We are so excited to partner with littleBits for a unique design challenge: How can you make your home smarter using the Internet of Things and 3D Printing?
Find something in your house that you consider mundane. A coffee mug, a pair of old gloves a floppy disk. Now ask yourself, how can you make it smarter? With littleBits and 3D printing, of course! Upcycle that object into something smarter and cloud-connected. Start doodling ideas and check the rules below.
What better way to get your creative juices flowing than a hackathon? Join us at littleBits beautiful offices this Saturday for the 3D + IoT: Make Smarter Gadgets Make-a-thon with Shapeways & LittleBits. Hear from inspiring speakers, tinker with materials and meet like-minded folks to get your projects started.
The contest takes place in 2 phases: Ideas and Finalists.
Ideas Phase: Deadline to submit is March 28th.
Submit concepts for your creation including a rough 3D model and a layout of how you would incorporate littleBits. Upload your projects to the littleBits project page using the hashtag #shapebits.
Make sure in your upload, you include:
- The inspiration and impetus behind your concept
- Reflect on what you did 1st, 2nd and 3rd
- List the resources you consulted to help others in the future
*Remember we are a community who loves sharing work in progress. Don’t be shy to share your piece even if it is not finished yet and ask in the Project Buzz category in the littleBits forum for help.
Finalists Phase: Deadline to submit is April 30th.
After the final deadline, our expert panel of super star judges will be invited to review the entries and select 5 contestants for the “Finalists” phase.
During this phase contestants will receive free bits to create their projects and a coupon from Shapeways to print them out. Final projects will need to be uploaded by April 30th on the Shapeways & littleBits sites both using the hashtag #shapebits.
The maker behind the smartest, most awesome project submitted will get a Workshop Set, which includes 100 Modules ($1,547 value) and $500 in 3D printing credit from Shapeways.
In addition, the top three entries will be showcased in our MakerFaire booth in San Francisco this May and featured in our newsletters and the littleBits Community Hall of Fame.
We have a fantastic lineup of judges who will rank entries across these measurements of awesomeness:
Creativity — how inspired is your creation, how close to the theme is it.
Technological achievement – how well does this project incorporate the potential of littleBits + 3D Printing
Aesthetics- how well designed and polishes is your final object
Surprise- how original and unexpected is your final project
Here they are:
Heidi Farrell, Design Engineer at Smart Design, NY
Heidi Farrell is an engineer who designs mass-produced, everyday products. She has worked on things like kitchen tools for OXO and camera gear for Joby x Lowepro. Based in Brooklyn, Heidi studied product design at Stanford, has worked in SF and Stockholm, and is currently a design engineer in Smart Design’s New York studio.
Ron Rosenmann, Senior Design Technologist, Frog NY
Ron focuses on interaction prototyping and building UX simulations as part of the design process at Frog. A nice sampling of his awesome work can be found here.
Andrew Mager, Developer Evangelist, Smart Things, SF
A developer evangelist at SmartThings in the Bay Area, helping developers all over the world integrate their devices and code into their home automation schemes.
Oscar Salguero, Senior Designer at Kid O Toys, NY
Industrial designer by training, Oscar has worked on products ranging from high end furniture in Tokyo to energy generating soccer balls for developing communities in Nigeria and Brazil. He’s currently leading a new line of sensory oriented & developmental toys for kids under 6 years of age.
That’s all folks! Have questions? Ask away here or on twitter using #shapeBits. Happy making!
So, what’s the deal with Left Shark? He became a star, his fame spread across the globe, his copyright was disputed, he went into hiding…and now he’s back?
As we’ve outlined recently, Shapeways takes intellectual property very seriously, and while we respect the intellectual property of copyright holders, we also strive to put community first. We do due diligence on every single takedown we get, inform designers how to issue a counter DMCA if applicable, give them a 24 hour warning before removing models, and offer to put them in touch with the other party.
As a service provider, our liability is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act under their Safe Harbor provision. We outline this detailed process and guidelines, and encourage all our designers and any copyright holders to follow it to ensure swift action on our part.
In the case of Left Shark, Fernando, the designer, chose to send us a counter DMCA Notice, disputing Katy Perry’s rights to Left Shark. You can read all about it on his blog. As per our Content Policy, once we receive a counter DMCA, we can reinstate the model while the two parties decide what to do. In this case, we encouraged Katy Perry to send us a properly formatted DMCA Takedown instead of a cease and desist. While we wait to see their response, Left Shark is practicing his moves for his next appearance.
Long live Left Shark, and may he herald in the proliferation of crowd-generated content!
Shapeways is truly a community centric company, serving hundreds of thousands of designers who have uploaded over 2 million 3D models to date. From the wonderful to the wondrous, Shapeways enables anyone to bring their ideas to life, whether solving problems or making products more personal.
Last week, 3D printing was on everybody’s minds when a designer’s right to create was taken away due to copyright laws. It brought up great discussions on where the technology stands when it comes to making designs based on popular culture.
Anything is possible with 3D printing, and over the last few years we’ve increasingly seen the technology being used by fans to engage with beloved brands. Our work with Hasbro to create SuperFanArt enables fans of Hasbro brands to showcase their inspired artwork and sell their 3D printed designs on Shapeways under a Hasbro license. Hasbro became the first major global brand to open up its Intellectual Property to the design community, which is only made possible by Shapeways and 3D printing. Designers on SuperFanArt can now confidently sell fully licensed versions of their works. The community gets the ability to share their creations, Hasbro gets to engage with fans on a deeper level, both get a cut of sales, and no one gets sued.
Allowing fans to interpret their favorite brands in physical form legitimizes and elevates the culture of fan art and allows designers new freedom to create sought-after content. 3D printing is uniquely placed to bring these products into being, not just for figurines and toys, but also for mass customization of functional objects. We can’t wait to see more brands embrace this potential. Michael Weinberg, Vice President of Public Knowledge, put it best when he said, “It would be an enlightened move on the part of brands to work with designers instead of against them. It may, in fact, be easier to harness the collective creativity of designers than try to stop it”.
Not only does opening up IP enable brands to build stronger relationships with their fans, it helps them make better products. Bringing a product to market historically was no easy or cheap feat, requiring a lot of upfront capital to invest in market research, manufacturing and distribution. With 3D printing, you can go to market quickly and at a lower cost. So by enabling fans to legally access brand IP, they can create new derivative works and brands can start to see what the market wants before investing a ton up front. Brands can see what niche products could be successful and potentially get an early signal of what could be a runaway hit. 3D printing becomes the new marketing platform – a way to create a conversation between brands and customers.
Hasbro and several other brands are starting to pave the way for what will hopefully be a reinvention of intellectual property for physical products. We take intellectual property very seriously — both that of independent designers and major global brands. It’s critical that the individuals and teams behind products are rewarded for their creative efforts. While we respect the intellectual property of copyright holders, we are also community first. We do due diligence on every single takedown we get, inform users how to issue a counter DMCA if applicable, give a 24 hour warning, and offer to put them in touch with the other party.
Our vibrant, creative community and open platform grants us the leverage to bring big brands into the mix. We pledge to continue to push the boundaries of the law to benefit all creatives and fully encompass what is actually happening right here, right now.
Ultimately, we see 3D printing as a technology full of creativity and not about copyright infringement. With any new technology that’s democratizing access to a tool, infringement is possible, but what we’re enabling at Shapeways is a community in which innovation triumphs.
There’s a lot of speculation and guesswork circulating about Intellectual Property as it applies to 3D printing so here is a very general overview of what Copyright means for you, for Shapeways and 3D printing in general. While this is a fascinating topic, please keep in mind this blog should not be construed as legal advice and the author is not a lawyer (as much as she wishes she was!).
What is Shapeways Content Policy?
While we want to enable people to 3D print whatever they can imagine, this does unfortunately occasionally includes things that already exist and may be covered by copyright. In our Terms and Conditions, we ask that our community respects the rights of other designers and only upload their own original work or work that is freely available through a Creative Commons license. While we do what we can to ensure the content on Shapeways is appropriate, we cannot realistically review every model uploaded for a possible copyright infringement. We are also unable to determine whether the user has obtained a license for copyrighted content. As a service provider, our liability is protected by the Digital Millennium copyright Act under their Safe Harbor provision.
Shapeways is a safe harbor under the DMCA, and thus acts much like YouTube. In order to comply with the DMCA and protect intellectual-property-right owners, we follow a takedown process when we get a Takedown Notice. You can read all about it in our Content and Takedown Policy.
Ryan Kittleson’s success kid is a real life licensing success story
What are all these legal terms?
Very briefly, Intellectual Property covers a broad range of various legal terms:
Copyright: protects any expression that’s embodied in a tangible medium. Your child’s drawing is protected by copyright and STL’s are protected by copyright.
Trademark: protects symbols, words, designs, logos, and even trade dress of products and services when used in commerce, like Coke or Apple.
Patent: protects inventions that are novel and non-obvious.
Right of Likeness / Publicity: protects the right of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness, and to keep it from being commercially exploited without permission.
For a brilliant 5 minute explanation about how all these terms differ, I’ll let a fellow jeweler, and real life lawyer Sarah Feingold explain, using Ring Pops.
For this post, let’s focus on Copyright. What is a Copyright anyway?
In the US, copyright is a form of protection for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright protects, for example, literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as paintings, sculptures, poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. You’ll be glad to know copyright also covers STL (and other 3D printable) files, much like it covers MP3′s and other digital creative media. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works. With exception, copyright protection exists from the moment of creation and lasts until 70 years after the death of the creator. Fascinated? Read Copyright Basics on the website of the United States Copyright Office to learn more.
What does this mean for you?
If you create and upload a 3D model on Shapeways or anywhere else on the internet, it is copyrighted. You don’t have to do anything, except choose how to enforce protection of your work. You may choose to do nothing, a celebrity may choose to hire a legal firm.
What about other people’s Copyright? How can I tell?
If you see something on the internet and want to create a 3D model of it, it’s best to ask permission first. On many sites like Thingiverse, TurboSquid or Sketchfab you can see if someone has put their work under Creative Commons – which may allow you either share it on other sites, to print it for yourself, or in some cases, sell it. The distinctions are clear, and worth checking. Designers may well be flattered you want to turn their artwork into a tangible format, others may not want you to profit from their ideas. Ask! On other parts of the internet, like blogs or reddit, it may be harder to quickly establish who the author (and thus copyright holder) is. More often than not, somebody owns the copyright. Shapeways can neither be judge or jury in this case, as we cannot know the entire catalog of copyrights on earth, so it’s up to you to do your research.
But I see other people designing copies on Shapeways!
If in your research you see other models on Shapeways that seem to be using copyrighted work, that is not an incentive for you to create your own. Remember, Shapeways is a safe harbor of user generated content, so we do not (and can not) check every upload for copyright infringement. Those models may well be the original creations of their authors, or the designers may have licensing agreements in place (SuperFanArt models for instance have licenses with Hasbro). It is also very possible that there are infringing copies on our site and they may well receive a takedown notice.
So what are these Takedown Notices?
Shapeways as a company is bound by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and we are a “Safe Harbor” meaning we have a harbor where anyone can put their boat. This is what’s known as “User Generated Content.” Under the DMCA, to keep being a safe harbor, Shapeways agrees to a Notice-and-Takedown process. If a copyright holder identifies an unauthorized use of their work on our site, they must notify us with a proper DMCA Takedown notice, as detailed in our Content Policy. Rest assured, this is not something we take lightly. A DMCA Takedown is a specific legal document that contains statements of good faith made under the penalty of perjury. There could be costly penalties if the sender makes material misrepresentations about the infringement. We investigate and correspond with each and every notice we receive. We then notify the designer and remove the model from Shapeways within a reasonable amount of time.
If a designer feels the takedown is in error, they have the option to send us a Counter-Takedown, the process is also detailed here. Legal defenses such as “Fair Use” which take into account things like valid commentary, criticism, parody, news reporting, and teaching, consider many different factors, and can be quite difficult to prove. Unfortunately, Shapeways is not the one to prove it to. We can not consider any defenses a designer may have as we’re not a judge or jury, we can only introduce you to each other and let you work things out. Since we can not provide legal advice, we suggest you reach out to legal experts in your area.
But don’t despair! Some of the outcomes we have seen in the past range from a designer showing they have the rights to a design, a copyright holder upholding their rights, a community member getting a job at the accusing party’s company, a profit-sharing scenario on a model and, ideally, an opening up of Intellectual Property by a major brand: SuperFanArt with Hasbro.
So what CAN I do?
If you get a takedown notice, don’t panic! Use it as an opportunity to learn about what is and isn’t copyright, and to develop your own work. Use your imagination! Making original content is the best way to avoid any legal issues. Taking the time to create your own original content, including 3D modeling, taking product photographs, writing creative descriptions and marketing your products, not only prevents infringement, it showcases your creativity and will set your shop apart.
Here at Shapeways, we provide the tools and YOU bring the magic, and we love seeing what you create! Like this incredible bacon mobius strip.
Still need inspiration? Take a look at public domain works! Many artworks in museums are in the public domain, which means copyrights on them have expired. There are people who may never have expressed an interest in art now excitedly walking around the Met 3D scanning art! The Met has embraced it, so has the Smithsonian, so maybe it’s time for a museum meme mashup?
Use 3D printing to solve a problem! We’re seeing an explosion of drone parts and gadget acessories – making add-ons to your favorite hardware is creative innovation at its finest. Solve a problem! Have you seen the e-NABLE hands helping children? Incredible.
Ultimately, we see 3D printing as a technology full of creativity and not about copyright infringement. With any new technology that’s democratizing access to a tool, infringement is possible, but what we’re enabling at Shapeways is a community in which original innovation triumphs.
This post probably raises more questions than it answers so please lets continue the discussion in the comments. If there are other topics you want us to cover, let us know!
This information is for educational and informational purposes only. The content should not be construed as legal advice. The author and Shapeways disclaim all responsibility for any and all losses, damages, or causes of action that may arise or be connected with the use of these materials. Please consult a licensed attorney in your area with specific legal questions or concerns.
Whether you are creating something for yourself or designing something beautiful for your customers, making your product come to life is incredibly rewarding. 3D printing has continually lowered the barrier from having an idea to actually holding your product in your hands.
Ensuring your 3D model can be printed, and understanding how design and material choices impact how you make your model can however be challenging. The team at Shapeways constantly strives to make that easier, so with the new year, we’re thrilled to introduce a suite of 3D tools to empower you further. The Shapeways 3D tools give you more transparency into how we check your models and to help you check, visualize, and fix potential issues yourself before purchasing your model.
With the success of our wall thickness fixing tool in March of last year, we were inspired to invest in expanding the ways you can view your model against what our 3D Printing Engineers at Shapeways are looking at when you upload a model – our material design guidelines. So we built 15 tools that let you view your model against our material-specific guidelines: mesh integrity and repair, bounding box, loose shells, part count, wire thickness, details, text, part clearance, escape holes, machine space, weak geometry, texture, interlocking parts, our content policy, and improved our wall thickness tool with a heatmap view.
Each tool enables you to view your model against our design guidelines and clip your model along the x, y, and z axis for x-ray vision so you can identify any potential issues faster and with confidence.
Our tools are grouped into two types: ‘On upload we automatically check…’ and ‘After purchase we manually check…’ Our wall thickness, bounding box, mesh integrity and repair, loose shells, and part count tools in the first group have automatic checks that will show you a green check, yellow warning sign, or a red ‘X’ indicating our initial level of confidence that you will pass that check upon manual inspection post-purchase. Every automatic check is still subject to a manual check post-purchase.
Machine space, loose shells, and wall thickness tools will also visualize any detected issues on top of your model. The improved wall thickness and part count tools offer ‘fixes’ to change your model related to the issue in the tool in addition to a heatmap view. You can also ‘sintershell’ a multi-part model in the part count tool, which encloses your parts inside a mesh, making it easier to handle and sort. Adding a ‘sintershell’ can sometimes reduce the labor cost of a multi-part model.
Machine Space Visualization, Loose Shells and Sintershell example
These tools are not only helpful before you purchase, but also after you purchase if your model gets rejected. If your model is rejected, you will receive the email with the detailed information explaining why, as always, but it will be viewable in our 3D tools right next to your model, and directly above our design guidelines – so you can see all the information you need to take action to fix and re-upload your model.
We hope that you’ll be as excited by these tools as we are and find them helpful as you design and get ready to 3D print. Upload a new product and read the 3D tools Tutorial or check out 3D tools with your existing models. This is just the beginning of the 3D tools so we’d love to hear about how you are using them, what you find them helpful for and if you have any suggestions. Post a comment or head over to the forum to tell us what you think!
We all know someone mad about bikes, ever eager to get out and ride even when its cold, wet or uphill. To help you celebrate their passion with them, here’s our spin on gifts for every type of bike snob, from the fixie fan to Fred.
As we hit mid-November, how are your mustaches shaping up gents? In case Movember-Mania missed you, it’s an annual event held around the world are to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Community member Rick Stringfellow decided to make 3D printed Movemeber really special at his work….
Each year EA’s Art Department in Canada hosts a charity show to raise money for the Movember foundation. Along with growing as many real mustaches as possible, we hold the ‘Moshow’ where our artists create and present mustache inspired art.
This year I decided to use 3D printing to build a series of art pieces that are inspired by the seven deadly sins. Each Mustache was modeled in Modo3D then printed in detailed plastic with Shapeways. I then finished each printed model using Krylon acrylic paints and primers. The ‘Lust’ mustache was covered in gold leaf and then sealed with a clear Krylon finish.
Having worked in 3D for over 30 years this is my first venture into 3D printing for pure art – I learned a lot during this process and will definitely be working on some more creative adventures with Modo3D and Shapeways.
Shapeways is proud to support start up 3DP4E (3D Printing for Everyone)and their mission to empower through design, technology and entrepreneurism. Founded by visionary and tech enthusiast Ronald Rose, 3DP4E strives to bring 3D printing to schools, libraries and museums.
Part of 3DP4E’s mission comes to fruition today, with the opening of a new exhibition presented in tandem with the Children’s Museum of the Arts, entitled INTO THE THIRD DIMENSION: 3D Printing for Young Artists. The show features works from museum’s permanent collection alongside a 3D-printed element or detail from each selection. The juxtaposition of the two-dimensional works with the three-dimensional replications encourages the viewer to compare and contrast the two forms. There’s also a educational film that shows the steps taken to turn a 2D-drawing into a 3D-printed object will be shown, allowing visitors to learn more about the process and unique quality of the 3D printing process.
On most Saturdays throughout the exhibition, CMA visitors will have the opportunity to take part in a drawing workshop called “Experimenting with Dimensions,” led by a CMA Teaching Artist. A handful of CMA visitors will be selected at random at the end of each workshop and will have their own drawings turned into a three-dimensional Shapeways-printed sculpture. The 20 individuals selected will be invited for a presentation ceremony at CMA in January or early February once the three-dimensional prints have been completed. Check out www.cmany.org for more information about hours and specific workshop times.
Also launching this week is Kid’s Creation Station, a new website presented by 3DP4E that provides young artists with a platform to create, share and take their artwork to a new dimension. The website translates the fantastic creatures and things created by children from flat drawings to actual figures, giving children’s drawings new depth. The online portal will provide the opportunity for kids to scan drawings into a portfolio management system, tag and share their images, view other children’s artwork, and ultimately print a 3D model of their artwork.
We’re taking part in Cranksgiving, a nationwide “food drive on bikes” where participants cycle to multiple grocery stores around the city, purchase non-perishable goods and donate them to those in need. Running since 1999, this charity race has spread to over 60 cities around America, helping provide thousands of needy families across the country with a wealth of food during the week of Thanksgiving. This year, it’s even being backed by news anchors from the TODAY Show.
Shapeways is proud to sponsor Cranksgiving! Six lucky winners will ride away with custom 3D printed head-badges, designed by Scott Denton and printed in our Long Island City factory.
Shapeways is proud to sponsor Pioneer Works first Software for Artists Day on Sunday November 16th. The day-long event in Red Hook, New York will bring together artists and developers to illustrate the many new software and hardware tools available to contemporary art practice. It will involve lectures, demonstrations, and conversations which will demystify the most sought-after technology in use today.
Participants will be able to attend four 45-minute lectures over the course of the day and will also be able to participate in “soapbox sessions” in which they will have 3 minutes to present a project in order to attract interest and/or advice from other artists and technicians.
Shapeways will be on site with some products to show and tips and tricks about using the free software on our site.
If you can’t attend, here’s a brief preview of the software available on Shapeways now:
Shapeways API - The Shapeways Upload API enables web and desktop applications to submit 3D models and harness the power of the Shapeways marketplace. You can control pricing, available materials, and add markup to models that are for sale to our community. Read more about the Shapeways API or join us in our developer forum.
ShapeJS - This tool makes parametric 3D modeling accessible for programmers. If you know Java Script, you can use this tool to generate 3D printable geometry, ias simple as a few lines of code. Read more about the power of ShapeJS here, or jump into the discussion on our developer forum.
Need more inspiration? Check out these amazing 3D creator apps that have been made so far. Got a cool app you’re working on? Tell us about it in the comments!
Once upon a time, I was camping with my family and I decided to play in the river. I was eight, and everywhere I went My Little Pony went, so I brought her along. While attempting a river crossing, I slipped on a wet rock, but rather than let My Little Pony fall I held her out of harms way and instead broke the fall with my tooth (sorry mum!).
In order to re-connect with my excited inner eight year old, I decided to watch the new TV series to catch up. I lost my whole evening in Equestria. Why? As Lisa Miller wrote in her recent New York Magazine article, friendship is magic. These six little ponies embody all that is wonderful about friendship and remind you that kindness can go a long way. Honestly, who doesn’t need a reminder of the wonder of finding your kindred spirits?
While my pony toy is long gone, I’m thrilled there is an every growing collection of My Little Pony fan art that I can collect to serve as a bright beacon on my desk to be grateful for my friends.
Here are my favorite pony picks:
My favorite, Pinky Pie (because she’s the closest I can get to the one I used to have!) and she has the best laugh.
Fan favorite Muffins, once a background character, now gets her own 3D printed spotlight
Rainbow dash gets things done in ten seconds flat!
Last but not least, Discord, the infamous villain, bringing chaos to Equestria.
Although it’s never a bad time for My Little Pony, these are especially fun for the holidays. Whether you have a superfan in your life or you want to introduce these characters to a new generation, these make great gifts! Or, of course, you could just collect them all for yourself. It is the season of giving and getting after all.
Occipital is calling on the Structure & Shapeways communities to help extend the 3D scanning power ofthe Structure Sensor by coming up with a great 3D-printed attachment case for iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus, so you can scan anywhere, right from your phone.
There’s $1000 in prizes from Shapeways & theStructure Sensor Store for the best designs! They’ll also be made available right here on Shapeways, with no added markup, and Creative Commons CC0- licensed for everyone in the community to print or download.
You have until Wednesday, November 12 at 11:59pm PST to submit your entry. Don’t miss out – there’s only one week left! Find the full contest details, starter materials, and how to enter here. I’ll be judging your designs so show me what you’ve got and GOOD LUCK!
One of the thousands of 3D scans made with the Structure Sensor
First up, Scott Denton. With over 10 years in the 3D modeling and animation industry, he’ll help you create a custom cartoon character or a special piece of jewelry. He’s recently started making custom head badges for bikes, so you can really pimp your ride.
Robert Blinn is the lead designer for GothamSmith and a SolidWorks pro. He has modeled everything from animal jewelry to a life size hockey goalie and reverse engineered heels for fancy shoes and theft proof iPad cases. Contact him for all your product design ideas. He’s also based in New York City and happy to meet in person.
Antoine Boulay is a French CAD professor at the Ecole Boulle Paris and as a jeweler has worked with luxury brands like Chanel, Swarowski and Baccarat for over 20 years. Contact him to realize your fine jewelry and watch design ideas. He prefers to work in French, so if you are a Francophile, you’re in luck!
Corinne Hansen has been modeling for 4 years and is very familiar with Shapeways materials. As a jeweler, metalsmith and ceramicist, she specializes in 3D design, especially in creating costume props, jewelry and imaginative characters. Contact her to realize your most fanciful ideas!
On the other end of the design spectrum, we have Tim Solomon who specializes in engineering and mechanical design. He has been modeling for 10 years and uses his versatile skills to model everything from toys, statues and figurines to parts for cars, computers, washer/dryers and RC parts. Contact him to make replacement parts and complex mechanical designs.
Last but not least, our very own Andrew Thomas, a sculptor and designer with ample 3D printing experience of artworks, toys and prototypes. He works as a customer service agent at Shapeways, so he knows the ins and outs of our design guidelines. He’s great at complex toy design like this working miniature Foosball Table, which doubles as an iPhone 5 case! Amazing!
Getting in the DIY spirit and want to hire a designer to bring your project to life? You’ve seen the directory of Designers for Hire, read about a designer you like, and now you’re ready to get started. Even if you’ve never hired a designer before, keeping the three C’s in mind is a good guide: Clarity, Communication and Cost.
Knowing what you want is half the project! The more specific you can be, the better chance you will get exactly what you want.
When talking about your idea, sketches, photos, Pinterest boards, magazine clippings and even screenshots of elements you like are all really helpful in communicating what you like. Photos are especially useful whether it be similar items that represent your idea or elements of different objects that you would like to incorporate.
It also helps to be specific about your preferred style, finishing touches and how your completed product will be used. If you know what material you would like the finished product to be made it, that helps immensely, as the 3D printing guidelines vary between materials and may influence the design itself.
If you’re still in the ‘concept’ phase (say if you are designing a new functional product) and are seeking project guidance or inspiration, be sure to choose a designer who has those skills listed as their specialty.
Designers are creative problem solvers. Once you have given them a clear outline of your requirements, let them do their creative thing and come up with creative solutions.
Designers are experts in bringing ideas to life, and most of this magic happens through effective communication. Throughout the creation process, it’s important to communicate openly and frequently with your designer to ensure that they have a clear understanding of what you want, and you know their schedule. They should be asking you just as many questions are you are listing specifics.
Throughout the process, be honest but polite. If your designer is making something that isn’t going in the direction you were imagining, let them know. Many designers are more than happy to modify their designs as long as they have clear direction. I recommend highlighting what you liked (the more specific the better) and exactly what they need to improve on. Don’t just say “I don’t like the hard edges”. Explain why: “The hard edges make it feel minimalist and modern, I am looking for a romantic, organic feel”. The latter statement is much more useful.
In the end, designers like being able to use their own creative judgment to improve ideas. So while it is important to be specific, leave them some space to work their magic to delight you.
Depending on your project, it may be a good idea to formalize your agreement in writing. This digital contract should include all of the specific details that you and the designer agreed upon, including timing and pricing.
Which brings us to the last and most important point: Money. Two things to keep in mind here are how much you are willing to spend and understanding the design process.
Part of having clarity around your idea is knowing how much are you comfortable spending. Three things to consider may help you get an estimate beforehand:
1. Finished product or 3D file? Do you want just a 3D printable file that you will upload and order yourself? Or do you want a finished item? Material cost comes into play here – if you want a silver ring, part of the cost will be made up of the silver itself, and part for the design.
2. Time and labor. Larger or more detailed projects can sometimes take more time to complete, and therefore cost more.
3. One of a kind design. If this is a one of a kind item, it’s not something that you could buy in a store even if you wanted to, so the price may be a little higher than you would expect. If you are working on a brand new product, it’s worth investing in a good design. There is really no way to put a price on how incredible it is to hold something that you imagined, so keep that in mind!
4. Similar items.To get a sense of the general cost of an item before you hire a designer, look for similar items and get a sense of the price. For instance, if you want to make a piece of jewelry, browse our jewelry category section to find a handful of custom items that are of a similar size and scope. The average cost of those items is often a good starting point for you to discuss your budget with a designer.
It also helps to understand the process. Designing is a process that takes time and effort. You may not be aware of all of the “behind the scenes” work that takes place including creative brainstorming, sketching, drafts, revisions and renders. Asking your designer about the process involved in making your specific idea will help you understand the level of work involved.
Communication is key here as well! Talk to your designer as some charge by the hour, some charge by project and the complexity of your design will influence this. The more detail you can give them, the better they are able to estimate a price for you.
3D printing gives us the unique ability to make custom things to order, helping you get exactly what you want, and not just what is available. While we at Shapeways do what we can to give access to the best materials at the lowest prices, ultimately the design is what sets a product apart, and this is where the skill lies. Translating an idea into a physical object is a designers skill, and this alchemy is worth paying for!
How you work with a designer comes down to your project but keeping in mind the Three C’s should help you minimize stress and get exactly what you want. Have you hired a designer on Shapeways? Tell us about it in the comments! If you are a designer, what other tips would you offer for potential clients?
Excited by 3D printing, you’ve got an idea but don’t know how to make it? We’re got an ever growing list of Designers for Hire to help you! Sometimes, the best way to get what you really want is to make it yourself, or better yet work with one of our talented designers.
Whether you are looking to make that custom piece of jewelry, have a killer product idea or just need help with getting your 3D file repaired there’s a designer who can make your dream come to life.
We’re adding new designers regularly, and this weeks roundup includes six new faces:
First up, jeweler Kathy Cherry has 14 years experience designing jewelry for brands such as Jessica Simpson, Vince Camuto and Guess. She enjoys challenges and unusual projects, so give her your best ideas!
Urbano Rodriguez is an Art Director, Designer and 3D Modeler at mkt1, a Digital Agency based in Sao Paulo, Brazil and has over 14 years experience. Contact him with your product design ideas like his fun desk urchin.
Justin Armstrong has a degree in 3D Design & Animation and a certification in 3D commercial design. He has worked commercially with well-known companies, like Budweiser, for a over decade and specializes in character modeling.
Jeffrey Keiffer has over five years experience 3D modeling jewelry, architecture models, personal accessories, and other inventions. He specializes in woven or Celtic knot-like patterns, and can help you design specifically for ceramic, metals, plastics and resins.
On the materials note, former Shapeways employee Kat Kinkead has an extensive knowledge of our materials, and can help you with your industrial design projects from jewelry to hardware.
Last but not least, José Miguel has been the 3D content director for Vórtice Digital Media since 2000. His skills cover every step of an audiovisual production, from modeling to rendering. He can help you with portrait modeling and taking your ideas from sketches into 3D.