This blog outlines what you need to do to start 3D printing, based on my own experience.
The first thing you will need (aside from an idea) is a design program – unless you would like to use one of Shapeways Easy Creator Apps. I am currently using Autodesk’s 123D Design which is a free 3D design program I downloaded (http://www.123dapp.com/design). Autodesk also have a number of associated programs such as 123 Catch which is a 3D scanner using a smartphone and Meshmixer, an editing program where you can update textures, combine models and generally play around with 3D models.
To create a design, there are 3 main methods I use (often in combination):
Working with functions such as using 3D objects like cubes, spheres and cylinders. I then modify these objects to end up with a 3D model;
Create 2D sketches using 2D objects like squares, circles and lines and make them 3D by applying a thickness, or;
Importing 2D sketches from the internet.
The process is best explained using an example of a pair of cufflinks:
I started by importing a 2D image (which I found on the internet and converted to a .svg file), as below:
The imported file becomes a 2D sketch, to which I applied a thickness – so I then had a 3 dimensional object shaped like the above. The picture was quite large (about 20cm across), so I used a scale tool to reduce the size down to around 2cm across. The program has a grid, so I estimated the size against the 5mm grid the object was placed on.
I then checked the thickness by using the measuring tool as I wanted a more precise measurement for the height. I made it 2.5mm high.
To make the backs for the cufflink I created two cylinders. When I create the cylinders I specify the radius of the cylinder and the height. I created one short, wider one for the back piece and a taller, thinner one for the piece joining the front and the back.
I then filleted the edges on the cylinders to create smooth edges. Where the angle is external, it trims away and makes a smoother edge. Where the angle is internal (like where a wall meets the ceiling), the rounding ‘fills in’ to make a smoother corner, much like a cornice on a wall/ceiling join.
Once all this was done and a single cufflink was complete, I duplicated the design to make the pair. I then exported the file in a .stl format which contains the model data including the size of the model.
The file is uploaded to Shapeways on the design page where the model is automatically checked against a number of characteristics to check it can be printed.
The requirements differ between different materials, so you should have an idea what materials you are designing for before you start.
Once it is checked, Shapeways gives you prices for different materials and you can then order your model! You can also select materials to sell and set the price. You can add tags, categories and a description for the model, to get the final product:
What was your first 3D printing project? What inspired you to get started and what resources were helpful?
This week we are pleased to feature Carol Mitcheson, of the blog Mitchy Moo Miniatures, and some of her inspired displays that use 3D printed miniature furniture and accessories. Carol is one of the judges for our Mini House Contest, where you have until April 10 to share photos your mini house or display with 3D printed details for a chance to win Shapeways printing credit and a feature on our blog.
Introduce yourself and tell us how did you get interested in mini houses and what inspired you to launch your blog?
My name is Carol Mitcheson, but my friends call me Pepper and my interest in miniatures started after a rather tongue-in-cheek comment about my husband’s action figure collection. A friend suggested I make a pub for them so they would have somewhere to hang out. I hated dusting them every week so I thought “why not.” It wasn’t until I started furnishing the pub that I realized modern miniatures where hard to come by and I ended up making many of them from scratch. I started the blog to record my progress and share anything I’d learnt with other miniaturists.
What inspires you to create your houses and rooms?
I probably do this the wrong way around but I collect miniatures, find I have nowhere to display them and then design a home for them. I get inspiration from everywhere – other miniaturists, interior design magazines and real-life buildings.
How did you discover Shapeways and 3D printed miniature accessories and furniture?
Another blogger, Megan from ModernMiniHouses, opened a shop on Shapeways and did a post about it. I was just fascinated by the technology. I realized then, that at last, there was a way to create complicated, scalable items that didn’t cost the earth.
You’ve collaborated with designers using Shapeways to design accessories like a toolbox. Can you talk about how these collaborations came about and your process for creating them?
There are certain things in real-life that a very hard to replicate in miniature. I was building a miniature shed at the time and keen to fill it with as many realistic items as I could. I wanted to create an opening toolbox and some stacking boxes. Every miniature shed needs a miniature tool box, right? I read through the Shapeways forum to find a designer for hire and settled on a design team that had good feedback. Over two months I emailed my ideas, measurements of the life-size objects and received a work-in-progress report as the project developed. I received the designs in a file format that I could upload to Shapeways. The items were printed and received within a week.
Once you receive a 3D printed item, how do you work it into a display? Do you do any additional painting or finishing?
The first items I received were already painted and good to go. I bought another tool box later that I wanted to look like the ones sold by a well known DIY store in the UK. I painted it in the stores colours and added decals to make it look as realistic as possible. The addition of miniature tools and painting techniques to age the items make them look at home in the scene.
Carol’s display featuring a miniature stag head by Dotsan
If miniature enthusiasts wanted to get started with 3D printing, what advice would you give them?
There is a lot of information on the Shapeways forum to get you started with 3D printing. If you don’t feel confident enough to design it yourself, there are many sellers and designers happy to help. It’s an exciting time for miniaturists – I feel the only restriction to our hobby now is our own imagination!
Around here, I’m primarily known for my cufflink store, Cufflink Junkie. Aside from cufflinks, and working as a full time Industrial Designer, a friend and I recently started a brand new company making soft lures for bass fishing called BioSpawn Lure Company, and Shapeways and 3D printed prototypes were an integral part of our development plan.
My friend is an avid bass fisherman, has a marketing background, and does some work in the fishing industry. While working to distribute soft fishing lures, he found that there was an opportunity in the market for a cooler, edgier brand experience. We realized for a new lure brand to be successful it would need innovative, cutting edge, and in-your-face design. So about 2 years ago we paired up to create something new.
We discovered that getting started in the industry of soft lures had one advantage over many other product industries. The plastic used for soft lures is a low heat resin, so you don’t need big tooling (and big tooling costs) to get going with a new product. You can make a mold at home, in your basement or garage, heat up the plastic in your microwave and get good results. What this meant for us is a way to test our bait designs with the actual material they’d be produced in, and that we could keep costs down. All we needed to do was design some bait and make some molds.
And this is where the Shapeways came in.
Over the next few months, we developed 3 distinct lure designs. I would model them up in Solidworks, and we’d send them off to Shapeways to print.
With our first round, I took the models we printed, and using modeling clay and wood forms, we poured some silicone molds, and then cast the lures in Plastisol, the lure plastic used by the industry. They were a bit rough, but it gave us a good baseline. Now we needed to iterate these designs.
We knew we had a good look and idea, we were onto something, but our mold making process was too complex, messy, and imprecise. Instead of making Strong White Flexible (SWF) parts of the actual iterations, we realized it was more important to print mold-making forms. So I took our iterative 3D designs, and using Solidwoks, I split them, blocked off the backs, and made mating pegs so that all we’d need to do order the split mold-ready parts from Shapeways, slide them into pre-cut wood forms I had made, pour the silicone, peel it off, and then pour the lure plastic. It was way faster, and the quality we got from the molds went up a ton. The detail was amazing. We got consistent parts, and our iterative process moved along much faster. Better yet, we had prototypes we could test with accurate results.
With one of our lures, we went through probably a dozen or so iterations, and the ability to turn these around with our sample mold process was integral to us hitting target deadlines. With a quick turnaround for SWF, we were getting parts within a week.
Even when doing concept packaging, we were able to send Shapeways parts to our packaging designers so they could work around that while we were waiting for finalized parts to come off the tool.
Our website, BioSpawn.com, has been up and running for just under a year now, and we’ve been getting a great response from our designs and brand, and have steady growth. Our sales keep jumping, and some large on-line retailers have picked us up, both in the US and abroad.
In addition to our online success, we’ve been able to catch the attention of various sales rep groups and distributors who are interested in getting our products in front of larger retailers. Through these relationships, we’ve been lucky enough to get in to one of the larger big box stores who will be doing a trial run with us, both on-line and in a selection of stores, this coming spring.
Even though we have a small product selection compared to many of our competitors, we’ve been able to bring some great detail, nuance, and innovation to these generally ho-hum kind of products, and all because of our prototyping process using 3D printing at a fast pace, with high detail, and low-cost.
Designing for 3D printing is more than just making a 3D model. It’s understanding how big you want your figurine to stand on your desk, how thin your ring can be in plastic versus gold, and keeping track of all the details on intricate models while making sure all the parts are connected. We launched Shapeways 3D tools in January to help bridge the gap between creating and designing a 3D model and actually having it printed by giving you more confidence to know when your model is ready for the printers.
Today we are launching two new visualizations in 3D tools to help you further understand what your model will look like when it lands in your hands: a bounding box visualization and a part count visualization.
Understanding Model Size: Material Specific Bounding Box Visualization
Understanding how big or small your model is physically and what materials you can print it in based on it’s size can be challenging when you are staring at your model on a screen and can easily zoom in and out. This is especially true if you are designing for multiple materials – what’s the right size model that lets you print in all your favorites? Understanding how to change your model to make it the right size – is one part of the model too long? Do I just need to scale it slightly smaller? – can be tricky without being able to see the maximum and minimum size you can print in for a specific material.
By clicking on the bounding box tool in 3D tools, you can understand both how large or small your model is in relation to the bounding box for a specific material, and what part of your model is too big or small. Our visualization combines two elements: coloring parts of the model that are too big or too small red so you know which parts have issues, and visualizing the maximum and minimum bounding box oriented around your model as a transparent box.
When your model is within the size guidelines to be printed, you will see it inside the maximum bounding box. So if you were thinking of making it a bit bigger or smaller, you can get a sense for how much you could change the size of your model.
If your model is too large, the part of the bounding box where the model is sticking outside the maximum bounding box will turn red to help you identify along which dimensions your model is too large. If you have a multiple part model, only the parts of the model that exceed the bounding box size restrictions will turn red. Parts of your multiple part model that are OK in size will remain grey.
If your model is too small, you will see it colored red inside a minimum bounding box. By moving your model around, you can see which dimension(s) of your model are too small.
Identify Accidental Loose Shells: Part Count Visualization
Building detailed, complex models can result in incredible creations that are a marvel to hold and see. Sometimes though, with so many details and parts, loose shells can accidentally be created. Loose shells are pieces of your model that are separate and unconnected from the base part of the model. These can be intentional, but are often unintentional.
Our new part count visualization helps protect you from ordering a model you expect to come in one piece, but actually receive in many pieces because it uniquely colors each and every part. For example, in this model made of connected stars, all the stars were intended to connect to each other except two of them were slightly misaligned. With the part count visualization, you can clearly see the accidental loose shells – the two unconnected stars – and fix your model appropriately.
Go to 3D tools today from My Models or Model Edit and check out your models in the bounding box and part count tool to see how big or small your models are or if you have any accidental loose shells!
We are so excited to partner with littleBits for a unique design challenge: How can you make your home smarter using the Internet of Things and 3D Printing?
Find something in your house that you consider mundane. A coffee mug, a pair of old gloves a floppy disk. Now ask yourself, how can you make it smarter? With littleBits and 3D printing, of course! Upcycle that object into something smarter and cloud-connected. Start doodling ideas and check the rules below.
What better way to get your creative juices flowing than a hackathon? Join us at littleBits beautiful offices this Saturday for the 3D + IoT: Make Smarter Gadgets Make-a-thon with Shapeways & LittleBits. Hear from inspiring speakers, tinker with materials and meet like-minded folks to get your projects started.
The contest takes place in 2 phases: Ideas and Finalists.
Ideas Phase: Deadline to submit is March 28th.
Submit concepts for your creation including a rough 3D model and a layout of how you would incorporate littleBits. Upload your projects to the littleBits project page using the hashtag #shapebits.
Make sure in your upload, you include:
- The inspiration and impetus behind your concept
- Reflect on what you did 1st, 2nd and 3rd
- List the resources you consulted to help others in the future
*Remember we are a community who loves sharing work in progress. Don’t be shy to share your piece even if it is not finished yet and ask in the Project Buzz category in the littleBits forum for help.
Finalists Phase: Deadline to submit is April 30th.
After the final deadline, our expert panel of super star judges will be invited to review the entries and select 5 contestants for the “Finalists” phase.
During this phase contestants will receive free bits to create their projects and a coupon from Shapeways to print them out. Final projects will need to be uploaded by April 30th on the Shapeways & littleBits sites both using the hashtag #shapebits.
The maker behind the smartest, most awesome project submitted will get a Workshop Set, which includes 100 Modules ($1,547 value) and $500 in 3D printing credit from Shapeways.
In addition, the top three entries will be showcased in our MakerFaire booth in San Francisco this May and featured in our newsletters and the littleBits Community Hall of Fame.
We have a fantastic lineup of judges who will rank entries across these measurements of awesomeness:
Creativity — how inspired is your creation, how close to the theme is it.
Technological achievement – how well does this project incorporate the potential of littleBits + 3D Printing
Aesthetics- how well designed and polishes is your final object
Surprise- how original and unexpected is your final project
Here they are:
Heidi Farrell, Design Engineer at Smart Design, NY
Heidi Farrell is an engineer who designs mass-produced, everyday products. She has worked on things like kitchen tools for OXO and camera gear for Joby x Lowepro. Based in Brooklyn, Heidi studied product design at Stanford, has worked in SF and Stockholm, and is currently a design engineer in Smart Design’s New York studio.
Ron Rosenmann, Senior Design Technologist, Frog NY
Ron focuses on interaction prototyping and building UX simulations as part of the design process at Frog. A nice sampling of his awesome work can be found here.
Andrew Mager, Developer Evangelist, Smart Things, SF
A developer evangelist at SmartThings in the Bay Area, helping developers all over the world integrate their devices and code into their home automation schemes.
Oscar Salguero, Senior Designer at Kid O Toys, NY
Industrial designer by training, Oscar has worked on products ranging from high end furniture in Tokyo to energy generating soccer balls for developing communities in Nigeria and Brazil. He’s currently leading a new line of sensory oriented & developmental toys for kids under 6 years of age.
That’s all folks! Have questions? Ask away here or on twitter using #shapeBits. Happy making!
Last month I traveled to Maryland for the 2015 Bioinformatics & Computational Biosciences Festival, Science-In-3D. The industry-wide festival featured presentations about the emerging role of 3D technology by noted experts in academia, government and the industry. The event included speakers and, as a Shapeways Crew member, I was representing Shapeways in the exhibitor space and gave a talk during the final lightning round of presentations.
3D printed cell and DNA models at Science in 3D
I’ve used Shapeways to sell fashionable hats, goods, pen holders and color proteins through my Shapeways shop, but I have also used it to 3D print models which have enabled me to build incredible models for the science community, including the NIH 3D Print Exchange, and as proof-of-concept to secure business contracts for processing medical scan data for private commercial websites and corporations.
Melanie Robinson of Molecular Jig Games and Michael Astra from XVIVO admiring 3D printed molecules at Science in 3D
While I enjoy freelancing as a designer and working on various collaborations, I love demonstrating how everyone can print anatomical models with very little investment using open source software packages and Shapeways.
For example, I created these hearts just for the NIH Science in 3D festival:
3D printed hearts in Frosted Ultra Detail and White Strong Flexible plastic
I found the models on the NIH 3D Print Exchange, and 3D printed them with Shapeways in Frosted Ultra Detail (left) and white strong and flexible nylon plastic (right).
To learn more about how to use data like that available from the NIH 3D Print Exchange to create printable models, I created this tutorial specifically geared towards modelers interested in printing anatomical models.
The exhibition featured many different models available from Shapeways, created by designers who are scientists and others who have a keen interest in science. You can see more in this display video I created with Jeremy Swan, a contractor with the NIH. The models you can see in the video below include: White and red blood cells by Somersault 18:24, DNA Molecule and Antibody model by FabMOL, Tardigrade by Raw Legend Collaborations, Gyro the Cube by Virtox, and a tree moth and Morton the Elephant by HiLobster.
I also presented Chris’s Histone Protein model renders, which are also available on the NIH 3D exchange.
The Shapeways table at Science in 3D
As the science and medical world continues to explore many different applications for 3D printing, I’m interested to hear from other scientists and science fans on Shapeways – how are you using 3D printing? How would you like to?
There’s a lot of speculation and guesswork circulating about Intellectual Property as it applies to 3D printing so here is a very general overview of what Copyright means for you, for Shapeways and 3D printing in general. While this is a fascinating topic, please keep in mind this blog should not be construed as legal advice and the author is not a lawyer (as much as she wishes she was!).
What is Shapeways Content Policy?
While we want to enable people to 3D print whatever they can imagine, this does unfortunately occasionally includes things that already exist and may be covered by copyright. In our Terms and Conditions, we ask that our community respects the rights of other designers and only upload their own original work or work that is freely available through a Creative Commons license. While we do what we can to ensure the content on Shapeways is appropriate, we cannot realistically review every model uploaded for a possible copyright infringement. We are also unable to determine whether the user has obtained a license for copyrighted content. As a service provider, our liability is protected by the Digital Millennium copyright Act under their Safe Harbor provision.
Shapeways is a safe harbor under the DMCA, and thus acts much like YouTube. In order to comply with the DMCA and protect intellectual-property-right owners, we follow a takedown process when we get a Takedown Notice. You can read all about it in our Content and Takedown Policy.
Ryan Kittleson’s success kid is a real life licensing success story
What are all these legal terms?
Very briefly, Intellectual Property covers a broad range of various legal terms:
Copyright: protects any expression that’s embodied in a tangible medium. Your child’s drawing is protected by copyright and STL’s are protected by copyright.
Trademark: protects symbols, words, designs, logos, and even trade dress of products and services when used in commerce, like Coke or Apple.
Patent: protects inventions that are novel and non-obvious.
Right of Likeness / Publicity: protects the right of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness, and to keep it from being commercially exploited without permission.
For a brilliant 5 minute explanation about how all these terms differ, I’ll let a fellow jeweler, and real life lawyer Sarah Feingold explain, using Ring Pops.
For this post, let’s focus on Copyright. What is a Copyright anyway?
In the US, copyright is a form of protection for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright protects, for example, literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as paintings, sculptures, poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. You’ll be glad to know copyright also covers STL (and other 3D printable) files, much like it covers MP3′s and other digital creative media. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works. With exception, copyright protection exists from the moment of creation and lasts until 70 years after the death of the creator. Fascinated? Read Copyright Basics on the website of the United States Copyright Office to learn more.
What does this mean for you?
If you create and upload a 3D model on Shapeways or anywhere else on the internet, it is copyrighted. You don’t have to do anything, except choose how to enforce protection of your work. You may choose to do nothing, a celebrity may choose to hire a legal firm.
What about other people’s Copyright? How can I tell?
If you see something on the internet and want to create a 3D model of it, it’s best to ask permission first. On many sites like Thingiverse, TurboSquid or Sketchfab you can see if someone has put their work under Creative Commons – which may allow you either share it on other sites, to print it for yourself, or in some cases, sell it. The distinctions are clear, and worth checking. Designers may well be flattered you want to turn their artwork into a tangible format, others may not want you to profit from their ideas. Ask! On other parts of the internet, like blogs or reddit, it may be harder to quickly establish who the author (and thus copyright holder) is. More often than not, somebody owns the copyright. Shapeways can neither be judge or jury in this case, as we cannot know the entire catalog of copyrights on earth, so it’s up to you to do your research.
But I see other people designing copies on Shapeways!
If in your research you see other models on Shapeways that seem to be using copyrighted work, that is not an incentive for you to create your own. Remember, Shapeways is a safe harbor of user generated content, so we do not (and can not) check every upload for copyright infringement. Those models may well be the original creations of their authors, or the designers may have licensing agreements in place (SuperFanArt models for instance have licenses with Hasbro). It is also very possible that there are infringing copies on our site and they may well receive a takedown notice.
So what are these Takedown Notices?
Shapeways as a company is bound by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and we are a “Safe Harbor” meaning we have a harbor where anyone can put their boat. This is what’s known as “User Generated Content.” Under the DMCA, to keep being a safe harbor, Shapeways agrees to a Notice-and-Takedown process. If a copyright holder identifies an unauthorized use of their work on our site, they must notify us with a proper DMCA Takedown notice, as detailed in our Content Policy. Rest assured, this is not something we take lightly. A DMCA Takedown is a specific legal document that contains statements of good faith made under the penalty of perjury. There could be costly penalties if the sender makes material misrepresentations about the infringement. We investigate and correspond with each and every notice we receive. We then notify the designer and remove the model from Shapeways within a reasonable amount of time.
If a designer feels the takedown is in error, they have the option to send us a Counter-Takedown, the process is also detailed here. Legal defenses such as “Fair Use” which take into account things like valid commentary, criticism, parody, news reporting, and teaching, consider many different factors, and can be quite difficult to prove. Unfortunately, Shapeways is not the one to prove it to. We can not consider any defenses a designer may have as we’re not a judge or jury, we can only introduce you to each other and let you work things out. Since we can not provide legal advice, we suggest you reach out to legal experts in your area.
But don’t despair! Some of the outcomes we have seen in the past range from a designer showing they have the rights to a design, a copyright holder upholding their rights, a community member getting a job at the accusing party’s company, a profit-sharing scenario on a model and, ideally, an opening up of Intellectual Property by a major brand: SuperFanArt with Hasbro.
So what CAN I do?
If you get a takedown notice, don’t panic! Use it as an opportunity to learn about what is and isn’t copyright, and to develop your own work. Use your imagination! Making original content is the best way to avoid any legal issues. Taking the time to create your own original content, including 3D modeling, taking product photographs, writing creative descriptions and marketing your products, not only prevents infringement, it showcases your creativity and will set your shop apart.
Here at Shapeways, we provide the tools and YOU bring the magic, and we love seeing what you create! Like this incredible bacon mobius strip.
Still need inspiration? Take a look at public domain works! Many artworks in museums are in the public domain, which means copyrights on them have expired. There are people who may never have expressed an interest in art now excitedly walking around the Met 3D scanning art! The Met has embraced it, so has the Smithsonian, so maybe it’s time for a museum meme mashup?
Use 3D printing to solve a problem! We’re seeing an explosion of drone parts and gadget acessories – making add-ons to your favorite hardware is creative innovation at its finest. Solve a problem! Have you seen the e-NABLE hands helping children? Incredible.
Ultimately, we see 3D printing as a technology full of creativity and not about copyright infringement. With any new technology that’s democratizing access to a tool, infringement is possible, but what we’re enabling at Shapeways is a community in which original innovation triumphs.
This post probably raises more questions than it answers so please lets continue the discussion in the comments. If there are other topics you want us to cover, let us know!
This information is for educational and informational purposes only. The content should not be construed as legal advice. The author and Shapeways disclaim all responsibility for any and all losses, damages, or causes of action that may arise or be connected with the use of these materials. Please consult a licensed attorney in your area with specific legal questions or concerns.
Have you ever wished your 3D prints would arrive faster? That you could order on a Tuesday and receive parts the same week? Today we have some very exciting news for you:
Introducing RUSH 2 & 3 Day Production on Shapeways Regular White Strong and Flexible Plastic!
You’ve convinced us to give it a try. You’re all invited to sign upfor our Rush Pilot! Anyone can sign up, and we’ll slowly let users over the coming weeks in accordance with our capacity. You’ll be notified via email when you’re in.
Important Details about 2 & 3 Day Rush:
Rush offering is for unpolished White Strong & Flexible only with a bounding box < 150x150x200mm
Target Ship Day for North America, Australia, and New Zealand: Leaves our factory in 3 business days for orders made before 2pm CET / 8am EDT. Orders placed after that time will be counted towards the next business day.
i.e. Order placed on Tuesday 7am EDT, parts are shipped end of day Friday. Order placed on Thursday 4pm EDT, parts are shipped EOD following Wednesday.
Target Ship Day For All Other Geographies: Leaves our factory in 2 business days for orders made before 2pm CET / 8am EDT. Orders placed after that time will be counted towards the next business day.
i.e. Order placed on Tuesday 7am EDT, parts are shipped end of day Thursday. Order placed on Thursday 4pm EDT, parts are shipped EOD following Tuesday.
Rush orders are twice the price of regular WSF (pricing may change in the future)
Beta users will have a rush option added to checkout flow. All rush parts will need to placed in a separate shopping cart in order for the rush option to appear.
Check the material status page before you order to make sure we have capacity before placing your rush order. This is an experiment, and we physically have a daily-maximum volume capacity for Rush. While we will always do our best to make it happen, we may not always have room to accommodate your order. If you place an order that we won’t be able to deliver on time, customer service will reach out so you can cancel your order and place it again as regular White Strong & Flexible.
To ensure your order arrives as fast as possible, you still need to select Next-Day-Shipping (or fastest available) in your region.
What do you look forward to making faster with RUSH?
Whether you are creating something for yourself or designing something beautiful for your customers, making your product come to life is incredibly rewarding. 3D printing has continually lowered the barrier from having an idea to actually holding your product in your hands.
Ensuring your 3D model can be printed, and understanding how design and material choices impact how you make your model can however be challenging. The team at Shapeways constantly strives to make that easier, so with the new year, we’re thrilled to introduce a suite of 3D tools to empower you further. The Shapeways 3D tools give you more transparency into how we check your models and to help you check, visualize, and fix potential issues yourself before purchasing your model.
With the success of our wall thickness fixing tool in March of last year, we were inspired to invest in expanding the ways you can view your model against what our 3D Printing Engineers at Shapeways are looking at when you upload a model – our material design guidelines. So we built 15 tools that let you view your model against our material-specific guidelines: mesh integrity and repair, bounding box, loose shells, part count, wire thickness, details, text, part clearance, escape holes, machine space, weak geometry, texture, interlocking parts, our content policy, and improved our wall thickness tool with a heatmap view.
Each tool enables you to view your model against our design guidelines and clip your model along the x, y, and z axis for x-ray vision so you can identify any potential issues faster and with confidence.
Our tools are grouped into two types: ‘On upload we automatically check…’ and ‘After purchase we manually check…’ Our wall thickness, bounding box, mesh integrity and repair, loose shells, and part count tools in the first group have automatic checks that will show you a green check, yellow warning sign, or a red ‘X’ indicating our initial level of confidence that you will pass that check upon manual inspection post-purchase. Every automatic check is still subject to a manual check post-purchase.
Machine space, loose shells, and wall thickness tools will also visualize any detected issues on top of your model. The improved wall thickness and part count tools offer ‘fixes’ to change your model related to the issue in the tool in addition to a heatmap view. You can also ‘sintershell’ a multi-part model in the part count tool, which encloses your parts inside a mesh, making it easier to handle and sort. Adding a ‘sintershell’ can sometimes reduce the labor cost of a multi-part model.
Machine Space Visualization, Loose Shells and Sintershell example
These tools are not only helpful before you purchase, but also after you purchase if your model gets rejected. If your model is rejected, you will receive the email with the detailed information explaining why, as always, but it will be viewable in our 3D tools right next to your model, and directly above our design guidelines – so you can see all the information you need to take action to fix and re-upload your model.
We hope that you’ll be as excited by these tools as we are and find them helpful as you design and get ready to 3D print. Upload a new product and read the 3D tools Tutorial or check out 3D tools with your existing models. This is just the beginning of the 3D tools so we’d love to hear about how you are using them, what you find them helpful for and if you have any suggestions. Post a comment or head over to the forum to tell us what you think!
What was your 2014 3D Printing Highlight? There are so many great Shapeways stories to tell from 2014, the team here has had a hard time narrowing it down for our Year in Review. Really, what matters to us is what mattered to you! We asked the community what their 3D Printing highlights of 2014 were, and here are some of your great responses:
He also noted, “Small Business Bootcamp was definitely a highlight for me personally. Was amazing to be in a room with so much talent and knowledge in one place. The HP color printing announcement was pretty exciting. Looking forward to seeing how that pans out for HP and Shapeways.”
Corretta Singer, who lives in Jamaica but somehow managed to meet up with us in London on our UK roadshow and in New York City also agreed, “Shapeways Small Business Bootcamp was Awesome.” Corretta is the Queen of the Caribbean as the regions top Shop Owner and as an island hopping 3D evangelist and educator.
For Shop Owner and beloved forum moderator Stony Smith, it was hitting an important Shop milestone “September 5th, 2014: 5000th unit sold.” Full steam ahead, Stony!
Fernando Sosa, a Shapie veteran, launched a new Shop and brand this year, Political Sculptor. He confirmed 2014 was “the birth of 3D Printed Political Satire,” all starting with his hilarious Chris Christie Bridgegate Sculpt.
Gil Rivera, a rising Shapeways star said “being recognized by the white house! also being selected as a Shapeways “designer for hire!” were his Shapeways highlights. Some of ours too, Gill!
Quotes From and About the Wonderful Maker Community:
I am a closet anatomy nerd and when I read Rachel Case’s tweet it gave me chills. Her highlight was “making custom brain jewelry for my neuroscientist wife — from an MRI scan of her brain!”
Rachel was so inspired by the experience, she even opened up a Shop! Good thing Valentines day is on the way (hint hint, babe).
For many, it’s about 2014 was the year they introduced their friends to Shapeways. Shapie legend Ryan Kittleson was one such example, “A lot of my friends already know how to do 3D modeling, so it was only natural that they get involved with printing their work on shapeways.” Also, he added, “getting that Shapeways package in the mail is like Christmas day any time of the year!” Much Agree, Ryan.
Mark Greenwood, an Englishmen and avid coffee drinker needed a serious solution when the bracket that holds the milk in his refrigerator broke. His highlight was “designing and 3D printing the bracket to help keep milk in the fridge!” An ingenious Shapeways hack, Mark, nice work. He was even kind enough to blog about the experience.
Chic Testimonials from the Front Lines of Digitally Fabricated Fashion:
For Alexis Walsh, her 2014 3D Printing Highlight was “exhibiting the SPIRE DRESS at 3D Printshow London and 3D Printshow Paris. Designed by me & @rossleonardy“
Alexis and Ross used our White Strong and Flexible Plastic and made the dress out of 400 individual pieces!
Designed by Isis was most excited by “the birth of my lily bracelet” this year. We can see why!
Quotes About the Gift of Giving Custom, Personal Gifts Through 3D Printing:
Many of you know the magic of giving a 3D Printed gift and this time of year we’re lucky enough to hear many of them. This one from Thom May was particularly fun. “I made this figurine of my niece and gave it to my sister for xmas. seemed like a hit!” We were also happy to hear that appreciates the quality, “it came out great! the printed steel is so cool: definitely anxious to try more!”
One of my favorites comes from Tommy Serrien on Twitter, who said that his highlight was “the face of my girlfriend when i gave her these one of a kind 3D Printed earrings! ” We know the feeling, Tommy!
What was your 3D Printing Highlight of 2014? Share yours in the comments here or with us on twitter @shapeways for a chance to be featured on an upcoming blog.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
If you’re an animal lover in general, we’ve got plenty of 3D printed animals. Jewelry, home decor, accessories and more!
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?
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