"Entrepreneurs with limited resources, such as
designer Jeff Bare, are increasingly using online service companies such
as Shapeways, which prints uploaded designs and lets members open
virtual stores on the site where they pay a fee for each item they sell.
a furniture designer by day, began designing a cover for the iPad
three months before it was introduced in April 2010. With an estimate
of iPad dimensions, he printed a prototype. After making adjustments,
he was ready to sell his covers when iPad was launched. The first
cover, made of polyimide (nylon-based plastic), sold a month later for
Bare is one of 120,000 users of Shapeways, based in New York.
Shapeways printed 750,000 products last year, ranging from jewelry (a
popular category) to phone accessories. "In China, you have to order
thousands. (Here), you can order one or two," says Shapeways CEO Peter
Weijmarshausen. "The risk of doing business goes down to absolutely