Category Archives: Community

Hacking Arts Conference 2016

Last week, Shapeways sponsored the Hacking Arts Conference at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hosted by the MIT Media Lab, the three-day conference brings together students and professionals from technology and the arts to discuss interdisciplinary creativity.

Shapeways’ Community team was there to greet panel goers and give them a chance to get their hands on some of the 3D printed materials and products available in the marketplace.

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The conference also included a hackathon and some amazing performances. Below is a moment from audio/visual artists the Holladay Brothers during the opening ceremonies.

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A video posted by Andrew Thomas (@andrew.s.thomas) on


 

The Hacking Arts Conference was also a great opportunity to see old friends. Artist and Shapeways Shop Owner Bathsheba Grossman came by to play with some of her math-inspired Klein Bottle openers, printed in a variety of materials.

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We had a great time talking to hackers, artists, and lifelong learners at the Hacking Arts Conference. Are you a student combining design and technology? You can sign up for our education program here.

 

Thanks to You

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We wouldn’t exist without you, our makers. Inventors, designers, artists, hobbyists, and, of course, all our small business owners that keep the printers running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And, we’re equally indebted to our shoppers for supporting these independent makers. So, this week, we want to say “Thank you.”

Thank you to our designers, for opening shops on our platform, creating microbrands, and for making our marketplace the world’s destination for the unique, wonderful things you can’t find anywhere else. And thank you to our shoppers for helping bring our designers’ visions to life by supporting their small businesses.

We know that there are a lot of options when it comes to holiday gifting. Thank you for choosing to make your gifts on a platform where craftsmanship, originality, and ingenuity are in our community’s DNA.

Together, we’re shaping and bringing these ideas to life, from 3D renders to amazing finished products — many of which would never have existed without digital manufacturing. Thank you for being there, every step of the way. We look forward to seeing all the incredible things you’ll make in 2017 and beyond.

New Dieselpunk Miniature Robots Kickstarter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Then it gets a base coat of paint:

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

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

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Examples of how the tanks can be assembled:

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And reassembled:

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The obligatory banana to show scale:

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

Designer Spotlight: Jady Swinkels – Swinks

This week, we’re celebrating the many ways that Shapeways lets us geek out this holiday season, whether it’s by creating (and gifting) D&D game pieces or developing arcade game mods. Jady Swinkels’ shop Swinks is a perfect example of how a designer is using 3D printing in innovative ways to do just that — creating accessories and modifications for pinball machines. We wanted to find out more about how this pinball wizard got his start.

Congo Pinball Hippo (Schleich 14681) Mount by Swinks

Congo Pinball Hippo (Schleich 14681) Mount by Swinks

How did you become interested in pinball machines?
I was part of the era in the ’80s when there were pinball machines in the arcades near the movie cinemas and fish & chip shops here in Australia, and I really enjoyed playing them. Then, in 2010, I discovered that lots of people bought them for their homes, so I purchased my first game.

Over the last six years I have bought eight different games, but at the moment I’m back down to two games, which are the first two games I purchased. The first was a 1976 Gottlieb Surf Champ, a surfing pinball game, and the second was a 1992 Bally Creature from the Black Lagoon which has great art and is a fun game with a cool drive-in movie theme in which I have produced many different custom designs for.

How do you determine the types of accessories and add-ons to create?
Custom accessories in the pinball world are known as pinball modifications (shortened to “mods”). They’re accessories that enhance a feature of a game that it could be lacking, usually by adding a 3D touch or more character. Many people like to personalize their own games with mods. I strive to design a mod that has a purpose and looks cool, but is fairly simple to install. A good mod is one where people are wowed by it and comment that the game should have had the mod as a standard feature when the game was made, though this is personal and hard to achieve as everyone is different. A good mod is also one that is removable and allows the game to be reassembled back to original if desired.

Then there’s another side to pinball parts, which is that older games often suffer from having no parts available anymore due to stock running out and then not being remade. So, in some cases, fellow pinheads have asked if I can help them out with a replacement part. I like to help them and others where possible to keep an old game playable — it’s rewarding.

How personalized or custom-designed can one make a pinball machine?
Some people like their games to stay stock/original. Others like to personalize it with a few quality features, and some like to fill it up. It really is a personal taste thing, and that’s the great thing about pinball mods: there is variety out there. Currently, at a rough guess, there are probably 40-50 people around the world designing quality pinball mods, each with a unique flare or game preference, from older games to newly released games and certain themes. Some specialize in casting, others in decals, and some experiment with 3D printed parts while others prefer machining parts. Some games are really popular for mods, and people could spend above and beyond $2k on mod accessories for their games when a game itself costs $5-6k.

CFTBL Tail Light Mod - Tail Light Lens by Swinks

CFTBL Tail Light Mod – Tail Light Lens by Swinks

Are there any modifications you’re particularly proud of?
Custom Flipper Bats are one of my cool designs as traditionally pinball machines have a cast, one-piece fixed-length bat. I wanted to approach it differently. Traditionally, the bat’s post passes through the playfield and is fastened to a mechanism. For a beginner, it’s a component that stays in there for years as the bats are awkward and sort of a pain to change out. My solution has 3 benefits:

  • It’s still is a pain to change out the first time, but now the bats can be swapped out in a few minutes instead of an hour for a beginner, all without lifting the playfield due to the designed-in square drive .

  • People can put in standard-length bats, shorter ones to make a game harder, or longer ones to make a game easier.

  • People can customize with custom colors or features.

Designer Jady Swinkels of Swinks

Designer Jady Swinkels of Swinks

Check out Jady’s shop and see the way he’s totally pimping out people’s pinball machines with his custom modifications. If you’re a pinhead, leave a comment here and let us know of your dream mod!

What is a Möbius Strip?

Our Holiday Gift Guide is full of creative versions of the Möbius Strip. What is this magical shape, and how did it get its name? Thankfully, mathematician, guest blogger, and Shapeways Shop owner Henry Segerman is here to reveal the secrets of the strip. Henry’s new book, Visualizing Mathematics with 3D Printing explains beautiful mathematical ideas using 3D prints made by Shapeways!

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stop4stuff’s Twin Rail Mobius

What is a Möbius Strip?

Möbius (or Moebius) strips are a popular subject on Shapeways, from Joaquin Baldwin’s Mobius Nautilus and Bacon Mobius Strip, to stop4stuff’s Twin Rail Mobius, The Magic Shop’s Moebius Cup  and 8 bit Nirvana’s Super Mario Mobius Strip. But what is a Möbius strip? And where did it come from?

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The Möbius strip is named after August Ferdinand Möbius, a German mathematician who discovered it in 1858. In case you don’t happen to have a 3D printed one handy, you can also make one from a strip of paper by taping the ends together, after adding a half-twist. The Möbius strip is an example of what mathematicians call a “surface” — a geometric object that is essentially two-dimensional: if you look at a small patch of it, it looks the same as a small patch of the two-dimensional plane. Of course, any paper or 3D printed model has to have some three-dimensional thickness, but a perfect mathematical surface has zero thickness.

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8 bit Nirvana’s Super Mario Mobius Strip

Famously, the Möbius strip has only one side: if you start painting one side of it, you will find that you end up painting the “other” side as well. If you are Mario, for example, running around 8 bit Nirvana’s Level 1-1, you run around the loop twice before you get back to where you started, passing by on both sides of each patch of surface that makes up the Möbius strip. Perhaps less well-known is the fact that the Möbius strip also has only one edge. The ground that Mario runs along wraps all the way around the one edge of 8 bit Nirvana’s strip. It might look like the top of the flagpole is at a different edge from the bottom, but the ground is also at that edge, on the back side of the strip!

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Mind Eversion’s Hopf Ring

What about different numbers of half-twists? If you don’t put any twist in your strip before you tape the edges together you get what mathematicians call an “annulus”, from the Latin word for “little ring”. It’s the curved part of a cylinder, or the cardboard tube inside a roll of toilet paper. You could also put in two half-twists, as in Mind Eversion‘s Hopf Ring. Or three half-twists, as in Mind Eversion’s trefoil Moebius Pendant. If you put in two half-twists, you again get two sides and two edges, just like the annulus. And, if you put in three half-twists, you again get one side and one edge, just like the Möbius strip.

In fact, thinking about the surfaces themselves, rather than the way Mind Eversion chose to put them in three-dimensional space, they are the annulus and the Möbius strip. If Mario is stuck in the two-dimensional world of Level 1-1, and he can’t see out into three-dimensional space, it turns out that there’s nothing he can do to tell whether the strip he lives on is twisted one half turn, or three half turns, or actually any odd number of half turns. So, from the perspective of the surfaces, they are all just copies of the Möbius strip. On the other hand, Mario can tell if he’s on a strip with an even number of half-twists, because that surface has two sides, and he would never be able to get to the other side.

Bacon Mobius Strip by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Bacon Mobius Strip
by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

So, why do people like the Möbius strip so much? Maybe part of it is that there is twice as much space to draw or write on than for an ordinary annulus ring. 8 bit Nirvana’s Level 1-1 print would have had to be twice as long if they had used an annulus. But I think it’s more about the surprise and the paradox, that a twist in a surface can make it have only one side.

For more on how math can be used to create incredible 3D designs, check out Henry’s new book.

Christmas Ornaments Inspired by the Beauty of Math

Trimming the tree as fluffy snowflakes fall outside. It’s a vision of Christmastime that always inspires the warm fuzzies. But how often do we think about the math behind a snowflake’s beauty? Designer Sarah Berube of Diametric Arts does. Her gorgeous Snowflakes series of ornaments, sculptures, and jewelry uses icosahedral symmetry to emulate nature’s frozen works of art.

Designer Sarah Berube's Octahedral Snowflakes 2

Designer Sarah Berube’s Octahedral Snowflakes 2

In her Entangled Snowflakes, Berube takes 20 identical snowflakes (you can also buy the individual pieces here), connecting them at 12 different nodes to create a dense interlocking object — one that couldn’t have existed before 3D printing. Through an experimental design process, Berube explores and discovers new forms.

Berube's Entangled Snowflakes (Full Version)

Berube’s Entangled Snowflakes (Full Version)

Whether hanging from your Christmas tree or tucked beneath it in a gift box, Diametric Arts’ Snowflakes make for perfectly brilliant holiday accessories. Discover more of Sarah Berube’s creations in her Shapeways Shop. And check out our Holiday Gift Guide for hundreds of gifting ideas from independent designers, from Christmas décor to presents for all the unique personalities on your list.

Share and Win — It’s That Easy

UPDATE: Originally this contest ran from November 2nd to November 30th. Due to overwhelming demand we have decided to extend it indefinitely until supplies last

If you’ve made something on Shapeways, you know how incredible it feels to hold an object in your hand that you’ve created, whether you designed it yourself, or simply chose the material. And with holiday shopping under way, there are thousands of people out there just waiting to see what you’ve created, from shoppers looking for gift ideas to people looking for a designer like you to make something special.

Dutch Design Week 2016! Check out my jewelry at the Shapeways booth #SWexpo #DDW16 #3dprinting #shap3dbyme #jewelry

A photo posted by Daphne Lameris (@lameris_jewelry) on

 

That’s why we’re offering you a chance to flaunt your creations AND win some Shapeways Swag in the process. Just take a pic of your latest 3D printed Shapeways wares, tag us on Instagram and Twitter, and use the hashtags #shap3Dbyme #contest. That’s it! Then, we’ll send you a free T-Shirt if you’re located in the United States! Fine print and details below.

Be sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide, and let us know what YOU’RE making that’s perfect for holiday gifting.

Win this T-Shirt when you share pics of your Shapeways creations with hashtags #shap3Dbyme #contest

Win this T-Shirt when you share pics of your Shapeways creations with hashtags #shap3Dbyme and #contest

 

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

2. Prize. The winning entrant will receive one Shapeways-branded T-shirt.

3. Contest period. This contest is open while supplies last.  Shapeways will announce when supplies have been exhausted.  All entries must be received after that announcement will be void.

4. How to Enter. Tag a tweet or Instagram post with both #Shap3DByMe and #Contest. Entries must both hashtags to be eligible. Entries that do not include both hashtags will be considered incomplete and discarded. An individual may only enter this contest one time.

5. Winner Selection. All entries received while supplies of the prize last will receive a prize.

6. Winner notification. Winners will be notified the social media platform they used to enter. Upon contact, Shapeways may need to obtain confirmation of the winner’s eligibility and information required to send the prize to the winner. If Shapeways cannot contact the winner through the contact information in their Shapeways account in a reasonable amount of time Shapeways will disqualify that entry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

3D Inspiration at Dutch Design Week 2016

We’ve just closed out the 15th annual Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, The Netherlands! Here at our Dutch Shapeways headquarters, we have been giving factory tours and showing off our amazing community’s wide variety of work. But we’ve also had a chance to tour the rest of the citywide event to take in the most cutting-edge designs.

Dutch Design Week was started by the Design Academy Eindhoven as a one-day event that has grown to span nine days, thousands of square meters of exhibition space, and hundreds of events, including music shows and interactive sites. Here are a few of Shapeways community member displays as well as innovative products and concepts from some the the Netherlands’ best design minds. While VR and AR are definitely having a moment in the interactive design space, the work we’ve seen over here is still very much meant for the physical world.

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Pierre Niviere’s The Trophy is a 3D printer powered by human energy

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A visitor is 3D scanned at Shapeways EXPO at Dutch Design Week

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Shapeways Designer Anna Ruiter’s jewelry on display at Dutch Design Week

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3D printed sound board elements from Shapeways designer Retrokits

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The WastedBased recycled furniture collection by StoneCycling and Ultra Studio

 

Designer Spotlight: Vincent Meens – Space Models

Vincent Meens’ Shapeways store is totally out of this world — his designs are all intricately detailed parts for space models. Vincent works for the French Space Agency and has actually given his models to a number of museums, so he definitely knows his stuff (his completed Apollo 11 model is below).

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How’d you link your passion for space with 3D design?
To answer your question, the link was not just with 3D printing but rather between space and modeling.

Since childhood (December 1968 actually with the flight of Apollo 8, the first men to orbit the moon) I have always been interested by the exploration of space; the 60′s and 70′s being my favorite years with the culmination of the Apollo flights to the moon. I started building space models when I was a kid and I have continued this hobby until now.

In the 60′s and 70′s there were a few space models available like the Gemini, Vostok or Apollo spacecraft, but if you wanted to build something different (for instance a lunar rover or a large lunar module) you had to scratchbuild these models. I eventually became quite good at it, having now a couple of models displayed in museums. A large part of scratchbuilding is research to design parts with paper, wood or styrene. When 3D printing appeared, I said to myself that maybe all this available research could be used in designing parts in 3D and printing them.

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Meens’ A10-FUD-Descent Stage for a 1/32 model of the Lunar Module

Seems like you’ve been very successful with the 3D printing approach to your models.
Scratchbuilding requires a lot of research to find the good measurements but it also takes time. Imagine you designed a tiny thruster which take you about half an hour to build and you have 16 of them. 3D printing comes as a very interesting tool, not only your part will be more precise but you can also reproduce it. It also saves time and frustration if you lose a part.

Your models have been displayed in museums, tell us how that came about.
Monogram released many years ago a model of the Apollo spacecraft at 1/32. Unfortunately the lunar module was never released at that scale. Having previously built a large 1/24 lunar module (scratchbuilt) I used my research to design the missing 1/32 LM. I knew this would certainly be a hit among space modelers and it was, being largely promoted on space modeling fora and on my web site where I explained all the intricacies of this model built. As of today it is the only 1/32 lunar module plastic model available.

For the 1/32 lunar module I already designed a few years earlier a 1/24 model which I gave to a museum. All the research was already done and it was just a matter to design it in 3D and print it. Not only it was fun and quicker to build than the 1/24 one but I could offer it to other space enthusiasts.

Designer Vincent Meens of Space Models

Designer Vincent Meens of Space Models

We encourage you to check out Vincent’s Shapeways shop here, he has detailed instructions on assembling his model on his website for any of the models you’re interested in building.

Documenting Open Source Hardware with Shapeways

This week we held a community event that was all about documenting open source hardware.  The event was part of Open Source Hardware Month, a monthlong celebration organized by the Open Source Hardware Association. Documentation is a critical — although easy to overlook — component of open source hardware. It can be very hard for users to build on or modify even the most open piece of hardware without clear documentation explaining how it works.

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The event itself was held at the great new(ish) FatCat Fab Lab in Manhattan (which is also the home of a hot shot game — gifs above — that was the talk of the NYC Maker Faire), and drew creators from all across the city.

The opening discussion was about the open source hardware certification program that was recently announced by the Open Source Hardware Association. Part of the goal of the documentation days and nights behind held around the world is to make it easier for people to successfully apply for the free certification.

Shapeways AdaFruit Documentation night

Zack showing off his hand computer controller

The heart of the event was a discussion by Phillip Torrone and Limor Fried of Adafruit Industries. Adafruit is the home of hundreds of thoroughly documented open source hardware products, and they discussed the evolution of that documentation from blog to wiki to custom site as well as some practical tips for designing better documentation (take a picture of every action!).

After the discussion there was an opportunity for everyone to discuss projects and their best practices for documenting projects. Documenting can be idiosyncratic to specific projects, so ultimately the best advice may be to jump in with whatever is comfortable and start documenting. If you wait for the perfect documentation platform you may end up not documenting anything at all!

Shapeways AdaFruit Documentation night  Fatcat fab lab

Limor from Adafruit, Michael From Shapeways, and Peter From Fat Cat Fab Lab

By the end, the event served as a great reminder that the fantastic items you might find in a Shapeways shop are part of a collaborative and iterative design process. The Shapeways community loves to create together, and the night was an opportunity to reflect on the power of simple documentation in that collaborative process.

How Does a Microbiologist Turn Into a Jeweler?

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

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Designer Gabriel Guzman’s Crochet Pendant and Earrings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five Easy Ways to Supercharge Your SEO

To help our shop owners get ready for the busiest sales weeks of the year, we’re re-sharing this post from our Shop Owner bootcamp series. All insights courtesy our performance marketing pro, Jeanne, who shows us how to make your SEO airtight — and drive shoppers to your store.

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Scottish Shapie Shop Owner MyGadgetLife has some of the best product descriptions on Shapeways. Check out his eggbot (above) and his moon mobius to get inspired for your shop!

5 Easy Ways (Under 5 Minutes) to Get Your Products Picked Up by Google

We’ve already talked about various ways to get customers to your shop, but today we’re going to dive even deeper and talk about the importance of search engine results (SEO). Currently, organic search results are one of the top drivers to Shapeways. The more you can get your products in search engine results, the more likely a potential customer will visit your product page and make a purchase. Below are five tips to get your products search engine optimized in minutes.

#1 Use Specific Keywords in Your Product Titles & Descriptions

Your model titles and descriptions are used not only on your model page on Shapeways, but in search engine search results – a two for one! So, titles and descriptions with specific, relevant keywords will help your products appear in and get people to click (which helps it to surface even more frequently).

Action: You can spend a lot of time on keyword optimization, but here are two easy ways to get started:

  • If you were to search for your product, what would you type in a search engine? Make sure those keywords are in both your title and description

  • Be as specific as possible with your description, including all the peripheral search terms that might be relevant (synonyms, the category that your product belongs in, types of customization or personalization, etc.)

For example, if I title my product “Holiday Ornament,” the likelihood that my product will show up on the first few pages of Google is very low (there are a total of 22.8m search results). Sucks, I know. But if I title it “Custom holiday ornament with initial,” I’m competing against 8.7m search results. And in my description, I’ll write “Christmas or holiday ornament can be customized with initials, monograms, names, images, and is a great unique gift for your loved ones.” Sounds wordy, but it works.

#2 Update Titles & Descriptions to a Certain Length

Anything too long or too short is suspected by search engines to be of low quality. There is a min and approximate max, and you are penalized with less opportunity to turn up in search results for it.

Action: Titles should be about 6 to 8 words (55 characters), with the most important words in the beginning. Descriptions should be at least 15 words (160 characters) with keywords described above in it, as that’s the snippet that gets viewed in search results so you want it to be enticing! Use natural language (the way you would normally talk or write) in your descriptions, including facts and statements to help viewers see the value of your product immediately.

Description

#3 Give Your Images Captions with Keywords

A picture is worth a thousand words. Your product photos should be clear, product-focused, well-lit, show materials variety, and be in as high a resolution as possible. More and more people are finding Shapeways products through image searches on search engines (i.e. Google, Bing, etc). Including a clear photo and a description with keywords will increase the likelihood it will get picked up in image searches (known as an “Alt text”).

Action: In the Details tab of your model, fill in the image caption with keywords, starting with the ones most relevant to your product. For example, for this ornament I created with Shapeways ornament creator, my caption is “Custom Christmas holiday ornament with organic design”

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#4 Every Product is Unique, so its Title and Description Should Be Too!

Every model should have a unique title and description. Duplications are penalized by search engines because it assumes the viewer won’t have a good experience if there’s a lot of too-similar content.  Unique titles and descriptions will help your products get shown by search engines.

Action: Give your product titles and descriptions. Your products are unique and their titles and descriptions should be too.  little bit different is better than no difference at all.

#5 Your Shop Description is Prime for SEO Opportunity

Your shop page is full of opportunities for search engines to pick up, with your product and their titles, image alt text, and the robust area to write in a shop description.

Action: Update your Shop Description in your Shapeways Shop Settings with examples of your products types, your background and your expertise designing them. Feel free to elaborate on your designs and products, as the more relevant keywords on the page compared to non-relevant keywords, the better.

Bonus: Also add an extended description for your shop page.

Shop Description

Search engine optimization is a time-intensive and ever-evolving process, but the key tenets are consistent: quality content, natural descriptions, and following basic guidelines will go a long way.

What keyword search do you wish you were the #1 result for?

 

This post has been updated by Angela Linneman.

Shaping Dutch Design: MathArt Koos Verhoeff

In celebration of Dutch Design Week 2016, our Shaping Dutch Design series will take a closer look at a few of the dozens of Dutch designers who are part of the Shapeways EXPO this year and, of course, our global maker community all year round. Make sure to visit us in person if you’re in Eindhoven this week, and follow us here, on InstagramTwitter, and on Facebook for live updates from #DDW16.

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Mathematician Jacobus “Koos” Verhoeff of MathArt Koos Verhoeff may be best known for his work in coding theory, but he’s also a prolific artist, creating gorgeous sculptures based on mathematical concepts. Luckily for us, Koos, along the Foundation MathArt Koos Verhoeff, has chosen to make models of his pieces available on Shapeways. Pieces like his Mobius Clover  and Trefoil Knot inside Equilateral Triangle make for beautiful jewelry, while a model of his Bi-colored Torus Path is a museum-worthy work of art — perfect for anyone who loves geometric design.


You can take a look at Koos Verhoeff’s pieces in person this week at Shapeways EXPO at Dutch Design Week, and visit his Shapeways shop any time to customize your own work of mathematical art. Don’t miss the chance to own a piece by a great living artist who’s found a beautiful way to work at the intersection of science and art.

Designer Spotlight: Cynthia Breheny – President Guinea Pig & Co.

Cynthia Breheny’s President Guinea Pig & Co. shop on Shapeways is full of whimsical designs which are illustrated not only by super cute product shots but also in the inspiration behind the products. We chatted with Cynthia to find out more — and obviously to learn the story behind her shop name.

How did you come up with the shop name President Guinea Pig & Co.?
The name for my shop is a remnant from an old comic I used to draw as a kid. I would get my class work finished early and draw comics in my notebook. Unfortunately, it kept the kids around me from finishing their work!

Can you let me in on the inspiration behind a few of your pieces? Let’s start with Charles the Great White Hair Comb.
Charles was inspired by my sister. She had a close encounter with a manatee who came up to say, “Hi” while she was floating on her back. Thinking it was a shark, she bolted out of the water, screaming like a banshee. Many inside jokes later, the manatee became an imaginary shark named Charles who can be blamed for all false alarms.

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How about the Hana Tentacle Hair Comb?
The Hana Tentacle Comb was partly inspired by my husband’s Japanese heritage and partly by an octopus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I spent a long time watching it in the exhibit on our anniversary last year and found out they recognize people by “tasting” them with their tentacles. I thought that was cute — in an admittedly creepy way. Combine that with cherry blossom paintings done by my husband’s grandmother and you’ve got yourself a hair comb!

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Any other items you feel have a compelling or fun story/background behind them?
One piece I’ve always been proud of is my first successful interlocking print – the Heart Charm Ring. It’s modeled after a ring my grandmother gave me when I was four. It was my favorite ring and I wore it every day. Being that my fingers have grown since then, I couldn’t wear it anymore, so I made it (with slight modifications to the design that I liked better) with 3D printing! That’s what really solidified my love for the process. The fact that you can recreate something you lost or make a better version — your idealized recollection of a treasured possession is so amazing. We can literally manufacture dreams now.

It sounds like your style is influenced by your family. Tell me more!
My grandfather is a former Disney employee. He worked there for 27 years as a handyman after bringing his wife and kids here from Cuba. During his time working there, he won multiple awards for designing tools and fixtures that increased efficiency in the hotels and rides. He paints, writes music and poetry, and makes instruments out of dried fruit. It’s because of him that I learned to draw inspiration from pretty much everything.

Definitely check out Cynthia’s shop on Shapeways for a gorgeous example of a shop that’s leveraging incredible product shots to highlight her designs.

Card Holder Design Challenge

Get $15 towards prototyping a wallet or card holder

Card Holder Design Challenge 3D printing Contest Shapeways

The holidays are fast approaching, and we all know what that means: amassing a new gift-card collection. But where are you going to put all those plastic tickets to Shapeways, Applebees and Amazon?

Create an accessory compatible with any standard gift card or credit card, then share the render and link in our forums. You’ll get $15 towards prototyping — and we’ll pick our favorite designs to be part of the 2017 gift guide.

 

All Submission are due by Sunday, October 30th at 12 PM EST. Shapeways Money will be processed the following week.


 
Share Submission

How to Join the Challenge

1

Design a card holder

  • Using your favorite 3D modeling software, design an accessory for a new gift card holder in the material of your choosing. It should be able to hold credit and gift cards along with business cards, transit cards, and/orlove notes.

2

Upload Your Design to Shapeways

  • Open up a Shapeways shop (if you don’t already have one). Upload your model using the upload button. Put your model in the Accessories category, and any applicable categories, then tag it as is relevant. Set your model to ‘public’ and ‘for sale’ in your Model Details page. Set the prices with your markup for the materials you want to offer in (we’d recommend the Strong and Flexible family) Models must be *.stl or *.obj

  • Add CustomMaker if you want your shoppers to customize the product.

3

Share Your Entry!

  • Share a link to your product in the Card Holder Design Challenge thread along with a photograph or render. Remember you can share as many products as you want, but only one credit will be given per shop. Then help choose which you think are the best entries by liking or sharing them.

Terms:

  • Credits are limited to one per person.

  • By participating in the design challenge you are granting Shapeways a perpetual, nonexclusive, sublicensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to use your model, description, and photographs, as well as print and distribute prints of your model, for promotional purposes.

  • All submissions must be awesome.

  • All submissions must be submitted by October 30th at 12 PM EST.

  • All submission must comply with the Shapeways Terms & Conditions and Content Policy.