Category Archives: Community

Fascinating 3D Printed Animatronic Honey Bee

At Shapeways we’re accustomed to seeing incredible 3D printed designs and DIY projects using Shapeways 3D printing. Today we wanted to highlight a nature inspired 3D printed animatronic Bee project by designer Jonny Poole of innerbreedFX. Jonny was contacted by his local bee sanctuary seeking to add some animatronics to their tour.

Jonny took it upon himself to take advantage of Shapeways 3D printing and SLS technology to design a fully articulated Bee using the Shapeways strong and flexible nylon material. Here are some photos of from project.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.58.17 AM

3D modeling of the Bee design

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.00.23 PM

Animatronic Bee fully articulated printed in nylon plastic 

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.02.25 PM

The wings were printed in Fine Ultra Detail

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.05.01 PMThe final result of the Bee! You can purchase the articulated honey bee on Jonny’s shop here.

We’ve noticed a few amazing 3D printed insect designs on Shapeways. For example check out the articulated mantis by designer Brian Chan and the Bee Keeper Chess set by designer Ricky McRae. Do you have a DIY project you’re working on that you want to share with the community? We’d love to see it, share it on the “Work In Progress” section of our forums here.

 


 

The New Shapeways 3D Printing Factory in Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Today we have some awesome news to share. After almost four years in our factory and office in Eindhoven we are moving to a new location! It’s much bigger, even more amazing, and in the center of the city!

Want to see it? You can! We have teamed up with Dutch Design Week to celebrate the opening! We’re offering public tours of the factory from Tuesday, 21 October – Friday, 24 October so you can check it out yourself.

Shapeways new factory entrance

Inside the new Shapeways factory.

Some background: when we first moved to our current location in 2010 it was a great step up from our first office at the High Tech Campus. The office was bigger (although we were sharing with two other companies) and we had a massive space for our own distribution center. We even had plenty of space for our own printers.

Now, we have grown out of the current space. After adding 30 people to the team, many tables to our distribution center, and 12 3D printers we are in need of something even bigger!

What we wanted for our new office and factory was a great location to enable even more community members to visit, more space for our office, and plenty of room to expand. We have found it! The new Shapeways factory is right in the middle of Eindhoven on the Kanaaldijk, has plenty of space, and the location has quite some history. It started as a DAF trucks factory, then it was used as one of the offices of Diesel jeans, and most recently by a marketing company. With such a colorful mix of history we feel right at home.

Over the last three months our team in Eindhoven and the landlord and his team – thanks Bob – have moved mountains. The factory is now in use! We’re still moving in some equipment but we’re almost done.

The Buildout of Shapeways new 3D printing factory in Eindhoven

The Buildout of Shapeways new 3D printing factory in Eindhoven

Looking back I can still remember when we moved in to our previous location. It gives me the perspective to see what can be accomplished in just four years. I can’t wait for the next four.

Are you interested? To visit the factory during Dutch Design Week, go to our meetup page and sign up!


 

Shop Owner Bootcamp: The Importance of Taking Photos of 3D Printed Products

Shop Owner Bootcamp is a 10 week series aimed to help Shop Owners prepare for holiday. Week 9 is focused on product photography and the importance thereof.

Have you been thinking about taking photos of your products but been making excuses for why you don’t need to? Keeping your shop up is no easy task, but a little effort upfront leads to significantly greater sales. If sales aren’t enough, we are constantly looking for great models to feature on Shapeways and promote through our press and media opportunities. Most publications won’t print renders, and there is nothing more disappointing than not being able to feature a Shop Owner because we don’t have any photos of their great products. Plus, photos help build your reputation too, as Vijay discussed last week.dragonfly-shapeways-paul-liaw

I was a very late adopter of iPhoneography, despite having been a smartphone user for nearly a decade. Admittedly, I’m not sure I would have felt 100% genuine telling you to shoot your holiday collection on your phone before last week. Paul Liaw, the designer behind NeoNouveau is a legend; an award winning digital artist, a Adobe showcased 3D Printing designer, and is this week’s Shop Owner mentor. When not 3D modeling, he brings the lucky community team at Shapeways cheesecake!

Sav-Paul-Nat-Shapeways

This week’s challenge is to take photos. Products that have sold, sell 10x more when they are photographed. It is impossible to stress enough how much photos can make a difference in your sales. Use these quick tips to make your products sing:

  • Use a single tone background – while white is classic, any solid color can do. Don’t have a plain table or desk? Lay down some 2D Printer Paper or a bed sheet. It’s amazing how far you can get with resources around the house.paul-bracelet-alligator
  • Stabilize your camera or smartphone; books, tables and trees work in a pinch – the easiest way to screw up a great shot is to blur it. I always shoot products here at HQ on our white Ikea desks, with my iPhone in landscape mode, resting on the table.
  • Shoot multiple angles – without the ability hold your product in their hands, customers want to see every angle. Pretend you’re taking it out of the Shapeways box for the first time and capture the angles you examined first. Even if you feel silly taking the photo, it could be the one that makes the sale. No need to hold back with the shutter, thanks to our smartphones, a tap is all it takes to discard extras. Paul-Liaw-Fish-Side-Shapeways
  • Always shoot in landscape – our product photos are 625 x 465 and its much easier to crop them when you’re shooting horizontal. In fact, if you’re shooting in landscape, you’re likely already framing your products in this ratio.
  • Show Scale – The average consumer can’t visualize millimeters the way we all can. People, pets, currency, common household items, even fingers cad add crucial context for your consumers.fish-coin-paul-liaw-shapeways
  • Tag materials in your photos – this is the easiest way to set customer expectations. When the material in the image matches the swatch the price reflects, the anxiety surrounding a first time buy is eased. It’s easy to forget this important step; and yet we see it convert to sales, and with material filters, it really helps surface your great products. Click the camera icon in the upper right hand of your product photos to check and set the material tagged in each.
  • Compare Materials and Finishes - Not everyone is as familiar with our materials as we are, showing the difference makes a difference. For example, here are Raw Brass (top) and Raw Bronze (bottom) version’s of NeoN0uveau‘s wheat bracelet. Paul-Liaw-Wheat-Bracelet-Shapeways
  • Have fun! Customers will be drawn to your personalities and you can tell a lot about yourself and your brand through your photos. We encourage you to upload as many photos as you want, invite friends over and get creative with your product shoot.

What’s the greatest barrier between you and great photographs? How can we help?


 

Mission Print: Shapeways Partners with Future Engineers to 3D Print Tools Designed by Students for Astronauts in Space

“Your Challenge, Should You Choose to Accept, Is To Design A Space Tool”

spacexlaunch

Photo courtesy of SpaceX

This weekend, the first 3D printer launched into space.  This week, we’re proud to announce our partnership with Future Engineers, ASME and Made In Space on a series of NASA developed Space Challenges meant to empower innovative youth to design tools that can be printed and used in space.

Video courtesy of FutureEngineers.org

Together, we are about to make history. Today marks the beginning of manufacturing in space. Are you ready to take on the #MissionPrint Challenge? Here’s the launch video of SpaceX-4 that just successfully carried the Made In Space Zero-G 3D Printer to the ISS:

Video courtesy of SpaceX

Hearing mission control say “…and we have liftoff of SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket and Dragon. CRS-4 is underway. A US commercial spacecraft launching from American soil delivers new technology and science to the International Space Station,” gives me and hopefully every other space lover chills. Knowing that that “new technology” is one that we all are fortunate enough to experiment with every day, the ability to additively manufacture on demand through 3D Printing, is inspiring. Remember, there is no overnight shipping to space; and it is physically impossible to traditionally manufacture parts in a space environment. We really are witnessing, and taking an active part in, making history.

ISS Prize

Screen Shots here and below courtesy of FutureEngineers.org

This is the first in a series of NASA developed 3D Space Challenges that Future Engineers and our other out-of-this-world partners are happy to share with the Shapeways community. Encourage every K-12 student you know interested in 3D Printing to check it out, and remember, ALL students (university, college, trade schools, and professors too) get 10% off ALL their prints at Shapeways ALL the time. What a great excuse to “ground print” and prototype your space tools with us.

Shapeways prints

Tools designed for this challenge are judged on the following well-rounded criteria:

  • 40 Points – Innovation and Creativity of the Solution
  • 20 Points – Ability to communicate the design through the Text Description and/or Finalist Interview
  • 20 Points – Quality of the 3D Modeled Geometry and compliance with the Design Guidelines
  • 20 Points - Usefulness of the design in a Space Environment

Astronaut Doug Wheelock explains further:

Video courtesy of FutureEngineers.org

Kids are powering innovative developments in 3D Printing across the unique web of our industry’s reach. They are opening shops on Shapeways, printing on desktop printers in their classrooms, and mod-ing their toys at home. There are dozen of touching stories of kids literally enabling the future of 3D printed prosthetics. And perhaps most profound of all, they can see what we can’t. Young minds aren’t limited by the bounds of conventional design and manufacturing constraints. Freed of this parameter, they are capable of leveraging the technology and materials available in unique new ways. Inspired by their potential, Future Engineers has an awesome lineup of prizes for the top contestants. The winner of the challenge will even have their tool printed in Zero-G’s on the ISS and get to watch live from Mission Control.  While the #MissionPrint Future Engineers contest is for K-12 students in the US only, we will be featuring innovative designs by makers of all ages on our blog between now and when winners are announced on January 30th, 2015.

Here’s a snapshot of the contest deadlines, for full details check out FutureEngineers.org.

spacedates

Are you ready to accept the #MissionPrint Challenge, stop dreaming and start doing? Keep us posted on your progress in our Space Forum and be sure and tag your space tools #MissionPrint. The best way to ensure your products will be astronaut-ready is to prototype on the ground, and we can’t wait to help.

To infinity… and 3D Printing beyond Earth!

 

 


 

How you can join the world’s most dynamic 3D printing and design community

From Maker Faires to meetups to online hangouts, since joining the Shapeways Community Team I’ve been inspired and and motivated by the dynamic community of creatives, makers, and 3D printing experts that that make Shapeways who we are. It’s my passion to connect creative people to opportunities and resources and at Shapeways I’m proud to work on projects that reach out, engage and connect our community members. If you want to be a 3D printing leader and want to get more involved in Shapeways, here’s how:

Shapeways Community 3D printed scans models

Check out our new Community page for a quick reference for upcoming Shapeways events around the world and links to our blog, forums and tutorials, as well as other community highlights.

Scotland Shapeways Community Meetup

Join us for World Meetup Weekend, being held October 24 to 26. World meetup weekend is your chance to join the worldwide 3D printing party with Shapeways community members. Host an event to share the spark of 3D printing and design with your community, whether a happy hour show and tell, a talk or a hands-on workshop – whatever you feel will help share and spread the 3D printing love! Register as a host and receive expert event planning guidance, as well as cool Shapeways swag. Fill out this quick volunteer host form by September 30 and we’ll send you more information!

Meetup 3D printing community

On Friday, October 24 in New York City we’ll be kicking off World Meetup Weekend with the first ever Shapeways Small Business Symposium. This all-day symposium will focus on entrepreneurial and design inspiration, as well as the practical side of building a business with 3D printing. Speakers will include top Shapeways community members and Shapeways staff experts on design, materials and marketing. We plan to livestream the event for our community around the world. A happy hour will follow! More details to come very soon, so save the date and mark your calendar for a day of learning, networking and inspiration.

Shapeways 3D printing community

If you are interested in being a on the inside track when it comes to Shapeways events, news, and want to share your love of 3D printing with the world, I invite you to join Shapeways Crew. Crew members live all over the world and are the epitome of what Shapeways stands for: innovative, inspiring, helpful, welcoming, and fun! They get the inside scoop on what’s new at Shapeways and 3D Printing and get to hang out with some of the most passionate, incredible people in the 3D printing and design field. Crew members organize and attend events on behalf of Shapeways and contribute regularly to the Shapeways blog and tutorial hub. Want to join us? Just fill out this survey.

So hope you can join us this fall as a host for World Meetup Weekend, joining us for our Small Business Symposium, becoming part of Shapeways Crew, or by engaging on our forums or right here, on the blog!


 

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Build Your 3D Printing Reputation

This is the first in our new series, Shop Owner Bootcamp: 10 week countdown to Black Friday. Every week we will be discussing advanced tips and tricks for optimizing your holiday sales. This week’s focus is reputation. 

Can you feel it? The churn of excitement that only comes with Holiday season and sales? We are just 10 weeks away from Black Friday and it’s time to whip our Shops into shape.

Vijay-Paul-Dotsan-Stag

Wired Life Stag by Dotsan

This week we’re focused on Reputation. Customer trust is the single most important factor when it come to repeat business. Knowing that they can get something unique, custom, and awesome from you that works as expected is crucial to the growth of your business. How do you build this customer trust? Back when I was on the UK roadshow, Vijay Paul of Dotsan, one of the most trusted designers on Shapeways, was kind enough to discuss reputation and tips for building it with us.  He’ll be guiding us all as we ramp up to holiday with our new Shop Owner Series.

Video produced by Stephen Greenwood, with help from yours truly

Consider this checklist your challenge for the week:

  • Print Your Models- Much of what we create has never been done before, and unexpected things happen to even the best designs from the best designers. The only way you can ensure form and function will be as you hope and expect for your customer, is to print it for yourself first. We know that with nearly 50 materials offered now, from plastic to platinum, that printing in all of them may not be an option. That’s okay, focus on ways you can paint the best picture for your customers. For example, even if its not possible to print a product of yours in a premium alloy like gold or silver, our stainless steel finishes can give the customer a very good idea of what to expect.
  • Document Your Process- One of the most compelling things about Shapeways is that every product has a story. Taking photos of the iterations that didn’t make the cut and illustrating how you’ve improved a design over time lets customers know you care about your products. It gives them the confidence that you’re not selling something you wouldn’t try yourself, and shows them your keen design eye.
  • Engage With Your Customers- Shapeways now shares the user name of a customer if they made the purchased logged in. Make a note to check back with them after the product should have shipped and see what they thought! Encourage them to post their photos in the comments on your product page, letting others browsing know how great your work is. Be open to updating your design based on their feedback, these early adopters can give you great UX advice!
  • Be Yourself- In your brand, in the products you design, in the product descriptions you write. This is your business, your baby, and the more it aligns with who you are, the more it will sing. Talk about your inspiration for the piece in the product description, upload photos to your personal and shop profile; and make the Shapeways Shopping experience personal!
  • Complete your Profile- Seeing a face and lineup of great products instills confidence in any consumer. Knowing who is behind the brand encourages people to try it out. Uploading your avatar is more critical than ever, now that your designer card shows up on every product page. Include your twitter handle so shoppers can chat with you easily on the go. Make a sweet shop banner. Invest in this now, so when traffic floods your shop around holiday, you like the reputable, fabulous business you are.

Next week we’ll be talking about the importance of photography and tagging in the getting your products discovered. Feel free to get a head start!

What help do you need to take your shop to the next level? Feel free to ask for guidance here or in our Marketing Your Shapeways Shop thread on our forums.


 

Day of Action: Stop the Slow Lane

Earlier this summer, we wrote about Stopping the Slow Lane, a push back against the FCC’s intent to propose rules that would allow Internet service providers to charge websites to access a “fast lane” and slow down every site that doesn’t pay. Now, we’re almost at the deadline. September 15th is the last day that the FCC will accept public comments before they make their ruling. Shapeways submitted a formal appeal to the FCC, where we outlined how we support an open internet so we can continue to provide a platform where entrepreneurs like our 19,000 shop owners can flourish.

Today is an internet-wide day of action for Net Neutrality. You may have noticed some of your favorite sites have the “please hold, loading” spinning wheel on their homepage – is this the future you want? Neither do we!

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 4.10.29 PM

Here’s what you can do:

1. Take two minutes to sign the Citizen Petition on Battle for the Net

2. Tweet it out:

I support real #NetNeutrality. Sign the citizen petition www.battleforthenet.com  #InternetSlowdown

Startups need real #NetNeutrality to protect the open Internet. Call your Senators today and let them know! www.engine.is/netneutrality #InternetSlowdown

3. Part of a startup? Call your senator and tell them to support real Net Neutrality

Want to learn more?

Check out this great Mashable video explaining the proposed changes, and help keep the internet the open and innovative playground it should be.


 

September Shapeways 3D printing events in New York City

Here at the Shapeways headquarters in New York City we’re buzzing with excitement about all of our September events. With MakerCon and Maker Faire just around the corner and factory tours, workshops, talks and meetups for designers, educators, and 3D printing enthusiasts galore, September is a great time to come out and get involved with the Shapeways community in New York City! Here’s a rundown of what’s happening and how you can join us:

Screenshot 2014-09-10 13.42.22

September 15, 5 to 7 pm: Getting Started with 3D Printing for Custom Fashion Design in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Part of the BKStyleCon event.

September 17 & 18: MakerCon, a professional conference by and for makers held at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen will give a talk about 3D printing your favorite brands and the real future of product design at 11:20 am on Wednesday, September 17. We will also be hosting factory tours at our Long Island City factory on Friday, September 19 for attendees of MakerCon. You can buy tickets to MakerCon here.

September 18, 12 to 1 pm: Making dreams into reality with 3D printing and Shapeways hosted by QNS Collective in Long Island City, Queens. Melissa Ng, creator of Lumecluster: wonderlands for the entrepreneurial mind, will share her creative design process and walk participants through the process of creating 3D printed products and works of art with Shapeways. Reserve here.

September 18, 6 to 8 pm: Pre-Maker Faire 3D Printing Meetup with Shapeways + Ultimaker hosted by Shapeways at our Long Island City factory. Come and learn how you can use your Ultimaker together with Shapeways, share your prints and take a look around the factory!

September 20 & 21: World Maker Faire New York. Hosted by the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York come find Shapeways in the 3D printer village! At 2pm on Saturday, September 20th join Shapeways Crew and community members for a community meetup. Meet at the Shapeways booth to explore the fair together, attend a talk and a happy hour to follow at 6pm at LIC bar in Long Island City, Queens.

Screenshot 2014-09-10 13.46.50

September 24, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Meetup: 3D Printing in Public Libraries. Hosted by the Brooklyn Public Library at the Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons at the Central Library. Libraries are on the front lines of innovation and providing access to and understanding of the latest technologies, including 3D printing. Join members of the Shapeways and staff and community members of the Brooklyn Public Libraries to discuss how they are using 3D printing in library programs and services and how 3D printing can fit into public and educational programs at libraries and schools.

September 25, 7 pm. Designers + Geeks: Lasers and Internet Memes – 3D printing for all. Hosted by Huge in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Shapeways Designer Evangelist Lauren Slowick will illuminate the 3D mysteries under the all the hype. She will also share tips to help you get started designing your own products with software tools you probably already know how to use. Designers + Geeks features talks from experts on design, technology, startups, and all manner of geekery. Purchase tickets.

September will be a great time to be inspired and expand your 3D printing network. We look forward to seeing you!


 

3D Print iPhone 6 and Apple Watch Accessories

Update: Apple has released the design files for the iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus! Page 16 and 17 of this pdf have everything you need to know to design a case for these awesome new phones. Be sure and enter our contest and be one of the first iPhone 6 cases ever 3D Printed!

Original Post: Did you watch the Apple announcement? Are you excited about the new iPhone 6/6plus? Are you counting the seconds until you can get your hands on the Apple Watch?

AppleWatchRender

UPDATE 9/11: Some amazing Shapeways Community Members put together a <beta> 3D CAD file of the Apple Watch! It’s based on the specs Apple announced, and while not Apple official, should serve as a great starting point for all interested in designing Apple Watch accessories. You can download the .stl of the Apple Watch design files here. Special thanks to Michael Christensen for sharing this in our Apple forum!
iPhone6
I’ve been counting the minutes for months now and seeing Phil show off the iPhone 6/iPhone 6 Plus and seeing Super Evil Megacorp’s gaming experience made me drool millions of pixels in anticipation of their September 19th launch into the world. The new iPhone camera has Focus Pixels, which means you’re essentially carrying a DSLR in your pocket. Just imagine, our 3D scans will be sharper than ever!
iphone camera
Shapeways has always been one of the first to market with accessories when new consumer electronics come out. Our communities ability to responsively create designs and leverage our short lead times is unparalleled by any other accessories company in the world. The cases that you’ll see in the Apple store were modeled months ago and have been in production all summer. Alongside the new phones, Apple announced a new line of silicone and leather cases, but I think we know our Nylon looks the coolest when it comes to pimping your iDevices. We are eager to see what cases, stands and accessories you make for this new line of apple products and will handsomely reward those who do it best (details to come when the design files are announced by Apple later in September).
iphones

Design files

Shapeways has a long history of being one of the first to market with iAccessories. We were keeping the iPhone classy back in early 2012 with this 4/4s MacPro Case:macpro case

We gave you the design files the moment they were available for the exciting new iPhone 5, hosting a contest around it. The Sweater Case by ArtizanWork that won is still a favorite of ours to show off at events and through our crew kits!
sweater case
We also brought you the iPad Mini files that same October. All in all, we power over 2600 products that fall in the iPhone category. Let’s round out our Apple Fan Boy and Girl offerings and incorporate all these awesome new products.

Now you can start brainstorming the iPhone 6 and iWatch cases you want to design in our Apple and iGadgets thread in the forum. Hit the sketchbook or the sketchup and get creative! The bigger form factor gives you more design real estate than ever before. We will update this post and announce a contest as soon as Apple releases the Design Files.

On a fun historical and sentimental note, this Apple Fan Girl can’t help but ask, 30 years after Steve Jobs announced the Macintosh (the anniversary is today) do you think Apple is still as innovative as they were under Steve?
timeandsteve


 

Conversation with Jodi Slater on Her New Collection of 3D Printed Accessories for Fitbit and Jawbone

3D printed jewelry for Fitbit and Jawbone

Bytten accessories for Jawbone and Fitbit. Photo Credit: Carly Gaebe – Steadfast Studios

Jodi Slater is no tech novice. She started her career as a programmer, including some work  on the original Tron, helped design the user interface for the first wireless Palm Pilot, and has since advised countless companies on user experience and new media.

The very talented Slater is now turning her attention to her fitness tracker, an accessory that she feels could use a facelift. Her new adventure, Bytten, sits at the intersection of fashion and technology and includes a line of beautiful 3D printed accessories for Jawbone & Fitbit. After reading this Q&A, we advise you to #getbytten.

What is the inspiration for Bytten?

Bytten was born out of a personal need – my Fitbit was not making the cut when I tried to style it with my other jewelry. I wanted to be able to wear it all the time, not just when I was working out. I had been tracking the wearable tech fashion ‘phenom’ and was and still am very excited about all the innovation that is percolating in that space. I decided to develop a line of accessories for existing fitness trackers as a way to solve an immediate need and to start building a brand. The Lucas Slide is our first collection for Fitbit Flex and Jawbone UP. It is available in Brass, Silver, Gold, and 9 colors of Strong & Flexible Plastic (thank you Shapeways!).

3D printed jewelry for Fitbit and Jawbone

Bytten accessory for Jawbone. Photo Credit: Carly Gaebe – Steadfast Studios

Who’s behind the beautiful products?

Lucas Goossens is the designer behind our first collection. He is incredibly creative, a beautiful person – inside and out, and I am so grateful that Carine [Carmy from Shapeways] introduced me to him! The design incorporates elements from Lucas’ pixel style and includes his signature plus sign ‘+’ to represent positivity. We hope you love it as much as we do.

3D printed jewelry for Fitbit and Jawbone

Bytten accessory for Fitbit, worn by Lucas Goossens. Photo Credit: Carly Gaebe – Steadfast Studios

What’s your background? How did you get into product design?

I have always been into technology and art / design. I feel lucky to have found a career that I am passionate about and have been involved in from the start (and I mean *start* – you have no idea – there were punchcards in my life). I started out as a programmer in the computer animation and graphics field during the first release of the movie Tron, ahem. It has all evolved from there. Oh, and my color software was at the Guggenheim as part of a Josef Albers retrospective. #proudmoment

What’s your most coveted fashion accessory for fall?

I have been obsessed with gold temporary tattoos this summer… and although I am having a hard time moving onto fall, there are three things I am excited about – GREEN #favoritecolor. Boys shoes for girls, and chic leather backpacks.

What’s next for Bytten?

Let me say that there is no shortage of ideas swirling around at Bytten. We are working on an exciting new collection with Jaclyn Mayer of OGJM, Lucas is working on a Matisse inspired design, and we are working on some oft-requested customization (which after all is what 3D printing is really good at – bespoke production) and there will definitely be some smart jewelry in our future.

3D printed jewelry for Fitbit and Jawbone

Bytten accessory for Jawbone. Photo Credit: Carly Gaebe – Steadfast Studios

 

Looking for other 3D printed fashion? Check out some of our favorite custom rings, necklaces and bracelets… Or create your own!


 

Tusen takk, Norway!

Only a few days have passed since we returned from our visit to Trondheim, Norway. It was our first visit to a Scandinavian Country and therefore we felt obliged to not come empty handed. We brought along a Dutch treat “Stroopwafels” to share amongst the people of Trondheim. This brought on a smile on many people’s faces young and old. We got people even more excited when we started talking about the world of 3D Printing and what it means for Shapeways to be a part of it.

10672406_436372543168696_3074629869886280173_n

Our trip started on Thursday with a meet up, where we got to know one our Norwegian Shapies even better. So first of we would like to say thank you to Daniel Liljar for telling us about the in’s and out about Trondheim and for showing us around a bit. Me and Adela were very much impressed and felt privileged to be in a place with such beautiful landscape. Not forgetting off course the generosity and the friendliness of the people as well. It was great to hear that our visit inspired Daniel to do more with 3D printing in the future. So be sure to check out his shop and stay tuned.

On our second day was the Maker Faire kick off. This took place in the town square in the center of Trondheim ,with over 70 projects on display. The 70 projects were ranging from coffee makers to 3D printing and with almost everything in between. Me and Adela were joined by Daniel  where he got to show off his work as well.

Trondheim

The visitors of the Makerfaire were very pleasantly surprised that Shapeways made the trip all the way to Trondheim. Some even said that us being there made the Makerfaire even more exciting. As they were amazed by our work and the simple fact that they could finally get their hands on the wide variety of products in different materials. This off course was music to our ears for the simple reason that they also love what we do. Let’s keep Sharing the Spark, as we say. Hopefully we have inspired the large designing community in Trondheim to come up with more beautiful products for the future.

 Be sure to stay tuned! Next stop Shapeways is attending the 3D Print show in London this week.

 Ryan & Adela


 

Full Color Plastic 3D Prints from the Shapeways Community

The first wave of full color plastic 3D prints are starting to appear on the Shapeways forums showing the level of color saturation, material strength and precision that you can expect with your full color 3D prints.

3D printed full color plastic flowers Shapeways

Barratomica seems to have the best results so far with his full color plastic flower rings showing a nice color palette and regular, organic forms.

Others are having less success with their full color plastic 3D prints including our very own Mitchell with his scale model trains.  The colors in his model are not as crisp with a sligthly faded look to them as Multihawk also found with his prints.

As you can see below his full color plastic 3D prints look quite faded with some white spots evident on the surface and colors bleeding.  This may be in part because of the relatively small size of Multihak’s mini figurines, it would be interesting to see the exact same models in full color sandstone to compare.

Multihawk also experienced some warping in the thin areas of his small model as did Lensman with his Icicle and Stalactite Pendants Models where the small tips of the pendants were warped.  These models are also relatively small with a total length of around 5cm and just over 1cm at the widest point.  From this we may be able to deduct that the parts may go through some thermal shock after the printing process that is introducing this warpage.  As we learn more about this machine and the post processing we may be able to reduce this warpage that some designers are experiencing.

Thank you to all that are sharing their results in the It Arrived forum on Shapeways, we really appreciate your feedback as the more you tell us the more we learn.  Keep them coming.


 

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. You can read the first post here and the third here. 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