.

At the time these situations occur, I certainly don’t feel creative.  It’s as if I’m chained to a stairmaster, forever climbing and getting absolutely nowhere.  It’s exhausting and frustrating.  After the fact, I often need some down time to recover.  During this period I look and feel completely unproductive.  However, in many instances, I emerge from this dormant time with a plentitude of fresh ideas and enthusiasm.

I often work long hours, but then I walk out my door into a completely new and captivating world.  For me, it’s perfect, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.  Do you also work from a traveling home office?  Would you want to?

You can follow my adventures on my blog at and check out my products on my Shapeways shop

Finding inspiration in the streets of Palermo, Italy

Finding inspiration in the streets of Palermo, Italy


 

Print 3D for Me: An app that turns your favorite photograph into a 3D print

Zach Kauble is the co-founder of 3D Print for Me, which uses the Shapeways API to create a unique keychain from your favorite photograph. Below Zach discusses how he was inspired to create this application and how 3D printing can impact the future of custom product design.

picstitch-3

Please introduce yourself – what is your background? Are you a developer? Designer? 3D modeler?

The product and web site were designed by myself and my partner, Tyler Watson. We are both software engineers by day. I started experimenting with 3D printing as a consequence of learning 3D modeling and sculpting software such as ZBrush and 3DS Max. I quickly realized that my models could be made real via 3D printing. It wasn’t long before I came across Shapeways.

What inspired you to start Print 3D for me?

I got the idea after I ordered a few prints of my Zbrush sculptures from Shapeways. I think a transformation occurred for me that probably happens to most “Shapies” because I become somewhat obsessed with designing a unique product. A single question was repeated daily in my head no matter where I was or what I was doing? How does 3D printing change this?

I had been experimenting with 3D printed lithophanes on Shapeways for some time before we decided to create Print 3D For Me. What most inspired us was the reaction of my coworkers at seeing some of my early prototypes. They were amazed by them, which surprised me.
I thought they were somewhat interesting, but not nearly as cool as others did. I suppose after so many iterations of a product, the appeal to the designer starts to wear away.

So, based on this enthusiastic response, we decided to create Print 3D For Me and sell the lithophanes as key chains.

picstitch-4

What is your hope for growing the business?

Of course we hope to grow the business and several more products are in development. However, our primary goal in this endeavor is learn and have fun, and we’ve already done both quite a bit. There is definitely a lot to learn…3D modeling tools, Search Engine Optimization, Internet Advertising and configuration, the Shapeways API, and much, much more.

How is 3D printing helping creative businesses and consumers develop products they want?

My theory is that it removes the barrier to entry in developing and manufacturing physical product. It’s not specifically the additive manufacturing method that I’m excited about. It’s the idea that I can focus all of my time on designing a product while outsourcing the rest of the mundane details including manufacturing, distribution, and fulfillment. My sincere hope is that two things continue to happen as the technology improves: prices continue to drop, and the manufacturing options continue to increase…such as the inclusion of multiple materials and integrated electronics.


 

Cirphering.me: Creating interactive 3D printed jewelry

Jussi Ängeslevä is the creator of Ciphering, which is part of a research project project of Berlin University of the Arts and the Technical University Berlin, which is using scientific methods to explore the role of rapid manufacturing, like 3D printing, in product creation. The ring uses the Shapeways API to create beautiful rings with hidden number messages that you can see when you take the ring off your finger and shine a light through it. As the Ciphering is part of the research process its only available for a short time – until December 31, 2014.

ciphering1 Introduce yourself. What is your background and what inspired you to create Ciphering?

I’m an interaction designer juggling my time between academia and industry, creating experiences in fantastically different scales. My role as Vice Creative Director at Design Studio ART+COM keeps me busy with creating larger public space experiences, ranging from museums to public art commissions. In parallel, as a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts, we are looking at the impact of digital technologies and “computational thinking” in everyday life. In both contexts, the meaning of interactivity, code and digital is increasingly shifting to physical world, where creating experiences with mechatronics, robots doing things designed by some complex algorithm, or where the physical form and the digital behavior cannot be separated anymore, as the programming takes place in both.

“Ciphering” is a generative jewelry, where the customer can encode 4 digits to the physical structure of the ring, which can be decoded when shining light through it, or when aligning the ring just right, and looking through the pattern. The project is a part of a larger research effort at the Berlin University of the Arts, where we are currently working on a research project called “Beyond Prototyping.” Together with the Technische Universität Berlin, we are trying to find the sweetspot between atelier service and mass manufacturing, and find out what aspects of design makes sense to leave open for the customer to decide. So, in the case of Ciphering, the idea is that the designer defines the aesthetics of the form but the customer decides the four important digits that then define the physical shape of the ring.

Ciphering-18c4bd67

What was your design and iteration process like?

We did a lot of iterations with the design, where the initial ideas were based around using caustic reflections that could be decoded with focussed light source. These studies took place purely in software, and the first test print through Shapeways showed the physical limits with surface smoothness and resolution, and we shifted to using shadow casting as the carrier. With a quick iterative loop we designed different pattern languages for encoding text to the ring surfaces, and printed them in larger scale with a MakerBot that is sitting at our studio. When the over sized prototypes showed promise of success, we ordered lot of different material samples of the rings through Shapeways. With these results, we then decided the final wall thicknesses, the material choices and edge roundings. We also decided to limit the content that the customer can encode to four digits only, as we realized that only by strict limits, we could provide the aesthetics right, and with pixel fonts you can only do so much.

3D printing was essential to realize this project. These computational shapes would be very difficult to produce manually. Especially, as every single ring will be different. Actually, the project is still very much on-going, because for the research project, my ultimate question is to understand the “aura of the digitally fabricated.” What is it in these artifacts that differentiate them from the handmade or the mass manufactured? Ciphering is trying to give one tangent to this, by having people be part of the meaning-making, by encoding their own special numbers in the shape but we as designers still control the overall aesthetic. If people are interested in the ring, I would like to ask them few months later, how they feel about it, what will it end up meaning.

Can you tell me more about the the research project between the Berlin University of the Arts and the Technical University Berlin that Ciphering is part of? What is the focus of this project and what else are you working on?

We have an organization between the two Universities called Hybrid Plattform which tries to facilitate transdisciplinary projects. Our collaboration “Beyond Prototyping” is one such things, enabled by generous funding from Einstein Stiftung. In this project we are looking at how things can be designed partially algorithmically, and partially with an in-depth knowledge of the materials and manufacturing processes, and then apply them to different fields, where the end-user can be part of the creation, therefore having a stronger sense of agency about the final outcome. The work falls somehow under the trendy “mass-customization” but we are trying to push the customization much more to the meaning, not only focussing on the optimization with sizing, or choosing random parameters like colors of different parts of a design.

Another case we have almost ready as a service is an oak table, where we use openstreetmap to let the customer define the meaning of the table. You can see a software prototype at locatable.me ,but it’s not quite ready yet.


 

Jewelry and Science: Using 3D printed jewelry to spread science awareness

by Idoya Lahortiga and Luk Cox of somersault18:24 and Shapeways Crew members

3D printing is a disruptive technology, it allows you to spread awareness about almost anything, including science. We’ll show you how we do it in this field, because that is our area of expertise, but it holds true for every other industry you’re in.

Awareness starts at knowing something exists and ranges all the way up to full comprehension. It is a funnel. The more people will be aware, the more will end up understanding the subject matter deeply.

Astrocyte pendant by somersault18:24

Astrocyte pendant by somersault18:24

Let’s take the internet as an example. It is something we’re all aware of, otherwise we couldn’t even read this blog post, but a few of us truly understand the fine details of this technology, how it really works. This is the awareness funnel at work.

Nevertheless we all understand the importance of the internet, no matter where you are in the funnel. This underlines the necessity to spread awareness about things you care about. We can only value things if we are aware about them.

You can make people aware of things by integrating it in their daily lives. If the technology of the internet would have stayed in the military environment, where it was invented, not many of us would have been using the internet today, we simple wouldn’t be aware of it.

Science is something we’re all aware of, but the funnel narrows very fast. Everybody knows it exists, but for most people it stops there. It doesn’t penetrate into our daily lives. The slope is too steep.

As a consequence science has an image problem. Science is often seen as boring, too difficult, for a selected few, far away from our own world. But the truth is that is fascinating, beautiful and closer to our hearts than we might realize. Moreover if we could adopt a scientific mindset and think following the scientific method of experimenting and testing, we could thrive in many other aspects of our life.

Phylogenetic Tree pendant by somersault18:24

Phylogenetic Tree pendant by somersault18:24

At somersault18:24 we care very much about this. We are scientists for as long as we can remember and want to give science the attention it deserves. For obvious reasons we adopt to the scientific method and go step by step. A key step in this process was the implementation of 3D printing of science-inspired jewelry.

We decided to start spreading awareness via scientist like ourselves. But instead of motivating them to talk about their passion and spread the word, we turned things around. What if we could motivate laymen to engage with scientists and show interest in the first place, wouldn’t that work much better?

But how? That is when 3D printing of science-inspired jewelry comes into play. Everybody wears jewelry, even scientists. We wear it to look nice and beautiful, we wear it for ourselves to be different and unique. We wear it to get noticed. BANG! or “Eureka!” as you wish. What if we could give dedicated scientists jewelry and accessories symbolizing their passion? Their friends will notice it and possibly comment on it or ask what it is. Now the scientist has the perfect entry to engage more people into this fascinating world.

But we had a problem, one that was not so easy to overcome. How could we make the jewelry with no expertise nor skills in jewelry manufacturing whatsoever? 3D printing was the solution. It is rather simple for everyone to build computer generated designs these days. Personally we use Blender, a free open source 3D modeling package. It takes a bit of practice to get the hold of it, but certainly worth the effort.

Neuron pendant by somersault18:24

Neuron pendant by somersault18:24

The possibilities are endless. There is so many beauty in science that is often unexplored. Take for example this neuron pendant. We have billions of neurons in our own body, but if you’re not a scientist familiar with the subject, you were not able to appreciate its beauty… until now.

This type of jewelry certainly also has its place in the fundraising to combat diseases. We believe that it is a very efficient method to spread awareness about these topics too.

So, if you have a passion, a cause or you are on a mission to spread awareness. Think about the fascinating possibilities of 3D printing next time.

How did you create your “Eureka!” moment?


 

Help with 3D Printing directly from Photoshop CC

You may recall back in January, we announced our partnership with Adobe, who enabled 3D printing directly through Photoshop Creative Cloud to Shapeways.

Using this feature, artists, photographers, designers, and other Photoshop users can create and prepare designs for 3D printing.

Adobe has created two custom video tutorials to help you use Photoshop CC for 3D printing:

Designer Paul Trani, Adobe’s Senior Creative Cloud Evangelist, shows you how he made a custom iPhone case directly from Photoshop with a personalized message: “Create Now”!

Custom iPhone case designed by Paul Trani

Custom iPhone case designed by Paul Trani

To get more hands-on, this Photoshop Creative Cloud Tutorial on 3D Printing is a three-part video course that takes you through an entire design-to-print project in Photoshop.

Source: Adobe HelpX

Source: Adobe HelpX

No matter what your level of design experience, we encourage you to check out the tutorials and give it a shot because they’re super informative and easy to follow.


 

Product Design Idea to Prototype: Meet up with Shapeways and Quirky August 19

At Shapeways we are very interested in the process of product design and how designers are inspired to create, refine, iterate and perfect new products and ideas harnessing the power of 3D printing and the Shapeways community. With the recent release of Beta Products and First to Try we are excited to give Shapeways designers the opportunity to invite fans and friends into their product design process.

Lucas Goossens of LucasPlus Designs

Lucas Goossens of LucasPlus Designs

To further investigate the process of product design, we’ve teamed up with our friends at Quirky for an evening of networking and sharing ideas and inspiration with other designers, inventors and makers. Join us on Tuesday, August 19 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Quirky’s New York City headquarters. You can find more information and RSVP on our meetup page.

Susan Taing of bhold

Susan Taing of bhold

The evening will feature a panel discussion highlighting how designers conceptualize products and their process of moving from idea to prototype. Shapeways shopowners Lucas Goossens, of LucasPlus designs, and Susan Taing, founder of bhold, and Quirky inventors “You Can Call Me Phil” and “Vector.” Following the panel discussion, participants can enjoy a demonstration of 3D printing a product prototype and practice their product pitch with others in interactive breakout groups. Light refreshments will be served.

We look forward to seeing you there!


 

Refining the presentation of products in your Shapeways shop

by William Seligman

From Eleanor: William Seligman is a jewelry designer who creates pagan and Wiccan themed Jewelry on Shapeways for his Kickin’ Wiccan shop. He posted a version of this entry on his blog and we enjoyed his thoughts about how to effectively edit, curate and present products in your Shapeways shop so much we wanted to share them with the broader Shapeways community.

The three Kickin' Wiccan styles of triquetra ring in raw bronze.

The three Kickin’ Wiccan styles of triquetra ring in raw bronze.

On my 53rd birthday, I lost an intricately-designed custom-made ring that was precious to me. The ring was made 15 years ago; the original jeweler no longer had the molds. So I started looking into ways to recreate the ring from photographs. I discovered Shapeways in the
process. After months of experimentation with 3D software and many test prints, I finally had my ring again.

I emerged with a self-taught skill set in 3D design and printing. I decided to put those skills to use in a market I knew well from being a consumer: Wiccan and pagan jewelry. It’s my first experience with setting up a storefront on-line.

Recently, I consulted with the talented artist Vann Godfrey about Kickin’ Wiccan, my jewelry shop on Shapeways. I’ve spent the past few days putting his advice into practice. Vann’s advice was similar to that of Shapeways’ advice to its shop owners. Here’s what I’ve figured out, both from Vann and from my own investigations:

wovenringkickinwiccan

No more plastic or renders for shop images

Plastic models, no matter well I photograph them, will never look as good as pictures of metal jewelry. Plastic models of metal jewelry detract from the look of the shop. A single plastic photo will drag down all the other pictures, no matter good those other photos are.

This has two corollaries:

  • I’ve had to pull items from my shop because the only pictures I have of them are of my plastic test prints.
  • I can also create rendered scenes from the same 3D graphics program I use to design the rings. I’ve reached the point where my scenes are slightly better than the photographs of plastic, but they still look artificial. They’re not good enough to put on my storefront. Even if I did, Shapeways frowns on rendered scenes; if I used them, Shapeways would not consider my store for promotional purposes.  Eleanor’s note: We now feature material renders, which you can read about here, but still encourage actual product photography as the best way to show off your designs. 

 

So some of my designs will have to wait until I get metal prints and take pictures of them. I won’t add a new design to the shop until I can print it, or arrange for someone else to print and photograph it for me. Eleanor’s note: we also encourage designers to try out Beta products for this purpose. 

This can happen: I designed a heptagram ring for a friend. To my surprise, the response was so positive that I was encouraged to make it available for purchase even though all I had was a rendered image. I’ve asked the buyers to send me photos. This is nice reinforcement. It tells me that maybe, just maybe, I know what I’m doing.

WGS-kilt-full

No more plastic jewelry

I’ve stopped selling plastic versions of my designs. For one thing, it helps the shoppers if they have fewer options to choose from. For another, I have to value my time and skill in creating the jewelry.

Most of my designs are rings. When the shopper buys a ring, they have to specify the ring size. I customize the design for that particular size. This takes time. It’s barely worth doing for the stainless-steel versions of the rings; for me it’s not worth doing for cheap plastic versions.

In general, there many good reasons to work in plastic, but the jewelry I am making is not suited to it.

What choices have you made to edit the products you sell on Shapeways? How do you decide which designs to offer and in what materials?


 

Shapeways supports the Shapes Future Awards and the winners of the Pinup2014 Design Competition

Jury Winner Shapes Future Award Yuan Jiang Ephemeral beauty - Qi Hu

Jury Winner Shapes Future Award Yuan Jiang “Ephemeral beauty – Qi Hu”

The Morpholio Project announced the winners of the Pinup2014 Design Competition, which was assembled as a means to publicly promote the research, exploration and investigation currently happening amongst today’s design emerging talent. Shapeways’ own Duann Scott served on the jury and said about the entries, “The breadth and quality of the entrants was truly inspiring, making it very difficult to pick the winners, or to put it better, not pick more to be winners.”  With the support of Shapeways, Pinup2014 is also announcing Shapes Future Awards winners for explorations in 3d printing. You can see all of the winning projects on the Morpholio Project’s website.

Jury Winner Shapes Future Award Andrew Reitz "Snow Angel"

Jury Winner Shapes Future Award Andrew Reitz “Snow Angel”

Jury Winner Shapes Future Award Prajakt Karmarkar "Drawing Things Together"

Jury Winner Shapes Future Award Prajakt Karmarkar “Drawing Things Together”

 


 

August 14: Animation goes 3D with the Made in NY Media Center

As animation, 3D modeling, and 3D printing software and technology evolves, animators and filmmakers are finding new ways to incorporate 3D printing into their work. Whether it’s custom modeling and printing characters for a stop-motion animation, creating custom merchandise for your film, or translating animation software skills into 3D modeling, 3D printing is creating new opportunities for animators. On Thursday, August 14th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm you are invited to join other animators, 3D design enthusiasts, filmmakers and creatives for an evening of discussion and networking co-hosted by Shapeways & the Made in NY Media Center by IFP.

A still from Raymond McCarthy Bergeron's film re-belief

A still from Raymond McCarthy Bergeron’s film re-belief

The evening will include a panel discussion featuring Shapeways designer and filmmaker, media artist, and tech guru Raymond McCarthy Bergeron, puppeteer and founder of Puppet Kitchen Michael Schupbach, and artist and animator Andrew Thomas, who will discuss how they bring together animation and 3D printing in their work with moderator Laurie Berenhaus. We invite you to come to learn and share about how you can use 3D printing and design to push the boundaries of your animation and imagination. Light refreshments will be served following the discussion.

Free. RSVP on the Made in NY Media Center’s site to reserve your spot.

Featured Speakers

Raymond McCarthy Bergeron is a misplaced Vermonter, currently living in North Bethesda, Maryland, who just completed his MFA in Film & Animation at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Previously, he was an employee of Champlain College, where he started in the Information Systems Department, and worked in the Emergent Media Center. Recently, he completed a film for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s GPM Project titled Waterfalls, projected on Spherical screens globally, and completed his thesis film re÷belief, a mixed medium of 3D printing and handcrafted works. He also is a member of the IGDA, ASIFA East, and ACM.

Michael Schupbach has been designing and building puppets for the stage and screen for over 15 years. He is a proud alumnus of Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop and co-founder of the NYC based Puppet Kitchen, a full time puppet design, build, and performance studio. His screen credits include: The Oogiloves Big Balloon Adventure, The Disney Channel’s Johnny and the Sprites and Bear in the Big Blue House, Imagine Dragons Radioactive Music Video, IFC’s Greg the Bunny, PBS’ Sesame Street, and Universal Studios’ Sesame Street in 4-D. Michael has B.A. in Education with a concentration in Educational Television from The Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington, and a somewhat less serious degree from The Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey’s Clown College.

Andrew Thomas hails from Boston and is now based in Brooklyn.  After studying sculpture at Boston University he discovered 3D printing while learning 3D modeling techniques for creating 3D game assets. In addition to working at Shapeways as a Customer Service Coordinator, Andrew has exhibited artwork in Boston, West Rutland, Vermont and Venice, Italy, and works as freelance a 3D designer. Most recently he created shop on Shapeways selling 3D printed characters for Oscar Nominated indie animator Bill Plympton.

Panel Moderator

Laurie Berenhaus is a 3D Modeler/ Sculptor, designs for Rapid Prototyping, and currently works at Shapeways in Customer Service. Laurie studied 3D graphics at the Digital Animation and Visual Effects School in Orlando, Florida and received her BFA in Sculpture from The University of the Arts, in Philadelphia, PA. Before diving into the digital world, Laurie worked as a sculptor and puppeteer designing and fabricating puppets, masks, and specialty props throughout New York City and Philadelphia. Passionate about storytelling and the creative process, Laurie continues to learn and share her knowledge.


 

From prototype to product: Creating glowing jewelry with 3D printing

Christopher Boynton is a co-founder of Fire & Bone and a self-taught 3D modeler and designer with a passion for product design. He has been using Shapeways to prototype and create a new line of luminescent, 3D printed jewelry called L Ī T. I caught him about his design process, how he moves from inspiration to prototype to product, how 3D printing is powering the future of jewelry design and tips for running a succesful crowd funding campaign for your product. 

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Tell me a little bit about your background – who are you and what do you make?

I’m one of three co-founders of a small company called Fire & Bone that makes miniature animal skull replicas, to wear or collect, using 3D scanning, 3D printing, and lost wax casting in silver and bronze. We launched our first collection in a very successful Kickstarter campaign last December. I’m also a product designer and the creator of L Ī T (I pronounce it “light” on account of the macron), which is a line of 3D printed luminescent (glow-in-the-dark) jewelry that I launched in late June 2014 on Kickstarter.

What inspired you to create luminescent jewelry?

As a kid, getting a glow-stick was always a special treat and I’ve always been fascinated by the quality and color of light they give off. But L Ī T really is a study in lighting design and that’s how I approached it. Shapeways strong and flexible nylong plastic has a wonderful way of interacting with light so it was the perfect material to work with and, 3D printing and modeling made it easy to play with different forms and different ways of manipulating that little bit of neon light. I’m working on several full-scale lighting design projects right now so don’t be surprised if you see a giant descendant of L Ī T with an LED tube instead of a glow-stick in the future.

How did you learn to 3D model?

I taught myself the basics in Sketchup and now I work primarily in Rhino with a little Zbrush thrown in.

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How did you discover 3D printing for jewelry design?

Jason Bakutis, one of the co-founders of Fire & Bone, is a sculptor and jewelry designer and he was an early adopter of 3D printing for jewelry design. A few years ago, he showed me a few of his pieces that were produced using 3D printing and lights started going off in my head. The first piece of 3D printed jewelry I made was done in Shapeways sterling silver.

What is your design and iteration process like?

I usually use pencil sketches early on just to crack an idea and figure out how to approach it. However, I prefer to talk it out with Matt Kroner, who is a product designer and the third man behind Fire & Bone. We speak the same language when it comes to design so if I need to make one piece fit more Kentucky with another piece (look it up) and make the whole thing look more like that weird lego piece with the backwards studs he’ll let me know. Most of the heavy lifting is done in Rhino. I like to get a physical prototype as early on as possible so I have something to turn over in my hands and learn from.

Having a physical prototype can reveal solutions and open all kinds of possibilities that a virtual model can’t. 3D printing is great for that because I can make a prototype and see how well it fits with other parts, like how snugly a glow-stick fits, for example. Then, make a change to the model and have a finalized piece much more quickly than if I had to produce it any other way. I like to decide on an overall form quickly and then do several iterations, making subtle changes and adjusting tolerances and smaller details until it feels like it’s ready to be a Thing with a capital “T”.

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Can you give an example of how you go from idea to finished product?

The ideas I get the most excited about tend to happen late at night and my favorite design solutions tend to get dropped on me just as I’m waking up. However, ideas and solutions rarely occur on consecutive nights and sometime not even in that order. The idea for L Ī T grew out of two other projects. One was a silver ring I was working on that had a hollow tube in it for keeping secret notes and the other project was trying to figure out a cheap way to prototype a full-scale LED light without having to worry about wires and soldering because I was living in a tiny apartment at the time. I was thinking about using glow-sticks, just for proof-of-concepting, as a possible alternative to LEDs and the hollow ring was sitting right there.

My first prototype ring was in Shapeways black strong and flexible nylon plastic so it masked the light and had Morse code. I printed one in white polished just out of curiosity and when I saw how it diffused the light I realized there was a lot more potential there. I started playing with different forms, testing just how far I could push and stretch that little bit of light. 3D modeling and Shapeways made it so fun and so easy to try different shapes that I got a little carried away. I’ve used Shapeways to make masters for mold making and prototypes before but L Ī T is the first time I’ve used it to manufacture the final product. I don’t think it could be made any other way.

You are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to support the production and expansion of your line. Do you have any advice to other creatives who are interested in launching a crowd funding campaign to support their product?

  • Make whatever you’re making because it’s fun challenging work.
  • Create a simple compelling story. This is harder and more elusive than most people think, which leads us to . . .
  • Get some talented and trusted friends to help you write, edit, shoot, revise, revise, revise, and review, your campaign. I’m lucky enough to know the folks behind launchpack.net who have helped put several successful campaigns, including Fire & Bone, together.
  • And, get your campaign in front of as many eyes as possible. For me, this is the most daunting and difficult step.

How do you think 3D printing will impact the future of jewelry design and production?

3D printing is a boon for all design and prototyping work. It opens up a whole new world of shapes and forms that would be cost-prohibitive or impossible to make using more traditional techniques. It also has the potential to make it much faster and cheaper to iterate. 3D printing blurs the lines between concepting, prototyping, and manufacturing so designers can start “sketching” in 3D objects. Having those physical iterations to examine and test so early in the process is changing the way designers work.


 

LaMetric: Using 3D printed prototypes for product development and crowdfunding

3D printing has already had a huge impact on the future of how products are conceptualized, designed and developed. Smart Atoms, a group of tech visionaries, designers and engineers, has created LaMetric, a standalone, customizable, hackable smart ticker that tracks key life and business metrics and displays them in real-time. Before launching their Kickstarter campaign, Smart Atoms prototyped LaMetric using Shapeways. Smart Atoms CEO Nazar Bilous discussed the process of developing LaMetric and how 3D printing is a key component of product, and hardware, development.

LaMetric - track what's important to you

LaMetric – track what’s important to you

What inspired you to create LaMetric?

Most of our team used to work in a digital agency before forming Smart Atoms. Every day each of us was curious about the most important digital product numbers including app’s ranking, downloads, website stats. It took a lot of time getting them from different slow loading sites and we decided to solve it by having a simple device that saves our time, tracks the key numbers autonomously and shows them fresh for the whole team.

Nike+ Fuelband was a huge inspiration at LaMetric concept stage. Its amazing screen made the highest impact. We wanted to get the screen that looks like it is a part of the black casing when the device is switched off and clearly projects the screen across a large physical space with bright, sharp, square pixels. Most people that saw the 3D model doubted it’s even possible. Which motivated us even stronger to reach it.

How did using Shapeways help you develop the LaMetric prototype?

In the course of several prototype iterations, we moved from an ugly brick-like box to a rounded bar, after which most of the early adopters wanted to put LaMetric at home or office. We now understand Apple’s passion for rounded corners, this works well in the 3D world, too. Initially, we created the casing using an average domestic 3D printer, but the quality was not good enough for us to get profound feedback from beta testers, especially “look and feel”. We discovered the Shapeways service that quickly transformed our model into high quality device parts.

LaMetric parts prototype: homeprinter left, Shapeways right

LaMetric parts prototype: homeprinter left, Shapeways right

What need will the product fulfill?

In the age of information overload it’s important to have personal information radiators or status panel to be more productive. Main indicators like weather warnings, amount of new emails, amount of daily tasks and how much you’ve already solved, money balance, time to meeting and others give you immediate understanding of where you are and what to do next.
LaMetric eliminates the need to check multiple apps or news sites for the information you need. Instead, you receive everything at a glance, all in one place, in real-time.

If you have a family or small business it’s twice important to track shared indicators and boost group productivity via getting communal experience and discovering something together. It can be tracking important dates(events, deadlines, anniversaries), profit numbers, product rankings, social metrics, leads amount, sales figures, visitors amount, youtube subscribers, mentions and others. In this day and age of personalised devices and individuals with their heads buried in their smartphone screens, people crave these shared experiences, a sense of belonging, a sense of greater purpose that make them more motivated and productive.

In a digital world, why develop hardware?

By developing hardware you can discover new tangible interactions and experiences. The digital world doesn’t give this.

Final LaMetric prototype

Final LaMetric prototype

How does having a well developed prototype help when launching a crowdfunding campaign dedicated to hardware?

We added photos of all our prototypes to the Kickstarter campaign page to show people our understanding of quality and where we’ve spent a year of hard work before launch. It builds relationships with your backers. It’s very important in crowdfunding, and it’s all about transparency.

How do you think that 3D printing will help the future of hardware design, iteration and development?

3D printing helps quickly build iterative prototypes, test with your early adopters and get feedback on idea, form, size etc. It increases the speed of building hardware products and gives not expensive tool for everyone to create things. For us, prototypes built with Shapeways additionally allowed get feedback how LaMetric looks and feels. 3D printing will have a significant impact on IoT industry and bring a lot of new exciting devices in the near future.


 

New 3D Printing and Modeling Class for Kids

Kids are our future. And that’s why we at Shapeways strongly support enriching young minds with Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math—otherwise known as STE(A)M. 

As part of the STE(A)M initiative, we’ve partnered with Youth Digital, a company who provides online technology classes for kids, to offer the 3D Printing & Modeling 1 class.

Through this class, kids will learn:

  • The basics of popular 3D modeling software Blender
  • How to create a robot from scratch and bring it to life through 3D printing

Learning to model robots is great way for kids to get the hang of 3D modeling. And since the course is just three parts (about 20 minutes each), they shouldn’t have a problem staying focused. 
The class is designed for kids ages 8 to 14, but really anyone can learn from it! So whether you want to keep the kids busy, enrich their minds, or even use this as a creative bonding experience while you learn alongside them, this is an awesome class to check out. 
You can get an introduction to this course with three lessons on our tutorials page and if you’re interested in the full 12-part course with Youth Digital, they’re offering Shapies a 30% discount through July. Just use code: Shapeways30 when you sign up here!

 

Shapeways shopowner Susan Taing of bhold design at the first ever White House Maker Faire

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On June 18 the White House hosted its first ever Maker Faire, as part of the first National Day of Making. Susan Taing, Shapeways shopowner and founder of bhold, was there as an Honored Maker and I caught up with her about her experience. She also shared more about her time at the White House on the bhold blog

What did it mean to you to be part of this event?

It’s immensely inspiring to see our government be so forward-thinking. It meant a great deal to me to see President Obama following through on his initial words spoken back in February 2013 during his State of the Union Address, by personally hosting the White House Maker Faire, declaring June 18th the National Day of Making and announcing programs to support all of us. I’ve believed in the potential of the maker movement and the 3D printing industry for a while now, but having the President himself deliver this message is something you usually only dream of. 

I was ecstatic to be invited as Honored Maker, out of 100 invited makers representing 25 states, and loved feeling the usual hyper-curious, positive and supportive Maker Faire vibe at the White House itself!

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NYC Meetup June 25 celebrating women in technology hosted by Shapeways and Codecademy

In honor of Made with Code, an initiative to inspire girls to experience the power of code, for our monthly New York City meetup Shapeways and Codecademy invite you to celebrate and connect with companies, organizations and individuals who are leading the way to empower, educate, and advocate for women and girls in the tech space.  

You are invited to join us on Wednesday, June 25th at Codecademy’s headquarters in Manhattan from 6:30 to 8:30 pm for an evening of networking and sharing of ideas and inspiration over light refreshments. 

The meetup will feature lightning talks focused on technology education and highlighting the career paths of women powering Shapeways and technology in New York City. Speakers will include designers The Laser Girls and Ashley Zelinskie; Jennfier Fredholm, Software Engineer Team Lead at Shapeways; and Ellie Roepken, Senior Consultant at NorthPoint. 

We’d love to see you there! You can find more details on our Meetup page. Space is limited, so please RSVP!