Category Archives: Designer Spotlight

Designer Spotlight: Josh Appleman – Geo Glitz

Because statement jewelry and accessories are always a good addition to any outfit, Josh Appleman’s shop Geo Glitz on Shapeways is definitely worth bookmarking. He’s created cufflinks shaped like every state in the United States. After being unable to find some sleek Minnesota-shaped cufflinks to wear with his tuxedo for his wedding, Josh decided to turn to 3D modeling and printing to create them. Having received lots of compliments on the cufflinks, he decided it would be fun to design ones for the rest of the states in case anyone else wanted to show off some state pride. As it turns out, there were loads of people interested in getting some!

How long did it take you to create the comprehensive collection?

I probably spent around 15 hours collecting CAD drawings of all the states, scaling them appropriately and modeling them in 3D with the cufflink stems. In my day job, I design surgical robots. Selling cufflinks is something I do on the side for fun. I’m delighted every time I get a notification that someone liked my product enough to buy it and hope it adds a trendy personalized touch to the recipient’s outfit!

Any stats on the top-selling states?

The top three states I’ve gotten orders for are Minnesota, Michigan and New York.

Any interesting challenges you encountered during the creation of this collection?

Certain states, such as Hawaii, Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Louisiana were tricky to model because of all the islands they have or because of thin portions of their geography. I spent many hours trying to decide what details were possible to maintain and which had to be removed. For example, for Hawaii I decided to make the geography the negative of the cufflink, I took a rectangle and removed the island outlines from it. Cape Cod needed to be thickened a bit as did the connection between Long Island and the rest of New York State. Lots of tedious work but fortunately I only needed to do it once.

You’ve done all 50 states! So what’s next?

Thinking of doing pendants and money clips. Also want to add geographies of different countries and famous cities. Lastly, I’ve done a few embossed orders with custom lettering, so may continue to do so per request.

Designer Spotlight: Gavin Rose – Sparkshot Custom Creations

Gavin Rose of Sparkshot Custom Creations has been interested in British outline railways since a very early age and has been making models since he was 12 years old. Almost 20 years later, he’s still at it, now with the help of 3D design and 3D printing. Gavin does a tremendous job of leveraging 3D printing to create model trains that are otherwise unavailable through mass-manufactured models.

How’d you get into 3D modeling of trains?

Prior to doing 3D modeling I used to (and still do) railway modeling the usual ways — build kits or ‘bash’ them — modifying them to represent a different version of an engine, either real or theoretical. Before this, I dabbled in military modeling, but the bug has always been for railways more than anything. Amongst a few other things, 3D printing creates the opportunity for me (and you!) to now own models of railway prototypes the mainstream firms haven’t created. You have to buy your own wheels, motors and bits for the printed model but once done, it’s great to see the engine you’ve always longed for pottering about on a layout.

You mention that models of railway prototypes you’re building aren’t available from mainstream firms. Tell us about that and what you’re focusing on.

Most of the mainstream Ready to Run (RTR) manufacturers concentrate on the latter British Railways (BR) period of railway history and I can only estimate this is because most of the people alive today remember that period, and not earlier. As such, nostalgia has its power well established in BR territory, which undoubtedly is the reason that the mainstream companies cater to BR models. This means that newcomers to the hobby end up with a choice that is predominantly BR so sales of those products increase, mainstream companies keep making them … and so the cycle continues.

There’s nothing wrong with BR, but the post-Grouping (and especially pre-Grouping) suffers dreadfully, and many locomotive classes aren’t given any attention while the popular ones are redone over and over and over. This is a shame, and along with it goes some of the history and knowledge of what our railways looked like, once upon a time. If more people were to model the earlier periods we could hopefully get back to some degree and accurate portrayal of what was once lost and my hope is that 3D printing will help to bring the past back to the present. Currently Sparkshot Custom Creations is concentrating on the earlier periods, so keep an eye out. :)

We love that you’re using modern-day manufacturing to bring back the past! Tell us more about how you design these unique models.

For customization, I have done a series of variants of most of the locomotive classes. Some are real variants, but a lot are freelance also to enable me and anyone who is inclined to model certain things in a more theoretical rather than factual way. Obvious detail variations are the most important such as the standard VS extended tank E2 and the various chimneys some engines ran with. The new-to-the-SCC range Furness J1 class has a separate pack of chimneys to order that allow the engine to take on different guises, the simple change in chimney can make all the difference.  People have asked me to make a few alterations here and there and I have done it; the creation of the Cambrian Class 61 was due to consultation to give the Furness K2 some alterations but the work became more elaborate than originally envisioned as research continued. It has however produced a new loco choice all together, so all good!

At the time of this interview, the next engine to be completed and released for sale will be the Furness Railway J1 Class. There is already a Furness Railway 21 Class that’s also known as the K2 available in several variants, so for the meantime, I’m concentrating on this particular railway company and then will move on to another.

Check out Gavin’s incredible model train designs in his shop here. He’s created some videos on post-processing his models here and here if you’re looking for a glance into his methods.

He’s also requested that if anyone has built, painted, and are running his creations on a model railway, to please send him photos or video. As Gavin says, “I’d very much like to see what people do with the kits, there’s something quite ‘happifying’ seeing your own designs all completed by another!”

Designer Spotlight: Erin Winick – Sci Chic

At Shapeways we’re huge believers that smart is sexy and 4th year Mechanical Engineering student, Erin Winick’s goal is to help show off the fashionable side of science and show that 3D printing and technology is accessible to everyone. Her shop Sci Chic features a wide array of gorgeous jewelry, all inspired by science and we were excited to learn more about her mission and her successes so far.


Tell us about what drives your designs.
My biggest inspiration is to encourage more young girls to enter the engineering fields. All of my designs are inspired by science and engineering. Everything is paired with science descriptions so that fashion can help spread science literacy. I enjoy creating a variety of items, some more obvious than others in their inspiration. I hope to intrigue people enough with the design that they want to learn about the science behind it as well.

As a mechanical engineering student, the whole experience has been rewarding and really given me a platform to talk about encouraging young kids to look at science and engineering in a new and creative way.


Know you said you created your jewelry to utilize fashion to help spread fashion literacy. Do you have any interesting anecdotes about how you’ve accomplished this as a result of wearing/selling your jewelry?
Absolutely. One of the coolest messages I got was a mom who had bought a necklace for her 11 year old daughter who has now worn it to school every day since. It felt great to know that she loved the piece so much that she was telling all of her friends about it! For me, wearing the Trajectory Necklace has sparked a lot of conversations at events. People look at it and don’t see the inspiration right away, and when I tell them that it shows the path of the Apollo 11 mission, they get super excited! It is really rewarding to see people get so excited about science. I even had an astrophysicist wear the Trajectory Necklace on an episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s TV show, StarTalk! The necklace even became part of the conversation for the live audience.

Additionally, I have had stories of teachers wearing pieces in the classroom when teaching about related lectures and students receiving pieces as graduation necklaces printed in precious metal. Bringing science into people’s everyday lives keeps me going.

With over 2,500 Instagram followers, what are the typical reactions you get from people about these creations?
When we first reveal a new piece on Instagram it is always really exciting. We usually show it in plastic first, and then in metal. People usually comment on how awesome the steel materials look. Also, when we release a piece covering a new area of STEM, it is fascinating to see scientists and engineers from that area flock to that piece. They get so excited someone is bringing attention to STEM in a new way. People love the variety of looks they can achieve with our pieces because of all of the materials we offer.

We also love sharing pictures of our customers wearing the 3D printed creations. Many of the customers our in the STEM fields, allowing us to show some great role models in STEM for young women on our Instagram as well. However, we also have customers who are intrigued by the look of the piece and the fashion aspect of it, and might learn some about the science behind it in the process of buying it.

Instagram has been a great platform for us to build a community around.

What else can we see coming from you on the horizon?
We are working on some collaboration pieces right now with scientist and engineers from around the world. We are hoping to give them a platform to help share the fashionable side of science and reach a wide audience. We will be donating a portion of these sales to STEM related charities as well. We can’t wait for everyone to see them!

Check out Erin’s shop here, she recently added a ton of beautiful product images that we’re super excited about.


Designer Spotlight: Igor Puškarić – Iggy Design

Iggy Design features some incredible creations by Igor Puškarić, who is an award-winning 3D artist and animator with over 6 years of experience in the video game industry. He loves to design and create high-quality models that people can use in their own projects, films, games, and animation. We were particularly intrigued by Igor’s intricately designed chess pieces so wanted to share it with our community.


Tell us about your chess piece designs.
What I always strive for is originality and innovation. I would love to design toys and figurines; and chess was a popular game already so I decided to give it a shot and have my own take on it, with a strong intention to produce something that has not been seen before. I actually googled alternative chess images and see a huge potential there.

I tried to showcase something completely different, yet familiar and usable. I created them specifically so they would be difficult to cast, meaning I wanted to make them 3D-printable with the specific purpose of celebrating the technology. The great thing about printable chess is that you can afford to lose a piece– just replace the lost one, rather than having to buy a whole board again.

What inspired the design?
I started playing with general features of each figure but through a sort of steampunk direction to make them intricate while also keeping the industrial-futuristic tone. It was my wish to make them look cool no matter which angle you were looking at them from, so the flow of the shape was important.

So, what’s next?
I yet have to create the opposing army as well, so the black and white figurines aren’t the same armies painted differently. Painting is also something I intend to learn,but I am not there yet.

Chess pieces aside, Igor is most proud of his Swarm pendant which is printed in stainless steel and is loved by lots of happy customers. Check out his shop and consider picking something up for yourself!


Designer Spotlight: Cro’s Miniatures for Tabletop RPGs – Anthony Hinton

Having recently opened up Black High Definition Acrylate for shop owners to make this material available to their customers, we wanted to highlight Cro’s Miniatures for Tabletop RPGs, a Shapeways shop that offers highly detailed and customized miniatures printed in this material. We asked Anthony about how he began creating miniatures and the tools he uses:

What led you to start creating miniatures?
I started designing and printing 3D models when my D&D group all created rare races of characters. We searched around and couldn’t find any miniatures that were suitable for our strange assortment. After creating these characters, I realized how powerful 3D printing is for tabletop RPGs. Each character is so unique and the miniature that represents it should match, and that’s only really possible through the amazing technology of 3D printing. One of my customers requested a gnome sorcerer with a squirrel on his shoulder and a smaller clockwork version of himself. There’s no way anyone would have such a specific miniature, but through the magic of 3D printing, Foodle was born.

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How do you do it?
I found some amazing tools that help me create quickly. Make Human is an amazing open-source base model creator that I’m now using for all my new models and from there I import the base into Blender and render the rest of the figure. Each of my models is fully rigged for animation using Rigify (Pitchipoy Human). With those tools alone, anyone can make amazing 3D models.

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And you do custom orders?
While I wish I could do this full time, 3D modeling is only a hobby for me right now as my day job keeps me from making more than one or two miniatures a week. If you have a character that you’d like to have made, let me know. If you have the time to wait for the perfect model, I’ll make whatever you can imagine.

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Check out Cro’s Miniatures for Tabletop RPGs shop here, his custom creations are well worth being patient for!

Designer Spotlight: Artur Dabrowski – Multiply Like Rabbits

Artur is a twenty-something maker from Brooklyn, New York who became fascinated by the idea of 3D printing while pursuing his architecture degree. While a relevant topic in the architectural field, Artur’s school didn’t offer resources to delve into the technology, so it wasn’t until after graduation that he found Shapeways by chance and took time to print a house in plastic to see how the process works. He loved the result and began attempting to print metals, making a pendant for a close friend of mine. She loved it and Artur was inspired to continue creating– leading to the launch of Multiply Like Rabbits, a line of whimsical jewelry and accessories. Artur pairs his products with gorgeous photos that tell a story, cute drawings that engage the audience, and work-in-progress shots… all combined with writing peeking into the thinking behind the designs.

Because the clarity of Arthur’s vision is carried out so impeccably throughout his Shapeways shop (and featured on our Jewelry marketplace), we wanted to find out more about his process and creative aesthetic.

What’s your inspiration behind your designs?
Everyone always asks ‘why rabbits?’ I started drawing rabbits in the margins of my notebooks during high school. I would personify rabbits to express thoughts, situations or feelings I was having. I think the imagery of the rabbit being personified is playful — the rabbit is cute, hops around, eats, multiplies… and lives naively in this world. Personification takes that image and crosses them with this highly rational and complex being, incapable of preserving its naivety. Rabbits were the vessel through which I felt comfortable expressing myself.

One rabbit leaps across the open gap of the two finger ring band while the other rabbit observes: Double Rabbit Ring

How do you approach the designing process?
Imagination lets you take elements inspired from reality into a world that is whimsical and of your heart’s content. I can remember as a child playing in my room, with little scraps of wood leftover from my father’s work, cutouts of printed paper, toy game pieces… and assigning them meaning and value. Elements of reality became extraordinary in this augmented world… little pieces became characters… desks and bed sheets became landscapes. I didn’t let go of that childlike fantasy — I still imagine things that don’t exist and stories that never happen. But I think, as an adult, we have the ability to turn that imagination into reality.

I do a lot of sketching on the subway. There are so many more serene places to sketch (on a deck overlooking the water) but I make the most of what I have. I ride the subway to get around the city in the morning. I’m usually hyped up on coffee fifteen minutes into my day, so I just can’t sit patiently. I need to make things. I can’t design in my mind because I get easily distracted. And to develop an idea I HAVE to draw it. Although the subway is crowded, I found that drawing has become a way to get into my zone… headphones-on I can zone out and be immersed in what I do. Plus, since I’m fixed in my seat, I can’t walk away from what I’m doing. It’s funny to think that such polished jewelry is inspired in the grittiest of all places. That’s NYC.

Brick Arch Ring
As an architect, I love working with brick because it’s one of those materials you can feel with your eyes. Roughness is rendered by light, adding depth to a seemingly flat application. Although bricks are cut with a machine precision, they are always imperfect. It’s such a beautiful material in and of itself. I tried to capture such depth when creating the 3d printed ring. The bricks are 3d modeled rough and uneven, and the roughness peeks through the joints of the mortar. Hand polishing won’t reach into the .04 mm gaps, leaving striated 3d print lines. But the roughness is only visually, it wears smooth and comfortable.

When I design, I like to create something as if it was a found object, as if all the details were meant to be and there’s no trace of the designer to be found. In architecture school, I preferred to work with existing ruins and other found “objects” on a site. With jewelry, I like to work with the body as a landscape. To invigorate the design process, I embed stories within the objects that govern design moves. Rather than be overt, I like to naively create a moment suggestive of a story that can be interpreted differently than my initial intent. Although I am expanding the line with more architectural pieces, I use rabbits as characters in this open-ended story.

For more beautiful photos of Artur’s work, check out his Instagram account where he documents his design process and ethos.


Designer Spotlight: Cady Carlson

Shapeways designer Cady Carlson’s shop is a fun mix of whimsical and lighthearted products (a “I Love You More Than Bacon” bracelet, anyone?), while also having incredible stories of inspiration behind the creation of each piece.

Cady specializes in designing and CAD-Programming custom jewelry for individuals and businesses and one of her particular loves is giving older jewelry an updated look. While using traditional jewelry as inspiration, Cady says, “I believe we’re often given so many rules and processes that viewing something built or created before there was an ‘official’ way brings me back to the innovation that is inherent in all humans before it was beaten out of us.” Because of this philosophy, she makes a conscious effort to trust her instincts when designing. “Once I have sketches, I’ll put on HGTV or Netflix while modeling in CAD — this helps to keep me distracted enough so that I won’t second guess my aesthetics,” Cady says of her creative process.

Below are some of Cady’s gorgeous designs and the inspiration behind each.

Body Language Ring was inspired by the Queen song and is a part of my “Dimensionality in Music” series. The design process began after sculpting with sand while listening to the song, after which I made ring sketches based on the final sand product.

Love Song Cufflinks were inspired by Sara Bareilles’ song. The tempo was easy to visualize as a beating speaker, which is where the final design came in.

Seeking Shelter Pendant was created for a show that addressed homelessness in the Tulsa (Oklahoma) community, combining the artwork of both the homeless community and the socially conscious artists who would like to address the issues that homeless folks deal with on a daily basis.  My design represents a fragile asylum sought but not attained by many in the homeless communities around the world.  The fire in the basin symbolizes the intense need for safety and comfort.

Check out Cady’s beautiful designs in her Shapeways shop below!

Click Here For More Of Cady’s Designs

Designer Spotlight: Katerina Kamprani

In today’s world it’s not uncommon to find innovation that aims to make daily life as comfortable as possible. Katerina Komprani, designer of The Uncomfortable, explores exactly the opposite: what if life was designed to be inconvenient? 

Tell us a little bit about yourself? What got you started started on Shapeways?

I began my creative project The Uncomfortable just after I dropped out from my Masters in Industrial Design and Interactive Systems. No wonder my objects are obscure! I found out about Shapeways through an ad and back then I had no idea what 3D printing was. Some years ago, my project received a lot of exposure and I decided to invest in 3D printing one of my objects. Holding the physical object in my hands was a really good feeling!


Can you tell us about your creative process? What, and who inspires you to take your ideas and turn them into a collection? 

To make an Uncomfortable object I follow a process and some basic rules. I pick an object that is simple and recognisable, analyse the user interaction step by step and then sabotage one little thing. My rules are that the object has to remain recognisable, uncomfortable to use and preferably, not completely useless.

I love the work of Jacques Carelman, his impossible objects have been featured in Don Norman’s book “The design of everyday things”.

What are your creation dream(s) for the future? Is there one thing you have not yet done that you are hoping to make possible with 3D printing?

I have not yet tried out the ceramic material, I have a new design of an uncomfortable teapot and I would love one day to torture myself making some tea in it!


Designer Spotlight: Gavin Bain of Celtic3d

Today we’re highlighting Gavin Bain of Celtic3d, a designer who creates gorgeous keychains inspired by the deep traditional heritage of Scotland. Most of Gavin’s designs are customizable, reflecting his (and our!) belief that personalization is a key component to the success of his Shapeways shop.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I’m Based in Aberdeen, Scotland. I am a seasoned IT professional with an interest in 3D printing and Scottish design and heritage.


What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
I believe 3D printing is all about customization and small production runs. That is the advantage 3D printing has over traditional manufacturing, and the only reason I can see that customers would be willing to pay a slightly higher price than they do for mass manufactured goods and be willing to wait a couple of weeks for delivery for made-­to­ order designs. So in exploring what can be done with 3D printing, it is not only about coming up with interesting designs, but figuring out how these can be customized and made personal for customers.


What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
The main attraction for my joining and using Shapeways for 3D printing is the ability to offer customization, backed up by the ever increasing range of materials. I try wherever possible to include a customization option for the products in my shop.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
As I said earlier, I believe customization is the future for consumer 3D printing. I’d love for there to be expanded options in CustomMaker, whether the ability to add text along a curved path, multiple customization options, or the ability to combine and morph shapes. Anything and everything that allows customers to make unique items that are personal and meaningful to them. Ultimately, the designer’s job should be to create a base design and make configuration options available, allowing the customer to personalize their order however they’d like.

Designer Spotlight: Sascha Hosey

Born and raised in Siberia, Russia, Sascha Hosey shares her incredible story of moving to America, and how her families generations of fur hat making inspired her to create these beautiful 3D Printed Headdresses.
Sascha Hosey models her 3D Printed Headdress

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?

My studio is located in Weehawken, NJ. I love the unobstructed NYC views from NJ side – it inspires me to create especially around sunsets – the big apple is shimmering with all shades of gold bouncing around the skyscrapers.

Sascha Hosey

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?

Before I tell you how I came up with the idea to make 3D printed headpieces, let me tell you why I have a knack and passion for creating fashion items. I was born and raised in Siberia, Russia. My grandmother was an entrepreneur and had her own fur hat business. She would purchase rigid, untreated fur at the farm, soften it and make fur hats all by hand, and sell them at the local market in the freezing weather. Her hard work and dedication instilled in me a high level of discipline and commitment to pursuing my goals. My mom was an ENT doctor but she would also sew hats at night and on the weekends to supplement her income and support my older brother and I. She was a single mother. Enduring hardship early on in life made me appreciate the little things so much more and be grateful for all the abundance, comfort, and prosperity that I’ve created for myself. When I immigrated to the States at 19 years old all by myself, I was unstoppable in achieving things others could only dream of. It felt like nothing could hamper my personal and emotional growth and success. Then, the recession hit, and it became extremely difficult to survive, and, without the support of my family, it was that much harder to make ends meet. (Skype didn’t exist back then…we would go for months without even talking to each other) I got a Master’s degree in Marketing and Business, followed by a job as a marketing executive at a restaurant in LES, NY.

I decided to start my own fashion line to challenge myself. Boy, did I find that challenge and mert my fair share of disappointment along the way. All of the mishaps and failures on my path were huge learning experiences. I realized that the fashion industry is run by (for the most part) big egos, and fortunes are made by child labor and overworked, underpaid people in third world countries; it’s the industry that completely disregards the environment and wastes precious resources of those countries while producing disposable clothes that do not disintegrate naturally and create enormous amounts of waste. Many fast fashion retailers were able to hook people with super effective marketing messages that subconsciously forced them to crave more, buy more, and worry about the next big trend. I was faced with a conscientious and moral crisis. I lost my drive to make clothes and decided to get back into marketing so that I could help people establish an online presence and pursue their passion to create sustainable products, ease our CO2 footprint, and make the world a better, kinder place.

In the meantime, my openness and adventurous spirit brought me to Burning Man in 2011. There, I met so many likeminded people who were changing the world by applying 10 BM principles in their lives:

Radical Inclusion
Radical self-reliance
Radical self-expression
Communal efforts
Civic responsibility
Leaving no trace

The Burning Man experience completely changed the outlook I had on life. I realized how much potential we have to change things and how collectively powerful we can be by spreading love and sharing passion for sustainable living, spirituality, and mindfulness. A couple of years later my dear husband and I attended BM inspired parties here in NYC and something clicked: I realized that all of these people need headpieces, because it’s the hardest thing to make for a complete look. The lead times for hand made headpieces that are on the market are very long and designers cannot make enough headgear for all of the festival-goers. With the rise of 3D technology and Shapeways, I decided to give it a try and the very first piece we made was a complete success. It fit perfectly and was durable, lightweight and looked stunning. I was ecstatic because working with and making something special for Burners or any festival-goers is a dream come true. In addition, bypassing traditional fashion production made it so much more pleasant and fun adding peace of mind to the process. I always considered myself a geek, and, now, I work with legit technology geeks to make fun, creative headpieces come alive.
My inspiration comes from my friends, their passions and aspirations. I’m creating versatile collections for different characters. I’m living my dream.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?

Our friends Lana and John Briscella, – designers of the 3D printed jewelry, founders of recommended Shapeways to me.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

I didn’t. I have an innate talent for drawing with a pencil. Ever since i was taught to draw in high school my works were frequently featured in various exhibits. So i just sketch my designs by pencil and the modelers create a digital blueprint of it in Rhino before we sent it to Shapeways to print.

How do you promote your work?

I wear my designs to parties. I vend at popular festivals. I hire amazing talent to do editorials. I garner the power of social media and word of mouth which spreads like a wild fire especially when the product is as unique as kova by sascha headpieces.

Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?

I really like Eric Ho for his cute figurines, great marketing effort and ability to have his hand on the pulse of what’s trending.

Artur Dabrowski makes really creative designs as well.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?

Who said that we are limited?!? Definitely not with Shapeways…:)

Olya CrownBunny Ears Sascha Hosey

More by Sascha Hosey

Designer Spotlight: Austin Robey

This week, we’re putting Brooklyn based designer Austin Robey on the map.  New York City is known for its spectrum of personality and we love how Austin Robey’s products capture this very essence. Austin takes concepts that may otherwise be transient or out of sight, such as a winking face or city landscape, and transforms them into bold, tangible creations. In fact, if you take a look at his shop, you can see that his 3D emojis were meant to be held in your hand.  He’s also made iPhone cases of popular NYC and Brooklyn neighborhoods, so you and your emojis will never get lost again!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?

My name is Austin Robey and am located in Brooklyn, NY. I have an academic background in architecture, a professional background in designing jewelry and accessories, and now have a studio called Make Mode, which helps people realize fun and inventive product ideas through digital design and 3D printing. As a side project from our 3D design services, we wanted to make a Shapeways store of some fun products we designed. It’s also called Make Mode.


What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?

I am inspired by the immediacy of 3D printing and its ability to help people quickly realize product ideas. It’s definitely a catalyst for innovation. That being said, I also enjoy the challenge of designing products around the limitations of 3D printers (size, material, cost). The idea of producing a product that can be manufactured locally on demand is fascinating. We thought that making 3D emojis would be a fun project because it really represents what is exciting about 3D printing – taking something digital and making it physical.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
Shapeways has built an amazing infrastructure to produce and distribute 3D printed products. It’s marketplace allows us to sell products that we could not produce ourselves. It also serves as a useful service for iterative testing of designs.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?
I was introduced to 3D design tools while studying architecture at Pratt Institute. Architecture is great, but working in an architectural practice didn’t interest me, so I applied 3D design tools I learned in academia to other disciplines. I use Rhino, Maya, and Zbrush.

Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
I am inspired by the design community in New York City. Two people I know from Pratt Architecture are doing really interesting work: Francis Bitonti and Brad Rothenberg. Joris Laarnman makes very cool digitally fabricated furniture. Also, some designs that are coming from Nike research and development are exciting – like their 3D printed duffel bag.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
If it wasn’t so expensive, I would want to design and print my furniture. Or maybe 3d print some more 3d printers.

Thank you so much for sharing, Austin! Don’t forget to check out Austin’s shop, Make Mode and website.

Designer Spotlight: Leon Oudehand

This week we’re speaking with Leon Oudehand from the Netherlands, who did a great job developing a simple yet useful life hack!

Leon Oudehand

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
Hi, I’m Leon and I’m a product and packaging developer from the Netherlands. I work as packaging designer for a big FMCG company, but alongside that I love to design and create products that make life just a little easier, both for myself and for others.

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
I guess this is one of those typical “I had a need and couldn’t find the right product so decided to do it myself” stories where a product originates from a pure personal need. When the explosion of wallet projects on Kickstarter started a couple of years ago, I too got a little addicted to the minimal wallet trend.

Cavity Card

Typically, minimal wallets are great for cards and bills. However, few offer a “good” solution for carrying coins (or other small items). I tried going “cashless” or at least “coinless” for a while, but found that there’s still quite a few places that don’t accept cards, or don’t accept cards for small amounts. Time after time I ended up with loose coins in my pocket. After finding over 10 euros worth of coins in the washing machine, and another stash spread around the car, I decided I had to find a solution.

That’s when I came up with Cavity Card. A simple and light frame that can be mounted onto any card and creates just a little space for a few coins, a key or an SD card while keeping my wallet slim. At first, I just printed one for myself. But after a number of questions from friends and colleagues, I decided to open up a shop.

Wallets with cavity card

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
I learned about 3D printing as a tool for rapid prototyping in my job as a packaging designer. It’s been a great tool for very quickly getting something physical in your hands, which is great for very early stage tests and design evaluation.

Having studied in Eindhoven, Shapeways was the logical choice for me. A while ago I did a bit of a benchmark comparing it with a couple of other 3D printing services but found Shapeways still has the best balance between cost, range of materials and service.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?
I’m schooled as an industrial designer. So I learned 3D modeling at university. I’ve experimented with a couple of CAD solutions, but find SolidWorks to be the best fit for me.

How do you promote your work?
For a very niche product like Cavity Card, which is only relevant to people owning a minimal wallet, it’s difficult to reach the right people. I currently mainly use Instagram and Facebook to try to build a following. I’ve also been experimenting a bit with Facebook ads (although not too successfully yet).

Next to my Shapeways store, I also run an independent website where I sell Cavity Cards with self-adhesive strips and a backing card included packed in a nice minimal pack.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
I’ve got plenty of ideas in my head that I’d like to work out and start making some day. I’ve got a couple of wallet concepts for which the limitations in size and accuracy currently limit me from producing it through 3D printing. I’d love to start printing more complex multipart products that offer more functionality. Multi-material parts (printed in one go) would also open up so many opportunities.

Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
In terms of design, I’m a fan of classic modernist designers like Mies van der Rohe or Eames. My favorite Shapeways designer is probably Remi van Oers, because of his very simple and minimal but super useful designs.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Just that it’s absolutely fantastic how simple and easy it is to go from a one-off print for personal use to selling them commercially. And a big thanks to you guys for providing the services!

Algorithmic Sculptures Hit the Playa for Burning Man 2016

Imagine climbing up a 17-foot ossified helical sculpture that glows from within. If you’re heading to Burning Man this August, then you may just get to experience exactly that.

Stijn van der Linden, otherwise known as Virtox, a long-time Shapeways community member and shop owner is an artist that creates algorithmically inspired math sculptures. This year, he’s scaling up his work and taking it the playa to create an interactive Fractal Rock sculpture for Burning Man 2016, backed by the Burning Man Honorarium Arts Grant.


“We want it to appear as if it is grown from the earth, an organic structure designed using math and built to scale through the love and labor of people who are inspired by its intriguing shape and mathematical foundations.”

Stijn is one of the early adopters within the 3D space, beginning his practice nearly 10 years ago using voxel 3D modeling technology (voxel = volumetric pixel). Eventually, he moved into the 3D printing space as it was the perfect medium to bring his complex, math-generated sculptures to life in the physical world. “3D printing made its way into my life when I discovered Shapeways in 2008,” he says, “and I have been hooked ever since.”

Sundanese Mobius by Virtox

Stijn, How do you create your art?
One of the major annoyances I had with 3D modeling for printing was the whole triangle and mesh modeling environment. No real auto mesh repair was available back then. This gave all sorts of trouble. Missing triangle? Error, abort, etc.

I decided to use voxel space instead for my modelling needs. Voxels are essentially three dimensional pixels that you can use as building blocks for just about anything. So kind of like Minecraft drawing, but at a finer resolution. And luckily, it’s a perfect match for 3D printing and CNC. If there is a voxel at point xyz in the model, then the machine should put material there too.

The main trouble was that, when I started with this, voxel software was and still is mostly nonexistent or used only internally inside software. So I had to write most of my own tools to be able to create what I had in mind. The huge advantage for me is that it allows me to directly code my ideas into voxel-space and see instant results.

And as a digital artist, I have always been very fond of fractals and fractal-like algorithms and the beautiful images and animations that one can produce with them.

One day, I totally fell in love with the so-called Quaternion fractals, which is a multi-dimensional variation of the more commonly know Julia set fractal. And these Quaternion fractals produce these amazing organic shapes.

How did you design Fractal Rock?
Pooja Shah reached out to me in September 2015 mentioning her idea to create a large (17 feet!) sculpture inspired by fractal forms in nature and some of my work, most notably the Julia Vase series. So we met online to discuss the idea and we decided to go for it.

We’ve been working on the design for Fractal Rock since then and the model has evolved greatly over the last few months–starting with the initial Julia Vase Aqua as a basis and mixed with images from our inspiration board. We sent many ideas and visions back and forth, which ultimately led me to the epiphany to make a combination of the Julia vase algorithm and the traditional quaternion fractals.


From that point on we spent countless hours tweaking the model and algorithm to push the shape into the desired form. As modeling with fractals is a bit like modelling with silly putty, if you push too much everything breaks. But if you treat it just right, you can get it to do the most elegant things.

And once we found the perfect shape for our sculpture, Pooja assembled a team of experts to get the production/build process underway. We looked at many different ways to produce a sculpture at this scale, but in the end decided on the more old-school steel reinforced fiberglass process to cut costs and ensure safety.

If people want to lend a hand, we could use some final funding to get the scale we had in mind! Please check out our crowd-funding campaign at We have some beautiful Fractal Rock 3d prints as well as other cool rewards!

Designer Spotlight : Stephen Arsenault

3D printing is all about pushing boundaries and solving problems. No one embodies this more than wearables shop owner  Steven Arsenault. Stephen runs a cool shop called Parts and Accessories where he makes useful and stylish accessories for the Fitbit, Pebble, Garmin and more. Let’s hear what he has to say! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?

I have worked in ad-tech since arriving in San Francisco in 2012 from Canada. Prior to leaving Canada I worked as a graphic designer in the rapid prototyping industry with sheet metal for nearly 5 years, serving many branches of NASA, Naval laboratories, confidential US contracts, and the aeronautical industry.


Stephen Arsenault

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?

Ranging from radioactive to purely utilitarian, I like to explore new designs and solutions to tricky problems.

One of my first designs was a carefully designed enclosure for the Fitbit Flex made in brass with semi-precious plating, I named it Fitbit Armour. When I say ‘carefully designed,’ I mean a tolerance of roughly 0.15mm, any less and it wouldn’t work. If I said I like to push the 3D manufacturing provided by Shapeways to their extremes it might be an understatement.

I would gladly accept the title nerd, because it’s tolerances like that which bring me back again and again to produce something new and exciting – it’s the challenge of pushing my technical design skill with the tools and manufacturing available to me.



What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?

Prior to the winter of 2013 I had never used 3D printing before. To me, it was just a buzzword for people toiling away over hot extruded plastic. But I had worked with 50,000 watt laser cutters and ward-jet cutters, so I knew the extruded plastic couldn’t be the limit to additive manufacturing.

That December my soon to be grandmother-in-law showed me a “Neva-5″. If you’re not familiar with that name I can forgive you – it’s a weaving loom manufactured in the 80′s in Soviet Russia.

There’s a switch which must be flipped to adjust the tension on some of the loom mechanism. The original had been roughly cast and eventually broke.

To make a short story even shorter, two weeks later I gazed in awe at my first 3D printed part and had one very impressed grandma (though, no woven sweaters yet).

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

I was exposed to Solidworks during my experience with rapid prototyping. I had tried rhino and 123D CAD but Solidworks just felt RIGHT to me! Also, Youtube is a very patient teacher (if only I were a more patient student).


How do you promote your work?

I promote my work through Twitter and Instagram. I have a shop on Etsy as well, but direct most of my traffic to my Shapeways shop. You get what you put into social marketing!

Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?

Is it too cliche to say Jony Ives and Dieter Rams? No matter, I love minimal design where the emphasis is on details that matter.

Still, there’s a special place in my heart for whimsy and clever flourishes. That would lead me to my two favorite Shapeway designers, Michael Mueller and Steven Gray. If consistency is key, these two guys never fail to impress.


If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?

I would make bicycles and things that propel themselves, the mechanical, the necessary. I would make it all!


Thanks for sharing Stephen, and make sure you check out his shop and follow him here.