Category Archives: Community

Conversation with designer Ning Hua about launching a 3D printed jewelry business

Interview by Xiaoxiao Zhang, Shapeways Crew member and founder of MCreatures, a 3D printing shop in Shanghai.

When Ninghua first got to know 3D printing through an article in Time magazine he was not yet a designer. Inspired by the possibilities of 3D printing he followed his passion and is now a jewelry designer with a shop on Shapeways and his website Plain Orb, featuring pieces that infuse his signature clean style with traditional elements of nature, Chinese patterns, and Catholic symbolism.

Ning Hua

Ning Hua

So, Ninghua, can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Well, I am from Fujian (a province in South China) and now working in Ningbo. I grew up in a small town. Not like in big cities, the life there is so close to nature. And nature has become one of my main design inspirations.

Another major source of inspiration for me is my religion. My family is Catholic and my religion has guided me, so I incorporated Catholic symbols such as PX or the fish sign in my designs as they are of special meaning to me.

As I Chinese designer, I also love to use patterns from traditional Chinese art to give my design some personality. For example, the Xiaozhuan font from Chinese calligraphy and the ice-breaking pattern from ancient Chinese wood window frame design. My habit is to keep the essence of those and give it a clean and simple presentation. Many of my non-Chinese customers love the idea.

How about your educational background?

My major in university was English, nothing to do with design or 3D printing, and got into international trade field later on. Working in this trade company got me to realize that the manufacturing industry of China is growing weaker and less competitive on the global stage since we are not good at producing our own original designs. Thus, it makes products “Made in China” less valuable. I believe design is at the core of mass production. However, many times my I was not able to execute my ideas for products through traditional manufacturing. 3D printing is different because I can make an idea into a real product without too much hassle or cost. This makes me think 3D printing is capable to inspire individuals to design more incredible things.

BingLie Bottle Opener designed by Ning Hua

BingLie Bottle Opener designed by Ning Hua

How did you know about 3D printing and why did you want to make it as your own business?

I first learnt about 3D printing from an article on Time magazine, and it was about Shapeways! I was quite bored at work one day and was reading Time magazine. This article popped out and I felt overwhelmed, though also a little bit confused, about this new technology called 3D printing.

The concept itself is so cool to ignore. It is called printing, but it is nothing like printing on paper. In addition, a product could be produced without using a traditional mold sounds attractive. At the time I was working on a start-up and was looking for some a unique product to launch. No mold, no stock, small investment, all these features of making 3D printing products sound like an appealing way to manufacture my future products.

I studied what material can be used for 3D printing, its basic cost, and what software I could use. After understanding this concept rationally, I decided that entering into the 3D printing field and make it my business was do-able for me. I opened my online store selling jewelry even if most of my friends around me who had heard of the 3D concept consider the idea new, bizarre and irrelevant. Now, of course, I am very glad that I did trust my own gut and started my 3D path.

BingLie or "cracking ice" pattern has been used as a window pattern in China for over 600 years. Photo by Ning Hua.

BingLie or “cracking ice” pattern has been used as a window pattern in China for over 600 years. Photo by Ning Hua.

What was the first 3D product you designed?

It was a leaf-shape USB port cover. It was the very first product I designed and produced after I intensively studied industrial design for 2 months from level 0. But it did not sell very well.

When did you start to design jewelry?

After the USB port cover, I was struggling to decide if I should mainly design products that are more practical or fancier and more decorative. After the testing of a few prototypes, and inspired by a few other designers on Shapeways, I finally decided to put my focus on jewelry. The main reasons jewelry became a desirable business focus for me are: 1) the cost of 3D print is still not cheap and my clients generally find the high price is more acceptable if the product is jewelry. 2) Jewelry can always be a piece of meaningful gift to oneself or to others and people can wear them for a long time.

Xiao Zhuan cufflinks based on a popular font in ancient China from 2000 years ago

Xiao Zhuan cufflinks based on a popular font in ancient China from 2000 years ago

What are the difficulties when running your 3D print jewelry store all by yourself?

At this stage, I am doing everything by myself. I worked out lot of things by myself, my website, how to use design software, etc. And my business volume still allows me to do that.

In this business, the challenging part for me is marketing and promoting my products effectively. I am working on using the social media channels such as Instagram to promote my products to more of my target customers. I need to figure different channels to reach Chinese customers and international ones as their habit of using social media is difficult. It’s important to use social media to convey the the quality of 3D print jewelry and build trust if customers have never seen a 3D product before.

What has exceeded your expectations?

My design. When I started to learn 3D design from scratch and I was not even sure how the final product would look. I kept improving my models with more and more test products so I got more experienced. Now I do think a lot of my designs have exceeded my original expectations.

Do you have tips for other people who are fascinated by 3D printing and want to make their own products from scratch like you?

Very simple. Your design shall always represent no one else but you. Your own design and your style will remembered by the market.

 


 

3D Print in Nylon with Selective Laser Sintering – Part 2

This is the second post in a series of three about Selective Laser Sintering Nylon. In this post I’m going to focus on the challenges we have encountered and some solutions. It would be great to get your thoughts in the comment section, since we want to learn and are always working to improve our processes to better suit the needs of our community!

As you may remember from my first post, which covers the process of 3D printing, checking is the first step and it also presents the biggest challenge. We want to ensure that the final product looks like the design on the computer screen and that we can reliably make it. Within checking we see four main categories of problems: Thin walls, thin wires, disappearing details, and fragile parts.

Let’s talk about thin walls and thin wires first. When the walls of your design are extremely thin or the design has very thin wires (see example below) our 3D printers might not be able to print them. If we find a problem during the checking process, we make screen shots to indicate what the problem is. But, in some cases it is difficult to assess whether there is a problem. Let’s say you’ve designed something like the edge of a wing that gets thinner and thinner. The thick edge of the design might certainly be printable, whereas the thin edge might not be. The only way to know is to try it. Since we like to push what is possible, we sometimes print the design to see whether it looks great or not. If we then find out that the product fails during printing or post-production, we still have to tell you, and this will already be a few days after ordering, which is not great for either of us. Together we have lost time, we lost machine capacity and some powder, but hopefully we learned something.

Thin wires example

An example of extremely thin wires 3D printed using Selective Laser Sintering

Another design issue we see is when parts are too fragile. We can’t always predict which product will be strong enough and which product is not strong enough. In this case especially we often take the gamble and 3D print it because we want you to get your product. Sometimes this leads to a suboptimal result or we find out after trying that we simply cannot 3D print the design.

The last challenge in checking is disappearing details. A little car might have an antenna, which looks great on the computer, but the printer can’t make it. A ring might have an engraving (see picture) so small that after printing the engraving is invisible or unreadable. Sometimes these issues are clear and sometimes it’s right on the edge of what’s possible.

Almost unreadable engraving

Almost unreadable engraving made using Selective Laser Sintering

As a result of all these checking challenges we launched a massive internal effort to make sure we optimize the experience for you, our customers. The effort resulted in new features like “Print It Anyway” and visualization tools. We also refined our internal processes. The result is that we have been able to reduce the amount of rejections in the checking process by a factor of three!! Also, we learned that making sure we clearly communicate to you about our concerns or reasons for rejecting your design helps you a lot.

Print orientation of a product is another challenge. Depending on how the product is placed in the machine the result varies. The most obvious solution is to give the designer the freedom to orient the part, but s/he might not know what is best, and it also limits us in optimizing the packing of the print tray. Reducing optimization causes the printing to be more expensive. Since it totally depends on other parts in the same tray, estimating how much more it costs to fix orientation is very hard or perhaps impossible. Otherwise an increased price to set print orientation would be another solution.

The last topic I would like to address is multiple products in a single file. Since we started Shapeways, we always assumed that a design file would hold one (interlocked) part. This is not always the case in reality and we understand why. How else would you easily make puzzles (see picture below), chess sets and earrings available in your shops or organize them neatly? For us on the other hand, having multiple parts in a single file presents a substantial issue. As you may remember from my first post, we need to sort all parts (and sometimes multiple times). If there are multiple parts in a file (sometimes over 100!) that sorting becomes very hard. We first have to figure out how many parts there are in the file, and then individually separate them if they are all different. Since we have standardized our processes on files this is not easy. One solution is putting all parts in a file into a “sinter box”, a small mesh box around the parts. This makes the sorting super easy, BUT since the box is square and large it is suboptimal to fill trays with. It is much better to put the small parts into other parts than have them sit together in an encased volume. The trade-off here is more work in sorting versus higher machine and material costs. Neither option is great.

Design of twisty puzzle

Design of twisty puzzle for 3D printing – “Rhomdo Transformer

Next week in my last post, I will talk about the cost of Selective Laser Sintering. Please let me know what you think by commenting and leave suggestions on what else I should address in next week’s post!

Pete / CEO Shapeways


 

At Work on the Road: 3D Printing, Designing and Living Around the World

One Infinity small pendant in polished grey steel at Mondello Beach, Palermo, Italy

One Infinity small pendant in polished grey steel at Mondello Beach, Palermo, Italy

by M.G., a member of Shapeways Crew and an American artist living abroad who sells her work she creates on Shapeways through her shop Sloris

Reduce the entirety of your belongings to two suitcases; all the clothes, accessories, documents, electronic devices and toiletries that you’ll need for the foreseeable future.  Don’t forget a sample of your 3D printed products.  Take a minute, or two.  

That’s how I live.  My partner and I run our business, www.sloris.com, from the road.  Our traveling home office consists of two laptops, two external hard drives, a tablet, a point and shoot digital camera and a HD digital camcorder.  And, of course, Shapeways.

My first ex-pat experience was living on the west coast of Mexico at the age of 24.  My most recent adventure was in the South of Thailand.  I lived four years in each location, which seems to be as long as I can happily settle in any one place (Brooklyn being the exception ).

Even considering this history, my current lifestyle is a radical change.  I’m moving every month or two, until either I find a place I’m so enthralled with I can’t imagine leaving or I’m too exhausted to continue.  My next move remains to be determined; it’s exciting, it’s scary. There are many considerations, but the main factors are attraction to the culture, the availability of inexpensive housing and transportation possibilities:

A combination of research, persistence and creative thinking is required to make this a reality.  I consider being really good at this my own little superpower. How does all this affect running a business and my creativity?  The running a business part is made possible by two factors:

  • Online networking:  its importance, accessibility and value makes living and working from the road not only possible, but effective.  Facebook is a good base, but my recent foray into Twitter and Instagram have helped me to engage a wider audience.

  • Shapeways: acts as my support staff by handling payments, returns, refunds, customer service and shipping.  Print on demand technology eliminates the problem of over and under stocking and the need for a storage facility.

Holeyware Espresso Cup at Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Italy

Holeyware Espresso Cup at Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Italy

Conveying exactly how this lifestyle affects my creativity is trickier.  When I’m stationary for a time, I build my environment very carefully.  I like my surroundings to be placid and inviting, completely free of clutter.  Routines are essential.  Having all the odds and ends of life scheduled gives my mind the chance to roam freely, unencumbered with worry and little decisions.  Being on the road makes everything I just listed impossible, but is equally inspirational.

On the move, I’m at the mercy of the environment and the apartment I find to rent.  I’ve already experienced a variety of decors; retro hippy, uber modern minimalist, French country and a split personality atmosphere where Mom enjoyed doilies and tea sets and daughter thought IKEA was the answer to everything.  The extent to which I’ve enjoyed living amongst and using other people’s belongings has really surprised me.  I’ve read things I never have before; gossip mags to improve my Spanish (I know more about princesses than I ever cared to) and décor trade rags.

Office view in Fuengirola, Spain

Office view in Fuengirola, Spain

I love learning the differences, substantial or seemingly insignificant, between cultures.  Thailand has an amazing cuisine and no matter how big or small the city, you can find many restaurants offering a wide variety of delicious complete meals priced at 30 baht (approximately 1 USD).  In Spain, I experienced an absolute dedication to siestas.  In downtown Granada at 2:00 pm every single business, except restaurants, closes and locks their doors.  The buses bulge with passengers as everyone makes their way to meet up with friends or family.  In my current apartment in Palermo Italy, there’s a toaster like I’ve never seen before.  I know it sounds ridiculous to mention such an insignificant product, but consider how many people across the globe use a toaster in the morning.

These shifts in behaviors and items affect my creativity because they spark interest in a way of life or an object that usually goes entirely unnoticed.  It revives a sense of newness and proves that there is still space for original concepts and products.

Then there are the things that can sap my energy levels and temporarily crush my spirits; fighting grouchiness after close to 48 hours of straight travel, sacrificing creature comforts to stay within our tight budget, trying to communicate in a language I don’t speak and living and working 24-7-365 with my partner of 23 years.

At the time these situations occur, I certainly don’t feel creative.  It’s as if I’m chained to a stairmaster, forever climbing and getting absolutely nowhere.  It’s exhausting and frustrating.  After the fact, I often need some down time to recover.  During this period I look and feel completely unproductive.  However, in many instances, I emerge from this dormant time with a plentitude of fresh ideas and enthusiasm.

I often work long hours, but then I walk out my door into a completely new and captivating world.  For me, it’s perfect, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.  Do you also work from a traveling home office?  Would you want to?

You can follow my adventures on my blog at and check out my products on my Shapeways shop

Finding inspiration in the streets of Palermo, Italy

Finding inspiration in the streets of Palermo, Italy


 

The 3D Printshow Global Awards – Vote for Shapeways

The 3D Printshow Global Awards acknowledge inspirational work that has helped develop and elevate the art of additive manufacture, as well as those businesses that have risen to the challenges of the marketplace, flourishing in what is a highly competitive industry.

This year, we at Shapeways are thrilled to be nominated for two categories for the 3D Printshow Global Awards: Brand of the Year and Best Online/App Based Service.

London 3DPrintshow

 

To vote, all you need is your name and your email – just click on the awards:

SHAPEWAYS

SHAPEWAYS--WALL-THICKNESS-FIXING-

Thank you for all your support and stay tuned for our London Meetup and events in September!

For those of you who will be in London, we look forward to seeing you at the party on Thursday 4th September, you can get tickets here.

 


 

Shapeways Shares 3D Magic At BronyCon 2014

We were recently invited last weekend by the awesome folks at BronyCon to attend BronyCon 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. At BronyCon we got to meet and engage with hundreds of My Little Pony fans, many whom were artists and designers who have recently heard of our partnership with Hasbro to launch 3D printed My Little Pony SuperFanArt.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 3.51.05 PM

While at BronyCon we showed off some of the Shapeways 3D printed My Little Pony prints designed by independent artists which were a big hit amongst the crowd.

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 3.55.36 PM

Sam here was the smallest fan of these SuperFanArt 3D printed ponies!

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 3.57.13 PM

Are you an artist interested in becoming a designer for SuperFanArt? Find out how to be featured and sell your art on SuperFanArt here!


 

August 14: Animation goes 3D with the Made in NY Media Center

As animation, 3D modeling, and 3D printing software and technology evolves, animators and filmmakers are finding new ways to incorporate 3D printing into their work. Whether it’s custom modeling and printing characters for a stop-motion animation, creating custom merchandise for your film, or translating animation software skills into 3D modeling, 3D printing is creating new opportunities for animators. On Thursday, August 14th from 6:30 to 8:30 pm you are invited to join other animators, 3D design enthusiasts, filmmakers and creatives for an evening of discussion and networking co-hosted by Shapeways & the Made in NY Media Center by IFP.

A still from Raymond McCarthy Bergeron's film re-belief

A still from Raymond McCarthy Bergeron’s film re-belief

The evening will include a panel discussion featuring Shapeways designer and filmmaker, media artist, and tech guru Raymond McCarthy Bergeron, puppeteer and founder of Puppet Kitchen Michael Schupbach, and artist and animator Andrew Thomas, who will discuss how they bring together animation and 3D printing in their work with moderator Laurie Berenhaus. We invite you to come to learn and share about how you can use 3D printing and design to push the boundaries of your animation and imagination. Light refreshments will be served following the discussion.

Free. RSVP on the Made in NY Media Center’s site to reserve your spot.

Featured Speakers

Raymond McCarthy Bergeron is a misplaced Vermonter, currently living in North Bethesda, Maryland, who just completed his MFA in Film & Animation at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Previously, he was an employee of Champlain College, where he started in the Information Systems Department, and worked in the Emergent Media Center. Recently, he completed a film for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s GPM Project titled Waterfalls, projected on Spherical screens globally, and completed his thesis film re÷belief, a mixed medium of 3D printing and handcrafted works. He also is a member of the IGDA, ASIFA East, and ACM.

Michael Schupbach has been designing and building puppets for the stage and screen for over 15 years. He is a proud alumnus of Jim Henson’s Muppet Workshop and co-founder of the NYC based Puppet Kitchen, a full time puppet design, build, and performance studio. His screen credits include: The Oogiloves Big Balloon Adventure, The Disney Channel’s Johnny and the Sprites and Bear in the Big Blue House, Imagine Dragons Radioactive Music Video, IFC’s Greg the Bunny, PBS’ Sesame Street, and Universal Studios’ Sesame Street in 4-D. Michael has B.A. in Education with a concentration in Educational Television from The Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington, and a somewhat less serious degree from The Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey’s Clown College.

Andrew Thomas hails from Boston and is now based in Brooklyn.  After studying sculpture at Boston University he discovered 3D printing while learning 3D modeling techniques for creating 3D game assets. In addition to working at Shapeways as a Customer Service Coordinator, Andrew has exhibited artwork in Boston, West Rutland, Vermont and Venice, Italy, and works as freelance a 3D designer. Most recently he created shop on Shapeways selling 3D printed characters for Oscar Nominated indie animator Bill Plympton.

Panel Moderator

Laurie Berenhaus is a 3D Modeler/ Sculptor, designs for Rapid Prototyping, and currently works at Shapeways in Customer Service. Laurie studied 3D graphics at the Digital Animation and Visual Effects School in Orlando, Florida and received her BFA in Sculpture from The University of the Arts, in Philadelphia, PA. Before diving into the digital world, Laurie worked as a sculptor and puppeteer designing and fabricating puppets, masks, and specialty props throughout New York City and Philadelphia. Passionate about storytelling and the creative process, Laurie continues to learn and share her knowledge.


 

Day One of 3D Printed SuperFanArt at Comicon 2014 in San Diego

Our 3D Printing partnership with Hasbro has officially hit the floor at Comicon in San Diego as thousands of fans swarmed the booth to get a glimpse at the 3D printed ponies designed by the Shapeways community.  The SuperFanArt section is a relatively small part of the massive Hasbro booth at Comicon, but one that is garnering a lot of excitement among fans, artists and the toy industry.

Superfanart 3D Print at Comicon

If you are at Comicon 2014 in San Diego be sure to drop by the Hasbro Kiosk 3213 (its the huge one) and say hello to the SuperFanArt team.  If you are an artist or designer interested in participating in the SuperFanArt project, please be sure to register your interest to start selling your Hasbro approved 3D prints to fans around the world.

For those who cannot make it, check out some of the craziness that is Comicon.

photo 9 photo 8 photo 7 photo 4 photo 2 photo 1
Yep, and that’s just the people lined up who pre-paid to be first at the Hasbro stand…


 

Hasbro & Shapeways Enable 3D Printing Fan Art with SuperFanArt

For the first time, a global brand will open up its intellectual property to fan designed products using Shapeways 3D printing. We are partnering with Hasbro to launch SuperFanArt, enabling fans to 3D print and sell their own creations based on Hasbro owned content. SuperFanArt, which will debut at Comic-Con San Diego 2014, grants the passionate and talented Hasbro fan base from the Shapeways community a license to create exciting new art and product offerings. The first license is granted to a select number of 3D artists including Brandon Lee Johnson, Paul Philbin, Christophe Vidal, Melinda Rose, and Brian Harris to create artwork based on My Little Pony.

Shapeways & Hasbro 3D Print

We are thrilled to work with Hasbro to be the very first entertainment brand to open up their intellectual property to their dedicated fans to legally create tangible, 3D printed products. This partnership is perfectly aligned with our mission to enable the Shapeways creative community to make exactly what they want, for themselves, to share and sell to others.

superfanart launch Shapeways & Hasbro

For the initial launch at Comic-Con 2014, we will start with the incredibly popular My Little Pony series, to allow fans around the world to create and sell unique, 3D printed My Little Pony figurines. This will dramatically expand the range of products available from the few currently being mass produced by Hasbro, to potentially include the over 900 ponies identified and named by the fans. Many of these designs have been created by a passionate group of fans from the Brony community (for the uninitiated, a Brony is a Bro who likes Ponies so Bro + Pony – P = Brony (welcome to the herd)).  Once we have filled our 3D printers with community designed ponies, we will continue to work with Hasbro and the Shapeways community to enable more Hasbro branded content to be created, 3D printed and sold.

This is a major step forward in realizing the creative potential of 3D printing, to make products on demand that might otherwise never make it into people’s hands. Hasbro has been incredibly forward thinking and open minded, to realize that the existing unmet demand within their fan base can be satisfied with the help of those very same fans. We expect to see many more partnerships like this, to enable user generated content to be 3D printed based on existing intellectual property, with fair attribution and compensation for all parties involved. We’ve seen this model work successfully in the digital realm, and we’re thrilled to be leading the charge in the physical.

Take a look at the SuperFanArt site to learn more, and meet some of the Shapeways community members who are promoting their designs in partnership with Hasbro and Shapeways. Also check out the New York Times article for insight into why the Hasbro team approached Shapeways to be a partner to help them enter the world of 3D printing, thanks mainly to the Bronies in the Shapeways community.

A solid brohoof to all the bronies who helped make this happen.

 

 


 

Seeking Designers to Feature at EAA Airventure: Send us your Planes, Drone Parts and Aerospace Models

custom drone
Do you love planes, drones or just aerospace in general? Have you heard of the Experimental Aircraft Association? Once a year they bring together air travel enthusiasts of all varieties at the world’s largest gathering of the sort, EAA Airventure, in Oshkosh Wisconsin. We’ve won a booth through a contest they held for startups and we would love to have you join us, or show off your planes and drone parts in our booth!

The Details:
July 28th – August 3rd
Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA

How You Can Get Involved:
Come say Hi to Dan & I in the booth or join us! If you live nearby or are visiting the midwest and would like talk to fellow aircraft enthusiasts any of the show days, please email Savannah@Shapeways.com and we can coordinate logistics.

Can’t make it to Oshkosh? No worries! Send in any products you want shown off at the show with your designer details, any custom branding you have, and a bit about each product you’re showing. We’ll tell your story and send them back to you after the show if you’d like!

Send Planes, Drones & Aerospace Accessories To:

Savannah Peterson
c/o Shapeways
419 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016

More about EAA and Airventure can be found on their website; though this video gives you a nice taste of what is in store.

What would you fly if you could fly anything?


 

3D Printing Philanthropy: KXX Rings by Michiel Cornelissen

We hope everyone is enjoying the World Cup, whether through tears or cheers. Here at the Shapeways Headquarters we’re doing our own celebrating in a few different ways. While we’re obviously Chrome casting the games, we’re also very excited about a campaign run by Shapeways designer Michiel Cornelissen. Michiel is an amazing product designer we’ve highlighted before in our Designer Spotlight series.

Continue reading


 

How to find inspiration for your 3D printed designs

Posted by in Community 2 Comments

by Aviva Fort

From Eleanor: Aviva Fort is a Shapeways Crew member and designer who runs the SKAZMdesign shop on Shapeways.

Every maker knows how it goes. The creative well runs dry. Nary a drip of inspiration leaks into your parched skull. Try as you may, you just can’t think of anything to help you make that “wow” product; something you’ll love to see made into 3D printed reality. You’re just plain stuck. 

From my perspective as a maker and designer, I’m going to give you a few doorways in your life and mind that you can open up to find inspiration. Hopefully they will serve as the first steps towards designing and producing an awesome item that you’ll love to build and boast about. Three ways that help me create new designs are: looking into nature, finding a small detail on an architectural or cultural piece, and listening to good old heavy metal music.

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Empowering blind and visually impaired people with 3D printing and design

By Paul Dunne

From Eleanor: Paul Dunne is a Shapeways Crew member and the C3PO (Chief 3D Printing Officer) of Blindesign, a company based in Ireland that works to empower blind and visually impaired people through 3D design and printing. He is a recent graduate of the National College of Art and Design in Dublin and has an exhibition of his work on view there from June 13 through 20. We first met Paul at a meetup we held in Dublin back in April! 

Blindesign embraces change in how we develop and acquire 3D printed products. It also enables a social benefit to blind and visually impaired people by carrying out creative workshops with the blind to create forms and drawings of how they see the world. These creations are then scanned and developed into 3D printed products and jewelry that are available to buy in a wide range of materials on Shapeways. The finished designs are the tangible aspects of the empowering experience from the workshops.

Through Blindesign I am committed to changing perspectives of what it means to have vision. Many thought the idea of collaborating with someone who is visually impaired or blind in the creation of designs was too crazy and couldn’t be done.

However, there is a motto among the visually impaired and blind at National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI), a charitable organization that provides services and support for people with sightloss. It starts by them asking a newbie, like I was at one time, “Do you know what VIP stands for?”. To which I answered, “Very important person.” They replied, “Yes, but also visually impaired people.” I was very struck by how powerful a comment it was. I could feel the pride and energy in the room when the connection was made. 

I wanted this project to emphasis that although the participants who I work with throughout this project are visually impaired or blind, they and their creations are the very important parts. I did this by making VIP spaces to keep the ‘Very Important Pieces’ that were made by hand and then to have the ‘Very Important Prints’ made with Shapeways. 

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A 3D printed tribute to one soldier’s bravery

Posted by in Community 1 Reply

by Michael Williams

From Eleanor: Michael is a talented 3D modeler, and the Shapeways forum moderator and shop owner. In honor of Memorial Day, which we celebrated in the United States earlier this week, we wanted to highlight his story of creating a 3D printed tribute to one soldier’s bravery.

Before being deployed in Afghanistan, Liam Nevins, an American soldier, wanted to build a business making custom equipment from his own designs. In the search for a method to prototype his designs, the soldier and his mom found Shapeways. Everything was lined up to start his business, but unfortunately Liam never made it home. 

A fellow soldier deployed with Liam’s company in Afghanistan, delivered these words in tribute to Liam, “…He was tireless and seemingly everywhere, every day, doing not only his job as a communications specialist, but trying to do every job on the team… He would program radios, build explosive charges, practice with the mortar, shoot at the range, and put his nose in the air to sniff out the slightest hint of work or challenge. Usually this was all before 10 a.m. … His energy level was simply not human and there was nothing we could do to stop him. His stubbornness and commitment would always win. There are people who have a never quit attitude and then there was Liam.”
Looking for a way to create a special memorial piece in his honor, Liam’s mother, Victoria, found her way back to Shapeways and I connected with her in our forums. As the forum moderator I don’t search through the forums for modeling work, but I often find posts from people looking for work in the wrong sections. That’s how I found Victoria’s post in the General Discussion section. I let her know I’d be honored to help her with her project. 
Victoria had a vision: She wanted to replicate the sleeve of Liams’ uniform, full size. During an operation in Wagez, Afghanistan, Liam was seriously injured by PKM fire during a close range, night time fire fight. Another element was pinned down and Liam was quick to run to the sound of the guns and help his brothers. 

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Replic Age Festival and 3D Printing Event in Madrid

by Luis Hidalgo 

From Eleanor: Luis Hidalgo is a 3D modeler and designer, and Shapeways Crew member, living in Madrid, Spain. He runs the Panzer Vs Tanks shop, focusing on World War II miniatures and is very active in the Shapeways forums and started the thread for Spanish Shapies.

This past weekend Madrid hosted the first edition of the Replic_Age Fest and a related 3D Printing Event. From May 23 to 25 we attended conferences about 3D printing and exhibits that demonstrated different ways to interpret these news technologies.

Spain now is an almost completely new market, open to the latest tendencies and new forms to understand work and production tools after the huge destruction of enterprises during the recent economic crisis. As a result, Spain has many qualified students and workers who are on the lookout for new forms of industry and drivers of economic activity.

In this sense, at the Replic_Age Fest we could watch that small workshops are tending to open source printers, with a big presence of small Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology.

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Create a custom 3D printed pup with Pupworkshop

From Eleanor: All of us at the Shapeways office were delighted to discover Pupworkshop, a new addition to our Easy Creator Apps that enables users to easily create ultracute custom puppy figurines. I caught up with Tom Rethaller, the creator of Pupworkshop, to discuss how he developed the idea to bring together his love of dogs and 3D printing and the possibilities that 3D printing offers to him as a developer and a designer.

What inspired you to create Pupworkshop?

As a dog lover and 3D printing enthusiast, the idea of designing 3D printed dog figurines had been around for some time. I had several ideas and could not settle on one model, and then I realized I could make a tool to quickly try and preview various combinations of shapes. “That’s my project” I thought!

What was your testing and development process like and how did 3D printing with Shapeways fit into that?

I had been experimenting with Full Color Sandstone (FCS) a little bit and I decided to start designing from the constraints of the medium. I wanted the model to be cheap and hollow, so I went for a round body and short legs. I spent maybe half of the design time on the base body mesh, looking for simple and generic shape that would allow many different parts to fit on. I wanted room for facial features, knowing that this is where most of the fun would come from, so I kept the head big. Most of the parts of the pup do not overlap, so they could be designed and tested independently.

I had more trouble with the colors! For the first iteration of the palette I carefully chose natural, subtle colors – browns and beiges – and they came out washed-out and muddy. Using the “Color Quick Reference” (awesome tool!) I redid the palette with much brighter colors. While not very natural these are what works best on FCS. Next time I’ll try to remember: do not design for the screen, but for the product!

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