Category Archives: Community

What I learned from exhibiting at my first Maker Faire

By Vicky Somma, a Shapeways Crew member and owner of the shop TGAW. This piece was first published on Vicky’s blog TGAW

Earlier in March 2015 I had a booth at my very first Maker Faire! The Nova Mini Maker Faire in Reston, Virginia. My booth focused on my 3D Prints made with Blender (for 3D Modeling) and Shapeways (for 3D Printing).

Vicky Somma at the NoVa Mini Maker Faire

Vicky Somma at the NoVa Mini Maker Faire

I was interested in knowledge sharing, so I had a monitor displaying a Giant Prezi of Death of screenshots of my modeling techniques in Blender. I also had on hand a variety of prints I had done through Shapeways:

Shapeways prints ready to go to the faire

Shapeways prints ready to go to the faire

Since I was giving a speech on “3D Printing without Owning a 3D Printer” in the afternoon, I also had a small section of my table dedicated to compliment that speech and to let people know that they could 3D print that day without owning a printer or knowing a thing about modeling.

Small “3D Printing without Owning a Printer -OR- Knowing Modeling” Section

Small “3D Printing without Owning a Printer -OR- Knowing Modeling” Section

Giving my talk at Nova Mini Maker Faire

Giving my talk at Nova Mini Maker Faire

It was an absolutely fantastic time and as with all first experiences, I learned a little along the way. Here are a couple of Do’s and Don’ts I came away with.

DON’T Be Intimidated!
At the informational meeting, the organizers stressed that they want Makers of all levels. You didn’t have to be an expert or a professional. Reinforcing that concept, the NoVa Mini Maker Faire kept posting a badge saying, “We are All Makers” and they mean it.

I was somewhat nervous about the other 3D modelers. I’m still relatively new to 3D modeling, so at times leading up to the event I had a wee bit of “imposter syndrome.” I was mentally preparing myself for someone coming up, sniffing arrogantly, and saying, “Oh, I see you are using the Boolean Modifier. Don’t you know that makes messy meshes?” : )

But the environment of the Maker Faire isn’t like that at all. People are enthusiastic, people are curious, and people are very very very nice. It’s like the Comment thread of Instructables.

Speaking of Instructables, there’s actually an Instructables out there for “Your Own Booth at the Maker Faire“. A great resource for knowing what to expect! : )

DON’T Be Afraid to Reach Out to Related Vendors
Leading up to the Faire, I emailed Shapeways to let them know what I was doing and they sent me giveaways for my booth! So I had some nice stickers and postcards for people to take!

And then get this! The Community Advocate from Shapeways, Michael, came down to our faire and helped with the booth. As busy as the faire was, it was great to have an extra voice there. He brought a good sampling of products as well which only further showcased the capabilities of Shapeways and 3D Printing!

Community Advocate Michael Williams at Nova Mini Maker Faire

Community Advocate Michael Williams at Nova Mini Maker Faire

Similarly, I had a great experience prepping for the “3D Printing without Owning a 3D Printer” speech. I found everyone to be very generous with questions I had. FromNovaLabs to the Virginia Tech Northern Virginia Center MakerLabClub to Ara’s Hub (through 3DHubs) to PrintedSolid, everyone was happy to help me with information. Don’t be afraid of looking like an idiot. If you have questions, ask!

DO Stage Your Items Ahead of Time
We staged everything ahead of time on my Mom’s dining room table. This made it very easy for us to know what else to pack (extension cord, monitor cables, mounting goo, tablecloths, signs, packing tape, etc).

DO Ask for Help
My forte doesn’t lie with decoration, so I recruited my Mom. She instantly had suggestions for tablecloths, how to display the Christmas ornaments (a metal tree she had in her room) and a little dark cove to showcase the glowing Cthulhu Jack-O-Lanterns (a collapsible grocery crate she had in her car). Not only that, she was a key supply gatherer. I mentioned I needed something to sticky to mount my signs. The very next morning, I woke up and found some sticky goo in my staging area. My Mom was a big help.

My mom makes a puppy through Pupworkshop

My mom makes a puppy through Pupworkshop

I also recruited my friends Britt and Chris to help with the booth during my speech. With that, I really underestimated their work load. I pitched it as warm bodies watching the booth, but pretty much everyone that assisted me that day (my husband, Michael from Shapeways, my Mom, Britt and Chris) was busy the whole day. Chris, Ryan, and Michael did a lot of talking and question answering. Britt and Mom did a lot of kid-wrangling. : )

I also recruited people to help me with some first hand research for the “3D Printing without a 3D Printer” talk. My Mom designed a puppy through Pupworkshop. My sister-in-law drew an angel we printed via the Shapeways’ 2D to 3D App. Finally, my three year old even accrued a personalized 3D object by making a Color Me Teddy.

My three year old designs a Color Me Teddy

My three year old designs a Color Me Teddy

DO Enjoy the Free Feedback
Like most Shapeways shop owners, I have Google Analytics enabled gathering data about my referrals and traffic. But you know what is even better? Watching people’s eyes light up. Watching people revel in how beautiful the Library of Congress ornament is or laughing when they get Schrodinger’s Cat. You get instant feedback on how people are responding to your designs.

And some of the lessons may be surprising. Over the holiday break, I was playing with Python scripting for Blender to make customized Cancer Ribbons. I was thinking people would like an interface to order ribbons “In Honor Of” or “In Memory Of” their loved ones sort of like Relay for Life Luminaries. But watching the response at the Faire, if I do put time towards automating something through code, I may want to focus on faces for the Dial-O-Lantern. That got an overwhelmingly larger response at the faire.

Vicky works the booth with Dyson

Vicky works the booth with Dyson

DO Know the Event is Family Friendly
The Maker Faire is family friendly, which meant we were able to bring our boys. At times, I had a cute accessory as I worked my booth.

DO Have An Activity for Kids
Related to the Family Friendly aspect of the event, do have an activity for kids. In my case, I went with a contest for the Dial-O-Lantern! My faces actually started as drawings, so we invited kids to draw faces for a new Dial-O-Lantern. We’re picking six winning faces and sending each winning child a print that includes their face. This turned out to be a good activity. The amount of entries exceeded our expectations (and makes selecting the winners a tough task).

Working on a Dial-O-Lantern face

Working on a Dial-O-Lantern face

DO Check Twitter
Although you are getting first hand feedback from your booth visitors, be sure to keep an eye on Social Media as well. I got a HUGE thrill walking between buildings when I saw that the Editor-in-Chief of Geek Dad appreciated and tweeted my Schrodinger’s Cat. Geek Dad! We have Geek Dad books on our bookshelf!

DO Have Business Cards / Contact Info
The day before the faire, I actually picked up some quickie business cards from Staples. And here’s the thing. I designed those cards assuming there would be a lot of leftovers. At the top and bottom I included lines for every millimeter. Why? When I’m designing 3D models, I am constantly measuring things and getting out rulers to gauge how big I want to make something. But rulers are also popular with my boys, so it seems they are frequently misplaced.

So I figured if I was going to have a bunch of unused business cards around, I might as well make them handy. And although I do have a few I can use for measurement, I don’t have nearly as much leftover business cards as I expected! I was very surprised by how many business cards people snatched up.

DO Make It Easy For People To Learn More
I printed QR codes for pretty much everything. My presentations were both put online (Prezi and SlideShare respectively). I used BufferApp to “live tweet” links during my talk (Hat Tip, Jess Hedstrom). I coordinated with the Nova Mini Maker Faire so all the links from my PowerPoint were easy to find on their blog. You want people to learn more– make it as easy as possible!

Those are my take-aways from my very first Maker Faire. It was an absolutely fantastic time. I can hardly wait for next year!

You can read more about the NoVa Mini Maker Faire on their blog athttp://www.makerfairenova.com.

More of our photos from the event are on Flickr.

 

 


 

Easy steps to get started 3D printing right now

Dain Penman is a member of Shapeways Crew and the owner of the Madasu Designs Shapeways shop

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:

get into 3D print pic 4

I started by importing a 2D image (which I found on the internet and converted to a .svg file), as below:

get into 3D print pic 1

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.

get into 3D print pic 2

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.

get into 3D print pic 3

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:

get into 3D print pic 4What was your first 3D printing project? What inspired you to get started and what resources were helpful?


 

From finance professional to 3D designer: How I got started with Shapeways

Dain Penman is a member of Shapeways Crew and the owner of the shop Madasu Designs

I have been 3D modeling, uploading files and printing through Shapeways for around six months now and wanted to share my journey of how and why I got into 3D modeling. I work in the Finance industry, but studied industrial design for one semester straight out of school. So the interest in design has been ticking away in the back of my mind for some time now.

I reached a point where I was seeking a new challenge, but with a mortgage and a baby I didn’t feel I could make a bold leave-my-job-pursue-crazy-idea type move without being completely irresponsible. I had a few product ideas and looked at Kickstarter to fund one – however when I reached the point of actually launching a campaign I realized my heart wasn’t in the product. And if I couldn’t get excited about it, how could I expect anyone else to?

So looking to products that I could get excited about, I decided to attempt to make coffee cups. I worked on designs and tried (rather unsuccessfully) to model some cups out of clay as prototypes. I had planned to use the clay cups to make molds and cast coffee cups in resin – however none of the commercially available resins were food safe, which I felt was a necessity for something containing hot coffee! I briefly looked into using an overseas supplier to make my cups for me, so I could just design and sell. The barrier was the requirement to order a minimum amount of each design – even stocking only a few designs would be very expensive and take up precious space in my house!

Some attempts at clay cups – not very successful!

Some attempts at clay cups – not very successful!

Around this time I started thinking about 3D printing, of which I had very limited knowledge. A few Google searches gave me some names and I discovered Shapeways!

Initially I was designing different coffee cups, but before I could get an order ceramic production ceased. I like to look for the silver lining and in this case it encouraged me to look at different materials and the different ways I could use them.

Shapeways render of one of my early cups in red.  Will soon get this printed in porcelain!

Shapeways render of one of my early cups in red. Will soon get this printed in porcelain!

There have been a few highlights in my Shapeways journey so far:

  • Uploading my first model and seeing the renders make it look oh so nice onscreen.
  • Receiving my first shipment in a Shapeways box.
  • Setting up my shop Madasu Designs in January this year and receiving my first sale.

Right now I am working on building out my product range, growing my social media presence and trying to get some more sales. It is interesting to reflect on the journey that brought me to Shapeways, particularly that in hindsight Shapeways would be useful in the different steps I took:

  • Prototyping to prepare for a crowdfunding campaign and making a working model.
  • Prototyping for mold creation for materials not available through 3D printing like silicone and resins.
  • Product development and iteration before committing to order through a mass-manufacturer.

That said, I am very happy with utilizing Shapeways 3D printing to build my business at this stage. It allows me to focus primarily on the design side, which is what I really enjoy, while Shapeways takes care of production and shipping.


 

Arty Lobster creates 3D printed tributes to favorite pets

Lars Anderson is the founder of Arty Lobster and a member of Shapeways Crew

My name is Lars Andersen, and I am the founder of Arty Lobster, the largest company specializing in accurate 3D pet sculptures in the world. Our modelers covert a photo of a favorite pet and convert it to a life-like 3D model, which is then 3D printed in full color sandstone.

3D printed dog sculpture Arty Lobster

Max by Arty Lobster

At Arty Lobster, we love pets. It is brilliant to see how our customers react when they see a realistic sculpture of their dog or cat. My background is in (2D) printing customized products, and I could see that 3D printing pet sculptures, with the challenges of fur and modeling, seemed like a great challenge

Real life Max

Real life Max

Arty Lobster is completely dependent on excellent 3D printing capability. As the company has grown we made a strategic decision to initially invest in strong in-house modeling capability, but not to purchase our own 3D printer. 3D print technology moves so fast, and full colour printers are fairly expensive, so we were happy to outsource this. Arty Lobster looked at both local (London, UK) and remote 3D printing options, and we chose Shapeways for speed, choice of materials and price. The good customer service at Shapeways, as well as all the automated tools to assess printability are also very important to us.

The most passionate testimonials we receive are from people who have recently lost their pet. “Just received my small statue of Shadow and had a little cry. It resembles her so much. Thank you,” was the feedback from a recent customer.

Photo and 3D model of Bertie by Arty Lobster

Photo and 3D model of Bertie by Arty Lobster

For as, the biggest modeling challenge is to get an absolutely accurate representation of the pet, bearing in mind the small size (approx. 8 cm tall) and the printing resolution, the right color, right proportions and the look in its eyes. Fur is probably the most challenging individual part of modeling dogs or cats. No full color machine can print high resolution small strands of hair yet, so we have to find an artistic solution instead of modeling each hair.

It is also sometimes a challenge to get the personality of a pet into a sculpture. We can often see that a dog looks calm, intelligent or fierce, and we try to convey this in the sculpture
The shape of very lean dogs like greyhounds can be a challenge, as they have very thin legs and tail that can easily be too delicate for 3D printing.

Bonnie by Arty Lobster

Bonnie by Arty Lobster

As we do not use a scanning booth, but ask customers to upload their own photos. Sometimes the photos we receive have been taken 5 or 10 years apart, showing a very different looking pet. They can be before/after fur is trimmed and sometimes very low resolution or out of focus. Particularly when a pet has passed away, we might have to work with very different images. I like to think that we manage to get a good results for most, if not all of them.

Like many creative businesses, marketing Arty Lobster is a big challenge. In addition, with 3D printed sculptures, many people want to see and touch the product to understand what we do. We have had a number of great bloggers who have featured us after receiving their own sample pet sculpture, and we grow on word-of-mouth from our existing customers. Lately, we have also started to sell through resellers who heard of us through word-of-mouth, such as online pet shops and vets.

See more examples of Arty Lobster’s pet sculptures in their testimonials section.


 

Shapeways Community on the road in March!

The Shapeways Community team knows that our community is global and an important part of building community is meeting, talking and sharing ideas face-to-face. This March we are covering a lot of ground across the United States and Europe and you can find us in five countries and thirteen different cities giving talks, hosting meetups, judging hackathons and leading workshops. Whether you are in Berlin or Los Angeles (or many places in between) we hope that you will connect with us this month – take a look at our events page and our meetup page for updated dates and locations.

Community Events 2015

To kick off our marathon month, Savannah Peterson, Director of Community at Shapeways gave a talk at the Gasparilla Interactive Festival, Tampa Bay’s showcase for cutting-edge technologies, digital innovation, and entrepreneurial inspiration, and served on a panel about women and millennials as entrepreneurs and innovators.

On March 8th we sponsored a Printathon at Brandeis University where our master of social media, Eric Ho, and customer service agent Andrew Thomas served as judges for the students projects. The event featured two Teams from Brandeis, one from UConn, one from Columbia and one from Waltham High School. The theme of the competition was social justice and students were encouraged to print products that can help humanity. The day was followed by a meet up with Voxel8, an electronics 3D printer.

3D printing hackathon

Brandeis University Printathon participants and judges

In the next two days three members of the Shapeways Community Team will be on stage talking about different aspects of 3D printing in three different time zones: On Thursday, March 12 Natalia Krasnodebska, Community Manager, will discuss 3D printing and intellectual property at the Copia Institute Inaugural Summit; On March 13 Lauren Slowik, Design Evangelist for Education, will lead a workshop on 3D printing in education at the 3D Printshow Summit in Madrid, Spain; finally, also on March 13 Savannah Peterson will speak about “Decoding Gender Diversity in Tech” at SXSW Interactive in Austin, Texas.

Setting up for the 3D Print Show in Madrid

Setting up for the 3D Print Show in Madrid

Lauren will also be making stops in Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Berlin for the 3D Print Show – please check out her blog entry on her European road trip for updates on meetups and events throughout the month.

Me and author Michelle Ward at Craftcation in 2014

Me and author Michelle Ward at Craftcation in 2014

Finally, at the end of March I will be heading out to Southern California to speak at Craftcation, a conference for creative makers in Ventura, California held March 26 through 29. I will be talking about funding your creative business and creative business models, plans and goals and will be talking a lot about business lessons from our Shapeways shop owners. I’ll also be hosting a meetup in the LA area on Wednesday, March 25 and a High Tech Meets Handmade Happy Hour in Ventura on Friday, March 27.

We hope to see you while we’re out on the road this month!


 

Modern Miniature Inspiration: Carol Mitcheson of Mitchy Moo Miniatures

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.

3D printed miniature house dollhouse modern miniatures

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.

3D printed custom dollhouse miniature house

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.

3D printed miniature dollhouse minihouse

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.

3D printed miniature dollhouse minihouses

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!

Check out the 3D printed mini houses contest for more information about sharing your mini house designs and displays with us!  


 

Fishing for innovation: Developing a better fishing lure with 3D printing

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.

3D printed fishing lures

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.

3D printed fishing lures molds iteration

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.

3D printed soft fishing lures

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.

 


 

The next frontier: Meta augmented reality and 3D printing

We’re excited to collaborate with Meta, the first wearable, Augmented Reality computer, for a hackathon in San Francisco March 6 and 7, 2015. In anticipation of the hackathon and for inspiration about how Augmented Reality and 3D printing can complement each other I asked Soren Harner, Chief Product Officer at Meta, to tell me more about how Augmented Reality be a tool for designing 3D printed products.

Interested in attending the hackathon on March 6 and 7 in San Francisco? For 50% off the registration enter the code MetaShapewaysHacks.

Please introduce the Meta products and tell us a little bit about how you have been developing them.

Meta is the first wearable Augmented Reality computer that lets you create and share digital objects in the real world. Meta’s Augmented Reality (AR for short) platform has attracted thousands of development groups who are building professional and gaming applications for numerous industries and we are currently shipping the Meta 1 Developer Kit.

Like most hardware startups, we are incredibly indebted to 3D printing. We created early functional prototypes using 3D printers. In fact, we couldn’t have shipped our first product without them. In the early days, we were creating a new prototype every day.

Augmented Reality, like 3D printing was a few years ago, is a technology that has been in the works for awhile, but is only just now becoming more available to the “average” person.

Augmented reality meta 3D printing

The Meta 1 Developer Kit

How do you foresee augmented reality will develop in the next few years?

Steady as she goes; our chief scientist, Steve Mann, has been working on AR since the 1970s. What we see now, more than ever, is smaller components at more affordable price points and more readily available. Advancement of GPUs and the miniaturization of emerging technologies, like displays and cameras, in cell phones makes it easier to create powerful AR devices.

However, as with VR, we understand we’re embarking on a journey. In the next few years we will see form-factors improve and an ecosystem of augmented reality apps develop and evolve. We feel this maturation is required before wide-scale adoption happens.

What connections do you see now, or hope to see, between augmented reality and 3D printing?

We see AR and 3D printing in complimentary and very similar fields. Just as 3D printing speeds up the manufacturing prototyping feedback loop, AR can speed up the modeling feedback loop before sending it to a 3D printer.

We’ve used Meta as a print-preview function for 3D printing. You can do more than see the object: you can place the object, at scale, in the physical location where you plan to use it. This gives you a sense of live perspective – a CAD model doesn’t do that.

The real benefit is after you have the model. For example, if you were designing jewelry you could easily design, edit, size, resize, change materials and colors customized for the designers body shape. It comes down to having a perspective of objects within the actual physical space. You can see your model in the environment instead of just on a 2D screen.

3D design augmented reality meta

Can you explain some of the design applications that have been built for Meta and how they could create files that are 3D printable? What else do you hope developers will create to bring together augmented reality and 3D printing?

We’ve built a 3D viewing application which allows for intuitive interaction with objects. It is available as part of our SDK in our developer portal. It allows you to select a 3D model from a library of objects and interact with them. We also provide the source code in the dev portal. We’d love it if someone at the upcoming hackathon would extend the app to allow for STL export (hint hint). Even better, we’d like the app to have basic mesh editing so that you could morph the model from within Meta.

We’d like to see tighter integration between Meta and CAD systems. Currently, files need to be converted to the .obj format for use in Meta. Another opportunity is to look at how individually printed pieces fit together into larger assembled parts. Imagine testing joints and how various parts fit together; that would really smooth out the end-to-end use-case.

It would be interesting to close the loop: 3D photocopying. Use the Meta depth camera to create a 3D scan of an object and then print it on the 3D printer. In a sense, this would be like duplication from the mere sight of an object.

Meta augmented reality 3D printing

Ultimately, we are part of the same 3D ecosystem. As depth cameras and light-field cameras become more commonplace, I think we’ll see an explosion of 3D content. This ecosystem is just going to get bigger. We also believe 3D printing combined with AR will be especially powerful in education and training. Imagine visualizing molecules in a lesson, printing them and then passing them around.

We’d really like to urge people to come to the hackathon. We’re bringing together developers, hackers, AR enthusiasts, and leading minds in the AR industry. Uber talented Meta engineers will be on hand for the two day event at the gorgeous Wix lounge in San Francisco’s SOMA district. Attendees will present their apps to possibly win a Meta 1 Developer Kit and a 1 year Unity Pro license, as well as Shapeways credit for the Design Award. You can register now and use the code MetaShapewaysHacks for 50% off registration.

 

 


 

Shapeways Crew all stars: 3D printing community events around the world

Posted by in Community

2015 has kicked off with a bang thanks to the efforts of our amazing Shapeways Crew members who have hosted 3D printing focused events all around the world! In their roles as 3D printing community leaders and ambassadors for Shapeways, Crew members have hosted workshops, exhibitions, a TedX talk, and meetups. I’m also exited to announce that Crew is nearly 60 members strong and we’ve recently welcomed Crew members from England, Germany, Australia, Finland, South Korea, as well as all over the United States!

Here’s the some of the highlights from our Crew members from the past two months:

3D printed heart, anatomical model, science

3D printed hearts in Frosted Ultra Detail and White Strong Flexible plastic

The NIH Science in 3D exhibition spear headed by Chris Leggett, who also shared more about his experience on this blog;

An introduction to 3D modeling at the East Brunswick Public Library organized and facilitated by Jeffrey Keiffer;
An introduction to toy design online course led by Christian Brock;

3D printing workshop Tedx Gijon Spain

3D printing workshop at TedX Gijon

An introduction to 3D printing at TedX Gijon in Spain by Mariel Diaz Castro. Shapeways printed keychains with the TedX Gijon logo;
A talk with employees of the digital agency Huge by Melissa Ng at the Shapeways LIC factory;

3D printing meetup Singapore

3D printing meetup in Singapore

A 3D printing meetup in Singapore led by Ariel Lemon;

Nervous System's Hyphae lamp at Stacking Layers

Nervous System’s Hyphae lamp at Stacking Layers

Thomas Jackson represented Shapeways at the Stacking Layers conference at Florida State University in Tallahassee and helped facilitated a meetup at maker space Making Awesome.

Idoya and Luk of Somersault 18:24 at Biotech Day in Ghent, Belgium

Idoya and Luk of Somersault 18:24 at Biotech Day in Ghent, Belgium

The ever inspiring Luk and Idoya of Somersault 18:24 presented about 3D printing to a group of students in Peers, Belgium. They also represented Shapeways last year at Biotech Day in Ghent, Belgium;

Students with Somersault 18:24 3D printed designs

Students with Somersault 18:24 3D printed designs

Display of Shapeways models at the Columbus Idea Foundry

Display of Shapeways models at the Columbus Idea Foundry

Finally, Tom  Hanson, based in Columbus, Ohio has been attending the monthly 3D printer meet up at the Columbus Idea Foundry to talk about Shapeways and how a 3D printing service can augment what you can make with a desktop printer.

Want to get involved in Shapeways Crew to bring dyanamic 3D printing events to your community, hang out with other 3D printing leaders and get the inside track on what’s happening at Shapeways? Apply now by filling out this quick survey. Are there 3D printing or design events in your community you’d like to be a part of?

 


 

Shapeways+littleBits 3D+IoT Gadgets Contest

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?

SmarterThanYourHome

DESIGN CHALLENGE

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.

HACK-A-THON

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.

shapeways-makeathon

RULES

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.

drawboat

PRIZES

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.

JUDGES

We have a fantastic lineup of judges who will rank entries across these measurements of awesomeness:

  1. Creativity — how inspired is your creation, how close to the theme is it.

  2. Technological achievement – how well does this project incorporate the potential of littleBits + 3D Printing

  3. Aesthetics- how well designed and polishes is your final object

  4. Surprise- how original and unexpected is your final project

Here they are:

heide

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.

 dude

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

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

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!


 

Unleash The Dragon With This Epic 3D Printed Dragon Door Handle

Looking for an upgrade to your average and boring door handle? Kai Bracher of the Shapeways shop Cabrada has designed an epic detailed dragon door handle 3D printed in stainless steel.

Here are some of the amazing photos of the dragon door handle which are also available for sale on his Shapeways store here.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.56.51 AMScreen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.57.04 AM

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.57.17 AMScreen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.57.26 AM

Dragon door handle video by Kai Bracher

Do you have an epic eye catching design that utilizes the amazing technology of Shapeways 3D printing? Share them with us on the feature this section on our forums.


 

Mini houses, maximum inspiration: Meet our mini house contest judges

Miniature houses are big on Shapeways! To celebrate our miniature community, we’ve launched a contest in conjunction with the fabulous blog Modern Mini Houses to invite mini house fans to share the beautiful displays they’ve created that incorprate 3D printed furniture and accessories. You have until April 10th to share your mini house or display with us on Facebook for a chance to win Shapeways 3D printing credit. Visit the contest page for more information on how to enter and read on for more mini house inspiration and to meet the contest judges.

3D printed dollhouse mini house

Living room by Megan Hornbecker with 75 mm stag head by Dotsan

To kick off the mini house contest we wanted to highlight the work of the contest judges: Megan Hornbecker of Modern Mini Houses, Kacie Hultgren of Pretty Small Things, and Carol Mitcheson of Mitchy Moo Miniatures. I am constantly delighted by their attention to detail and the imaginative ways they incorporate 3D printing into their displays. When I look at these mini houses I want to move right in!

Megan Hornbecker chronicles her obsession with miniatures and dollhouses on her blog Modern Mini Houses and was recently featured in our Designer Spotlight. She also shared her process of creating a 3D printed miniature pendant light in a special “How I Made” tutorial.

3D printed dollhouse modern mini house living room

Living room by Megan Hornbecker

Modern mini house 3D printed dollhouse kitchen

Kitchen by Megan Hornbecker

Carol Mitcheson is a miniature maker and collector based in the UK and the author of the blog Mitchy Moo Miniatures. She also co-designed some mini accessories on Shapeways, including the mini tool box featured below.

3D printed dollhouse mini house shed toolbox

Shed by Carol Mitcheson

3D printed dollhouse mini house living room

Living room by Carol Mitcheson

Kacie Hultgren is a designer who uses Shapeways to create miniature furniture and accessories in her Pretty Small Things shop.  She also spoke about marketing and branding at the Shapeways Small Business Bootcamp.

Need some more inspiration to design or discover the perfect piece for your mini house? Megan, Kacie and Carol have curated selections of their Shapeways favorites and they are featured on our miniature furniture page.

Want to make a 3D printed mini dream house and win Shapeways credit? Read more on the mini house contest page and share your creation with us!


 

Welcome back Left Shark!

So, what’s the deal with Left Shark? He became a star, his fame spread across the globe, his copyright was disputed, he went into hiding…and now he’s back?

As we’ve outlined recently, Shapeways takes intellectual property very seriously, and while we respect the intellectual property of copyright holders, we also strive to put community first. We do due diligence on every single takedown we get, inform designers how to issue a counter DMCA if applicable, give them a 24 hour warning before removing models, and offer to put them in touch with the other party.

As a service provider, our liability is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act under their Safe Harbor provision. We outline this detailed process and guidelines, and encourage all our designers and any copyright holders to follow it to ensure swift action on our part.

In the case of Left Shark, Fernando, the designer, chose to send us a counter DMCA Notice, disputing Katy Perry’s rights to Left Shark. You can read all about it on his blog. As per our Content Policy, once we receive a counter DMCA, we can reinstate the model while the two parties decide what to do. In this case, we encouraged Katy Perry to send us a properly formatted DMCA Takedown instead of a cease and desist. While we wait to see their response, Left Shark is practicing his moves for his next appearance.

Long live Left Shark, and may he herald in the proliferation of crowd-generated content!


 

Unique 3D printed celebrations of love

A few months ago we invited our community members to share how they were commemorating and celebrating their unique love with 3D printing. Needless to say, we loved the creative ideas that they came up with. This Valentine’s Day, as you celebrate love, friendship and treat yourself, we hope that these ideas from our community will inspire you!

3D printed wedding take topper tea set

From Harry of Lightbringer Designs

Our shared affinity for loose leaf tea was one of the first things that brought us together and it has become a recurring design element in our wedding. My Shapeways store focuses on wax seals, so of course we needed a very special seal for our wedding invitations. Liz, being an artist, drew the initial concept sketches, which became the seal. We each wanted our own, so one is cast bronze and the other brass. We hope to have enough time to make chocolate seals to go with the wedding cake too!

3D printed custom wedding wax seals

Borrowing from the seal design, I made cufflinks for the men in the bridal party with each person’s initials replacing the heart and the E&H. This way, they can still use them after the wedding. Also, most monogrammed cufflinks are engraved – as far as I know, Shapeways is the only way to get them embossed. 7 groomsmen, FoB, FoG, and myself – 10 sets in Shapeways polished silver.

3D printed custom wedding cufflink

To, ahem, top it all off, we made our own wedding cake toppers from Shapeways stainless steel. The shorter tea pot with the Stars and a cat tail is for Liz, while mine is a taller wire frame.

I make customized wax seals and cufflinks to order on my Shapeways store, send a a PM to arrange for a similar order.

3D printed cufflink custom wedding

From Erin Baker

3D printed custom wedding favor

I am a graphic artist and wanted to create something unique for our guests to take home with them. I decided on making a 3D ambigram of our initials in a heart, that would represent our marriage. You can view the negative space as two people holding hands, and you can view the positive space as the letters “e” and “g” for Erin and Greg.

3D printed custom wedding favors

by Jo Ann Manolis Photography

From Alejandro Guzman Aguado

Custom 3D printed jewelry

I have created several models for Nancy, but I have only printed 3 pieces, as she is not very fond of jewelry. However, when she can wear something special created just for her I think she enjoys the idea and the gesture just as much as the object itself.

Custom 3D printed engagement ring

When I create a model for her, I feel again as a teenager doing origami for the girl I like. But this object endures far longer than paper and it’s beautiful to watch being worn by the woman you love. The most important piece I have created is her engagement ring. While it may not be the most expensive or elegant ring, but it is a beautiful piece and there is nothing more exciting than creating the object you will deliver when you ask the question that will define your life together.

What would you like to design for someone you love?


 

Love in 3D: From Wedding Contest Winners to Newlyweds

Just in time for Valentine’s Day we caught up with Bastiaan and Alicia Ekeler, the winners of our Love in 3D wedding contest from earlier this year. They 3D printed their wedding bands and gifts for the wedding party and we wanted to catch up with them to hear about their special day and what they have been making since!

3D printed wedding rings

How did you design your 3D printed wedding rings? What inspired you to put your finger prints on the inside of the bands?

I designed the rings using Photoshop and Rhinoceros 3D. I have a background in industrial design so I am very familiar with these software packages. Rhino has been my favorite 3D modeling tool for a long time and was the perfect candidate for this project. The rings started with an ink pad, an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, a lot of fingerprints and a scanner. The scanned image was prepared in Photoshop and converted into a 3D surface in Rhino. I modelled the rest of the ring around the fingerprint relief and exported the whole thing to STL. There was a lot of experimentation to get all the variables right but the whole process worked pretty well.

The idea of using fingerprints stems from the inherent capability for 3D printing to customize any product. Even without having won the contest, it was clear to me that our wedding rings would have to be unique and personal. No off-the-shelf design would do. Fingerprints seemed pretty unique and personal and the finger has an innate connection with the ring to begin with. They were an ideal match to be brought to life using additive manufacturing. So, the idea was born to have my left ring finger’s print embedded in my wife’s ring and vice-versa.

You might be interested to know that we have actually decided to start offering custom designed rings on Shapeways! We like ours so much that we feel we should share the design with the world and opened out first Shapeways store.

Did you 3D print any special favors for the bridesmaids and groomsmen?

Yes, we actually did design gifts for the members of our wedding party. For the bridesmaids, we created a tiny little infinity symbol, loosely modeled after a precisely curved twig. It is a little hard to see from the picture but the pendant has some knots and imperfections on it, making it a little more organic than mathematical. I even went into Zbrush and textured the outside to mimic tree bark, although this detail got polished out in the finishing process. It is always hard to resist the temptation of getting lost in modeling details when zoomed in 1000% on a 1cm wide model. The infinity symbol was chosen for it’s obvious marriage / friendship related symbolism and the branch element was based on the outside, farmhouse wedding location.

3D printed wedding favors neckalce

For the groomsmen, all high school friends of mine, I designed a pair of cufflinks with the logo we’ve been using since college to symbolize our group. I will leave the interpretation of the abbreviation as a exercise to the reader.

3D printed wedding favors cufflinks groomsmet

Now that you are married, have you designed anything together to commemorate your wedding or your time together since?

We haven’t done any 3D modeling together since the wedding but I would like to share one last Shapeways item we had made: a cake topper. We went through a lot of designs for this but in the end decided to keep it pretty simple and elegant, matching those same qualities of the cake itself. Yet another use for the white, strong an flexible nylon!

3D printed wedding cake topper

Can you share one piece of advice for newlyweds or couples who are about to get married?
I don’t know if we’re really in a position to be giving out advice as fresh newlyweds. From our short experience, I’m afraid I can only talk in clichés, so here we go: Never take each other for granted, pick your battles and always keep communicating.

Thank you again for allowing us to have the best wedding we could have had through the power of 3D printing!

wedding 3D printed

Bastiaan + Alicia Ekeler

Congratulations again, Bastiaan and Alicia! For our lovebirds out there, what do you plan on 3D printing for your sweetheart?