Category Archives: Shop Owner

Ora Cufflinks: A story of design and collaboration

One of the great things about being a part of the Shapeways community (in our humble opinion) is the amount of talented designers you are able to connect with. We love seeing community members connecting on our forums, Twitter, Facebook and more. Sometimes those small connections lead to even more, as shown through this beautiful collaboration between two shop owners. Gabriel Prero and Bathsheba put their two talent forces together to create some amazing cufflinks. What we love the most about this product is that it really showcases each designer individually.

We asked them both a few questions about how this all got started. Read on to learn how the idea came about and their (great!) tips on working with other designers.

How did the idea for this collaboration come about?

G: Strangely enough, it came about through the Shapeways Crew. I was doing a Crew presentation for the School of Design at the University of Illinois Chicago, and was sent a sample pack of various Shapeways models. One of those was the ever-iconic Ora by Bathsheba. I’d seen it before online, but never in person, and I was taken aback by just how striking it is in person. Pictures really can’t do it justice. And it’s just a pleasure to hold and play with. So I figured I’d send Bathsheba a note letting her know how much I loved the piece. She replied that she had gotten many requests for cufflink versions, and asked if I’d be interested in the collaboration. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity.

B: Well, it started when Gabriel wrote to me that he had got one of my “Ora” pieces and liked it.  People have asked me for cufflinks of my designs before, but since I don’t really wear French cuffs it would be work for me to figure out what makes a good cufflink, and I’d always left those queries on the suggestions pile.  So when I saw Gabriel’s shop, which is a very nice presentation by someone who clearly knows his links, I though why not ask?

Why did you choose to do something with the Ora design?

G: The initial idea to make it a cufflink really belongs to Bathsheba. I was more in the right place at the right time:) Though I do think it lends itself very well to this scale. To shrink any sculpture down risks losing some detail, or having a print fail. The Ora scaled beautifully, and printed successfully right off the bat.

B: Most importantly it was Gabriel’s choice — since he did the work of adapting the design and photographing the product, definitely it should be something he likes.  On the practical side, not many of my designs can be printed in steel small enough for this application, so that narrows down the choices.

How long did the process take?

G: From initial email until the listing went live, about 6 weeks. Though the actual design work went pretty quickly. Most of the time were just back and forth emails and waiting for the Shapeways box to arrive.

B: From the beginning of April to late May, so quick as these things go.

What was the best part about working with another designer?

G: Often when I do custom work for customers, they’re unfamiliar with the CAD or 3D printing process. Collaborating with someone as experienced as Bathsheba, it was nice to speak the same language, and share experience.

B: He’s awfully good!

Any future collaborations coming up?

G: We’ve talked about “cufflink-izing” some of her other creations, so we’ll see!

B: We might do some more links if this one goes well.  Meanwhile I’m always open to suggestions!  I’m a fan of licensing deals; they’ve generally been pleasant and productive, so I try to answer any reasonable email.

Any tips on how designers can best work together?

G: I think the best tip I can offer is to just start the conversation! One of the things that keep surprising me about the Shapeways community is that the members are so open for exchanging ideas and giving meaningful feedback. Don’t be shy approaching someone you admire whom you’d consider to be in a “league above”.

B: I think it’s important to have a good contract.  The assets in play here were on Gabriel’s side, expertise in designing cufflinks and a platform to sell them; and on my side the design itself, and experience with licensing transactions.

The first three of these things are sort of obvious, but I’d like to unpack the last one.  I have a nondisclosure agreement which allows me to share the design file with less risk — you pretty much have to do this to evaluate the possibility, and without an NDA the risk is all on the designer’s side.  Having that handy gets rid of a major source of worry and distrust.

Thanks to both of you for your time and insight! Make sure to check out both their shops for even more amazing design.

 

New Shapeways classes on Skillshare

We’ve heard from our community that videos are one of the best ways to learn about 3D printing. From tutorials to our How I Made It series, they are a great visual to use when picking up tips and tricks to up your 3D printing game.

In the past we’ve worked with our friends over at Skillshare to create videos that show you the ins and outs of 3D modeling. Today we’re excited to announce the launch of another series of videos that anyone can use to learn about running a small business on Shapeways.

An Online Skillshare Class by Lauren Slowik, Shapeways Designer Evangelist for Education

Enroll For Free

Our marketplace is growing everyday (there are more than 23,000 shops!) and that means thousands of people have used their 3D design talent to start a small business. While we try to make things as easy as possible for our shop owners, there are still a few ways they can make sure their shop stands out from the crowd. From crafting a shop description to merchandising your products to rocking social media, these short, fun videos will give you all the tips and tricks to creating and running a shop on Shapeways.

As if that wasn’t good enough, Skillshare is offering our community the chance to sign up for a one-month Premium account for just $.99! Use code SHAPEWAYS when signing up.

Check them out and let us know what you think!

Browse Shapeways in Local Currencies

Today, we introduced a new feature that will make the Shapeways shopping experience better on a more global scale. Until now, shoppers could only see prices in USD and EUR. Starting today, shoppers will be able to browse the marketplace in USD, EUR, AUD, GBP and CAD.

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When you visit the site, you’ll now have an option in the footer to change settings and view prices in different currencies.

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It’s important to note that all payments will still be processed in USD or EUR (that depends on your shipping country, and we’ll let you know in checkout). The only difference will be the price you see when viewing your products.

In addition, shop owners can access a price preview of their products in these currencies on the Selling page. This will give a glimpse of what your customers will see when they visit your shops.

Happy browsing!

New Solution for Shop Owners to Manage Images

Yesterday we made an improvement to how you can manage an important aspect of your Shapeways Shop: Images! We are aware that there have been some discrepancies with product images for the past few months, and this fix should address some of those issues. For the last few months, we’ve been getting feedback from the community that you’d like to be able to set the order of the images on your product page. We’ve listened to that feedback and are excited to share that today you’ll have full control over how images are prioritized on your product pages, product box and carousel.

Our new image management interface for Shop Owners to have greater control over how their images are displayed on the product page.
View from Model Edit page: Images prioritized as 1, 2 and 3.

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View from Product Page: Default image 1 is first image, and images labeled 2 and 3 are second and third in carousel. 

Currently, you have the ability to set a default image for your default material of your product.  With our new release, you can not only set the default image for your default material, but also order the photos in your carousel in the product page. Additionally, if you have multiple images for a product in a particular material whether or not it’s your default material, you can now prioritize which image we show when a customer is looking at that specific material. Here’s how:

The first thing to know about the new image table is that the order of the photos in this table will be the order of the photos in your product’s image carousel on your product page. To move an image up or down in priority, simply change the priority number to the desired rank, and your photo will move up or down in the table. This means your #1 priority image is going to be the first image in the image carousel on the product page. Your #2 priority image is going to be the second image shown in the image carousel and so on and so forth.

Second, you now have control over not only the default image of your default material, but also the default image for all other materials.

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View from Model Edit page: Control the default image for your default material and non-default material alike while setting the order of the images displayed in the image carousel on your product page.

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View from Product Page: Image labeled 2 is Blue Strong & Flexible (non-default material) but is default photo when Blue Strong & Flexible material swatch is chosen (as opposed to image labeled 4 above).

The default image for your default material is the most important image of your product, as it is the photo shoppers will see while browsing the marketplace and when landing on your product page unless they have selected a specific material while browsing. So how do you set the default image for your default material? It will be the highest priority image in the image table tagged with your default material. So that you always know what your default material is when looking at your image table, we’ve labeled all images tagged with your default material with a ‘Default Material’ label. We’ve also labeled your highest priority image tagged with the default material as ‘Default Material – Default Image’ so it is always clear what your default image for your default material is.

So what happens when a customer searches for your product in a specific material or clicks on a material swatch on the product page? How do we know which image to show? You now additionally control the default image for all materials, not just the default material. The default image for a non-default material acts exactly the same way where it’s the highest priority image in the image table tagged with that material. For example, if the shopper selects your gold swatch on the product page (and silver is your default material), we will start at the top of your priority list, and go down the list until we find the first image that is tagged with the material ‘gold.’

This means if you have multiple pictures of your product in any material, make sure to prioritize your favorite photo of your product in that material above the other photos in that material so it will be the default image for that material.

While we’ve recently removed Not For Sale items from the marketplace, they do still remain available on your designer profile page. If you have a public product that is marked Not For Sale, the image shoppers will see on the product page will be your highest priority image in your image table. This is all to say that products marked Not For Sale appear the exact same way as products that are available for sale.

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View of Not For Sale: Image prioritization settings are saved

So in sum, you will now have control over: 1) the order in which your images are displayed in the image carousel on the product page, 2) the default image for your default material, 3) the default image for each non-default material, and 4) the image shown when your product is not for sale.

We appreciate your ongoing patience while we are working to fix open issues concerning images on the site. Because of the learned complexity of open image issues, we are releasing features that address open issues today. As always, thanks for all the feedback, and we hope this helps!

The Hate Project

Posted by in Community, Shop Owner

With almost 25,000 shops on our site, we could spend all days browsing the amazing products our community has for sale. We’re always interested in seeing what new things pop up and how customers are finding new shops.

A few weeks ago we noticed a shop called The Hate Project was very popular. Obviously we were very curious and connected with the shop owner to find out more about the shop and how they attracted customers.

Tell us a little about yourself!

My Name is Rob Baptie and I started a small social experiment called the Hate Project based on selling goods via the internet from California and giving the money away to charitable causes.

What’s the story behind your shop?

The Hate Project is a crowdsourcing endeavor based on the idea that together, smaller donations that might be deemed insignificant can make a huge difference when lumped together.  This idea/project was born out of trying to help a friend whose nieces were stricken with Cystic Fibrosis raise money for their foundation.  This process is documented here: The Hatedust Project .

To date we have given away about $195,000 to different charitable groups like AlphaK9.org and The Make-A-Wish Foundation. Why HATE? I like the idea of repurposing a negative into a positive. HATE comes from what we decided your insides would do if you ate too much of our pepper concotion called Hatedust.

What’s the story behind your designs?

The designs mainly involve variations on my pig based theme. I started fundraising for Make-A-Wish by donating pig bbq’s for their charity.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the good in others.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?

The ease of operation Shapeways brings to my efforts.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

I don’t! I have a good friend, Wes Newman, do it for me and he is GREAT!

How do you promote your work?

I promote via my Facebook Group: The Hate Project https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheHateProject/

Anything else you want to share?

I’d just like to thank all the HATERs who have supported this idea over the last 18 months. 100% of our net proceeds have gone to helping others.  This idea is nothing without their ongoing support.

Thanks, Rob! We always love seeing our community use their creativity for good. Also, be sure to check out the website to learn more about the project (and to find out what Hatedust is!).

From finance professional to 3D designer: How I got started with Shapeways

Dain Penman is a member of Shapeways Crew and the owner of the shop Madasu Designs

I have been 3D modeling, uploading files and printing through Shapeways for around six months now and wanted to share my journey of how and why I got into 3D modeling. I work in the Finance industry, but studied industrial design for one semester straight out of school. So the interest in design has been ticking away in the back of my mind for some time now.

I reached a point where I was seeking a new challenge, but with a mortgage and a baby I didn’t feel I could make a bold leave-my-job-pursue-crazy-idea type move without being completely irresponsible. I had a few product ideas and looked at Kickstarter to fund one – however when I reached the point of actually launching a campaign I realized my heart wasn’t in the product. And if I couldn’t get excited about it, how could I expect anyone else to?

So looking to products that I could get excited about, I decided to attempt to make coffee cups. I worked on designs and tried (rather unsuccessfully) to model some cups out of clay as prototypes. I had planned to use the clay cups to make molds and cast coffee cups in resin – however none of the commercially available resins were food safe, which I felt was a necessity for something containing hot coffee! I briefly looked into using an overseas supplier to make my cups for me, so I could just design and sell. The barrier was the requirement to order a minimum amount of each design – even stocking only a few designs would be very expensive and take up precious space in my house!

Some attempts at clay cups – not very successful!

Some attempts at clay cups – not very successful!

Around this time I started thinking about 3D printing, of which I had very limited knowledge. A few Google searches gave me some names and I discovered Shapeways!

Initially I was designing different coffee cups, but before I could get an order ceramic production ceased. I like to look for the silver lining and in this case it encouraged me to look at different materials and the different ways I could use them.

Shapeways render of one of my early cups in red.  Will soon get this printed in porcelain!

Shapeways render of one of my early cups in red. Will soon get this printed in porcelain!

There have been a few highlights in my Shapeways journey so far:

  • Uploading my first model and seeing the renders make it look oh so nice onscreen.
  • Receiving my first shipment in a Shapeways box.
  • Setting up my shop Madasu Designs in January this year and receiving my first sale.

Right now I am working on building out my product range, growing my social media presence and trying to get some more sales. It is interesting to reflect on the journey that brought me to Shapeways, particularly that in hindsight Shapeways would be useful in the different steps I took:

  • Prototyping to prepare for a crowdfunding campaign and making a working model.
  • Prototyping for mold creation for materials not available through 3D printing like silicone and resins.
  • Product development and iteration before committing to order through a mass-manufacturer.

That said, I am very happy with utilizing Shapeways 3D printing to build my business at this stage. It allows me to focus primarily on the design side, which is what I really enjoy, while Shapeways takes care of production and shipping.

3D Racetracks lands licensing deal with major European motorsports complex

As we’ve talked about in recent weeks, we think it’s becoming more important and relevant for larger organizations and brands to open up their Intellectual Property and allow their fans to create products based on some of their favorite characters, and the like. As Hasbro has done with SuperFanArt, we’re always happy to see our designers working with companies to expand creativity and innovation. It continues to be a topic of discussion, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the conversation.

Today, we’re excited to talk about one of our amazing shop owners, Jeremy Burnich, who recently struck up a licensing agreement with motorsports complex, Nürburgring, to produce four Nordschleife track sculptures – including the unique topographic models, a design only available through 3D Racetracks.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.09.24 AM

We caught up with Jeremy to talk a little more about his designs and how this deal came to be:

Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration behind these tracks?

I started making these track models because I am pretty obsessed with MotoGP – Grand Prix motorcycle racing. There’s a few places where you can get track sculptures in wood but they are close to $300+. Since I was designing jewelry and other items for Joy Complex I decided to try making models to be 3D printed. When I came up with the idea of making these tracks, all I really wanted to do were the circuits on the current MotoGP calendar. That’s how it started. It got a little more serious after I showed them to my local MotoGP friends. They really dug them. I printed a few more and shared the photos on Reddit and the response was very positive.

After that I decided I wanted to make something REALLY different and it just so happened that when I did I was glancing at an article on the new (at the time) Circuit of the Americas in Texas. I was admiring the elevation changes and that’s when it hit me – no one had ever done topographic models before, only outlines. Topographic models would be sort of hard to make traditionally, but 3D printing is kind of perfect for making them. That’s when I started hunting for elevation data and experimenting with designs!

What is your favorite part of designing these tracks?

As a MotoGP fan, I suppose my favorite part is that I get sort of more acquainted with the circuits my favorite riders compete on. Being sort of hands on with the topography really makes me appreciate the sport even more. Also, I guess it’s the same reason anyone builds a model airplane, train or spaceship – to be transported somewhere else. To feel closer to a place or maybe even a time. In the end, I thought it would be neat to hold my favorite tracks in the palm of my hand. You really feel connected to the particular track when you’re holding it. It’s strange. Really, it makes you want to see a race even more, so I guess it feeds the obsession. My other favorite thing is when they sell! Each track I sell goes into my MotoGP fund for my trip to COTA or Indy. If I sell a lot, maybe even a race in Europe!

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.23.35 AM

How did you connect with Nürburgring?

I posted a picture of the track model on their Facebook page and tweeted about it, but because I used their logo without permission they kindly asked me to stop. However, they also asked me if I was receptive to working with them and perhaps officially license the track model so that I could use their logo. After that, we were emailing back and forth until we hammered out a contract we were both happy with. 

What’s next for you? Any fun new designs coming up?

I’m in negotiations with another big European racing facility, and I’m always adding new tracks or refining the designs on old ones. I am also working on a collaboration with my friend Alex Alexander who runs the shop Mini F1 Drivers. We should have something pretty soon! He’s doing amazing work and has a few official products of his own. He’s big into Formula 1 and with me being in MotoGP, maybe we can corner the 3D printed motorsports market! 

Great stuff! The Nürburgring North Loop models will be available at the Online Nürburgring Store and in their paddock shop. They are also available to purchase directly from 3D Racetracks on Shapeways.

Share your Shapeways products anywhere with our new Product Widget

The Shapeways widget is an easy way to share your Shop and favorite products outside of Shapeways. We are excited to add a brand new embeddable widget to showcase a single product, as well as an update to our existing Shop Section & Favorites Widget.

Embeddable widgets are a tool for sharing products outside of Shapeways and are a great way to grow your shop’s presence online and drive more traffic to your shop on Shapeways. You can use them to showcase your shop and designs on your own website, or to share products that you love on forums or other sites that you are involved in. Pretty much any site that allows you to add your own custom html is ripe for sharing your Shapeways products!

New: Product Embeddable Widget

We have a new embeddable widget showcasing a single product. It is simple to find the link to embed a product: a link has been added on the product page for each product.

The embed code for your product underneath the Buy Now button on each product.

 

You can also find it on the Product Details page for each product that you have.

We have made it easy for you to update the dimensions and remove the Buy Now button to make the widget fit perfectly wherever you want to use it, you can learn more about customizing the new widget in this tutorial.

Updated: Shops & Favorites Widget

We’ve also updated our existing Shop and Favorites Widget to keep it up to date and resolve some issues it had in the past.  If you are new to the shop widget, you can use it to embed a widget of your whole shop or a specific shop section, or your favorites or wishlist. You can learn more about how to set up and use the Shop, Shop Section and Favorites Widgets here.

We are excited to see how you use these new and updated widgets, but we are also eager to add more customization options based on your feedback! Feel free to give us suggestions for future versions in our feedback form here and please share your examples with us in the comments or on Twitter.

Introducing RUSH 2 & 3 Day Production on Shapeways Regular White Strong and Flexible Plastic!

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Have you ever wished your 3D prints would arrive faster? That you could order on a Tuesday and receive parts the same week? Today we have some very exciting news for you:

Introducing RUSH 2 & 3 Day Production on Shapeways Regular White Strong and Flexible Plastic!

You’ve convinced us to give it a try. You’re all invited to sign up for our Rush Pilot! Anyone can sign up, and we’ll slowly let users over the coming weeks in accordance with our capacity. You’ll be notified via email when you’re in.

Important Details about 2 & 3 Day Rush:

  • Rush offering is for unpolished White Strong & Flexible only with a bounding box < 150x150x200mm

  • Target Ship Day for North America, Australia, and New Zealand:  Leaves our factory in 3 business days for orders made before 2pm CET / 8am EDT. Orders placed after that time will be counted towards the next business day.

    • i.e. Order placed on Tuesday 7am EDT, parts are shipped end of day Friday. Order placed on Thursday 4pm EDT, parts are shipped EOD following Wednesday.

  • Target Ship Day For All Other Geographies: Leaves our factory in 2 business days for orders made before 2pm CET / 8am EDT. Orders placed after that time will be counted towards the next business day.

    • i.e. Order placed on Tuesday 7am EDT, parts are shipped end of day Thursday. Order placed on Thursday 4pm EDT, parts are shipped EOD following Tuesday.

  • Rush orders are twice the price of regular WSF (pricing may change in the future)

  • You can use the  ‘Print it Anyway’ option along with Rush if you choose.

  • Beta users will have a rush option added to checkout flow. All rush parts will need to placed in a separate shopping cart in order for the rush option to appear.

  • Check the material status page before you order to make sure we have capacity before placing your rush order. This is an experiment, and we physically have a daily-maximum volume capacity for Rush.  While we will always do our best to make it happen, we may not always have room to accommodate your order. If you place an order that we won’t be able to deliver on time, customer service will reach out so you can cancel your order and place it again as regular White Strong & Flexible.

  • To ensure your order arrives as fast as possible, you still need to select Next-Day-Shipping (or fastest available) in your region.

What do you look forward to making faster with RUSH?

2014 in Review: Shapeways Community 3D Printing Stories

What was your 2014 3D Printing Highlight? There are so many great Shapeways stories to tell from 2014, the team here has had a hard time narrowing it down for our Year in Review. Really, what matters to us is what mattered to you! We asked the community what their 3D Printing highlights of 2014 were, and here are some of your great responses:

Inspiring Quotes from Top Shop Owners:

The entrepreneurial mind behind Joy Complex and 3D RacetracksJeremy Burnich, saw his business grow and had “sales every month!”

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He also noted, Small Business Bootcamp was definitely a highlight for me personally. Was amazing to be in a room with so much talent and knowledge in one place. The HP color printing announcement was pretty exciting. Looking forward to seeing how that pans out for HP and Shapeways.”

coretta-robot

Corretta Singer, who lives in Jamaica but somehow managed to meet up with us in London on our UK roadshow and in New York City also agreed, “Shapeways Small Business Bootcamp was Awesome.” Corretta is the Queen of the Caribbean as the regions top Shop Owner and as an island hopping 3D evangelist and educator.

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For Shop Owner and beloved forum moderator Stony Smith, it was hitting an important Shop milestone “September 5th, 2014: 5000th unit sold.” Full steam ahead, Stony!

Fernando Sosa, a Shapie veteran, launched a new Shop and brand this year, Political Sculptor. He confirmed 2014 was “the birth of 3D Printed Political Satire,” all starting with his hilarious Chris Christie Bridgegate Sculpt.

fernando

 

Gil Rivera, a rising Shapeways star said “being recognized by the white house! also being selected as a Shapeways “designer for hire!” were his Shapeways highlights. Some of ours too, Gill!

Quotes From and About the Wonderful Maker Community:

I am a closet anatomy nerd and when I read Rachel Case’s tweet it gave me chills. Her highlight was “making custom brain jewelry for my neuroscientist wife — from an MRI scan of her brain!” 

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Rachel was so inspired by the experience, she even opened up a Shop! Good thing Valentines day is on the way (hint hint, babe).

For many, it’s about 2014 was the year they introduced their friends to Shapeways. Shapie legend Ryan Kittleson was one such example, “A lot of my friends already know how to do 3D modeling, so it was only natural that they get involved with printing their work on shapeways.” Also, he added, “getting that Shapeways package in the mail is like Christmas day any time of the year!” Much Agree, Ryan.

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Mark Greenwood, an Englishmen and avid coffee drinker needed a serious solution when the bracket that holds the milk in his refrigerator broke. His highlight was “designing and 3D printing the bracket to help keep milk in the fridge!” An ingenious Shapeways hack, Mark, nice work. He was even kind enough to blog about the experience. 

coffeeee

 

Chic Testimonials from the Front Lines of Digitally Fabricated Fashion:

For Alexis Walsh, her 2014 3D Printing Highlight was “exhibiting the SPIRE DRESS at 3D Printshow London and 3D Printshow Paris. Designed by me & @rossleonardy

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Alexis and Ross used our White Strong and Flexible Plastic and made the dress out of 400 individual pieces!

Designed by Isis was most excited by “the birth of my lily bracelet” this year. We can see why!

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Quotes About the Gift of Giving Custom, Personal Gifts Through 3D Printing:

Many of you know the magic of giving a 3D Printed gift and this time of year we’re lucky enough to hear many of them. This one from Thom May was particularly fun. “I made this figurine of my niece and gave it to my sister for xmas. seemed like a hit!” We were also happy to hear that appreciates the quality, it came out great! the printed steel is so cool: definitely anxious to try more!”

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One of my favorites comes from Tommy Serrien on Twitter, who said that his highlight was “the face of my girlfriend when i gave her these one of a kind 3D Printed earrings! :-) We know the feeling, Tommy!

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What was your 3D Printing Highlight of 2014? Share yours in the comments here or with us on twitter @shapeways for a chance to be featured on an upcoming blog.

Shapeways Celebrates You This Small Business Saturday

Did you know today is Small Business Saturday? A day focused on supporting your community and the independent businesses within that. Online small businesses count too, and that’s why today is my favorite of this wild holiday weekend. There is a lot to celebrate today, alongside the over 22,000 small business owners powered by Shapeways 3D Printing. Remind your friends and family when they shop from you store on Shapeways, not only are the getting a great deal this weekend, they’re also supporting the maker movement and the small businesses within that.

Learn more about the people behind Shapeways 3D Printing powered businesses through our Designer Spotlight series. Celebrate your creative independence and remind others to #ShopSmall! What small business on Shapeways is your favorite?

 

Build Your Business with 3D Printing: Video from our Small Business Bootcamp

Shapeways now has over 22,000 shop owners who are building their businesses using 3D printing. The ability to build a 3D printing powered business is very new and we are proud that it is our community at Shapeways who are leading the way in developing best practices for these creative, small business owners. To further support and celebrate our shop owners we organized our first ever Small Business Bootcamp on October 24th, 2014 in New York City. It was a day of entrepreneurial and design inspiration that offered concrete advice on business planning, marketing and designing 3D printed products from Shapeways shop owners with support from Shapeways staff members.

3D printing small business conference

3D printing offers the opportunity of mass customization and making products you want, not just what is available. As Wayne Losey of Modio and creator of Modibot said as he discussed his discovery of 3D printing and possibility for customization after working in the toy industry, “We don’t live in a world where everyone loves Elvis. We have choices now.”

Wayne was just one of the speakers who shared ideas and resources the Bootcamp and you can find videos of the full sessions from the Small Business Bootcamp on our YouTube channel. We hear a lot from our community of shop owners and designers about where you feel you need extra information, guidance and inspiration as you build your business. We worked to highlight shop owners in our community that stand out as examples of marketing, branding, product development and their ability to create a unique business and audience.

The morning of the Bootcamp focused on business basics from a 3D printing perspective. We kicked it off with a keynote talk from David Gillespie, Shapeways Vice President for Manufacturing, about how 3D printing is driving the future of manufacturing and why he is excited to be working to solve the design and business challenges our community presents encounters. He was followed by Susan Taing, founder of bhold, who discussed her process of product development and iteration and how to choose a “winning” product. Melissa Ng, of Lumecluster, discussed her business planning process and how she finds and shares inspiration as an entrepreneur. Kacie Hultgren of Pretty Small Things and Jeremy Burnich of Joy Complex discussed how they brand and market their shops with Global Community Manager Savannah Peterson.

In the afternoon we focused on practical tips for designing and maximizing the potential of Shapeways and 3D printing in your business. Thomas Ellison, Customer Service Team Lead, about the basics of intellectual property for 3D printing. Design Evangelist for Education Lauren Slowik moderated a panel with 3D printed metal sculptor Bathsheba Grossman, artist Ashley Zelinskie, and Wayne Losey about how they have found a niche and established themselves in their fields using 3D printing. The day ended with a panel on how to optimize your designs for the materials Shapeways offers and featured presentations from Rob from Gotham Smith and Christian Brock of Wulong Toys along with Raphael Stargrove and Gabe Leader-Rose, Shapeways Physical Product Managers.

3D printing small business materials

While 3D printing is a great way to create custom products, when you are launching a business there is always more to do to market and present your products to the world. In the spirit of the day, Bathsheba remarked, “The plain object, or the art, doesn’t sell itself – it’s the aura around it. 3D printing helps that, although it was easier 10 years ago. It’s starting to go away.” This also raises a challenge: as 3D printing becomes more widespread, what new challenges will arise for small business owners?

What do you think will the future of 3D printed business will hold? We plan to make this conference an annual event and look forward to your suggestions of what additional topics you would like to cover or delve into more deeply, and speakers you would like to hear from.

If you are in New York and would like to talk more about the small business of the future and how new technology is empowering small business owners, please join us for a Small Business Saturday Brunch at Wix Lounge on Saturday November 29 from 1 to 2:30 pm. You can find more details and RSVP on the Wix website!

Shapeways October Top Sellers & Viewed 3D Printed Products

Have you ever wondered what products sell best on Shapeways? What products are going viral and getting the most traffic? Well, thanks to your feedback and with some help from friends of ours at 3Dprint.com we’ve started a new series. Every month, we’re going to share the top 10 marketplace sellers on Shapeways as well as our top 10 viewed products. Below is a peek at last month’s leading models.

Shapeways October Top Sellers

1. & 2.  Moto 360 Bumper Case by Raelx

These are some of the first and only Moto 360 bumpers on the market and they are only $8! We were very excited to see these take off and get picked up by all the gadget media. Our only hope is that Raelx makes additional versions (he has a short and tall currently) in our premium metals… Here Shapie shopper Michael Shulteis shows off his in our red strong and flexible plastic (found on twitter):

moto 360

 

3. Itty Bitty Sad Keanu by neuralfirings

A Shapeways veteran all-star, Sad Keanu saw a huge bump in traffic after we helped celebrate Keanu Reeve’s 50th Birthday by throwing him a 3D Printed party on vine:

You can see the rest of the Top Sellers in October over on 3DPrint.com

Shapeways October Most Viewed Products

2. Origami Crane Skeleton by Joabaldwin 

Joaquin Baldwin’s crane is very well designed, and this fantastic image tells the story immediately. It’s hard not to be a bit mesmerized when you see it for the time:

origami-crane-skeleton

 

8. Spitfire My Little Pony by Christophe Vidal

The new additions to the SuperFanArt family have been incredible, Spitfire being one of the fan favorites! Christophe has designed many products on Shapeways, and his My Little Pony modeling is helping him reach new audiences.

sptifire

 

You can see the full list of top viewed Shapeways products from October of on 3dprint.

What do you hope to see make Novembers list?

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Five Easy Ways to Supercharge Your SEO

This is the eight post in a 10 week series leading up to our busiest sales weekend of the year. We’ve covered everything from getting press for your 3D printed products to how to promote your products on social media and much in our Shop Owner bootcamp series. This week’s post comes from our performance marketing pro, Jeanne, we’re focused on SEO.

eggbot-mygadgetlife-shapeways

Scottish Shapie Shop Owner MyGadgetLife has some of the best product descriptions on Shapeways. Check out his eggbot (above) and his moon mobius to get inspired for your shop!

5 Easy Ways (Under 5 Minutes) to Get Your Products Picked Up by Google

We’ve already talked about various ways to get customers to your shop, but today we’re going to dive even deeper and talk about the importance of search engine results (SEO). Currently, organic search results are one of the top drivers to Shapeways. The more you can get your products in search engine results, the more likely a potential customer will visit your product page and make a purchase. Below are five tips to get your products search engine optimized in minutes.

#1 Use Specific Keywords in Your Product Titles & Descriptions

Your model titles and descriptions are used not only on your model page on Shapeways, but in search engine search results – a two for one! So, titles and descriptions with specific, relevant keywords will help your products appear in and get people to click (which helps it to surface even more frequently).

Action: You can spend a lot of time on keyword optimization, but here are two easy ways to get started:

  • If you were to search for your product, what would you type in a search engine? Make sure those keywords are in both your title and description

  • Be as specific as possible with your description, including all the peripheral search terms that might be relevant (synonyms, the category that your product belongs in, types of customization or personalization, etc.)

For example, if I title my product “Holiday Ornament,” the likelihood that my product will show up on the first few pages of Google is very low (there are a total of 22.8m search results). Sucks, I know. But if I title it “Custom holiday ornament with initial,” I’m competing against 8.7m search results. And in my description, I’ll write “Christmas or holiday ornament can be customized with initials, monograms, names, images, and is a great unique gift for your loved ones.” Sounds wordy, but it works.

#2 Update Titles & Descriptions to a Certain Length

Anything too long or too short is suspected by search engines to be of low quality. There is a min and approximate max, and you are penalized with less opportunity to turn up in search results for it.

Action: Titles should be about 6 to 8 words (55 characters), with the most important words in the beginning. Descriptions should be at least 15 words (160 characters) with keywords described above in it, as that’s the snippet that gets viewed in search results so you want it to be enticing! Use natural language (the way you would normally talk or write) in your descriptions, including facts and statements to help viewers see the value of your product immediately.

Description

#3 Give Your Images Captions with Keywords

A picture is worth a thousand words. More and more people are finding Shapeways products through image searches on search engines (i.e. Google, Bing, etc). Including a photo and a description with keywords will increase the likelihood it will get picked up in image searches (known as an “Alt text”).

Action: In the Details tab of your model, fill in the image caption with keywords, starting with the ones most relevant to your product. For example, for this ornament I created with Shapeways ornament creator, my caption is “Custom Christmas holiday ornament with organic design”

Image caption

#4 Every Product is Unique, so its Title and Description Should Be Too!

Every model should have a unique title and description. Duplications are penalized by search engines because it assumes the viewer won’t have a good experience if there’s a lot of too-similar content.  Unique titles and descriptions will help your products get shown by search engines.

Action: Give your product titles and descriptions. Your products are unique and their titles and descriptions should be too.  little bit different is better than no difference at all.

#5 Your Shop Description is Prime for SEO Opportunity

Your shop page is full of opportunities for search engines to pick up, with your product and their titles, image alt text, and the robust area to write in a shop description.

Action: Update your Shop Description in your Shapeways Shop Settings with examples of your products types, your background and your expertise designing them. Feel free to elaborate on your designs and products, as the more relevant keywords on the page compared to non-relevant keywords, the better.

Bonus: Also add an extended description for your shop page.

Shop Description

Search engine optimization is a time-intensive and ever evolving process, but the key tenets are consistent: quality content, natural descriptions, and following basic guidelines will go a long way.

What keyword search do you wish you were the #1 result for?

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Seven Steps to Get Press for Your 3D Printed Products

This is the sixth edition of our ten week series counting down to Black Friday. Previously covered topics include engaging forums, tagging products, photography, market research, and reputation.

press-dcyaleRadial Drill Press HO Scale by Dave’s Model Railway Stuff

Have you dreamed of seeing your products on your favorite website, blog or media outlet? Are you ready to expand your audience? Believe it or not, it’s easier than you think. Getting promoted on Shapeways is always a great start; and by targeting publications and outlets with audiences that align with your target customer base, you can really see your sales go through the roof. Write out the checklist below and seek holiday press, one article can make you thousands of dollars; really.

Seven Steps to PR Success:

1) List Your Dream Publications to be Featured in: Where have you always wanted to have been featured? What would validate your company or give you bragging rights amongst those less familiar with how great your business is. Make the wishlist of publications you want to be featured it, you’ll check them off over time, I promise. Plus, visualizing where you want to be helps make it happen.

2) Identify the Reporters that Cover Your Niche: Almost all reporters have topics or “beats” that they cover. Make a list of 1-2 journalists at the publications that you want to be featured in to target for coverage of your work. Communicating with the right people at a media outlet is essential to you getting featured and saves everyone time.

3) Find and Document Ways to Reach Reporters: Twitter handles, news tip forms, and individual emails are all great ways to get in touch with journalists. I have found that twitter handles are often the fastest way to get in touch with someone, followed by email. Platforms that journalists check in real-time are always best. Make a list or spreadsheet of these.

4) Engage with Reporters BEFORE you Ask for Coverage: In order to get what you want (coverage) you need to give (engage). Follow those journalists online and interact with the content they create.  Comment on their articles, share those you and your audience will find relevant and make yourself known on their radar before you ask for a feature.

5) Ask for Attention: The notion that if you model it the journalists will come is naive. Everyone is overwhelmed by the amount of content online, and the best way to stand out is to contact writers directly. For example, if you design camera parts, tagging the reporter at Engadget that reviews cameras and saying “Hi John, loved your article on DLSR’s last week, I made this mod for my Canon,” etc. are great ways to get the conversation about you started.

6) Post Your Products on Platforms Journalists Often Search: You may not get a journalists attention the first time you reach out, but since what you’re creating is so cool, they’ll notice the buzz you stir up. Getting an existing online community excited about your work, like we discussed in last week’s forum tips, can really boost the exposure of your products to journalists and potential shoppers alike.

7) If at First You Don’t Succeed: Try, try again! Journalists are busy and on tight deadlines. Just because they don’t cover you today, doesn’t mean they won’t cover you next week. Share your latest creations with them, reminding the writer why their audience will love to hear about what you’ve done.

There are Shop Owners already doing a great job with this, and you can too! Some great recent examples include:

natasha-long-prosthetic-leg-by-melissa-ng

ittyblox-toyland-shapeways

Remember, both your products and your story as a 3D designer are noteworthy. Don’t be bashful, start growing your audience today!

Bonus challenge: Share your list of target outlets and reporters in our Marketing Your Shapeways Shop forum thread – the more we all work towards getting exposure for our work, the more journalistic interest there will be in all of us. One lucky list sharer will get $25 Shapeways credit.