Category Archives: 3D Printing

These Gifts Are Unlike Anything They’ve Seen

By day, Joaquin Baldwin works in feature film animation. In his spare time, he creates an incredible array of inspired 3D printed objects. With the holidays just days away, his designs are ideal last-minute gifts for those hard-to-shop-for friends who seem to have everything.

Bulbophyllum Gracilis Planter by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Bulbophyllum Gracilis Planter by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

From the witty to the wondrous, Joaquin’s pieces draw upon unusual sources, resulting in beautiful, unprecedented works of art. “I find a lot of inspiration in mathematical and biological shapes. I try to blend the two for a lot of my work. I usually start with a simple compound concept idea (say, origami + skeleton, or mobius + bacon) and go from there,” he told us.

Mobius Maximus by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Mobius Maximus by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

His explorations have included riffs on caffeine molecules, the skeletons of insects, the shape of orchids, and a stunning variety of mathematical objects.

Origami Crane Skeleton by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Origami Crane Skeleton by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Joaquin’s work is the result of personal creative explorations. His process begins with “a few mockups in Maya, and if I like the concept after that point, I create a final model.” He told us that his goal is “simply to make things I want for myself, and to challenge myself, and if the audience shows interest as well, to put in on my shop so I can have a self-sustaining hobby.”

Radiolaria Geodesica Planter by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Radiolaria Geodesica Planter by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Discover more of Joaquin’s work in his Shapeways Shop. If you order soon, one of his fantastical works of art can make it to you in time for Hanukkah and Christmas. You can view all of our materials ordering deadlines here, and make sure to explore our full Holiday Gift Guide for a last-minute dose of gifting inspiration.

How TheLaserGirls Create Faux-Steel Swords

For our next installment of Cosplay Tips from TheLaserGirls (see past posts here and here), Sarah C. Awad and Dhemerae Ford share with us how they created a two-toned steel effect for their Buster Swords. Don’t miss your chance to check out their shop for utterly unique last-minute holiday gifts. And read on for all the details on their sword creation process.

The Final (Fantasy) Products!

The Final (Fantasy) Products!

In order to create the desired two-toned, steel effect for both of our Buster Swords, we set out on an extensive testing period to cover all our bases.  Experimenting upon familiar and unfamiliar materials, we were not only able to refine the “chroming” process we commonly use on our projects, but we also created a nuanced reference library of test pieces to go to for upcoming projects, saving us a lot of time for future work.

Prep Work

As mentioned, we decided to use the same kit and process Sarah used last year on her suit of armor, for it was the most familiar to us, the least time consuming, and the least expensive option for our time frame and budget.  For more information on the specifics of that process, click here.

Keep in mind, this process yields an effect that is more akin to “silver” than “chrome,” especially in terms of achieving a mirrored finish.  We like using this process because of these results.

In a nutshell, the  process is a 4-step spray painting procedure: colored base coat, urethane gloss adherent, aluminum dust (which gives the metallic finish), and another urethane gloss layer as a topcoat.  This project gave us the opportunity to play more with the different tones of grey we could achieve from simply changing that base coat color (which ended up being a happy accident when working on Sarah’s pieces last year).

Test Cards

At this point in the project, we were unsure about what materials we were planning to print in, so we decided to test on the top three we were considering:

ProJet 7000 SLA (laser sintered liquid): A glossy polypropylene-like ivory plastic  (Printed via the LaGuardia Studio)

Polished and Unpolished Nylon SLS (laser sintered powder, either polished in a machine or left :raw”): A photo-polymer plastic (Printed via Shapeways)

Our testers were 3 X 5 X .125 inch “cards,” each labeled with a number and a letter that corresponded with the material it was printed in (U for Unpolished Nylon, P for Polished Nylon, and 7K for SLA). We printed 10 of each card for safe measure.

Reference images in hand, the next step was to get some paint for our first base layer. We tested on the following (we added notes where we felt necessary):

Alsa Corp Killer Can in Jet Black: A ”retro matte” black base coat that comes with the spray chrome kit.

Mountain GOLD Series in G7090 Coke: A less pigmented (“natural black”), but heavily textured black

Montana MTN 94 Series in RV119 London Grey: A soft dove grey with an olive undertone

Montana MTN BLK in 9001 Black: A rich black paint semi matte paint

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Neutral Grey 5: We found that all the Liquitex paints definitely had the look of acrylic paint, especially the white.

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Iridescent Rich Silver: Neutral metallic silver paint

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Neutral Grey 3: ultra matte finish

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in Titanium White: matte finish

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in White Paint (Gloss and Matte): On the cool side of white

Krylon Metallic Spray Paint in Silver: Your standard silver spray paint

Krylon Color Master in Gloss White: Your standard High Gloss spray paint

Raw Paint Tests

Raw Paint Test Chips 2

Close Up of Silver Chips

Close up of Black and Gray Chips

Raw Paint Test 3

Raw Paint Test 4

Raw Paint Test 5

 

Base Coat: First Impressions

Overall, we had a solid line-up of tests, but we definitely had some standouts, for good and bad reasons.

Alsa Corp Killer Can in Jet Black:  looked great on all 3 materials, and did a great job of diminishing the texture of the SLS prints.  We liked the automotive feel it gave the SLA prints and the velvety feel it gave to the SLS.

Montana MTN 94 Series in RV119 London Grey: Loved the shade, disliked the spurting spray that was difficult to finagle- easily solved through replacing the cap.

Mountain GOLD Series in G7090 Coke: Preferred the Alsa Black due to its ultra matte finish and lack of texture- this paint was significantly textured in comparison; not great for imitating metal, but ended up being perfect for Sarah’s Fenrir Pauldron.

Liquitex Professional Spray Paint in White Paint (Gloss and Matte): Looked good on all 3 materials and also helped with the surface texture; however, it did appear more like acrylic paint and less like spray paint.

All Chromed Up: First Impressions

Krylon Metallic Silver

Liquitex Metallic Silver

Gloss White

Alsa Black

Dark Grey

Matte White

Light Grey

Gold Tests

We found that the SLA coat was much smoother than the SLS, but the Polished turned out a lot better than expected; the material has a good tooth for spray paint, which made every coat fall evenly across the tests. We also did not experience any flaking on the SLS compared to the SLA.  Further sanding the Polished with fine-grit (400+ grit) sandpaper yielded an even smoother and more reflective result- the same goes for the SLA.

The Unpolished was heavily textured but still felt quite smooth, had strong reflectivity, and took paint effortlessly.

In terms of color changes, the grey paints yielded the most steel-like effect compared to the other colors, and the white yielded a finished closer to sterling silver.

If you have scrolled through the gallery above and found that every test looked quite similar, there are several reasons for that: firstly, the high reflectivity made the tests very difficult to photograph, and we did our best to capture the essence of each material.  Secondly, there were very subtle differences in each test in terms of tones and how the colors flashed and changed in different lighting.  This was something that we only really realized after completing our testing.

Conclusions and Decisions

 

After some deliberation, we ultimately decided that the Alsa Black and London Grey would suit both of our swords perfectly; they worked beautifully as a pair, especially in their nuances- they truly captured that steel feel.

Material wise, we did choose the SLA material not only due to our familiarity with it, but also due to its ultra smooth, high definition surface that would cut down on work time, as well as give us a crispness necessary for a blade.

The Polished and Unpolished SLS, while yielding great results in reflectivity, pigmentation, and coverage, just did not have the surface quality we were looking for in this project. We felt that for our vision that it did not mimic steel in terms of finish and in “weight,” not necessarily in terms of physical grams or pounds, but in in look and feel; it had a lightness to it that we felt was opposite to that of a heavy, steel blade. If you are going for a more hammered appearance or an aluminum finish, these materials work very well in achieving that, both from a cosmetic and physicality sense.

Some Takeaways:

It comes in a kit for a reason: We found that at the end of the day, the paint that came with the kit worked best with the chrome process- they were designed to work together after all. That may sound obvious, but this is why testing is so important; there are exceptions, and you will not know if you try.

Do the prep work: Sanded surfaces worked much better in terms of reflectivity across all the materials we tested.

Polished Preferred (at least in our opinion!): In their pure forms, we found that the Polished SLS prints worked better than the Unpolished prints for the look we were going for (see above).

Regarding the Alsa Killer Chrome Kit: Buffing and hand polishing after the chrome process actually lowers the reflectivity and shine of the prints. Using any other glossy spray paint as a topcoat in lieu of the kit’s topcoat also matte-ifies the surface.

- Sarah C. Awad and Dhemerae Ford

This blog has been reposted with permission from TheLaserGirlsStudio.

7 Boredom-Busting Stocking Stuffers

It’s the cherry on top of Christmas morning: the stocking, stuffed with a few extra goodies. It’s also a gifting challenge. Stocking stuffers should be unexpected, interesting — and tiny. Luckily, our designers are experts at delivering big impact in small packages. Helping you to deliver gifts that are the opposite of boring. This week, as we highlight Last-Minute Finds for every budget, discover seven stocking stuffers they may end up liking better than their real presents.

1. Micro Pocket Fidget Spinner

Micro Pocket Fidget Spinner by Idle Hands Development

Micro Pocket Fidget Spinner by Idle Hands Development

Fidget spinners have been big in 2016. Just add a couple of roller skate ball bearings, and you have a handy tool to keep your hands busy while your brain focuses. It’s true — fidget toys can actually help us focus. Plus, this one is small enough to keep your fidget toy obsession on the DL.

2. Santa-Approved Cookie-Dipper

Little Dipper by Craig Kaplan's Mathematical Art

Little Dipper by Craig Kaplan’s Mathematical Art

Some people just want a milk-soaked cookie, and not an entire glass of milk. We suspect that Santa is one of those people. So he’ll feel pretty good about leaving behind the Little Dipper in your little one’s stocking.

3. Bacon Mobius Strip

Bacon Mobius Strip by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Bacon Mobius Strip by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Mobius strips are amazing mathematical objects (read all about them here), and when combined with shockingly realistic bacon details, rendered in full-color sandstone, this one could become a bacon-lover’s favorite — and most unexpected — holiday gift.

4. Kaladesh Die

'Kaladesh' D20 Balanced Gaming Die by Tiny Tokens

‘Kaladesh’ D20 Balanced Gaming Die by Tiny Tokens

Trust us, the roleplayers in your life will go insane over this Magic the Gathering-inspired die.

5. Wow, Such Doge

doge by Ryan Kittleson's Sculpture

doge by Ryan Kittleson’s Sculpture

Doge is the meme that keeps on giving. He’s adorable, and he’s just excited to be here. Give your giftees a dose of doge with this stocking-sized figurine.

6. Klein Bottle Opener

Klein Bottle Opener by Bathsheba Sculpture LLC

Klein Bottle Opener by Bathsheba Sculpture LLC

The Klein Bottle is an amazing one-sided object that math nerds love. Play with the concept with this Klein Bottle that actually opens normal bottles.

7. Knuckies

Cat by Knuckies - Phone Stands, With a Twist

Cat by Knuckies – Phone Stands, With a Twist

These cool little tools are phone stands, phone grippers, and fidget toys all in one. Maybe the most useful stocking stuffer they’ll receive this year.

Check out our full selection of finds in our Holiday Gift Guide, and make sure to order soon. All of our holiday order deadlines can be found here. And let us know in the comments what you’d like to find in your stocking on Christmas morning.

Celebrate 3D Printing Day With Us and Win $250!

For 3D printing fans, December 3 is basically Christmas, Hanukkah, and Thanksgiving combined. It’s a day to celebrate, welcome new makers — and show everyone how versatile, fun, and inspiring 3D printing can be. Today only, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook and reply to our #3DPrintingDay posts with what YOU want to 3D print, and include the hashtags #3DPrintingDay and #contest. You’ll be automatically entered to win one of three prizes of $250 in Shapeways credits. Every purchase you make on the site will also enter you to win. Fine print is after the jump.

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Shapeways Sweepstakes Rules

  1. Eligibility. This contest is operated by Shapeways.  It is open to Shapeways users in the United States over 13 years of age at the time of entry who live in a jurisdiction that does not prohibit this contest.  Employees, officers, and directors of Shapeways and their immediate family are not eligible to enter.  Individuals may enter more than one entry into the competition but may not do so by way of automated means.  By entering this contest, you agree to be bound by these Rules.

 

  1. Prize. Each of the three winning entrants will receive $250 in Shapeways printing credits.

 

  1. Contest period. This contest is open from Dec. 3, 2016 at 12:01 a.m. US Eastern Time to Dec. 3, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. US Eastern Time.  All entries must be received by Dec. 3, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. US Eastern Time.

 

  1. How to Enter.  There are two ways to enter the contest.  First, you can enter the contest via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram by replying to contest announcements tagged #3DPrintingDay with a description of what you want to 3D print and following Shapeways on the entry platform by the end of the contest period.  All public responses must include the hashtags “#contest” and “#3DPrintingDay” in order to be valid and eligible to win.  Second, you can enter the contest by completing any purchase on Shapeways during the contest period.  All purchases on Shapeways are eligible for contest entry.  Eligible participants can enter the contest multiple times.

 

  1. Winner Selection.  Shapeways will select the winner from the pool of applicants on Dec. 6, 2016.  There will be three total winners.  Shapeways will be prepared to award any of the three prizes to a runner-up in the event the winner cannot be contacted in a reasonable amount of time.  Shapeways will determine the winner by randomly drawing an applicant from the entire pool of applicants.

 

  1. Winner notification. The winners will be notified via private message to their social media account if they entered by way of that account, and by way of the email address associated with their Shapeways account if they entered by way of a purchase on Shapeways.  Upon contact, Shapeways may need to obtain confirmation of the winners’ eligibility.  If Shapeways cannot contact a winner in a reasonable amount of time, a runner-up will receive the prize originally designated for that winner.  If a runner-up cannot be contacted, Shapeways will select a third place finisher to receive the prize.

 

  1. Taxes.  The winner will be solely responsible for paying all federal, state, and local taxes that may be due on winnings and, as a condition of receiving the prize, Shapeways may require the winner complete tax documentation.

 

  1. Liability and Jurisdiction.  All federal, state, and local laws and regulations apply; void where prohibited.  All disputes arising out of or connected with this Contest will be resolved exclusively by a court located in Manhattan, New York, USA.  Decisions by Shapeways regarding the interpretation of these rules are final.  By participating in this contest, you agree to release Shapeways and its agents from any and all liability, claims, or actions of any kind of injuries, damages, or losses to persons and property which may be sustained in connection with the receipt, ownership, possession, use, or misuse of any prize.  Shapeways reserves the right to amend these official rules and to permanently disqualify from this contest any person it believes has intentionally violated these official rules. Shapeways reserves the right to suspend or cancel this Contest in the event of hacking, security breach, or other tampering.  Any questions regarding this contest should be directed to seth@shapeways.com.

 

  1. Other Restrictions. Users discovered creating multiple Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Shapeways accounts in order to enter this contest will be disqualified from entry.

 

  1. Additional Considerations.  Sponsors are not responsible for (i) any typographical or other error in any communication relating to the Contest; (ii) lost, illegible, late, misdirected, or incomplete, entries or emails; (iii) interrupted or unavailable satellite, network, server, Internet Service Provider (ISP), websites, telephone, cable or other connections; (iv) any technical failure or jumbled, garbled, corrupted, scrambled, failed, delayed, or misdirected transmissions; (v) hardware, software or network malfunctions; (vi) other errors of any kind whether human, mechanical, or electronic; (vi) any damage to Participant’s or any other person’s computer resulting from participation of the Contest or downloading or uploading any materials.

 

Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to (a) abbreviate, modify, suspend, cancel or terminate the Contest, without notice or other obligation, in the event that Sponsor is prevented from continuing with the Contest or the integrity or feasibility of the Contest is undermined in any respect, including due to fire, flood, epidemic, earthquake, labor dispute, tampering or other unlawful act, or if, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, the Contest is not capable of running as planned by reason of infection by computer virus, worms, bugs, tampering, hacking, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures or any other causes which, in sole opinion of the Sponsor, corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Contest; (b) determine winners from entries received prior to action taken, or as otherwise deemed fair and equitable by Sponsor; and/or (c) disqualify any individual it finds to be tampering with the entry or judging or process or operation of the Contest.

 

This contest is not sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.  By entering this contest you agree to release Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook of all liability related to the contest.

Celebrate Giving Tuesday With 5 Gifts That Give Back

Giving Tuesday is here! It’s our annual chance to celebrate the generous spirit of the holidays by giving to our favorite charities. On Shapeways, there are plenty of ways to turn holiday gifting into an opportunity to give back, with many designers passing on their profits to good causes. From breast cancer research to marine conservation, the Shapeways community cares deeply — and their creations make perfect holiday gifts for your friends and family. Read on for five ways to give back this Giving Tuesday.

1. Give a bauble that makes a big impact

The Hate Project: BEAD by The Hate Project

The Hate Project: BEAD by The Hate Project

The HATE project turns negatives into positives, crowdfunding important organizations like Make a Wish and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Your purchase, along with those of thousands others, supports these and other worthy causes. Learn more about the HATE project here.

2. Pin on a rose gold ribbon for breast cancer research

Ribbon Pin - Design by Debbie Claxton by Shapeways Ribbons

Ribbon Pin – Design by Debbie Claxton by Shapeways Ribbons

For a gorgeous, permanent way to show your support for victims of breast cancer, opt for this rose gold pin. Designed by Debbie Claxton, part of the proceeds from each pin purchase are donated to Pink Ribbon.

3. Show a wave of support for marine conservation with an ocean-inspired ring

3 Dolphins Dancing Ring by Joy Complex!

3 Dolphins Dancing Ring by Joy Complex!

The WDC, or Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society helps protect whales and dolphins aound the world. This beautiful aquatic-inspired ring will show your support while funding the WDC’s valuable conservation efforts.

4. Fight climate change and show your love for the planet with this poignant pendant

Climate Change Pendant by Ontogenie

Climate Change Pendant by Ontogenie

To draw attention to climate change, designer Ontogenie created this melting-earth pendant. Aside from showing your love for the planet, 10% of the profits will benefit the Environmental Defense Fund.

5. Help make racing safer with this racing track replica

Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli by 3D Racetracks

Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli by 3D Racetracks

Based on the Misano Adriático race circuit near Rimini, Italy, the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli track replica commemorates Simoncelli, who died while racing in 2011. All profits benefit  The Roadracing World Action Fund, helping to prevent such racing tragedies.

As you shop for everyone on your list this year, don’t forget to make this Giving Tuesday count with gifts that give back. Let us know in the comments what charities you’re supporting this year.

We 3D Scanned a Famous Brooklyn Pig — And It Was Oinkredible

The team took a short break from holiday gifting magic this week to take a field trip to Crest Hardware in Williamsburg — and visit their resident Garden Keeper, Franklin the potbellied pig, and his dad Joe. The mission of the trip was to 3D scan Franklin while documenting the experience on Facebook Live.

Screenshot 2016-11-18 15.17.00

Franklin’s a beloved local celebrity. He’s often mobbed by fans, and his 2.4k Instagram followers are increasing their ranks every day.

The team had an amazing time hanging out with Franklin and his dad while we scanned both of them at once. Keeping Franklin still was surprisingly easy while he had some pig food to eat, but he also liked to wag his little tail and lift his head to check out what we were doing.

IMG_2586

Despite being famous, Franklin was great to work with. Some of the challenges we encountered were the typical obstacles involved in working outside (meh lighting and spotty wi-fi) and trying to capture a scan of the leash between Joe and Franklin. We captured a few scans of the two of them standing near each other, but it was tricky capturing the two of them both in still poses. All things considered, we managed to snag some decent scans and are hoping to mesh a few scans together.

Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 2.07.44 PM Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 2.09.26 PM

Sad you missed it? No worries! You can still catch the adventure (and questionable pig puns) here! What else would you like to see us attempt to 3D scan? Let us know in the comments!

New Dieselpunk Miniature Robots Kickstarter

This week, we’re going full geek to bring you the best 3D printed holiday gifts for the gamers, roleplayers, puzzle masters, fantasy builders, and meme makers on your list. Some of the best geeky gifts are those that let giftees paint, customize, and play. Enter Noah Li’s miniatures. To help expand the options he can offer into full kits, he’s set up a Kickstarter. Read on to learn more.

A few months ago, we featured an awesome design by Noah Li, the miniature Russian Walker tank.

Since he shared that design with us, he’s been hard at working expanding the tank’s options into a series of interchangeable, customizable kits of parts for these robotic war machines. To finish the project, he’s raising money via a Kickstarter, which you can support here.

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Noah set out to create a series of customizable miniature tanks inspired by a science fiction, dieselpunk setting. Representing designs in an alternative World War II reality, each tank is based on a different country. The parts are totally interchangeable, allowing for endless creative combinations.

Below are some process photos documenting Noah’s post-processing and painting of his French- and Russian-themed tanks.

First, the raw Strong and Flexible Plastic is cleaned of any remaining powder:

DSCN8997

 

Then it gets a base coat of paint:

DSCN8999

 

Finally, metallic paint is applied to show wear, and brown tones are rubbed on to show dirt, giving the impression of a well-used machine:

DSCN9009

 

The final parts are interchangeable and can be assembled and mixed together:

DSCN9015

 

Examples of how the tanks can be assembled:

DSCN9049b

 

And reassembled:

DSCN9052

 

The obligatory banana to show scale:

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For more check out Noah Li’s shop and Kickstarter campaign here. Looking for more paint-it-yourself pieces to satisfy the miniatures lovers on your list this holiday season? Check out our Paint it Collection here.

5 Ways to Geek Out on Holiday Gifting

Gamemasters. Puzzle builders. Meme queens. Fantasy fans. We all love to geek out on the stuff that obsesses us, but some of us take it to the next level. With Geek Out week in our Holiday Gift Guide, we’re celebrating those of us who play in whole new worlds, unlock puzzling mysteries, and win the internet. Read on for five ways to satisfy the unique obsessions your loved ones geek out on.

1. Build out your favorite Gamemaster’s party with 4 new heroes

A painted Fantasy RPG Heroes Miniatures Set by Small Ox Miniatures

A painted Fantasy RPG Heroes Miniatures Set by Small Ox Miniatures

2. Push all the right Video Gamer buttons with the D-pad-inspired Ring of the Gamer

Ring of the Gamer by FORMA Laboratory

Ring of the Gamer by FORMA Laboratory

3. Give them Puzzle Pieces they didn’t know they were missing with this Centrifugal Puzzle Box

Present - Centrifugal Puzzle Box by Maundy

Present – Centrifugal Puzzle Box by Maundy

4. Transport them to a world of Fire & Ice with this Embraced Snakes Pendant

Embraced Snakes Pendant by Pookas

Embraced Snakes Pendant by Pookas

5. Give them the internet’s best, IRL, with a #winning MemeSuccess Kid

Success Kid by Ryan Kittleson's Sculpture

Success Kid by Ryan Kittleson’s Sculpture

Find dozens more gift ideas to Geek Out on this holiday season here. Then, check out our full Holiday Gift Guide for memorable gifts for everyone on your list. And, don’t forget to make your own wish list, filled with whatever it is you geek out about.

When Skulls Meet Holiday Gifting

Skull motifs have long been used as a way to express a unique identity, whether for goths, punks, or bohemian hipsters. So, it’s only fitting that in a week that’s all about self-expression, we’re taking a closer look at a designer who transforms CT-scanned skulls into personal accessories.

Great Horned Owl Pendant by Skeletal Skulpture and Mathematikal Artifakts

Great Horned Owl Pendant by Scott Camazine

Scott Camazine, a biologist with a passion for “the incomparable designs found in nature,” tapped into 3D printing to express his artistic side. Now, he turns CT-scanned skulls and shapes derived from algorithms into beautiful objects and jewelry, all available in his Skeletal Skulpture and Mathematikal Artifakts Shapeways shop.

Jacaré Alligator Skull by Scott Camazine

Jacaré Alligator Skull by Scott Camazine

Whether human or animal in origin, Scott’s anatomically correct skeletal jewelry makes for perfectly offbeat holiday gifts for those unafraid to make a style statement. With the rise of Southwestern-tinged style over the last several years, they’re also on-trend for anyone who might be inclined to use bleached skulls as wall décor. Plus, when 3D printed in gorgeous metals, they’re both elegant and ethical.

For more gifting inspiration for all the unique tastes and personalities on your list, check out our Holiday Gift Guide and this week’s Express Yourself collections.

How Does a Microbiologist Turn Into a Jeweler?

Today’s guest blog comes from Gabriel Guzman of 3D to the 3e. Gabriel, a professor of microbiology and a jewelry designer, has found a perfect way to combine his passion for science with a love of design. He lets us in on how his Crochet Pendant went from concept to reality — and helped him go from scientist to designer.

guzman

Designer Gabriel Guzman’s Crochet Pendant and Earrings

To me, a biochemist and a microbiologist, the design process for 3D printing has a lot in common with designing an experiment in the lab. First there is a general idea that generates a possible solution — a hypothesis. Then there is the use of design tools to shape that idea into something printable. And, of course, continuous prototyping to explore different versions of the design. Finally, one of the iterations will have the aesthetics, balance, and curiosity, if you will, that might make somebody ask, “How did you do that?”

When I first began to design the Crochet Pendant, I did have a pendant in mind, but the final design didn’t emerge until after I played with a number of different iterations. The name, however, came after looking at the final design — and a crochet piece that I saw on a table. My mother used to have a lot of doilies and other table covers made with crochet.

In terms of the technical design process, I was getting my hands wet with an experimental app from Autodesk called Project Shapeshifter, which allowed for the creation of generative designs. Generative design is a method in which the final model is generated by a computer program following a set of rules or an algorithm. I started with a general shape that I had in mind, but I didn’t know what I would end up with in terms of the final object. So, I tested different parameters in Shapeshifter, until one of the many iterations had everything I wanted to see in the pendant.

I began with the idea of a circular object, with details based on the repetitive pattern of a honeycomb. Shapeshifter only generated the file to be printed, but a pendant needs a loop, a bail, or something to pass a chain through. I chose Tinkercad for that purpose because the software was free and easy to use. I designed a very simple loop, which wasn’t circular but followed the shape of the pattern, and the end result was a piece that has generated a lot of comments, but more important, a piece that I was satisfied with. Perhaps the most important lesson for me is that none of my finished designs are exactly as I first imagine them, and they really don’t have to. Every finished design is a result of tweaking, and rethinking possibilities.

The reaction from people, especially if they don’t know anything about 3D printing, is of amazement that a machine can make jewelry. The metal version of the pendant didn’t happen until about three months after I printed the first version at home in a mint-colored plastic. My wife wore the pendant during that year’s commencement ceremony and my colleagues kept asking her about the piece, and then kept asking me about how it was made. I never imagined that a piece made in plastic could draw that much attention!

For those with experience designing jewelry the old-fashioned way (by sculpting wax), they recognize what 3D printing technology can do for their own creativity. It helps them go beyond the traditional wax sculpting into digital sculpting. But, for the novice, this technology is also a way to democratize art. Perhaps the most common question I get is, “How does a microbiologist turn into a jeweler?” If people consider me a jeweler, I take that as a big compliment! After all, I didn’t go to art school, although I do have some background in graphic design, but I never fancied myself a jeweler until I began experimenting with 3D printing.

Scanning Stories: 3D Selfies Are All Around You… and They’re Amazing

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In our new Scanning Stories series, Shapeways’ 3D Scan Engineers Brigitte and Astrid will share tips and tricks to help you make the most of 3D scanning.

Selfies are as old as photography itself. But lately, miniature clone-like 3D printed figurines — better known as 3D Selfies — are taking the world by storm. People are always amazed to see themselves or their loved ones appear in miniature for the first time. But, actually making one of these figurines can be tricky, so we (Brigitte and Astrid, Shapeways 3D Scan Engineers) are here to show you around the world of 3D scanning and 3D Selfies, and share our knowledge about this new industry.

First, let’s get back to basics. Think about where you want to start. Would you like to be 3D scanned or would you like to start your own 3D scanning business?

GET SCANNED!

If you want to be 3D scanned, you can visit one of our certified 3D scanning retail partners, all listed at this link. Get it touch with one of them and make an appointment.

Make sure to wear a colorful, fun outfit that you’ll feel great immortalizing yourself in. You can also bring an object that represents your hobby. This enables a 3D Selfie to capture your personality, making it truly a miniature you.

Once the file is created, your scan will be sent to Shapeways, and you’ll get an email prompting you to choose a material, then purchase your own miniature 3D Selfie.

GET SCANNING!

As members of the scanning team, we will focus more on the scanning itself in the Scanning Stories series. To help you get comfortable with 3D scanning, we’ll be posting blogs in the coming months to provide inspiration for your own scanning business.

Over the course of scanning hundreds of people, we came across a few recurring hurdles. Here are some of the things we will go over in this series:

  • The best software to use for scanning and/or editing

  • Do I buy expensive software, or use freeware?

  • How to create the highest-quality selfies and edit colors, shapes, etc.

  • How to share selfies with my customers

  • Materials

  • Scanning events we participate in

  • The future of 3D scanning

  • And lots more!

When you want to start your own 3D scanning business, it only takes a few small investments. Buy a handheld 3D scanner and software, research the market, and go!

Tips for using handheld scanners:

At the moment, we use the occipital handheld scanner. This device is very easy to set up and quite user-friendly. We also use software (Skanect) that works well with the occipital sensor. It has an upload link to the Shapeways site, so your scan can immediately go from scan to product. Both the software and the scanner are accessibly priced.

Visit this link for more information about the handheld scanners we use.

We’ve made a workflow for you with all the settings and best practices while scanning with the occipital sensor and the skanect software. You can find this workflow here.

If you’d like a more guided approach, here is a series of video tutorials you can follow:

Skanect Tutorials

In our next installment, we’ll talk more about how to improve your scans after scanning. And if you have a subject in mind that we should address in a future Scanning Stories post, please get in touch.

In the meantime, enjoy the amazing world of 3D Selfies!

Tips for Designing in Porcelain

Porcelain is an ancient technology that has been transformed by modern machinery and 3D printing. Designs once impossible to create by hand are now possible using 3D printers. At Shapeways, we launched our very own porcelain process in 2014 that uses your 3D design file to print a mold and cast using our own porcelain material.

As expected with all new technologies, there are limitations. To understand how to optimally design for 3D printed porcelain, it is important to understand the production process as well as the caveats of the material. Read on to learn about each stage of production and find tips on how to design in porcelain to make your finished objects just right.

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How is 3D printed porcelain created?

1.  3D printing engineers check your design

Once you place your order, your model file is sent over to our 3D printing engineers who specialize in porcelain. They inspect the model to ensure that the mold of the design can be printed and continue through the production process.

2.  The mold is generated and printed

We have developed software that generates a mold of your 3D file. You can imagine the mold as a shell or the negative space of your design. We will also generate a small funnel that will be used to cast your product.

3.  The mold is cut and cleaned

Once the model is taken out of the printer, it must be cleaned of all residual support material. In order to completely clear out all of the material, the mold must be cut to reach the interior. Imagine the mold as the “skin” of your model or the negative space. The mold and overall design must be able to hold together in order to eventually cast in porcelain.

4.  The mold is reassembled

After the mold has been cleaned out, it must be glued back together in order to cast. This creates a seam where the model has been cut and glued. However, this will later be sanded and repaired by hand.

The exterior funnel will be glued to the mold for the next step in the process, casting.

5.  Porcelain is cast in the mold

The porcelain material is poured into the mold through the exterior funnel. The porcelain material within the mold will settle and harden.

6.  The mold is removed

Once the porcelain is fully hardened, the mold will be removed and the porcelain model will remain.

7.  Model goes into first firing

Immediately after the mold has been removed, the design goes into the kiln for its first firing. This hardens the design so that the model may be repaired and glazed.

8.  Model is repaired and hand finished

With the first firing complete, the model is strong enough to repair. There are a few types of repairs that may be performed. First, the porcelain team uses a variety of tools to carefully remove the seam lines left by the mold. Second, if the porcelain has not reached all ends of the mold or has generated any air pockets, these minor imperfections will be patched and repaired by hand.

9.  Model goes into second firing

If your model needed to be patched, the product will go in for a second firing. This cycle of repairs and firings can happen a few times in order to get your design just right.

10.  Product is glazed

Your design will be hand dipped in a liquid glaze. Any excess glaze on the base of the design will be wiped away in order to avoid the glaze from sticking to the kiln.

11.  Glaze firing

Once the base has been wiped clean, the model enters the kiln for the glaze firing. This will solidify the food-safe coating of glaze on the design. In some cases, the model may need to be re-glazed and fired due to unpredictable surface issues, such as small pin holes or patches that were not glazed fully. A re-glaze may cause pooling of glaze on the model.

12.  Finished model

The model is then packaged carefully and sent to the distribution center to be shipped off to you.

What do you need to consider before designing in porcelain?

There are two aspects of porcelain to consider before you begin to design your product. First, the glaze that will coat your design. Second, the properties of the production process.

GLAZE

During the glazing process, your model is dipped in the thick glaze liquid. Excess glaze drips off and the base is cleaned so that it may rest on the kiln shelf without fusing to the bottom. While the model is in the kiln the glaze becomes molten. After cooling, the result is a stronger, hardened layer of colored food-safe glass.

FIT AND HOLE CLEARANCE

Our glazes run a thickness of 1 to 2 mm. This means that if precise fit and unobstructed holes are important to your model, ensure you have left at least 2 millimeters of clearance on EVERY wall.

In the image below you can see two differently sized holes. The hole on the left is larger than 5 mm wide. This will allow the glaze to coat the inside without closing the hole. The hole on the right displays a 4 mm hole, the glaze will completely obstruct this hole eliminating the ability for clearance.

UNOBSTRUCTED HOLE                          OBSTRUCTED HOLE

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The same logic applies for lids that fit onto containers. The lid should account for the glaze that will be applied as well as the container itself. Meaning, your design should have at least 4 mm of space between the lid and the container.

DESIGN DETAILS

Details of a design can get lost under a layer of glaze. It is necessary to consider the depth, height, and width of the detail of before submitting your design. On our porcelain material page, we recommend a minimum of 1 mm height and width of detail. If you are aiming for sharp details, consider making them greater than this minimum.

We have published a previous post depicting examples of details after being glazed in each of our color options. As mentioned, each color has a slight variation of thickness. For the clearest text or imagery, please ensure you accommodate for the glaze.

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SUPPORTIVE STRUCTURES

Adding feet to your standing designs are useful for avoiding fully unglazed bases. While designing these decorative and useful features, there are couple aspects to keep in mind:

  • The height of the feet should be greater than the thickness of the glaze. Otherwise, the base will be required to go unglazed.

  • Long spindly feet can break during casting. Please ensure that the height and thickness of the feet are comparable or that the thickness can allow for the feet to fully cast

ROUND vs. SHARP EDGES

Sharp edges and rounded edges will affect how the glaze rests on the model after firing. In the images below, you can see how a sharp edge will split the glaze whereas a rounded edge will allow the glaze to roll over the edge. One is not better than the other; they are merely aesthetically different.

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ORIENTATION

All models must be able to stand on their own, as they will be fired with other models in a single kiln. At this time stilts and supports are not included in the production process. This means that the model must have a base or feet to rest on. With designer-selected orientation, you have the power to determine which side of the model goes unglazed and rests on the kiln during the firing process.

During the upload process, a render is provided to select the top and bottom of your design. Arrows may be selected to rotate the design in the proper orientation. Top and bottom indicators are located on the render image. NOTE: The orientation in the render will be the orientation in production.

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PRODUCTION PROPERTIES:

BOUNDING BOX

The bounding box for porcelain states the limits of how large or small your design can be. These limits are important to consider before taking the time to completely design your item.

Minimum: 40 × 40 × 10 mm

Maximum: 125 × 125 × 200 mm

WALL AND WIRE THICKNESS

In order for a model to cast completely and reach the very edges of the design, walls and wires must be thick enough for the comparable length.

The smaller the model or shorter the wire, the thinner it may be. This is demonstrated in the image below. If the model is 2 mm thin and very short, it is easier for the porcelain to make it to the end of the mold. Otherwise, if the design is long and thin, it is nearly impossible for the porcelain to fill the mold completely.

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With extremely thin wires, holes, and walls, cleaning out the mold by hand can cause breaks with insufficient thickness. So it is especially important to consider making these features larger than 3 mm for the best result. This does not increase pricing greatly as porcelain is priced by surface area. Adding thickness does not increase price as it does with other materials.

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Elevate your porcelain ideas by using these tips and techniques. Let those details shine through and make sure your design glides through the production process. Once you’ve printed your design, you can begin selling on the Shapeways marketplace!

Symbols + Science = Jewelry Styles for All

Looking to revamp your jewelry collection?  Symbols are one way to make a statement without going overboard.  They also lend as great conversation pieces for history buffs, trendsetters, and Biochem masters alike.  Our community across the globe has designing symbols down to an art and we’re showing you the creations you don’t want to miss. 

As the masterminds behind Shapeways shop somersault1824, Belgium designers Idoya and Luk make science look sleek. Their minimalist necklaces are perfect for channeling your inner lab geek and make for surprising, sweet gifts.

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Phi pendant from somersault1824

There is more than meets the eye with Phi! This letter is the basis for the Golden Ratio, a principle frequently found math and science which can be dated back to sacred architecture and art.  Another important fact to know: Products from somersault1824  support science education. For every pendant sold, the designers invest $5 of the profit in educational resources for scientists, students and teachers with the aim to make these resources available to everyone. Read more about the cause here.

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Neuron pendant from somersault1824

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DNA pendant from somersault1824

If you like this double helix, you may want to experiment with spirals from other Shapeways shops.  Just don’t get it twisted!  Instead, wear the Twisted Pendant by Jaacov Molcho, one of our featured designers in Sparks Across the Globe.

We also love the pendants Antonios Bliss of Athens, Greece created. His designs reflect a modern adaptation of symbols rooted in native New Mexico.

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Native America Zia Sun Symbol Jewelry Pendant from Symbolica.

Any idea what the four parts of this pendant might represent?  Here’s a hint: up to twenty different meanings can be found in total. Read more about the multifaceted design here and discover other fascinating symbols in Symbolica.

Be sure to check out other jewelry designers on Shapeways to find the symbol that suits you and explore all the beautiful options for everyday wear.

Sparks Across the Globe

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“Creating things local for a global village is fascinating.”

- FWPompe, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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This August we leave the shores of America to celebrate creativity around the globe. Here at Shapeways, you have personal access to thousands of local artists from every corner of the world who fuel creativity on our platform through sharing their unique experiences and products.

Our inventors, designers, artists, mathematicians, and engineers share their passions for technology and new materials as they bring their “abstract minds” (as one community member said) to the physical world to make their friends smile. We are proud of our commitment to providing you with a comprehensive platform offering that not only enables making and distribution of products globally, but also gives our community permission to become their own global brands.

The “sparks” of inspiration shared this month will continue to show the immense passion and breadth of creativity made tangible by digital manufacturing as we share stories, puzzles, jewelry, and miniatures like you have never seen before.  We are equally enthused by the way our global community has elevated Shapeways to be a truly universal platform by inviting others to join their causes. Kjeld Pedersen Junior from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil creates playful products with purpose: “I’m inspired to create cute lively animals which are endangered species from the Amazon jungle so that the new generation and ours know about them and therefore value them, so they remain roaming the jungle for centuries to come!”

Kjeld Pedersen

Globally accessible creation allows us to open our minds, take a walk in someone else’s shoes, and come home (metaphorically or physically) even more inspired than we were before. There has never been a better time to adventure beyond your usual stomping grounds and set your sights on Sweden, Brazil, India, Australia and beyond.

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Find a local designer in a country you have always dreamed of visiting or want to return to someday in our Sparks Across the Globe map.  Follow your favorites on Shapeways so you will always know when they have added more creations or start making wish lists for the holidays. Personal and thoughtful gifts from local artists and inventors are meaningful in two ways – to the gift recipient and to the artist you personally supported.

We hope you enjoy the global journey this month! Happy Making!

Mastering 3D printing : Why Orientation of Parts Matters

Shapeways is committed to making this process easy, but we also want to make sure you get you have control over quality. Last week we launched a new feature to help with this: the ability to set 3D printing orientation for SLS materials.

Orientation Fail

orientation fail, this stepping could be avoided by laying the phone case flat in the printer

But why does this matter? How the file is built up in the printer can affect the dimensional accuracy and legibility of details of any given part. Parts printed in the Z axis, or “up” dimension tend to be slightly less accurate in the X and Y. That said, parts angled sideways may show less stepping depending on the geometry. Check out the video below to learn more.