Usually when we think of iPhone apps we think of applications within the iPhone but this application makes it easy for anyone without 3D modeling skills to create a customized stand in just a few mouse clicks.
What makes this app really interesting is that it uses 3D printing to make functional, not decorative items. Most of the apps so far plugging into the Shapeways 3D Printing API on the Create page are making sculptural, cosmetic products or jewelry while there is a huge potential in making 3D Printing apps that connect things to things.
If you want to 3D print a custom product but do not know how to 3D model the iOS Stand Creator App is a great way to get started, if you are a designer and/or developer interested in getting into the 3D printing app market this is a great example of how to make a customizable, functional product. Take a look at some of the stands made so far that are now ready to 3D print.
The Desktop Factory Competition launched in June 2012 challenged makers to design a cheap, open source method to turn plastic pellets (which sell for $10 kg) into filament suitable for a desktop 3D printer (that currently sells for $50 per kg). 83 Year old inventor Hugh Lyman developed the Lyman Filament Extruder II which for under $250 in parts can take standard plastic ABS pellets and squeeze them into filament.
The fact that this device is released as open source hardware means that others can modify and improve the mechanism to lower the cost and increase the efficiency, just as we have seen with the open source desktop 3D printers based on the RepRap.
Not only will this result in a massive reduction in the cost of raw 3D printing media, but it is also a very small step away from being able to grind and reuse failed 3D prints to feed into fresh new filament, or perhaps adding conductive media into the hopper to create filament suitable for making basic elctronic circuitry, or any type of tweak to customize the base material.
The speed of innovation in the open source 3D printing world is making many of the large industrial 3D printer manufacturers appear to be moving in slow motion. We are not seeing the same rate of innovation in machines nor materials and we at Shapeways would LOVE to have new materials to share, or have a way to drop the material cost by a factor of five or ten as we see made possible by innovations like the The Lyman Filament Extruder.
Congratulations to Hugh Lyman who scored a giant $40,000 cheque for his invention and the respect of thousands of makers around the world.
This week for our weekend contest we challenge you to 3D Scan to 3D Print using Autodesk 123D Catch.
Take up to 40 photographs around an object with your iPhone, iPad or your camera and 123D Catch will take the photos and stitch them together in the cloud using photogrammetry to create a 3D object. You may need to give the 3D file a little love to make it ready to 3D print then upload the file to Shapeways with the tag '123D Catch' and we will give our favorite entry a $25 Shapeways Gift Card.
Anyone who owns a desktop 3D printer knows that sometimes you need to replace some of the components to optimize performance. In many cases you can simply 3D print a replacement part with your 3D printer which is an incredibly rewarding process of self sufficiency but when it is a critical component that stops the 3D printer from functioning properly it can quickly become frustrating dead end.
Shapeways community member Schlem discovered the extruder gears that came with his Printbot Kit were warped and his 3D printer was not functioning properly. Of course a non functioning 3D printer can not 3D print repair parts so he used Shapeways to 3D print his replacement parts in laser sintered Nylon. By using Shapeways to 3D print the parts for his 3D printer he now has a more durable, higher resolution part that will make his desktop 3D printer more accurate and reliable.
He also made it possible to make the 3D printer even more awesome by designing the Skulltruder, adding a little gothic bling to what is essentially an engineering project.
If you have any 3D parts to share on Shapeways, be sure to tag them '3D Printer' and the type of 3D printer they are for so others can easily find them and repair their 3D printer too.
For the past few months we have been using Instagram to share images of the Shapeways team as we build out our factory in New York, play with new 3D printing processes, show off your designs at events around the world and give a glimpse behind the scenes at Shapeways.
If you are already using Instagram follow us @shapeways for a visual feed of our 3D printed world. When you post images of your 3D prints on Instagram be sure to mention us @shapeways or hashtag #shapeways so we can see your 3D prints in the wild. It is always inspiring for us to see your designs in context, especially if you are experimenting with any post processing of your 3D prints.
3D printing pioneer Joshua Harker gives a presentation at TEDx Bringhampton University of how his career moved from artist to sculptor to engineer and back to artist again via 3D modeling to 3D print. Joshua's Crania Anatomica Filigre has become one of the most recognizable '3D printed products' thanks to his hugely successful Kickstarter campaign that relaunched his career as an artist.
The competition challenges makers, designers and space entrepreneurs to collaborate to create open source 3D printed rocket engine to serve the growing market for small payload delivery into low earth orbit. The concept is for teams to work together to design and 3D model a working rocket engine in the software of their choice, using Sunglass.io as a collaboration tool to edit and update the 3D model.
The first prize is $5000 cold hard cash and a student prize of $2500 along with 3D printing courtesy of Shapeways.
Check out the full competition details for judging criteria and rules (no sending puppies into orbit or nuclear power unless you have the correct permits)
Since we haven't organized any formal tours of our New York factory yet, we wanted to give you a sneak peek into our second Factory of the Future, currently under construction in Long Island City.
Natalia, our Shapeways Community Manager, leads an informal walk through the space. See the 3D printers in action, and check out where the magic happens!
We know that as a 3D Printing company, it can maybe feel like we're just a bunch of robots in a room processing your orders. But we wanted to show you that we are real people working in a space that's rapidly growing in size and possibilities every day.
We have just raised the bar for Silver 3D printing at Shapeways with the introduction of Premium Silver.
Premium Silver is our 3D printed Sterling Silver taken to the next level with an incredibly smooth, glossy surface to give your designs a truly professional finish. We will be offering Premium Silver for a six week trial until Tuesday May the 14th, during which we will assess the pricing and design rules. If you love this new finish as much as we already do, we will keep it as a permanent material option on Shapeways.
What once was a bland and static page detailing your order has gone through a transformation and is now the almighty "Order Status Page". Why is it so awesome? Because it not only offers more transparency into the current status of your entire order, but also shows you what's happening with each individual item. In addition to being taken to this page immediately after checkout, you can also get here from the My Orders overview.
We've also added detailed information on refunds and credits on a per-order basis for all new orders. Additionally, this overhaul lays the foundation for some even cooler features that will be coming in the near future.
3D Printing is not only about mouse clicks and lasers, there is also a lot of hands-on work required to take an item from bits to atoms, that is why we are always looking for talented people to help make things real in our Eindhoven and New York offices. Every model is lovingly removed from the various 3D printers, cleaned (sometimes dyed) and shipped around the world. We do not always get to see what you then do to the parts, what post processing you undertake to make them even more beautiful, but when we do, it inspires us and makes all of the long hours worthwhile.
We often get asked 'at what point does it become cheaper to mass produce and item rather than 3D print it? at which point we have to ask what do you want to make, in what material and to what level of complexity or customization? To approach a need and simply switching method of manufacturing misses the power of 3D printing.
A recent blog post by 3sourceful compared the cost of manufacturing two items using Shapeways 3D printing and Protomold to make injection molded parts.
"In this case, we prices out two different parts. One, a very small bracket (~1cm^3) and one a larger jig (~50 cm^3). To compare, we obtained quotes from Shapeways and Protomold. And for simplicity, we just assume the cheapest material from each. We then plotted out the total cost of production for different quantities. As we would expect, the tooling costs of the molds resulted in 3D printing being cheaper at lower quantities in both cases. But, in the case of the larger part, the cost of the 3D printing material meant that over 100 units, Protomold became the cheaper solution. Where, for the smaller part, 3D printing was cost effective over 1000 units."
This is great for a simple equation for comparing the cost of a simple part required in bulk like their bracket, but if there is any level of complexity in the part or strict tolerances, the price to injection mold is likely to quickly increase, where as the price to 3D print would likely stay the same or may actually be reduced if the complexity is in the form of meshed or perforated features. The larger item might not have taken advantage of the density discount on Shapeways that can dramatically reduce the cost of large parts.
The comparison does not take into account the upfront investment required along with cost to warehouse and distribute the injection molded parts with the liability of predicting sales and holding inventory that may not sell. Customization and/or fast iteration is also an incredibly powerful advantage of 3D printing not so easily posible with injection molded parts. If you want to make 1000 components that are very similar but not the same, the cost to 3D print remains the same where as with injection molding you will need to invest in 1000 different molds, or at the very least, 1000 different mold inserts which would then need to be manually changed out after each part is manufactured.
Same too with fast iteration, if you want to modify your design in any way to optimize your design there is no additional cost or delay with 3D printing where as with injection molding you would need to retool in most instances, adding greater cost that would need to then be amortized across the sale of your product.