Author Archives: Nancy

Black is the New Black

Posted by in What's Hot

Good news, everyone!

Over the past month or so, Shapeways production team has been hard at work to improve and research dyeing options for the Strong & Flexible laser sintered nylon material. In particular, we’ve been focusing getting the black just right. Previously, we have gotten some feedback from the community that Black Strong & Flexible has a blue tint in it. Eek! Well, after some time in testing and iterating, I’m happy to announce the updated Black Strong & Flexible. Check out the difference:

Like all of our materials, we will continue to work and improve the quality. We are starting a new production process so if you have any feedback on the products you will start receiving in a few days, please let us know! The process will never be perfect, but its your feedback that will help us get closer and closer.

And for those of you out there who are already dreaming of other material options: yes, polishing this material is currently being tested as well. And yes, we are exploring a variety of different colors. Any request for specific color for the Strong & Flexible family? Any request for additional finishing options for the Strong & Flexible Family? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Happy creating!

Making Way For New Materials at Shapeways: Farewell ‘Grey Robust’

Posted by in What's Hot

2011 has been a great year for new Shapeways materials! We’ve introduced silver–opening up the market for jewelry desginers; frosted ultra detail–providing miniature designers with a high detail alternative; ceramics–enabling foodsafe dinnerware on Shapeways; and much more (25 materials in total!). As we are always looking for ways to expand our materials and enable new types of product designs on Shapeways, we also need to think about which materials our community do not find inspiring. When looking across the materials portfolio, over time we have found find less and less shoppers and designers who are enthusiastic about Grey Robust.

Grey Robust has a special place in our hearts since it was one of the first materials we introduced when launching Shapeways. However, as the rapid manufacturing technologies improve, we have–in response to your feedback–introduced materials with finer resolution and smoother finish. We will focus our energies on improving materials and innovating to develop new materials that better suits your needs while phasing out the materials that don’t.

With that, we will stop accepting new orders for Grey Robust on January 18th. For shopowners who have sold Grey Robust, we will reach out to you personally and make recommendations for new materials to use.

Let us know if you have any questions! We look forward to all the new materials and technologies to bring to your fingertips in 2012! Farewell Grey Robust, hello to ???????


Materials Product Lead

Lead Time Changes

Hello all!

We have made some changes to the lead times for a few materials. As we learn more about production, we are able to produce some materials more quickly. Conversely, we are also learning about some potential problems and sometimes need to extend the lead time of materials to ensure we’re not making promises we can’t keep. With that, I’d like to present new lead times for a few of our materials.

- White Strong & Flexible Polished: 14 business days
- Milky White Glass: 14 business days
- Glossy White, Glossy Black Glass: 16 business days
- Frosted Detail & Frosted Ultra Detail: 15 business days 

That’s right! WSF Polished and Glass are getting lead times slashed by about a week! On the other hand, we continue to have issues with producing Frosted Detail and Ultra Detail. We are asking for an extra 5 business days to account for the risk of print failures and breakages. Although we have tried multiple fixes to improve the lead time, it seems that the problem is still persisting. There are some longer term solutions we are examining, but in the meantime, we believe it is better to communicate accurately than over-promise. Thanks for being patient with us as we grow, and hopefully lead times will continue to decrease on the whole in the future. 

These changes will go into place Thursday, Nov 24th.

Thanks all,

New Ceramics is Back with a Bang!

Hey all,

A few weeks ago, we announced the relaunch of ceramics. During the past few months, we’ve been working hard to take all the feedback learned during the initial ceramics trial and feedback it back into the process. First, our production partners have been working very hard and refining the glazing process. Glazing was one area where we received the most feedback on during the trial, so we made sure to get this right. Today, we received our first batch of prints and check out the quality difference from before and after the relaunch of ceramics. Check out the quality improvements:

Quality Before Quality Today

Second, I’m happy to announce that our production partners have found a new facility that can support more machines, and a growing team. This means orders can be produced quicker. Check out the happy new team below!

Keep up the good work, Team Ceramics!

Frosted Detail/Frosted Ultra Detail Design Rules Update

Hey all!

Over the past half year, the Production Team has been busy with a few new materials. Combined with all the amazing designs we get from you, we really learn a lot about what types of structures works and what type needs to be tweaked. Over the past few months, we’ve been working to get a better understanding of how to best design for our Frosted Detail and Frosted Ultra Detail. We’ve sent test models through, got customer feedback, and revised the design rules.

The new design rules will go into affect next Monday. With this set of rules, we hope to help everybody build stronger prints, and decrease the number of items delayed due to breakages.

We split the rules into a “simple” section and a “nuanced” section. The nuanced section goes a bit more into details on how to design very delicate structures, but there are more things to consider (ratio between dimensions, etc.).

We also make different recommendations to suit the most common design structures and areas where we see issues (thin wires, wires supporting larger objects, etc.). This way, the design rules will be more targeted towards your specific design needs. In short, we recommend that unsupported walls to be at least 0.6mm thick, and wires supporting larger structures to be at least 1mm thick. Supported walls and wires can be more delicate, to read all the technical goodness, visit the design rules page.

Let me know if you have any questions, as always.

Happy creating,

Updated Shipping Costs

Hey all,

We have made our transition from the old prices to the new prices. We realize there are some bugs in the system and are literally working around the clock to solve the issues.

Some of you may have already noticed that since our original announcement we have moved some more countries down our shipping tier. The following is the updated shipping costs:

Shipping Cost Applicable Countries
$6.50 United States, Canada, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg
$9.50 All EU Countries, Switzerland, Norway, San Marino, Vatican, Andorra, Liechenstein
$19.99 Rest of the world

Note that Belgium and Luxembourg are in the $6.50 shipping class; and that Switzerland, Norway, San Marino, the Vatican, Andorra, and Liechenstein are in the $9.50 shipping class.


Announcing Brighter, Higher Definition, Full Color 3D Printing For All

Shapeways 3D Printed Full Color Sandstone just got a whole lot brighter thanks to a change in our post processing.  Full color 3D prints will now have whiter whites, brighter colors, greater contrast and definition.

You have seen the beautiful results from community members Magic and Stony’s experience with better color quality and resolution! Now this same quality is available for all. All orders in Shapeways  Full Color Sandstone will now be finished with the new process so you and your customers will have the best quality 3D prints possible.

Continue reading

3D Print Yourself with Just Two Photos and ShapeMe by Archipelis

3D print a miniature version of yourself with just two photos and ShapeMe (developed by Archipelis).

Shapeways community member Archipelis has developed a really fun and mildly addictive app that lets you make a miniature version of yourself with NO 3D modeling skills needed. You simply download the ShapeMe app, take a front on and profile head shot of yourself, use the simple interface to map your head onto a range of bodies and you are ready to 3D print in our new full color… You can also add other elements such as hair, glasses and a base.

ShapeMe is currently only for Windows but soon to be released in the Apple app store so you can also use ShapeMe on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch..  Being so easy to use it is a perfect way to get friends and family to start playing around with 3D printing.  What better gift for grandma than a miniature grandchild to put on the mantlepiece, or perhaps you could do a personalised wedding topper, with the bride and groom imortalised in full color.  Whatever you choose to do the ShapeMe is fun and easy. Take a look at the gallery of ShapMes so far.

Check out the tutorial page (download link is in the tutorial page), and the video below to get started.

Continue reading

Ceramics Trial is Ending.. Next Steps

Hey all,

We are coming up on the end of our 3 months trial with 3D Printed Glazed Ceramics. We’ve seen some pretty amazing pieces and once again, are wow’d by the creativity of our community. We’ve also experienced some hiccups in the process, heard your complaints and improved based on your feedback, and are learning everyday about how to better the quality of this material, and improve the reliable of production.

We would like to continue offering this material permanently, but we need to take some time to improve on some of the things we’ve learned in the past few months–everything from glazing techniques to operational logistics, from increasing structural strength of the material to implementing more secure shipping methods. Thanks to you–our very vocal, creative, and passionate community–we have a lot of feedback to work on over the upcoming weeks. Rest assure, your feedback has not gone unnoticed! Now our team is going to start chipping away to make things better for you guys. We hope to re-introduce this material in the future (we will have news very shortly–be on the lookout next month for updates), and re-introducing with better quality and more consistent lead times. With that said, we will stop offering this material Monday at the start of the business day (NYC time).

Last but not least, I like to thank you all for your enthusiasm and creativity–stay passionate about creating!


Additions to rules for White Strong & Flexible Polished (WSFP)

W would like to announce a few updates to the design rules for White Strong & Flexible Polishing. The more we work with these materials, the more we learn about what is possible and what isn’t. Over the past few months, we have learned some important things to take into account when designing for this material process. Please take the time and look this over, it will save everybody time and disappointment in receiving their models broken or out of shape!

White Strong & Flexible Polished bounding box: we are asking for minimum of 10x10x2mm per part (not per STL)

If your STL has multiple parts, the STL may still get rejected if any particular part in the STL is smaller than the above bounding box

Why? This is because we are finding that pieces smaller are falling through the grates in our polishing machine, or getting stuck or lost among the media used to polish. We hope this won’t be too much of an inconvenience. Most pieces of this size will lose details in the polishing process.

Suggestions? We recommend looking at White Detail, or Frosted Detail/Frosted Ultra Detail instead for a smooth finish to smaller pieces.

White Strong & Flexible Polished wires supporting larger items (eg sprues): When you have a thin wire supporting a larger item, try making the wire at least 1.5-2mm thick for White Strong & Flexible Polished

When designing for WSFP, try to avoid support larger masses with small wires.  This is the helicopter problem, where the propellers are supported by a tiny wire that connects to the body of the helicopter.

Why? When put in the polishing machine, it is very easy for these types of structures to snap.

Suggestions? We recommend making the base supporting wire thicker. Right now, it looks like things around 1.5-2 mm would be strong, but we will be making some tests so to get a better understanding of what the ratio should be.

Thanks for your input and understanding as we refine these processes to ensure we can produce your designs reliably, at the highest quality detail.

And the Fate of the Frosted Detail/Ultra Detail is…

Posted by in Shapeways, What's Hot

We are happy to announce that we will be welcoming Frosted Detail and Frosted Ultra Detail permanently to the Shapeways materials family! That is right, designers, the smooth and high detail material you’ve known and loved for the past few months will be here for good.

We’ve spent the past week evaluating the trial period, looking at pricing, design rules, successes and issues. We understand that many of you were expecting news a bit earlier, but we wanted to make sure we spend adequate time discussing how to improve and grow based on what we learned during the trial. With the continuation of this material, you can expect better packaging, more consistent lead time and quality.

We will also be adjusting our price to better reflect our costs. The good news is we are decreasing the cost per cubic centimeter for both Frosted Detail and Frosted Ultra Detail. Frosted Detail will be $2.39/cm3 (17% discount) and Frosted Ultra will be $3.49/cm3 (21% discount)! However, there will be a startup cost of $5.00 for both materials. The new pricing will go into effect next Monday afternoon NYC time. Like all materials, we will be continuously working to give you better pricing, lead time, and quality overtime.

As for design, we learned a lot over the trial as to what kinds of designs are possible and what are not possible. Over the next few weeks, we will be consolidating those learning into tips and guides, and will be announcing them on the blog.

Thank you for your patience and enthusiasm. We look forward to all the amazing designs coming our way for these materials. Have fun creating!


Our Current Color Strong and Flexible range will be extended to end of August

Posted by in Shapeways, What's Hot

Hello all,

A while back, we introduced a few new colors to the Strong and Flexible family (Indigo, Dark Grey, and Red), with an expiry date of end of May. I’m happy to announce that we will be extending those colors until the end of August. The Black, Strong and Flexible will, as always, be there (it’s a permanent color option). And yes, we will be re-evaluating the way we present colors for our Strong & Flexible family. I hear a lot of feedback around the possibility of having a permanent set of basic colors and we will be considering that option.

Thanks guys!


PS. Somebody told me it’s no longer Winter… so our Winter Red, Strong & Flexible is now just Red Strong & Flexible. Even though it is no longer winter, the material is still red.

(Note: It is winter the Southern Hemisphere, so Winter Red still technically valid, Duann ;)

Frosted Detail/Ultra Detail Next Steps

Posted by in Shapeways, What's Hot

Mini Ninja by Figurine by Cradders

The demand for Frosted Detail and Frosted Ultra Detail has been overwhelming, and we hear your enthusiasm! We have learned a lot running the trial for these 8 weeks–much about design limitations, material properties, and most importantly how talented our community is at designing amazing things.

We are extending our trial period for an additional week until the end of next week. Over the course of the next week we will be doing a thorough evaluation of the entire trial. Rather than stopping to trial to evaluate, we want to continue ensuring that your designs can be 3d printed while we look back and plan forward. We are doing the utmost to ensure your demands for high detail materials and prints are met, and we hope to find clever ways to make this material a permanent part of the Shapeways material family while maintain great quality and lead time. In the meanwhile, we will also be working hard to get late orders out and to better manage lead times going forward.

We hope to have some good news for you next week, so until then–please hang tight and we look forward to helping you create!

Updated Design Rules For Shapeways 3D Printing Ceramics

Hello all! We’ve been busy printing and learning about 3D Printing Ceramics. Thanks to all your awesome designs, we’ve learned quite a lot over the past few weeks about what types of designs work best for this new material.

We’ve updated the Ceramics Design Rules, which will be the “Golden Source” for all ceramics related design guidelines from now on.

Here are some tips we added:

Continue reading

How To Design for 3D Printed Silver

We are getting many really cool designs in silver. One current issue we have is trying to balance enabling our community to create things, no matter how challenging they are and ensuring that the amazing designs actually can be printed. Sometimes, this means adding or changing design rules, sometimes, this means modifying our methods of production to accommodate.

For silver, one issue we often run into is that very thin designs do not survive the wax process. For example, if you have a thin bar (like a pin, an earring hook, or a necklace hoop) attached to a thicker object (like an earring stud), handling the wax can be quite difficult and often results in having the pin snap. Of course, we do not want to say “no more earrings or pins” because that would just be too limiting. To solve this, for some parts, we may print the pieces separately and then weld them together after they’ve been cast. We have worked with our supplier to ensure that the end result is indiscernible. For example…

The left side is a picture of the computer generated model, the right side is the hoop welded on.

We have received customers informing us that the welded parts do not conform to their original designs. We have worked with our supplier to ensure that we do not use stock items, but will print the pieces of the actual design. We have also stepped up our quality check in our Netherlands distribution center to catch these prints if they still come through. For the long term, we are investing in more advanced machine that can produce stronger wax models, which will eliminate much of the need for welding altogether!

We hope with this technique, we will simultaneously maintain the integrity of the design while enabling more interesting and “fragile” designs. If you have any questions, or you feel like the welding was done improperly, please e-mail our lovely Customer Service department at service (at) shapeways (dot) com and they will take care of you.

Let me know if you have any questions!