Author Archives: Lauren Slowik

Make That Monogram Gift: Personal Monograms In 3D

You don’t have to know how to 3D model to print something really cool and special as a gift. If you’re in the hunt for that special someone check out, the monogram gift creator for the 21st century. The creators of this app developed the site from scratch and even the font was designed to be 3D printed, possibly the first font of it’s kind!

Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 12.52.04 PM

Available in silver or steel, in keychain, mini monogram necklace or statement necklace Mymo is a great way to commemorate a memorable event with simple, elegant design.

Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 12.53.29 PM

So head to their app page and get started making a one-of-a-kind 3D printed gift today:

Designers and coders: interested in getting your easy creator app featured on our site? Connect with our API team to show us what you’ve made or e:mail Dan directly at

Hire A Designer to Help You Design the Perfect Unique Gift

Designers For Hire can really take your holiday gifting ideas to the next lever. We have an incredible community of talented designers waiting to work with you on creating special gifts for your game- and tech-loving family friends this holiday season. Below are some project ideas and how to connect with designers who can help you realize these 3D printed projects.

The Miniature or Scale Model Enthusiast

Work with a designer to copy your model train-loving loved one’s home or other meaningful building at scale. It’s a unique way to include a bit of the real with the miniature.

Helpful hint: be sure to find out in what scale their model setup is made. Here’s a guide to the different sizes and their names
Designer search terms: Miniatures, Architecture

The Gadget Enthusiast

You could go a step further in personalizing that iPhone case and cord keeper and work with a designer to create a one-of-a-kind motif for all their accessories.

Helpful hint: be sure to find out what type of smartphone they have. Once you know it’s easy to find the gadget specifications, specs for short, with a quick search. Here’s one resource that lists popular phones.
Designer search terms: Product Design, Tech

The Table-Top Gamer

And finally an idea for the avid gift giver (this gift idea is quite a project) for the avid gamer, a 3D scanned scale chess set. Of course you’ll need their participation but the experience is part of the gift! You can do low resolution scans yourself with software like 123D Catch or work with a designer to modify existing human models with photographs of yourself and others.

Designer search terms: Scanning

image by reddit user pancuco

Whatever your friends and family are into there’s an idea out there that a Designer For Hire can work on with you to create a truly one-of-a-kind and memorable holiday gift.

Check out all of our talented Designers For Hire here

Get Schooled: Featured Student Grant Recipient – New Materials

Are you an undergraduate or grad student pushing the boundaries of 3D-printing technology? Apply now for the Shapeways EDU Grant and you could receive up to $1000 in Shapeways credit to realize your idea. Learn more about the Shapeways EDU Grant and apply at

Grant winners Alexandra Ion, Johannes Frohnhofen, Ludwig Wall, Robert Kovacs, Mirela Alistar, Jack Lindsay, Pedro Lopes, Hsiang-Ting Chen, and Patrick Baudisch from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany have recently published the completion of their research on Metamaterial Mechanisms and boy, were we blown away!

To put it succinctly Metamaterial Mechanisms is an exploration of material forms as a way of building a mechanical behavior in to the material structure of a solid object. With this custom-developed software the students were able to generate 3D-printable mechanisms out of what is essentially a solid unit of material. The research group calls them metamaterials but they prefer “to think of them as machines. We demonstrate metamaterial objects that perform a mechanical function. Our metamaterial door latch, for example, transforms the rotary movement of its handle into a linear motion of the latch.”

The software allows “users to place different types of cells, including the shear cell, to add mechanical functionality to their objects. To help users verify their designs during editing, our editor allows users to apply forces and simulates how the object deforms in response.”

meta material software


The research team explained that nothing about this project could have been realized without access to 3D printing. “Being able to experiment with more complex structures printed on Shapeways’ SLS printers helped shape our understanding [of the direction of the project]. This research has taught us that materials can be machines and materials at the same time. Materials can be ‘smarter’ than what we think they can be—without the need of batteries, motors or microchips. ”

Are you an undergraduate or grad student pushing the boundaries of 3D-printing technology? Apply now for the Shapeways EDU Grant and you could receive up to $1000 in Shapeways credit to realize your idea. Learn more about the Shapeways EDU Grant and apply at

National Parks 100th Anniversary

Posted by in Education

It just so happens that today in 1916 the US government signed into law the National Parks Service Act. That means today is the 100th anniversary of the US National Parks. You can read more on the National Parks Centennial website.

We’ve chosen a list of some our favorite parks. Let’s start with Acadia National Park, the nation’s first national park on the east coast. A noted stop for migratory birds in spring and fall.
Poly Red Robin
Poly Red Robin
by edrice

Next we fly off to Arizona where the world-famous Grand Canyon National Park draws some five million visitors a year. Now you can take a tiny version of this UNESCO World Heritage Site everywhere you go.
Grand Canyon Terrain Model
Grand Canyon Terrain Model
by TinyMtn

Next stop, Denali National Park in Alaska, home to North America’s tallest mountain at 20,310 feet. Keep a token of the Arctic on your bookshelf with this gorgeous porcelain bookend.
Arctic Bookend
by sidnaique

Before email, before text, before telegraph even(!) there was the Pony Express, preserved in the Pony Express National Trail. Take a taste of the sites with you everywhere with this wheat bracelet.
wheat bracelet
Wheat Bracelet
by kasiawisniewski

Statue of Liberty National Monument is the Shapeways HQ national park of note and what better way to celebrate Lady LIberty’s welcoming stance than with your very own torch ice cream cone.
statue of liberty ice cream cone
Statue of Liberty Ice Cream Cone
by JoyComplex

We’ve got more products to celebrate your love of nature:

Click For More Wilderness-Inspired Goods

Students Compete in the Campus Battle 2016!

Posted by in Education

Hello students! It’s that time of year again. Yes yes, we’re all going back to school and starting a new semester and all of that but more importantly it’s the beginning of another…

Shapeways EDU Campus Battle Sign-up Challenge!

The gig is simple: Tell you friends and classmates to sign up for the Shapeways Education 15% discount program at and you could win free shipping for your school for the rest of the school year!

  • When a new student joins during the Campus Battle they get their First Print Free with Shapeways, up to $25.
  • The top three schools with the most new signups during the Campus Battle period will win Free Shipping for the rest of the academic year for all students enrolled there (not just those who signed up during Campus Battle).
  • All EDU members get 15% off orders of their own models all year round.


students working on a 3D print

The Campus Battle of First Print Free offers are available until October 31, 2016 so get to sharing! If you’re already a member of the Shapeways EDU program, recruit your classmates so they can benefit from the Shapeways Education discount also, while giving you the chance to win free shipping for all of your school and personal projects.

The campus battle shipping contest is only available to students in the US. First Print Free offer and EDU discount is available to students globally.

Packing Light with Multifunction Gadgets

Posted by in Gadgets

Summer vacation time is upon us and I bet you’re trying to narrow down what to bring with you on that much needed getaway. What a luxurious problem to have! Luckily we’ve found some space minimizing products for you to bring along so you can fit that 4th summer beach read book in your suitcase.

Ultimate Minimalistic Case with bottle opener

Ultimate Minimalistic Case with bottle opener
by Mstyle183
Comfortably holds foreign money, opens drinks and protects you phone and camera all in one.

Belt Clip with Bottle Opener

Belt Clip with Bottle Opener
by MichaelMueller
Having a new routine while traveling means having tools to keep from losing your stuff are super useful. Give this multifunction belt clip a whirl and stay organized while on the go.

Rucksack 'D' Clip

Rucksack ‘D’ Clip
by Lucyrplant
This rucksack D ring is the perfect space saver for strapping that last over sized souvenir to your already-over-stuffed pack.

Foosball iPhone 5 Case

Foosball Iphone 5 Case
by athomitron
A great to to keep track of your phone while having a pickup game with your seat mate in car or train.

We’ve got more ways to multitask and pack light:

Click For More Double Duty Travel Goods

National Week of Making and Shapeways

The maker movement is no secret anymore and that’s a good thing. People the world over are recognizing the power of applying creative thinking to solve their unique challenges. Digital manufacturing tools like 3D printers only expand on the endless possibilities.

That’s why it’s exciting to be part of the 3rd annual National Week of Making (June 17-23). In his declaration President Obama states that “During National Week of Making, we recommit to sparking the creative confidence of all Americans and to giving them the skills, mentors, and resources they need to harness their passion and tackle some of our planet’s greatest challenges.” Our CEO Peter Weijmarshausen is at the White House for the Maker-to-Manufacturer Stakeholder event today to discuss the needs of makers looking to turn their ideas into full-time commitments. We’ll be sure to share notes from the event with our community once it concludes.

In direct response to the White House call to action for National Week of Making that encourages organizations to empower a nation of inventors and entrepreneurs by providing access to technology, Shapeways EDU and the The New York Public Library’s TechConnect Program announced a partnership to introduce creative minded patrons of the New York Public Library to the entrepreneurial side of 3D modeling and printing technology through a free, open-source curriculum. Among the many goals is to educate the public so they can further engage in the current digital era and become entrepreneurs of their own 3D creations. The collaboration will kick off in the fall with a pilot program offering multiple courses over a ten-week period.

Shapeways is also proud to have sponsored the Department of Education Career and Technical Education Makerspace Makeover Challenge contest. All participants of the contest, some 300 schools from all 50 states, participated in the bootcamp to learn the skills needed to have successful careers in the 21st century. The trophy was designed by Shapeways community member Ashley Zelinskie. In addition to the trophies we are also giving a 3D printing scholarship to one of the ten winning schools that has shown a commitment to 3D printing in education.

You can check out other projects and add to the celebration on social media with the tags #NationOfMakers and #WeekofMaking.


Shapeways and New York Public Library to Launch Open Source 3D Printing Curriculum

We are announcing an exciting partnership with the New York Public Library TechConnect program to develop an open source curriculum for libraries and other public institutions to teach 3D modeling, printing and digital entrepreneurship skills. Below is our press release about the course. We will be keeping you updated on the progress as we make the program available:

IMG_0850 crop

In response to the White House call to action for National Week of Making (June 17-23), encouraging organizations to empower a nation of inventors and entrepreneurs by providing access to technology, Shapeways EDU and the The New York Public Library’s TechConnect Program today announced a partnership to introduce creative minded patrons of the New York Public Library to the entrepreneurial side of 3D modeling and printing technology through a free, open source curriculum. Among the many goals is to educate the public so they can further engage in the current digital era and become entrepreneurs of their own 3D creations. The collaboration will kick off in the fall with a pilot program offering multiple courses over a ten-week period. Continue reading

Spin It to Win It! Contest

As you know we’re big fans of Gravity Sketch, the new app putting the power of 3D design at your fingertips. It’s so fun and easy in fact that today we’re celebrating it by launching a contest to win some Shapeways printing credit! Simply use the Gravity Sketch app to design and upload your original model of a spinning top to Shapeways by June 23, 2016. For the first round the top eight top designs will be 3D printed. For the second round the top three top designs will win the prizes. Details about the contest and prizes can be found here.


Our panel of judges, Shapeways community manager Andrew, Seyi from Gravity Sketch and top specialist Designs by Dalton, will be looking for:

  • Originality and creativity
  • Perceived physics
  • Design aesthetics
  • Best use of the Gravity Sketch app

Download the Gravity Sketch app today, upload your models to Shapeways and tag the model with ‘GravitySketchTop2016‘ to enter the contest by June 23, 2016. We can’t wait to see what spins out of your brains!

3D Print Your Custom Awards

Posted by in 3D Modeling

Unusual materials and unique designs are the hallmark of designing and printing with Shapeways. Recently there have been more and more examples of clubs, groups and contests using 3D prints as trophies. Paired with the CustomMaker options these 3D statues open up a whole new world for giving tokens of recognition. See below for a collection of unique ways to make a lasting 3D memory.

This year Eyebeam Art and Technology Center 3D designed and printed their 2016 awards with White Strong and Flexible Nylon for a truly unique commemoration.


These simple awards for the Urban Assembly Maker Academy were made with Tinkercad shapes and then customized on Shapeways with a CustomMaker script using the school logo.

There are also great products that can be customized to be a nice token of participation or a contest without designing from scratch, like designer Michael Mueller’s What A Day Pendant.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 1.19.00 PM

And of course with 3D scanning all kinds of customization is possible, like this baseball trophy designed to hold a real baseball from a 3D scan of a pitcher’s hand.


Teach 3D Design On Skillshare, Earn $100


Shapeways and Skillshare challenge you to create the 3D printing class you wish you could have taken when developing your design skills. From top tips for using CAD, to how to design 3D printed jewelry, to the best 2D to 3D design tools, we want you to share your 3D printing expertise with a global community of students two million strong. Go to Skillshare for more information and to sign up your class for “More Than Plastic: Teach 3D Printing and Design on Skillshare”.

As a teacher on Skillshare, you’ll build your brand and reputation as a designer while earning money for every student who enrolls in your online class. No prior teaching experience or special equipment is needed. To make a class, all you need is your passion and computer and Skillshare will give you the support and resources you need to create your curriculum.

Now is the time to jump in. If you complete and publish a class in June, you’ll be eligible for a $100 cash bonus.  And if your class is truly extraordinary,  it could also get featured here on Shapeways.

Designer For Hire: Resource Review of “The Freelancer’s Bible”

We expanded our Designer For Hire program so that great 3D design talent could connect with client demand. But designing “for hire” can come with different rules and challenges than designing in-house or as part of an agency. For designers looking to dip a toe or jump all the way into working as a freelancer, this is the resource for you.

Divided into five distinct sections, between which author Sara Horowitz says you will move nonlinearly as that is the way of the freelance life, The Freelancer’s Bible offers readers a well-considered, thorough guide through the challenges of driving your own career and being your own boss. As Sara writes, “Freelancing’s inherent flexibility may offer unprecedented freedom to live life on your own terms[.] With research and planning, you may find an exciting new life is within reach.”


The book begins with advice for finding your strengths and listing your goals for pursuing freelance work. From there the book dives deep into the five major categories: Getting Started, Getting Work, Growing Your Business, Managing Your Business, and Your Business and Your Community.

One of the most thoughtful chapters is devoted to the topic of finding, and keeping, clients. The chapter begins with outlining six fundamentals of influence and persuasion. Social psychologist Robert Cialdini has recognized that we all use them and once you know to look for them you will see them everywhere.

  • Reciprocity: Sharing information and connections will grow your network and more importantly, as Sara writes, will “build your love bank account.” An example of reciprocity is talking up and referring others in your industry; they will likely reciprocate.

  • Consistency: Showing a sustained interest in certain elements of your work will always build towards trust as well as naturally grow your network.

  • Social Validation: This can be shown in the form of testimonials from previous clients, references and even your social media presence. These all can suggest that you are worth choosing because others have chosen you.

  • Liking: When you meet new clients look for a common connection but be genuine. Ask them questions. This usually leads to finding something in common and builds trust.

  • Authority: Be proud of your qualifications which you can showcase in your resume, your website or portfolio, your Designer For Hire profile, your memberships and your client list.

  • Scarcity: Limited editions, small class sizes, busy schedules–scarcity is used in all of these scenarios to drive action and it works for driving people to book you too.

In addition to the crazy amount of tips Sara and co-author Toni Sciarra-Poynter provide, they also include a healthy list of additional resources, such as:

I highly recommend this book for anyone, even industry veterans, pursuing the freelance life.

3D Modeling At Your Fingertips with Gravity Sketch

Drag. Pan. Scale. Rotate. Orbit. Pan. All these terms to match all these different key and mouse movements! 3D software can be a challenge to pick up quickly. Luckily our friends at Gravity Sketch have created an incredible app to make 3D design almost as intuitive as finger painting.

They have even gone one step further and created this awesome playlist of short tutorial videos to get you rolling with their innovative 3D modeling iOS app. (Android users don’t fret, they’ve got an app for you in their pipeline.)

Designer For Hire: 8 Questions Your Client Doesn’t Know to Ask You

When you embark on a design project with a client, often the client is new to the process of hiring a designer in addition to being new to 3D printing. Below we’ve collected some questions that the client will have but perhaps won’t know or think to ask until it’s too late. If you are able to address these questions from the start of your collaboration both you and your client will be more likely to have a great experience.

1. What material can I print this design in?

Clients may only think of plastic when they think of 3D printing. Being aware of all their material options might change the direction of the project.

2. What size/scale is possible?

For some projects this will be self evident, i.e. a ring. For many clients you will need to break down their options based on what they want to do. The answer to the previous question is important too as each material has its own design guidelines and requirements for successful printing.

3. Does this project necessitate being 3D printed or is it something I can do myself?

Sometimes a design doesn’t need to be 3D printed! It’s okay to let them know about their other options. Or if they can use a 2D to 3D app or something in the custom maker library to make it themselves, it is reasonable to suggest they check that out first. This is up to your discretion as a trained designer.

4. Does your price include prototypes and the final printing?

Many times the design process will be very new to your client and they may assume printing costs are included in your fees. You should break down your fee structure and what is and is not included in it. Please see our previous post on this very topic. Remember this is your chance to give them a great experience and create return customers; being clear up front sets the stage for that.

5. I don’t just want the print, I want the digital design file. Does your fee include handing that over?

This is a subject best addressed in your contract, which should cover who owns the IP connected to the file that is created, as well as who gets to keep the file after the work is done.  If the client gets the rights and the file, it is reasonable to charge an additional fee for that.

6. How frequently can I contact you/how often will I get updates from you?

Be clear about how you’ll be contact with them over the course of the project, whether you’ll have regular check-ins and on what platform. Phone, Google hangout, Skype, email, and in-person meetings all work; choose whatever works best for you and the project. Also, spell out the number of design iterations or rounds of edits included in your fees to set expectations appropriately.

7. Are you comfortable with the timeline that I have presented?

This question goes both ways. Do they understand how long it will take you to deliver? Have they considered that they will also need time to provide feedback or deliverables to you? Be honest about timelines from the start and always build some padding into the final schedule.

8. If I need updates or changes to this design in the future is that something you can help me with?

Be clear about whether or not you’ll be available to work with them in the future. It is okay to say that once the work is completed, a new contract will need to be in place before design updates can occur.

Have other questions you wished your client knew to ask upfront? Please share them in the comments for an open discussion about how to set proper expectations for your work with clients. Happy designing!

fast cheap good


Designer For Hire: Tips for Setting Your Rates

One of the best advantages of taking on freelance 3D design work is being able to do the work you love on your own terms. If you are just entering the world of Designer For Hire then you are probably new to figuring out what those terms are. Luckily there are numerous resources for for figuring out how to set your rates as a designer. We haven’t included numbers in this post because determining your fees, rates or pay structure is an individual endeavor. It pays to do you research and to talk with others in your industry, and fortunately we’ve a great community of them here on our forums!


–It’s your job to communicate your value and educate your customer.
In addition to doing “the work” once the brief is agreed upon and the contract is signed, a big part of your job as a designer for hire is to educate your client on their options, processes, costs and most importantly, the value of what you do. The client is hiring you because they are not a designer and they may not always understand how the design process works.

–Create a formula for determining your basic hourly rate.
What you charge will depend on the demand for your 3D modeling and printing skills, your level of experience with the type of product and materials, and will vary from client to client. To begin charging prices that you are confident in, it’s worth doing a quick calculation of how much you’d ideally like to make. The equation, which is adapted from Freelancers Union’s excellent resource on the topic, is this:

(annual salary + annual profit) ÷ annual billable work hours = your basic hourly rate

Annual salary should what you would pay yourself if you were your boss. Annual profit is what you would like to make in compensation on top of being paid for time working. Billable hours should be determined by how much you will actually be working, so factor in weekends and having full-time job if that’s your scenario. This will give you a starting number with which you can work.

–Decide if you want to charge by hourly rate, daily rate or by project/package rate.
With their calculator, Freelancers Union has a rather simple comparison list for each of these rates along with this advice: “After you figure out your basic hourly rate, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to present this fee to clients in a contract. (Yes, contract! All freelancers need contracts. Please work with a contract.)” Once you have used the equation to price your time, skill and you can choose to provide a quote in the form of an hourly, day, or per project rate. The summary is that an hourly rate is good for simplicity and a job scope that may change. A day rate is good for taking on a small project that wouldn’t be cost-effective otherwise. A per-project or package rate is helpful if you want to publicly post your prices and lets the client feel in control of the costs.

–Get a budget from client but also do market research.
It seems obvious but knowing what percentage of their budget they’ve allocated for design will help you set your price. If they are new to hiring a 3D designer they may not have an idea of what they should budget.

TL;DR? Communicate your value, determine your basic day rate, evaluate each job with your criteria, use a contract. We’ll have more tips on successful designing for hire along the way but here’s hoping this will get you started confidently pricing your skilled work. Happy designing!