Shapeways is participating in American Censorship Day. Today the US Congress holds hearings regarding two laws called Protect IP Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). These laws will change the Internet landscape forever if they are signed into law. They will give content owners unprecedented power to act on any alleged copyright infringement of their content.
So what is wrong with these two laws? If put into effect, the following things become reality:
The US government can order Internet service providers to block any website because a user has posted copyrighted material
The blocking of these websites is using a fundamental basis of the Internet called domain name system (DNS) and can prevent the Internet as a whole from functioning properly
For the launch of our new material tomorrow we need to know the surface area of the models. This information is available for all models uploaded since we introduced MeshMedic in March 11th, 2010, but for models uploaded before March 11th, 2010, it is not. This means we will run those models through MeshMedic for the first time.
This run through MeshMedic will also merge separate meshes into one leading to lower prices for some models and higher prices for others as discussed here. It also has an impact on hollow models. Currently hollow parts need to have a hole and we check for that. If the hole is not there we remove the inside mesh to avoid any problems during production. Otherwise support material or other material will be trapped inside your model.
During this run of older models through MeshMedic, it is possible that you receive an error email from us, about an old model you uploaded before March 2010. We can repair most issues, but in some cases we cannot. That is when you will receive this email. It is also possible that we will now detect problems in your models which were accepted before. Here you can read how to hollow out your model.
We expect to be processing models until May 24th. We are very sorry for any inconvenience we may have caused. However it will enable us to launch an awesome new material tomorrow that we hope you will love AND it improves the quality of models in our database leading to fewer problems after those models are ordered.
Today I am heading to Washington DC together with an impressive
collection of the who-is-who in the 3D printing industry in the US.
Shapeways is - amongst others - joined by Makerbot, 3D Systems,
Fab@Home and Makergear for the Public Knowledge 3D/DC convention.
The Public Knowledge 3D/DC convention is organized to give US policymakers a peak inside the 3D printing
revolution which starts to happen. In the book "Where Good Ideas
Comes From" Steven Johnson makes a great case that any disruptive
technology revolution takes about 2 decades to go from invention to
mainstream. 3D printing has been around for quite some years and we
are well into the second decade. You could argue that this
disruption is of a bigger scale than for instance HD television or
the fax machine and it will take more time. I think we just past the
'second decade'. The next decade has the potential to change the
world on a scale of which we have not seen since the internet going
mainstream in the late nineties. It makes me wonder if we will get a
3D printing / making bubble similar to the dot-com bubble?
Any major technology disruption comes with pain because business
models change and existing businesses need to adapt. Incumbent
industries unwilling to change will resist. Just look what happened
to the music and media industry and the advent of the internet, mp3
and ipods. The same will apply to 3D printing. Just imagine people
copying, extending or modifying existing products to make them
better or last longer. Are you allowed to reverse-engineer your car
engine and improve parts of the engine? And what about giving the
design to a friend? Or maybe start selling it (at cost) at the auto
club? Or maybe offer it for sale commercially?
The last couple of weeks we have updated both our site-wide search and
our product search. Our previous search options were very limited in
functionality. With the growth of our content -- both in articles as in
products -- it was getting very hard to find things on shapeways.com. I
would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit on what we
have developed, how you can use it and how to improve the ability to
find your products by our visitors.
Since September 2007 I've worked for Shapeways as COO. My first
priority was to get the internet portal implemented and find 3D
printing capacity. In January 2008 we had our first prototype service
ready and we went into beta testing. I am still amazed that we got so
far in so little time. But there is still a lot to do.
One of our major challenges is to make 3D printing affordable. The
industry is really geared towards product prototyping and small series
production. And what we do falls somewhere in the middle of those two
-- unique products at low prices.
Another challenge is to process 3D model files and validate them to
see if we can safely print them on our machines. Although software
exists which can do that, it is really not meant for automation. It
still needs a human engineer to interpret the data of the model.
So where did I come from? Well I worked for Sangine which was a spin
out of another startup called Aramiska. At Sangine we made satellite
communications equipment and software. Aramiska was an internet
service provider. I love using technology to do radical things. And
this exactly what I try to do here at Shapeways. To enable you to
design and produce whatever you can think of.
In my spare time -- which is little as of late -- I like to play with my
gadgets (Ipod, Acer Aspire One, MythTV), tend my garden or go out to
dinner to a good restaurant.