Category Archives: 3D Printing

Video: 3D Printed Prosthesis Help Derby the Dog Run for the First Time

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Derby, an adorable husky mix was born with underdeveloped forearms (or forepaws as I like to call them) and a hyper developed sense of adventure. Undeterred by his condition, Derby’s foster parents experimented with a few mobility mechanisms and elbow pads for him before turning to 3D Printed prosthesis. Derby’s custom paws just allowed him to run for the first time, an activity he and his adopted parents have every day since.

If this doesn’t warm your heart and show you the healing power of 3D printing… perhaps this story about Shapeways’ Designer Melissa Ng, of Lumecluster, and the custom prosthesis she made earlier this year will:

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Know a pooch or person in need of prosthesis? Connect them to our community in the forums or reach out to me personally, Savannah@Shapeways.com. I’d love to help the dreams come true of our 2, 3 and 4 legged friends.


 

Five Predictions: The Future of Drones, Quadcopters and 3D Printing

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The new DJI Inspire 1, a convergence of consumer and commercial Drone technology

Every December we like to look back at the trends we’ve seen since January and assess what learnings should be applied to the year ahead. If there is on product category on Shapeways that has withstood the test of 2014 it is Drone Accessories. Battery pack hacks, propeller guards, landing gear, GoPro mounts and levers are just a few examples of the great 3D printed parts the Shapeways community is making for their quadcopters and multirotors. They’ve signaled to us that the Drone market is healthy and growing rapidly. Here are my thoughts looking forward.

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Five Predictions for Drones in 2015:

The “Drone” vs UAV vs Multirotor Debate will Fizzle

When multirotors went consumer, early adopters and advocates were weary of the term “Drone,” and rightfully so, most people associate drones with the military. That said, I think as the market gains awareness across the general public, we’ll be able to effectively differentiate from unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV – the scary kind) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV – the commercial and consumer kind).  I know hard core mutirotor fans out there may be skeptical, but I believe this will happen for a few simple reasons: 1) More and more people are flying and seeing consumer aircrafts, visually comprehending the difference 2) Drone is just easier. In the same way a table can have 2, 3, 4, 6 or however many legs, and UAVs have varying numbers of rotors. While multirotor is inclusive, it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue the way drone does. 3) It’s already happening. 150% more products on Shapeways are tagged “Drone” over “multirotor.”

Drone Activity Debates will Heat Up

While I believe the word “Drone” will become less controversial, the activity of Drones will only fall under more intense scrutiny. The air above us is considerably less regulated than the ground below us and with that ambiguity comes fear. “Drone Surveillance” is considerably more ominous sounding than “non-invasive aerial video” despite the activities (taking video from the sky) being exactly the same. Drone lovers will need to be sure to assure their clients and networks that they’re flying for good.


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Photo taken by Stephen Greenwood and I using the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

The Drone Laws are Coming

The FAA and their international counterparts have yet define the naughty and nice list for Drone pilots. While there are some guidelines, compared to other activities, playing with your consumer drone is relatively unregulated. Not only serving as oversight for the safety and privacy of citizens, Drone regulations will bring big bucks to emerging industries. The wild west will only stay wild for a little longer.

Drones will Show Us the Money

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) predicts that “The economic impact of the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS) will total more than $13.6 billion in the first three years.” This $$ means jobs, too; “Integration into the NAS will create more than 34,000 manufacturing jobs and more than 70,000 new jobs” overall in those same three years.  AUVSI predicts that between 2015 and 2025 those jobs will grow to over 100,000 and the market to $82.1 Billion.

Shapeways will Continue to Provide the Best (and Fastest) Drone Accessories

Yes, I’m biased for obvious reasons, but this is also data based. We have more accessories available faster than the companies that manufacture the drones because inventory is unnecessary in 3D Printing. Drone part designers test on their vehicles, iterating quicker than anyone else can. There are already over 1,000 unique Drone parts for sale on Shapeways, I predict that number grows to 2500 over the next year.

landinggear

Drones are not only a part of my day job, but they’re a part of my nights and weekends too. My boyfriend is a video producer and has fallen in love with the perspective now provided by these small unmanned aircrafts. I act as DP when I can, controlling the camera mounted to his DJI Phantom I. Occasionally, Martini (my dog) and I have an “encounter” with his training Hubsan quadcopter. If you still love something after it’s tried to nest itself in your hair, you know it’s a hobby that’s here to stay. That’s how I feel about Drones. There’s a lot to learn, and much room to grow.

What Drone do you have or want to get? Here’s an overview of the current consumer Drones if you’re just getting started.


 

Customized Pet Gifts for Animal Lovers

How many times have you heard “I want a pony!”? Well now, you can give one! Whether you’re a dog or cat (or bunny, pony, or hamster) person, we can all agree: pets are family members. We adore their companionship and love. Each and every pet is unique in their own way, so it’s no surprise to hear that some awesome people have come up with some apps to help customize a figurine of your pet, or products for your furry friend! Check out some of our favorites below.

Cuddle Clones
Cuddle Clones is a great site that lets you create your very own customized versions of your pets! Simply send in a photo of your favorite pet(s) and Cuddle Clones will make a full-colored figurine with a personlized base! Such a wonderful way to honor your favorite furry family members.

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Pupworkshop
Pupworkshop is a fun app that lets you customize your pup in a different way. Choose from colors, ears, eyes, snouts, tails, and even spots! The final product is a cute little animated pup who requires no puppy training!

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If you’re an animal lover in general, we’ve got plenty of 3D printed animals. Jewelry, home decor, accessories and more!

animals

Top row: NODE – Tiger Pendant by jbfontes, Dragonfly Pendant with Honeycomb Wings by markbenson, Hunting Cat by RobTorres. Middle row: Wired Life Stag by Dotsan, Mini Tiger Head by SimonStrauss. Bottom row: Morton the Elephant by HiLobster, Goldfish Pendant by alaswadi, Owl Pendant by echuckjackson.

Check out our apps page for more fun creations, and browse shops from the designers above more more great products! Happy shopping!

 

 


 

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?

 


 

Gifts for the Gamer

One of the best things about 3D printing is that you can create incredibly unique pieces that you aren’t able to find anywhere else. This really comes in handy when you need to find the perfect gift for a friend who has very particular tastes. Many of us know (or are!) someone who considers themselves a “gamer,” and while most people think of video games when they hear that term we actually imagine a whole other group of people – the tabletop gamers! From card games to board games, there is plenty fun to be had with these 3D printed game accessories. Find something special for the gamer in your life!

Steampunk Dice Set

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Intricate Card Holder

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Catan Card Management System

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Globe-On-Pillar: A different board game counter

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For more unique, customized gifts check out our full Gift Guide!


 

Getting Personal with Men’s Accessories

Check out this fun video for a few examples of products you can customize with your own personal touch!

Have some fun with the products you saw in the video.

Micro car - Micro car with open doors and turning wheels by DavidSun is not, in fact, a customizable product. It does, however, print with moving wheels and doors that can open and close, which is just as neat.

Add iPhone 4s Card Case by QuentinT

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This phone case is customizable in two ways! Add your name or text. Take it to the next level with a fun DIY project by painting your case.

YO, URCustom cufflinks by byShapeways 

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Cufflinks are such a great item to personalize. For men’s accessories, you can’t get much custom than this!

PersonalCustom bottle opener by MarcHeusdens. Because who doesn’t want their very own bottle opener?

PersonalMessage Cuff by designerica

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Steel makes for great men’s jewelry, with a more sturdy and rugged look. A bracelet with some custom text is the perfect gift for the guys who like to accessorize.

TCustom wax seal 3/4″ by Lightbringerouch Sheriffs Star (6 point) Pet tag/Pendant/Key fob by BluelinegeckoWI, THCufflinks Personalized with Your Initials by michiel_willemse

3DName night light by Heng

lightgip

Super fun idea, specifically great for 3D printing. Our White Strong & Flexible plastic is perfect for creating hollow objects that are transformed with just a few lights. Make it special for the holidays, or a unique nightlight for your kid’s bedroom.

P, RKeychain with letter by Astraris. Brag about your 3D print while reaching for your keychain; you’ll never mistake your keys again!

INTiPhone Charger Name Tag by kenan_godfrey

charger

We all have those friends who “borrow” our chargers. Never worry about a stolen or misplaced charger again, thanks this handy sleeve!

INGKey Sleeve by Daphne. You have keys to your house, your friend’s house, your car, mail, work, and probably a few that you’ve forgotten what they’re for. Keep organized with a key sleeve that tells you which one is which!

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There are so many ways 3D printing can help you create products just for you. The Shapeways marketplace is full of creative minds who are making products easy for you to customize with the click of a button. Check out our DIY page for more ideas of how to get what you really want.


 

Local Motors Launches New 3D Printed Car

Ever wanted to order a car on demand? Fantasized about when you design even more components of your life on Shapeways than you already do? Well, with the launch of Phoenix, Arizona, USA based Local Motors new 3D printed car, we’re now accelerating faster towards this future. Meet the Strati, Italian for layers, of course.

3D printed Car

Image, video and specs courtesy of Local Motors

The car is 3D printed in 49 parts, aka less than 1/100th of the 5,000 parts cars that are traditionally manufactured are made of. The 3D printing of the Strati took 44 hours, but this 45 second time-lapse video is one you’re going to have to see to believe:

Local Motors is global innovation community, like Shapeways, driven to make our collaborative dreams into vehicular realities. They are a resource for sharing ideas, designs, prototyping and miro-manufacturing and given the humble vision of their founders, it’s no surprise this community created the Strati. Unlike other prototypes, this model is practical and functional. More of this car was 3D printed than other that has precluded it – including the chassis- and here are the specs to prove it:

  • Engine – 100% electric (not 3D Printed ;) )
  • Features – electronic engine immobilizer, regenerative braking, disc brakes front and rear, rear- wheel drive
  • Transmission – Automatic, single speed
  • Battery – 6.1 kwh battery, 62-mile range, 3.5-hour charge time
  • Motor – 5 bhp or 17 bhp, 42 lb-ft torque*
  • Body – Approx. 212 layers, direct digital manufactured vehicle (DDMV), carbon fiber reinforced ABS plastic
  • Top speed – approx. 50mph*
  • Wheels – custom made by Fifteen52

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The historic first drive of the #3DPrintedCar – Enjoy!

View on Instagram

At $20,000 USD, would you drive a Strati? I’ve certainly signed up for the newsletter to be kept in the know…


 

Shapeways is Committed to Supporting Education–there’s a discount and so much more!

Hello there! My name is Lauren and I’ve been lurking around the Shapeways world as Designer Evangelist for the last year. Today, I want to let the world and the Shapie community know about the commitments we’re making in education and 3D printing.

Shapeways Education Program Benefits include:

10% Discount – We always offer students and educators a 10% discount on their own model prints. Students & educators can register a school email address with Shapeways and save 10% all orders in any of our 40+ materials. Students, head to Shapeways.com/education. Teachers, check out Shapeways.com/educators.

Campus Battle – We’re serious about supporting student work. University students who register on shapeways.com/education between now and November 15, 2014 will receive $25 in printing credit towards their own designs. Students at the school with the most signups will receive an additional $75 in Shapeways credit.

Education Grant – Everyday we hear about how Shapeways is helping students create awesome work such as product development, architecture, and engineering projects. Now we want to help you make those projects really come to life by announcing the Shapeways Education Grant. Each semester we will make up to $5,000 available in Shapeways printing credit awarded to student projects. The application process is detailed on shapeways.com/education.

Shapeways Crew Student Representative Program – Become part of the Shapeways community (and get free stuff)! We love for students to represent us on their campus, and by joining our Shapeways Campus Crew Representative program, You’ll get exclusive offers from Shapeways. Whether you’re printing maquettes for your architecture studio, sculpture materials for Fine Arts, custom arduino enclosures – you name it we can 3D print it!

3D Printing Tutorials – In an effort to help everyone learn 3D design, we’ve assembled one of the largest collections of 3D printing tutorials out there, covering everything from design tools to selling on Shapeways. Whether you’re still in school or a lifelong learner, there are tips for all levels from our team and community of experts.

API and Shape.js – CS Majors are facing a world of competition in apps and services. Today, Shapeways opens entirely new vertical markets for physical products via our Shapeways API and ShapeJS. ShapeJS let’s you create interactive and customizable digital blueprints of physical products and the Shapeways API let’s you price and sell those products to customers around the world.

Shapeways supports education

So I’d like to welcome students, teachers to Shapeways where we’re committed to educating everyone on the ins and outs of 3D printing and giving you all the skills to print your very own ideas. Scope out the education information page and register for your discount and perks. Happy printing!


 

Halloween 3D Printing Contest

Hey Blenderheads, have we got a (trick or) treat for you!

Design your best 3D printable JACK-O-LANTERN and enter it into the Halloween 3D Modeling and Printing Contest to win $1,000 worth of prizes!  We’re thrilled to work with our friends at CG Cookie and Sketchfab to bring you these prizes and support your spooktacular creations.

We encourage you to get wild with your creations – fun, scary, cute, we can’t wait to see it all. The First Place winner will receive $100 in 3D printing credit with Shapeways, your design 3D printed in orange strong and flexible plastic ($50 value), a one year subscription to Sketchfab Pro ($120 value) + a Sketchfab T-shirt, Cardboard VR kit ($25 value) and a one year subscription to CG Cookie Citizen ($172 value)!

You have until Halloween night (October 31st, at 11:59pm) to submit your entry. Don’t miss out! Not a Blenderhead? You’re still eligible! See the full contest details and submit your entry here.

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How much does it cost when you 3D print a thousand different parts all at once?

Since informing you all of the big changes in Shapeways pricing, we’ve had a lot of questions about how and why we price the way we do. Raphael, a product manager on our materials team, has led this project, and can explain the thought process behind our pricing, and the complex and intriguing analysis that’s gone into building the pricing structure we announced a few days ago. For more on the Selective Laser Sintering process for printing nylon plastic please read Pete’s blog post here

This blog post is about showing you how we got here, and why these prices are the most accurate reflection of reality we ever been able to build. The way we calculate pricing isn’t about random transformations or math tricks,  but is a model built to reflect the years of experience we have in producing millions of 3D printed parts.

3D printing build, Netfab, 3D printer tray

An example of a 3D printer machine tray containing 100s of parts

There are several components to pricing, but by far the most difficult to calculate is machine space. Machine space is a huge portion of the manufacturing cost of a model, more than 50% on average. Interestingly, machine space isn’t actually just the cost of the the 3D printer. It has two components: the cost of the machine itself, and the cost of the powder that is in the machine and can’t be recycled after running the machine.

The reason that calculating the machine space cost of your part is difficult is because we don’t print each part individually. Every time we run a printer we are printing hundreds of parts in a “build.” We use a lot of software to pack all those parts as closely together as possible, leaving the necessary space to keep parts from fusing. The geometries of the exact parts in that tray dramatically change how efficiently we can nest them together, and therefore how many parts we can fit in any given tray. Sometimes we can print a part one day, and then print it again the next day, and the second print takes 5 times as much space in the machine simply because of the mix of parts around it. It’s an interesting problem, but at the end of the day when you order a part, you don’t know what other people are ordering.  We need a way to price your part based on the average space it will take up in the machine regardless of what other parts are in the machine. That way we can quote the price ahead, and you get the same price every time you order.

How much space does your model take up in a printer?

How do you do that? First, you need to control for all the chaos happening around your part. There’s two ways to think about that: 1) you simulate every single possible combination of trays, and then you average the space your part takes up, or 2) you build a model of how much space your model would take up in the machine if you had a huge set of parts to pack around it and you could pack them perfectly. Since the first option is impossibly complex to calculate, we went with option two. We established the basic rules for the tightest we would ever be able to pack parts based on manufacturing and part mix constraints, and we built a set of model transformations that estimate the least amount of space a part can ever take up in a tray using these rules. The rules that dictate the smallest space that your part will ever take in a printer are surprisingly simple:

  1. Every part is packed separately to allow each part to be oriented individually to maximize part quality, and to allow flexibility in allocation across machines
  2. Holes in objects that are below a certain size can’t have objects packed into them
  3. Parts can be packed no closer together than 1mm to prevent fusing during printing

These rules are then translated into 3 transformations that are performed on each model:

  1. All non-interlocking and unsprued parts are exploded and each is individually analyzed. The model machine space is the sum of the individual part machine space.
  2. The surface of the model is expanded and then contracted in order to smooth it and close holes of less than 1.5” (38.1mm). This size was chosen because parts smaller than this are generally put into protective cages to prevent loss, and because after a series of tests it best matched our real-world ability to pack parts.
  3. The resulting surface is then offset outwards 0.5mm to capture the share of the spacing between parts attributable to that part.
An example of "wrapping" an object

An example of a model and the space it takes up in a printing tray

The volume of the shape we produce with this operation (or the sum of them in the case of multi-part) is the machine space of that part. What this means is that machine CCs (Cubic Centimeters) aren’t actually the number of CCs used in the machine today, but instead the least CCs that could theoretically be used in a machine in the future. Today, unfortunately, we manage to fill up less than 15% of the volume of the tray with these machine CCs. In other words, we’re at less than 15% of theoretical maximum packing density. Even though we’re not yet able to pack that densely because of limitations on computing power and available part mix, allocating machine cost based on perfect packing is by far the fairest option. Common alternatives such convex hulls and bounding box, do not accurately reflect space in the machine and disadvantage L-shaped and U-shaped models, respectively. Concretely, our average part is about 100 machine CCs or 500 bounding box CCs, and has about 720 CCs of space inside a printer allocated to it.

Calculating machine space in a 3D printing

Comparison of different methods to calculate space in the printing tray

What are the different cost components of producing a part?

Alright, so if this is the best way of measuring how much space a part takes up in a machine, then how exactly do we turn that measurement into a useful price? How much does one of these machine CCs cost? Conceptually, it’s important to separate the cost of running the empty printer, including the cost of the powder that can’t be recycled after cycling through the printer, from the marginal cost of sintering a CC of powder in that printer. In other words, we need to calculate two things: how much would the space your part used in the machine cost if your part was empty, and then how much additional cost is there because of each CC of solid part that is added to this empty space. Thinking about the components in this way allows us to accurately capture the complex interaction between space in the printer and model volume in two very simple components.

How much does it cost to run an empty printer?

Focusing on machine space, the first thing to note is that running a printer with no parts in it actually has two costs: the time it takes the machine to lay down the layers of powder, and the cost of the portion of the powder that can’t be recycled. Powder that’s been heated and cooled has been slightly damaged by this process and will make less consistent prints. To save costs but maintain quality, we mix together 60% recycled and 40% fresh powder and use this to fill our printers. The recycled powder is itself 60% recycled, and that recycled portion is 60% twice recycled, and so on. This makes the math a bit tricky, but it can be calculated. After calculating the effective amount of fresh powder in the printer, and the price of raw powder, you can figure out how much the powder in the empty machine effectively costs. And based on the machine lease you can determine the direct machine cost for the time used to print the empty tray. Finally, you add the labor, utilities, rent and other overhead required to run the empty machine. Now you’ve got the complete cost of running an empty machine.

So how much does one of our machine CCs cost? Using the methodology above, we calculate the cost of running every single machine tray that we’ve printed in the last year, as if those trays were empty. Then for each tray, we assign the cost of running that tray across the machine cc’s of the parts in the tray. Now you’ve got the price of a machine CC taking into account model mix, packing density, machine mix, and all other relevant factors.

If you sinter one additional CC in a tray of parts, how much does it cost?

So we now know how much powder goes into each tray if it was empty, and we know how much powder we’ve used. By looking at each tray individually, we can then figure out the amount of powder that was used in the tray because the parts in it were sintered – this includes both the models themselves, which are much denser than surrounding powder, and the powder directly adjacent to the parts that is damaged and can’t be recycled. This gives us the marginal cost of sintering the parts in the tray, for each tray. Since we have thousands of trays and data on the individual models in every tray we can then use a regression to establish the marginal powder usage per CC of model volume, and therefore the cost.

How much does it costs to plan, clean, sort, polish and dye your part?

The other component, Labor, is less conceptually difficult, but just as hard to accurately calculate and measure. The labor the problem comes down to data. To start with, we knew how many people work at the factory… and not much else. To properly price labor we had to work from the ground up. We built up a team in each factory that took hundreds of measurements of every single step in the SLS process from orienting through dyeing, and after in-depth analysis used this data to build a model of exactly how long a part takes at each step based on key attributes such as model volume, model size, surface area and complexity. How do we define a part? An object that can be picked up, sorted,  or polished on its own. If your model was sitting in front of you, think of how many times you would have to pick up different pieces to put it into a bag and make sure it was all there. Thats exactly what we do when we sort your part, and we have to re-sort it after every post-processing step.

Tiny 3D printed chairs

Using these additional variables allowed us to much more precisely fit our labor models, and then to use the millions of data points of model sales we have to accurately attribute labor cost to different materials and models. You would think that this would mean that labor price is impacted by many model attributes, but it turns out that after all of this analysis we found out that the vast majority (~ 90%) is directly attributable to part count. With this in mind we made one, very careful sacrifice in accuracy. Instead of building a pricing structure with labor spread through all the components, we choose to average that last 10% across model mix, and standardize on simple, clear labor prices per part per material. Yes, this means that you model may be over or underpriced on labor by up to 10% of the labor cost, or $0.15 per in WSF. Other than that, every bit of this new pricing structure is a direct reflection of the most comprehensive and thorough model of SLS production costs we’ve ever built, and to our knowledge the most advanced in the industry.

The last step: we add a (small) margin

One last thing: Our margin. Yes, we add a margin, but we keep it as slim as possible. We’re a business, we need to grow, this is the only part of our business where we have a margin. The 3.5% that you see on marketplace sales are the credit card fees we pay.

Machine space and material have the same margin, meaning that absolutely any size and shape of model has the exact same margin. Simply put, it’s as fair as we can possible be. Here, again, we made an exception with labor. We know that part count pricing is a painful transition, and we chose to take a much lower margin, and even a negative margin in some materials, on the labor / part component of the pricing. In our old pricing structure we lost money on models with more than a few parts. With the new one we almost never lose money on an individual part, but we have carefully and critically choose to take a lower margin as part count increases to lessen the impact on you, our community.

Developing this pricing model has been a long, exciting, and intellectually challenging endeavour. I hope that this explanation helps to clarify how we think about pricing, and why we’ve built the structure we have. Please, comment and ask questions, and I’ll do my best to keep up.


 

Shapeways Launches SVX, a Voxel Based File Format for 3D Printing

Shapeways has created a new SVX format for transmitting voxel data for 3D printing. After much research we found no existing format that satisfied our requirements. Our primary design priorities are simple definition, ease of implementation, and extensibility. There are plenty of things you could dislike about the STL format, but it’s brevity and simple implementation are not one of them.

svx_large

A voxel is a 3D dimensional pixel. Most 3D printers work internally with voxel like representations. Your 3D model is sliced into 2D image slices, each pixel represents a dot of material that the printer builds your object with. Voxel formats allow direct control over those dots. One promise of 3D printing is that complexity is free. Sadly with STL files we’ve had the disconnect that more complexity equals more triangles equals larger files. Above a certain limit you just can’t use triangles to specify the details you want in a 3D printed model. Whether that information be material allocation, density, RGB color both internal and external or a custom id that could be used for another variable, not yet available in the 3D printers on the market.

Another area that is interesting for voxel usage is in making printable objects. A mesh for 3D printing needs to meet certain mathematical properties. It is easier to write voxel software that meets these demands. This makes the barrier to entry much lower for writing creators and its especially easy to include 2D imagery into your designs. See ShapeJS for some examples. One area that is typically tricky is turning voxels into triangles. We’ve worked hard to provide some nice routines for much high quality conversion to triangles when necessary. When you upload a voxel model to Shapeways you’ll be leveraging that work, just concentrate on making the voxels right and we’ll handle the triangles if needed.

You can view the new format specification at: SVX Format. We’ve added support for voxel uploads at Shapeways so you can start sending full resolution voxel files now!


 

Enter The “You Are How You Eat” Design Contest

Like to eat? Like to design? Combine those two passions by entering the “You Are How You Eat” design contest! We’ve partnered with Design Milk, Adobe, and Alessi to bring you this contest, which asks you to reimagine the everyday tools we use to eat.

Design Milk contest

To enter, create a design that:

- Is a completed design product concept;
- Is designed for the average adult male and female consumers in any country, who eat food using a utensil;
- Demonstrates an innovative approach to eating;
- Demonstrates your abilities as both a designer and communicator to convey new ideas through one image, title and description.

The contest will be open through October 19, and then judging for finalists will begin. The judges, including our very own Designer Evangelist, Lauren Slowik, will be looking for innovation, creativity, functionality, completeness of design, and adherence to creative brief. Then you – the design community – can vote for the winners!

The Grand Prize winner will receive $1,000 cash courtesy of Alessi, 1 year of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan (includes Photoshop), $200 of credit to Shapeways so you can 3D print your design*, and your design prominently included in a feature on Design Milk

Two (2) Runners up: 1 year of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Photography plan (includes Photoshop), $100 of credit to Shapeways so you can 3D print your design*, and your design included in a feature on Design Milk.

To see the full contest description, read the rules, and to enter, go to: http://design-milk.com/enter-eat-design-contest/.

Happy designing!

*Note that the designs 3D printed by Shapeways will not be food safe


 

Fascinating 3D Printed Animatronic Honey Bee

At Shapeways we’re accustomed to seeing incredible 3D printed designs and DIY projects using Shapeways 3D printing. Today we wanted to highlight a nature inspired 3D printed animatronic Bee project by designer Jonny Poole of innerbreedFX. Jonny was contacted by his local bee sanctuary seeking to add some animatronics to their tour.

Jonny took it upon himself to take advantage of Shapeways 3D printing and SLS technology to design a fully articulated Bee using the Shapeways strong and flexible nylon material. Here are some photos of from project.

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3D modeling of the Bee design

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Animatronic Bee fully articulated printed in nylon plastic 

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The wings were printed in Fine Ultra Detail

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.05.01 PMThe final result of the Bee! You can purchase the articulated honey bee on Jonny’s shop here.

We’ve noticed a few amazing 3D printed insect designs on Shapeways. For example check out the articulated mantis by designer Brian Chan and the Bee Keeper Chess set by designer Ricky McRae. Do you have a DIY project you’re working on that you want to share with the community? We’d love to see it, share it on the “Work In Progress” section of our forums here.

 


 

How Shapeways is Tackling Challenges to Manufacturing in the 3D Printing Industry

Posted by in 3D Printing

Hello to all.  My name is David Gillispie, I’m the Vice President of Manufacturing for Shapeways and I thought I would start by telling you a little about myself.  I’ve worked in engineering and manufacturing for over 20-years in both start-ups and medium sized companies running their operations.  I consider myself a lifelong learner and a dedicated practitioner of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement.  I’m super excited to start a series of discussions on manufacturing with our community.  I would like to preface my discussion by first saying how delighted I am to interact with our community.  One of my goals will be to keep my topics relevant and accessible.  In the future I will cover topics on manufacturing to include lean manufacturing, innovation, processes, and manufacturing strategy.  Your feedback and suggestions are welcomed and I’ll try to make these posts informative.

Shapeways 3D Printing Factory

Factory floor at our Long Island City facility.

One of our core values at Shapeways is fun.  We take pleasure in transforming the skill and imagination of creative individuals into tangible products.  I would like to start with a general discussion around manufacturing challenges and strategies we use to improve our processes.

Some of the challenges facing Shapeways and other 3D manufacturers for the consumer market is the lack of benchmark data.  While Business to Business 3D printing has been going on for years, the consumer market is less established.  There are enough similarities to make decisions on printers, materials, and some processes.  The challenge is around the high product mix, post production, and the speed at which products must be delivered on a large scale.

Our community is an exciting and diverse collection of designers and consumers who make and buy really cool products.  As a result the products we produce seldom resemble a traditional manufacturing mix.  Creating an efficient and steady manufacturing flow or movement of material requires capacity planning that examines product mix, build times, and available post production resources.  Of the three, the more challenging aspect is post production.  Post production includes break out of the product, sorting, polishing, dyeing, quality check, and distribution.  Bottle necks or constraints in the post production process can occur with machines, material, or people.  To mitigate the potential impact we constantly review these areas and implement process improvements or add more capacity.  We also cross train our team members so they can flex up and down the manufacturing line.

This is an exciting time to manufacture in the 3D printing industry.  Shapeways is rewriting the book on manufacturing with the ultra-high mix, print on demand environment where quality, price, and delivery are being redefined.  Our community is pushing us to improve and we listen to your feedback by continually improving our processes.  If you have any questions about our materials like the white strong and flexible nylon, full colored sand stone or frosted detail; processes like polishing, dyeing, sorting; or our equipment like our printers   – please don’t hesitate to ask.  I look forward to hearing from you and answering your questions.


 

Mission Print: Shapeways Partners with Future Engineers to 3D Print Tools Designed by Students for Astronauts in Space

“Your Challenge, Should You Choose to Accept, Is To Design A Space Tool”

spacexlaunch

Photo courtesy of SpaceX

This weekend, the first 3D printer launched into space.  This week, we’re proud to announce our partnership with Future Engineers, ASME and Made In Space on a series of NASA developed Space Challenges meant to empower innovative youth to design tools that can be printed and used in space.

Video courtesy of FutureEngineers.org

Together, we are about to make history. Today marks the beginning of manufacturing in space. Are you ready to take on the #MissionPrint Challenge? Here’s the launch video of SpaceX-4 that just successfully carried the Made In Space Zero-G 3D Printer to the ISS:

Video courtesy of SpaceX

Hearing mission control say “…and we have liftoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket and Dragon. CRS-4 is underway. A US commercial spacecraft launching from American soil delivers new technology and science to the International Space Station,” gives me and hopefully every other space lover chills. Knowing that that “new technology” is one that we all are fortunate enough to experiment with every day, the ability to additively manufacture on demand through 3D Printing, is inspiring. Remember, there is no overnight shipping to space; and it is physically impossible to traditionally manufacture parts in a space environment. We really are witnessing, and taking an active part in, making history.

ISS Prize

Screen Shots here and below courtesy of FutureEngineers.org

This is the first in a series of NASA developed 3D Space Challenges that Future Engineers and our other out-of-this-world partners are happy to share with the Shapeways community. Encourage every K-12 student you know interested in 3D Printing to check it out, and remember, ALL students (university, college, trade schools, and professors too) get 10% off ALL their prints at Shapeways ALL the time. What a great excuse to “ground print” and prototype your space tools with us.

Shapeways prints

Tools designed for this challenge are judged on the following well-rounded criteria:

  • 40 Points – Innovation and Creativity of the Solution
  • 20 Points – Ability to communicate the design through the Text Description and/or Finalist Interview
  • 20 Points – Quality of the 3D Modeled Geometry and compliance with the Design Guidelines
  • 20 Points - Usefulness of the design in a Space Environment

Astronaut Doug Wheelock explains further:

Video courtesy of FutureEngineers.org

Kids are powering innovative developments in 3D Printing across the unique web of our industry’s reach. They are opening shops on Shapeways, printing on desktop printers in their classrooms, and mod-ing their toys at home. There are dozen of touching stories of kids literally enabling the future of 3D printed prosthetics. And perhaps most profound of all, they can see what we can’t. Young minds aren’t limited by the bounds of conventional design and manufacturing constraints. Freed of this parameter, they are capable of leveraging the technology and materials available in unique new ways. Inspired by their potential, Future Engineers has an awesome lineup of prizes for the top contestants. The winner of the challenge will even have their tool printed in Zero-G’s on the ISS and get to watch live from Mission Control.  While the #MissionPrint Future Engineers contest is for K-12 students in the US only, we will be featuring innovative designs by makers of all ages on our blog between now and when winners are announced on January 30th, 2015.

Here’s a snapshot of the contest deadlines, for full details check out FutureEngineers.org.

spacedates

Are you ready to accept the #MissionPrint Challenge, stop dreaming and start doing? Keep us posted on your progress in our Space Forum and be sure and tag your space tools #MissionPrint. The best way to ensure your products will be astronaut-ready is to prototype on the ground, and we can’t wait to help.

To infinity… and 3D Printing beyond Earth!