With so much talent out there, we encourage everyone to join. Already designed a gadget hack or accessory? Enter the contest by submitting an Instructable for a chance to win a feature in Popular Mechanics, an Ultimaker desktop 3D printer, Shapeways credit and your own Sphero!
Gadget hacking newb? Well, now’s the perfect time to try your first hack—and document it for your chance to win.
What can you win?
Every entrant will receive a $10 credit on Shapeways!
Though 3D printing opens the door for endless ways to accessorize, update, or customize your gadgets, entries don't have to include a 3D printed component. However, only entries with a 3D printed component will be eligible for the Judges’ Prize.
In case you did not spend your morning with a coffee and a New York Times print edition in hand, you may have missed Shapeways was featured on the front page of the Home section! But don’t worry—the article is also available online here, complete with a slideshow and video.
Our Designer Evangelist Duann Scott discusses how 3D printing is impacting the future of business and design and how Shapeways can be a resource for designers launching new products. The article also showcases a few of our amazing Shop Owners and community members.
Thank you to our talented designers featured in this article for being such amazing ambassadors:
Vladimir Bulatov, Shapeways 3D Graphics Researcher, said this as he explained why our newly launched 3D model Wall Thickness Tools were such a challenge to build. “I am a 3D modeler and when I first started thinking about automatically measuring and fixing a model’s wall thickness for 3D printing, I thought the problem was unsolvable.” How can designers continue to push the boundaries of design with 3D printing, unhampered by manufacturing guidelines? This challenge was too large for us to ignore, and we set off close to four (4!) years ago to solve what seemed impossible.
What are the Wall Thickness Tools?
3D printers, like any manufacturing tool or machine, have limitations on the minimum distance between two points, known as ‘minimum wall thickness.’ Designing with minimum wall thickness in mind is important but difficult, so giving designers feedback on their designs is critical, especially as 3D printing becomes more accessible.
Wall Thickness Tools are two innovations by Shapeways that are available for free to the entire 3D design and 3D printing community.
Wall Thickness Visualization automatically identifies the areas where your model might need adjustment in order to meet minimum wall thickness to survive 3D printing and post processing.
Wall Thickness Fixing automatically thickens your model’s walls to the minimum recommended thickness for a specified material. Fixed models can be printed or downloaded for further adjustment.
We don’t have the silver bullet, but we do think the tools will make a significant impact. As with other creative industries where feedback is critical, giving 3D designers immediate feedback is a leap. It was a substantial undertaking, so we’re sharing why it was such a difficult challenge, our discovery process, how it works, and ultimately how we hope it will impact the 3D print community.
Why is wall thickness such a difficult challenge to solve?
The goal was to create tools to help designers identify and fix potential problem areas prior to 3D printing. The solution had to provide accurate and relevant data, in order to help 3D designers speed up the design and iteration cycle.
Man vs Machine
Take, for instance, a triangle: at the very tip, the wall thickness gradually becomes zero. The same concept applies to the edges of a blade of grass. The wall thickness will eventually get below the minimum wall thickness requirement for 3D printing. Yet these objects are printable and a 3D Printing Engineer would know that. But is it possible to create an algorithm that provides exact wall thickness measurements only when it is a problem?
Another challenge is measurement complexity. For example, imaging drilling a hole into one side of a 1x1x1cm solid cube, but stop short just before the drill goes all the way through the other side. Looking at this model physically would not reveal that the bottom of the hole is too thin to be 3D printed. Thus, even if you were using software to measure wall thickness point by point, you would need to know to measure that particular point.
Furthermore, we see a lot of complex 3D models, designed by our community, that push the boundaries of design. In order for us to accept every creation by any designer, the Wall Thickness Tools can not be limited by complexity.
Our Discovery Process
The ideas of Alexandru Telea and Andrei Jalba, published in the academic paper, Voxel-Based Assessment of Printability of 3D Shapes were our starting point in developing the Wall Thickness Visualization Tool. Over the past four years, we developed three versions of the Visualization & Fixing tools, each building on the learning from the last.
The simplicity of the tool is deceiving, as the algorithmic power required to run the tools against a constant stream of 3D models require up to 25 computer servers running simultaneously. We host more than one million 3D models, receive thousands of model uploads per day, and, as a result, manage the biggest 3D printing database in the world. The breadth of 3D models uploaded by our community plays a critical role in our discovery process, as the designs span organic, geometric, architectural, parametric, and sculptural 3D models, representing a huge range of design complexities and needs. We run the wall thickness tool algorithms across thousands of uploaded models to validate the tool’s performance against actual printability as determined by our 3D Printing Engineers.
How it Works
Now let’s circle back to the question of: “Is it possible to create an algorithm that provides exact wall thickness measurements only when it is a problem?” We answered this question by changing it.
We shifted the question from “What is the wall thickness and is it too thin?” to “How do we enable designers?” The information that is valuable to a design isn’t necessarily the exact thickness of the wall, but to the visual identification of potential problem areas. When designers have information about potential problems, they’re empowered to decide whether it’s a problem worth solving.
The Wall Thickness Visualization Tool does this by automatically measuring the distance between two points, in real-time, through the entire model. It then classifies areas as ‘safe’, ‘suspect’, or ‘unsafe’, for the designer to determine which areas should be fixed (such as a thin wire) and not be fixed (such as details or edges).
The Wall Thickness Fixing Tool creates a ‘thin walls skeleton’ for area suspected of not meeting minimum wall thickness requirements. It then inflates this skeleton to what the minimum wall thickness should be (known as ‘fixes’ or ‘delta geometry’). The fixes are combined with the original model to create the ‘fixed model’.
Fixed models are just one way to adjust a model to ready them for 3D printing, but not necessarily the ideal way for the needs of the designer. The images below demonstrate how the the tool thickens a thin wall, but creates a potentially undesirable protrusion on the flat surface on the right side of the model. Thus, the tool’s value is in providing immediate guidance on preparing a model for 3D printing, as well as the fixes themselves, and are meant to empower designers to update their designs as needed and much more quickly.
To everyone who got tickets for HackBCA this Saturday, March 22 at 3pm, in Hackensack, NJ, stop by and say hello to us! We will be there doing demos of the Shapeways API and ShapeJS.
With so many hackathons being geared toward college students, we’re excited to be part of one just for high school students. And we’re also looking forward to seeing the amazing products that’ll be enabled by the hacks created at HackBCA.
As a sponsor, we’ll be awarding $200 in Shapeways credit to the team that has the best use of 3D graphics. Good luck to everyone participating!
It looks like tickets are sold out on Eventbrite for hackers and observers but some mentor tickets are still up for grabs.
After suffering traumatic injuries from a motorcycle accident in 2012, Stephen Power, of Cardiff, Wales, was left disfigured on the left side of his face. But with a little help from 3D printing and a dedicated team of doctors, his face has been reconstructed. And he’s become one of the world’s first trauma patients to have 3D printing used in every stage of the procedure.
Using CT scans, the surgical team at Morriston Hospital in Swansea worked with designers and engineers at Cardiff Metropolitan University to create a 3D model of Mr. Power’s skull, which resulted in greater precision than in traditional reconstructive work.
Through an eight-hour procedure, Mr. Power’s cheekbone was broken in three places and then refractured using cutting guides, following a 3D printed template. After the remodelling, a medical-grade titanium implant, printed in Belgium, was used to hold the bones in place.
The result? Greater facial symmetry and a happier, more confident Mr. Power.
Do you think you have what it takes to be recognized for design excellence? With all the talent and creativity across the Shapeways community, we’re confident that some future Core77 Design Award winners are Shapies. So don’t forget to submit your work to the 2014 Core77 Design Awards. There’s just about a week left to participate—submissions are due March 20—and you can enter here.
Our very own Designer Evangelist, Duann, will be on the judge panel for the DIY category, which has no distinction between Professional and Student entries.
Professional and Student designers in each category will win a trophy and be published in the Core77’s awards gallery and online network.
This weeks Designer for Hire has spent the past six years pushing the boundaries of 3D print, and is here to share his knowledge with anyone looking to get their models printed. Though Eric van Straaten lives in the Netherlands, his colorful, lifelike 3D printed sculptures have been exhibited throughout the world—from Tokyo to Berlin to San Francisco.
Eric can help you create a 3D model from scratch or fix a model so it can successfully be 3D printed. An expert with colored (textured) modeling, Eric is experienced in retaining color information, which is sometimes lost during the model-fixing process. Contact Eric to help you make your ideas real.
3D Modeling Specialties: character, organic
Services Offered: file repair, commission art pieces
3D Software Used: among others: Materialise Magics, DeskArtes 3D DataExpert
With SXSW kicking off this week, the Internet will soon be flooded with SXSW selfies. Sure, they are fun. But they get old. So together with our friends at Occipital Shapeways will be providing a #3Dselfie to anyone who shows up at the parties below!
Follow @Shapeways on Twitter for our pop-up scanning locations and tweet us to tell us where we should go next! Also, remember to tag all of your photos and videos with #3Dselfie.
If you are active on Facebook, joining a 3D printing or 3D modeling group would be a great way to show off your work on Shapeways, share ideas, or find inspiration through what others are doing.
Facebook is the largest social networking site on the planet and is a goliath platform for engaging and interacting with people who share the same interest and hobbies that you do. One of the very early features of Facebook prior to the fan page were Facebook groups. There are still millions active of Facebook groups out there which you can join and be part of to interact with people around the world who share common interests.
By doing a simple search on Facebook you can find a list of groups that best fit your interest. Before joining a group be sure to read the “about” section of the group to make sure you know the rules for posting and participating on the group.
Joining a 3D modeling group is a great way to show off your 3D designs and get feedback from the fellow members in the group. It’s a great way to see what people think of your work before you upload your work to Shapeways.
Think of Facebook groups as an open platform like our Shapeways forum where collaboration and discussion related to 3D printing is encouraged.
How are you currently showcasing your shop and 3D printed work on social media? Let us know! Feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Check this this video from Facebook about finding your niche because whatever you're into, somewhere out there is a group for you.
Autodesk MeshMixer is a fantastic free tool for importing, editing, modifying and painting organic models.
This video showcases just how much fun it can be to use Meshmixer for 3D modeling
MeshMixer has been updated with an all-in-one suite for 3D printing, making it one heck of an app. For example, with this update, you can:
Generate an integrated 3D Print Preview with model analysis.
Automatically “make solid,” converting multiple shells into a single solid.
Automatically repair or hollow out models to prep it for 3D printing.
Experienced users can still manually use re-meshing, sculpting, and healing tools.
By clicking “Print,” an arsenal of simple analysis and layout tools that help visualize strength, stability and slicing loads automatically. The mesh can be sent to a desktop printer or exported to .stl.
Join Shapie Kurt from Far Lands or Bust this Saturday March 1st as he embarks on a day long livestream exploration of the Far Lands in Minecraft culminating into him revealing his coordinates. Over the last 17 months Kurt has been playing Minecraft and raising money for Child's Play Charity, a organization dedicated to improving the lives of sick children by donating toys, books and games to hospitals worldwide.
At the end of the FLoB-athon Far Lands or Bust Livestream, Kurt will press 'F3' in Minecraft. Pressing 'F3' displays the player's coordinates in the Minecraft world, and gives a glimpse of how far a player has walked towards the Far Lands. Tune into Kurts livestream Saturday anytime before 6pm CST for your chance to win a $100 gift credit from Shapeways.
All you have to do to enter is guess Kurts coordinates on Minecraft at the end of the livestream. You can enter the contest here.
Today we'll be showcasing some creative ways people in the Shapeways community are using Raspberry Pi with 3D printing. Raspberry Pi is a small and capable mini computer that can fit in the palm of your hands. The Raspberry Pi is essentially a caseless computer board which serves as a base where you can construct your own DIY computer from parts like the keyboard and USB outlets, to configuring its operating system.
For makers, designers, and tech enthusiast; Raspberry Pi is a way to create creative DIY projects. Raspberry Pi can serve as a customizable general purpose computer, media device, or even as part of robotics / electronic experiments. Watch this video to see more on what you can do with Raspberry Pi.
If you own a Raspberry Pi we've got some awesome 3D printed cases for them. Here are a few Raspberry Pi inspired 3D prints from our community.
For more inspiration on how people in the community are using Raspberry Pi here's a wonderful example of how a father built a custom rig and scanner to do a 3D scan of his son using raspberry pi, then sent the 3D file to be 3D printed with Shapeways. You can read about his story on Instructables here.
Do you have a project that you've done with Raspberry Pi or with 3D printing? Share them with us by tweeting @Shapeways using the hashtag #Pi3D with a photo or link to your creation and we can showcase them to our community!
Reddit is a powerful platform to utilize for promoting your shop or showcasing your 3D printed products. If you're a avid Redditor or lurker then you're in good company. Many Shapies spend time on Reddit and in some cases the products that they design are inspired by Reddit, for example Spaho Designs and Ryan Kittleson's Sculpture. Reddit is definitely a powerful platform to utilize for promoting your shop or showcasing your 3D printed products.
Reddit can be a great source of referral traffic for your shop and can lead to increased exposure and sales. The "homepage of the internet" can be a tricky landscape to navigate, so here are some tips to get started.
Tip 1: When submitting your work to Reddit make sure to choose a subreddit that best fits your niche. For example if you love doing Minecraft sculptures submit to the r/Minecraft subreddit.
Tip 2: Follow and be respectful of the subreddits posting rules. Read carefully and be considerate before posting.
Tip 3: Posting at the right time is important. Keep in mind if your content is relevant and when people will be online in your timezone for the audiences that you're trying to reach. Most importantly make sure your post is not spammy.
Tip 4: Engage with your post, especially in the comments section of the thread. Answer questions that commenters might have.
Tip 5: Use a clear or catchy title for your post. Make sure your post links to a trusted site or url link.
Here is a specific example of shop owners who have used Reddit well for promoting their shop.
Shop owners somersault18:24 used Reddit to showcase their beautiful and attractive Neuron Pendant to a greater audience on Reddit. As a result they saw over 5k visits and a huge lift in traffic to their Shapeways shop.
Imgur is another great resource for linking images to your Reddit post and to your Shapeways products. Take a look at this album by Shapie Jeff Wong for example here. Jeff does a great job of using Imgur to tell the greater story of the process it took from him to 3D model his design, 3D print his model using Shapeways, all the way to the final product.
For more additional tips and tricks on leveraging your shop and products through social media platforms like Reddit feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @NinjaRAWLegend.
We chatted with Fernando to better understand the inspiration behind his figurine and his design process.
What inspired you to create this model?
I wanted to make something unique, of my own, and I liked politics and always wanted to make political figurines. I had an idea for Obama, but it wasn’t "hot." When I was watching Gov. Chris Christie’s interview, he mentioned cones, overalls, and I got a mental picture of him wearing a construction vest directing traffic and just started modeling.
How long did it take and what 3D software do you use?
About 40-50 hours. My figurines are original and copyrighted and so it's a worthy use of my time. I use Maya, Meshlab, sometimes Netfabb, but I tried almost everything out there.
How did you get into 3D printing?
I learned 3D modeling in school, but I learned most of what I use today on my own. I have always worked in design, and had an idea for a custom iPhone case (iPhone case + wallet + money clip + bottle opener), which was almost impossible to make. So, I decided to try 3D printing it — that was the first thing I ever 3D printed with Shapeways and I was really happy with it. I now also have my own 3D printer and run a prototyping company called nuPROTO.
Why do you use a 3D printing service like Shapeways if you own a 3D printer?
For prototypes and things I need right away, I use my 3D printer at home. You guys have the highest quality and can print in detail that home printers can't. I find it valuable to be able to use both.
How would you describe Shapeways to a friend?
3D printing for the everyday guy. You don’t have to know how to model, you can just find something you like and buy it.
Want to see more of Fernando’s designs? Check out his shop or his prototyping company, nuPROTO.
Have a great idea for a 3D printed product but need some help getting it off the ground? Our Shapie Designers for Hire have a knack for helping people make their ideas real. So take advantage of them!
Today’s Designer for Hire is James Liang, of Sharpen 3D Solution. His shop is a 3D printing design firm that creates everything from simple shapes to spaceships, figurines, and prototypes. James and his team of experienced designers, artists, and printing technicians are accustomed to helping people at all skill levels whether you have a half-finished 3D file or just a sketch on a napkin.
Specialties: Modeling from as few as one single image and being able to extrapolate the entire 3D object or figure
Services: Conceptualization consultation, 2D to 3D modeling, 3D model extrapolation from single image, 3D printing file preparation
3D Software Used: MAYA, ZBrush, 3D MAX, CAD, Netfabb, Freeform
“Sharpen 3D is a talented 3D modeling team. They helped me on several projects. They did excellent jobs. They are fast, reliable, and professional. I really like their artists. They are patient and smart. Every time, I tell them my idea, they can figure it out and deliver exactly what I want . Thank you Sharpen 3D, I will do more projects with you guys.” -Vijay, Sep 27, 2013
“I just had a custom 3D model completed by Sharpen 3D and it was very pleasant experience to work with this design company. I received a quality model in a mere few days and the final result looks just like I had pictured in my mind, not to mention this all for a very reasonable price. I was kept updated on the progress all the way and revisions were applied quickly and accurately without any extra charges. They truly listen to what you say. I would highly recommend this company to anyone who is looking for a quick, professional, and affordability…” -Moniek, Oct 11, 2013
“I really like dealing with your company, you are fast, honest and reliable.” -Engy, Aug 23, 2013