Category Archives: Community

Shapeways and ExOne Steel 3D Printing Community Meet Up In Pittsburgh

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Last week Shapeways hosted it’s first community joint meet up with ExOne in Pittsburgh. ExOne is a production partner of Shapeways with whom Shapeways works closely to offer the best steel 3D prints to our community. Local designers, makers, students, and community members in the Pittsburgh and Ohio area got the opportunity to visit the ExOne 3D printing facilities. They were able to meet with members of the Shapeways community team, get a tour of the steel 3D printing machines, learn more about our current steel material options, and get to engage and interact with fellow designers.

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Community members were able to get a walk through of the steel 3D printing process from planning, model checking, build planning, printing, post production, and finishing.

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We got to talk about our exciting updates and launches this year including ShapeJS, Designer For Hire, 3D Tools, and our Pilot Materials program.

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Designer and Shapeways shop owner Jeremy Burnich (pictured above) spoke about how he started 3D printing with Shapeways, advice on building your brand, and his experience 3D printing in steel.

Here is a Video montage of the event

Shapeways Steel 3D Printing video

Have you 3D printed in steel before? If so how has your experience been and what type of designs do to make for steel.

Redefining product creation through 3D printing

Hi Shapeways community,

I have some exciting news to share with you: Shapeways has just closed a new round of funding. We raised $30M led by INKEF Capital, and supported by new investors Hewlett Packard, Presidio Ventures, as well as existing investors Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, Lux Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.

We see 3D printing as digital manufacturing technology, disrupting the old analog mass manufacturing technologies and business models. This has a profound impact on manufacturing and society. It changes who is in control, from corporations to individuals. It changes what products are available, from what’s available in stores to whatever you want. It changes where products are made, from centralized huge factories to everywhere in the world (we brought manufacturing back to New York City and Eindhoven, the Netherlands). And it changes the time to market of products, from months to days. In this new world of digital manufacturing Shapeways is the platform enabling anyone to make amazing products come to life.

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With this new round of financing we will continue to make investments to benefit our community. We will improve our website, our materials portfolio, and our service, making it easier, more fun and faster for you – our community – to get what you want.

Since Shapeways started it has been an amazing journey, starting on the Philips High Tech Campus in 2007 and  launching in July 2008, to becoming an independent company with our first investment from Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures in 2010. We opened our first factory in Eindhoven in December 2010 and our main office in New York City at the same time. In 2012 we opened our factory in Long Island City, Queens. Most recently, in October 2014 we moved to an amazing and huge factory in Eindhoven, because the previous one simply was too small.

Entry to our new factory in Eindhoven

Entry to our new factory in Eindhoven

During these years we’ve grown a lot! We now have over 620,000 community members, designers and companies using Shapeways. Over 30,000 are using Shapeways as the platform to run their business and our database holds over 2.5 million 3D printable products. We are offering over 50 different materials and finishes and there are many more to come.

It’s really awesome to welcome Robert Jan Galema from INKEF Capital to the board. He knows Shapeways from our early years at the Philips Lifestyle incubator and I enjoyed working with him during that time. His experience in growing small businesses and running large businesses will be very valuable for our next phase as a company. We are also excited to welcome HP, a company that is working on the next generation of 3D printers, and with whom we already announced a partnership to become one of its foundational customers. With this round HP reconfirms its commitment to 3D printing and we are excited to team up with them. We are also excited to welcome Presidio Ventures, part of the Sumitomo group. Their knowledge about Japan will help us bring Shapeways to the Japanese market when the time is right.

This funding round ensures that Shapeways will succeed in its role as the world leader in the next industrial revolution.

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Thank you for being part of this amazing journey!

Pete

 

A LGBT victory for the USA!

Today we celebrate a huge victory for America, as the supreme court has ruled that the constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage in the USA. The impact is huge, as the ban that has long prevented same-sex couples from marrying will finally be lifted from all 50 states across the nation.
In the spirit of this special moment, we find it only appropriate to feature a few of our favorite, LGBT positive 3D prints.

       

Congrats, America!

Introduction to Shapeways Newest Community Managers

We are EXTREMELY excited to welcome Andrew Thomas and Kat Kinkead as the newest members of our community team!

Andrew and Kat are not only active members of the community, they are veterans of the Shapeways NYC team. Kat and Andrew have previous experience working in our “Factory of the Future” in Long Island City. When it comes to 3D Printing, they know it best: from post processing, overseeing daily ops, and owning their own shops, they’re a perfect fit for our Community team!

Q&A with Andrew

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If you could design a couch or a rocket or a shoe, which one would you pick and why?

I’m not really interested in any of these options. I like to make more or less useless things like this. 3D printing is revolutionary because it enables personal manufacturing, so I don’t need to choose ‘between’ designing anything anymore. I can just make what I want even if its not functional or a good mass market idea.

What does the future look like in 5 years? 

Probably blurry, unless I get a new prescription for my glasses.

If you could host a meetup anywhere in the world, where would you choose? 

I like to think about how 3D printing would work in very isolated environments and what it could be used for (provided I had design tools and an internet connection) which might not be a great idea for a meetup. So maybe I’d have a meetup in New York, then a year later everyone would have to travel to someplace else in the world by their own means and share what we’ve made along the way.

What drew you to Shapeways? What are you looking forward to the most?

I’ve been working at Shapeways for almost 2 years now in the (amazing) customer service department. Its given me a very good insight both into the interests of our community and the inner workings of Shapeways from all sides of the business.

I’m looking forward to continuing to build the Shapeways community into an amazing and inclusive place to be a designer.

If you could be a superhero, who would it be? 

I love Kuro and Shiro in the manga Tekkonkinkreet. I like that its unclear what their actual super powers actually are. They seem to be able to fly because they’re always on top of buildings and power lines but you never actually see them do it. Sometimes they are depicted as animals like cats or birds. Its hard to know if these are real or imaginary powers and its never explained why they got them. I like that sense of mystery.

 

Q&A with Kat

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If you could design a couch or a rocket or a shoe, which one would you pick and why?

I would design a rocket with a couch inside it. That way, I could chill-out and travel to space, simultaneously.

What does the future look like in 5 years? 

The future is awesome and full of personalized products, made on demand for you. Right now, we have the amazing ability to customize hardware products, but I think the future holds great opportunity for this in the fashion and apparel world. I can’t wait to be wearing something that’s 3D Printed every day!

If you could host a meetup anywhere in the world, where would you choose? 

I would love to host a meet up in Japan. When I was there recently, most designers I came across were unaware of the technology. I would love to tap into that market and show designers how they can harness this kick-butt technology.

What drew you to Shapeways? What are you looking forward to the most?

I began working at Shapeways in 2012, as one of the first members on site at the Long Island City factory. After working there for two years (post processing ALOT of FUD, WSF & FCS), I left for a little while to go be a designer evangelist in the fashion industry. Working in the fashion industry helped me realize that I have a true passion for working with design communities and introducing them to 3D printing. There’s really no better place to do that then Shapeways. I am so stoked to be back!

If you could be a superhero, who would it be? 

Probably the Grey Hulk. He has all the same awesomeness as green hulk, but minus all the anger issues. In fact, he’s pretty sarcastic.

Shapeways at National Maker Faire

Last week, the second-ever National Maker Faire was held at the White House in Washington DC.  Shapeways crew members, Vicky Somma and John Fitzpatrick, were live on the scene on behalf of the Shapeways team. Let’s hear what our team members had to say about the experience.

“The great thing about Maker Faires is that someone responds to almost every design on the table.  That said, my impression is moving/interlocking parts seemed to stand out (completely understandable—they are so interactive).  The cast metals are, of course, captivating (being shiny and all).  The porcelain provided a great wow factor because it bucks people’s perceptions of what can be done (“That opens a lot of doors”, one woman said).  And a sleeper favorite- the Escher Knot (by designer ShapeKays) got a lot of positive attention.”

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Of course, 3D printing isn’t just for adults. It can be an amazingly engaging tool to get kids excited, as our crew member experienced while in DC.

“ I underestimated the moving part Jack-O-Lantern and John’s moving part Decision Maker.  John also brought some home prints in a UV-sensitive filament. Kids enjoyed running those to the sunshine and watch them change colors.  Squeezing the elasto plastic seemed fun as well. Oh and the full color sandstone proved to be resilient.  I watched kids vigorously shake the Schrodinger’s Cat in his box (I could be calm about it because I’ve seen it survive my three year old).”

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We want to thank our Crew members helping us get set up and representing us at National Maker Faire.

Remember: You too can be a part of the Shapeways Crew! If you’ve got an idea for an event, or would like to contribute to the Shapeways community, shoot us an e-mail at Crew@Shapeways.com – we look forward to hearing from you!

Why I’m a Maker: Mirko Haenssgen

This Thursday we will be highlighting the design inspiration of our community member, Mirko Haenssgen from Germany. Check out Mirko’s shop, with the adorable Clumsycorn characters, here.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself

My name is Mirko Haenssgen. I’m 29 years old and from Germany living in Hamburg. I started my career in the entertainment industry almost ten years ago, where I learned a lot about 3D design, but I got hooked on it during school. My studies in IT at the university of applied sciences in Leipzig (HTWK-Leipzig) have probably also lead to a deeper engagement in combining 3D design in conjunction with programming and multimedia applications.

What inspires you to create? 

Oh that’s nearly everything, it could be a dog or a car when you come home from work. It could be a line from a song. One should never underestimate the power of conversations :) Most of my ideas in recent years originated in great talks that quite often ended with the phrase: “What if…?” or “Why not…?” But of course there are more traditional sources as well: Comic books like the “Merlin” or “Nichtlustig” series, animated films, traditional sculptures or video games can also be great sources for new ideas.

What is your favorite part of 3D printing?

Haha, it’s probably the end part when you are able to physically touch what was formerly just virtual on your screen. But I also have to admit that it is interesting when you realize during the design-process that you need to change something because it is not (yet) manageable for the 3D printers, like changing a pose because some parts are too thin, or do not work in the real world. From a designer’s point of view that’s very challenging since you need to come up immediately with an alternative idea which is as good as the old one. It keeps the brain working ;)

What does being a maker mean to you?

We live in a fascinating time and can “create” something with the help of a computer, which was probably not possible 20 years ago. That’s extremely impressive. For me it’s really about holding something in your hands. Not just being able to see it but also to touch it. So, being a maker is to let your ideas come alive and if people love them it’s even better.

Tell us about your favorite design (it could be yours, or someone elses). What about it really speaks to you?

Well there are plenty of it but I think what made my jaw drop was the recent design of Davide Sher’s 3D printed zoetrope.

I mean, it’s quite a cruel topic, but it is just an amazing piece of art that not only simply freezes your design in one moment into one pose, it is an animated piece of art three dimensionally and physically existing in our world not using any other media like screens or other stuff. All you need to do is to rotate it fast enough.

When I have to pick a favorite Clumsycorn, it’s definitely “Puky” – It’s a hard night. It was one of those ideas that came up after we talked about how unicorns… unipigs would party, what they would drink and what they would look like if they exaggerated it. A friend of mine mentioned that he would love to see how rainbow-vomit and unipigs go together so it was just a matter of time until I came up with the 3D pose, because the idea was already finished in my mind.

Coming back to Clumsycorn (http://www.clumsycorn.com), it is the realization of an idea I had for quite a long time and which I feel is possible to do right now. Clumsycorn is kind of an ironic interpretation of the unicorn-hype. Therefore the Clumsycorns or ‘corns are different with kind of a baffled (and of course clumsy) personality. I also want to make the customers and viewers smile because I think that this is something that is pretty often neglected when it comes to 3D sculptures and figurines. Currently I’m not working on new poses but on the character-rig for animated clips a friend of mine and I developed together. I really hope to push the idea a lot further and to produce more 3D prints in the future.

Why I’m a Maker: Peter Heldal

Today we’ll be diving into the design inspiration of one of our incredibly talented community members: Peter Heldal. You can check out Peter’s store, SketchFox, which is filled with foxes, fishbones and hashtags – he’s clearly a man of many interests!

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Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a young guy from Denmark.  My love for designing and making comes from an introverted childhood where most of my time was spent fiddling with little inventions rather than hanging out with the other kids. As I’ve always been a deep thinker I really enjoy observing, pondering and solving problems. I haven’t found the path I want to walk in life so I’ve been a bit around many things: Electronics, Jewellery, digital illustration, 3D modelling, photography and videography as well as music production. I settled on Graphic Designer shortly before I found Shapeways. I am super excited about the opportunities that Shapeways gives in terms of designing things and not worrying about the sales, manufacturing, shipping and customer service. I’m now focusing on my Shapeways shop, hoping that it will flourish. I would love to settle my future here!

What inspires you to create?

I love to immerse myself in the creation of a design or gadget, because I’m creating something I like, can relate to and care for, as well as offer to others who may find it rewarding in any way. It’s a way to bring people together. You can discuss your design or creation and share ideas and techniques. When you make a design, there are no limitations to what you can do. You can create an illusion of another reality if you like through which you can express yourself. I feel that designing and creating is like giving the world something that it can benefit from, whether it’s just a smile on a person’s face, or a new invention. Everything matters.

What’s your favourite part of 3D printing?

As much as I love to design and make 3D models on the computer, I have sometimes thought “it would be so cool to see this as an actual physical product that I can share with others!” I love the process of making models on the computer. Making the curves nice and smooth or sculpting in virtual clay and seeing how a ball becomes a mountain, so to speak. So for me the fascinating part of 3D printing is when a virtual product becomes a physical product. It’s a whole different experience and you can proudly say: “I made this!” I am not very familiar with the actual 3D printing process, but I’m sure I would find that just as fascinating.

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What does being a maker mean to you?

Being a maker to me means that I can share all my ideas with others, and with that I carry a responsibility to make it interesting, expressive, useful, beautiful and cute. Anything that, in one way or another, can give other people value in their life. I feel that sharing my designs is also like sharing a part of me.

Tell us about your favourite design.

My favourite designs are the animal related jewelry. I carry a deep passion for canines in particular, but also all other animals, because they are not human. Animals have their own personalities and ways of being and I think it gives great variation to the world we live in. Animals can be beautiful, cute, funny, clumsy or even very intelligent and noble. A dog cares for his master giving him unconditional love and I really feel that we owe animals that in return.

Check out some of our favorite finds from Peter’s shop:

Why I’m a Maker: Ian Dwyer

In honor of National Week of Making, we will be featuring makers here from our community at Shapeways! First up, is designer Ian Dwyer (Nvenom8). Ian finds his inspiration from a number fantastical things: from Dungeons & Dragons to Lord of the Rings, and then makes them into beautiful 3D printed gaming accessories.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a Marine Science PhD student, but my 3D work has almost nothing to do with that. I started 3D modeling as part of a job I had in college, animating shows for a digital planetarium. I moved on to 3D printing just before I graduated. In all, I’ve been 3D modeling for about four years, but have only been working in the 3D printing industry for the last year or so.

What inspires you to create?
I mostly just make things that I would want, and then try to find people like me to buy them. Sometimes that goes well, and sometimes I realize that I’m the only one who would ever want the product.

What is your favorite part of 3D printing?
Only through 3D printing would a person in my position ever be able to bring products directly from imagination to reality. It’s made product design into a much more casual and accessible process.

What does being a maker mean to you?
Being a maker, to me, means that I don’t have to endure the torture of ideas bouncing around in my head forever. I can get them out and bring them to life. It’s borderline-cathartic.

Tell us about your favorite design (it could be yours, or someone elses). What about it really speaks to you?
My favorite design of my own is probably my Elvish D20, mainly because it’s just so elegant and organic in appearance. It really looks like something elves would make, and I’m proud of capturing that aesthetic.

My favorite design of someone else’s remains Ceramic Wombat Thorn Dice set. I received it as a gift a few years ago, and it was one of the big factors that made me look seriously into Shapeways and 3D printing. The dice in the set push the boundaries of dice design, and at the time there was nothing else like them out there. Wombat was also super helpful when I was starting out as a designer, and gave me some excellent advice regarding the limitations and abilities of the medium.

 

Celebrating the National Week of Making!

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We at Shapeways are excited to join in the celebrations for the National Week of Making.  With so many makers in the Shapeways community, it would be impossible for us to simply let this week slip by.

We work hard so that Shapeways can be a home for makers from across the country and around the world. One of the most exciting things about being at the forefront of 3D printing is that we get to watch makers and making evolve in real time.  There are countless designers on Shapeways who first came to our community to make things for themselves and then quickly realized that other people liked what they were doing and decided to open a shop.  This ability to share and grow is key to the maker movement.

Of course, we’re going to keep working hard here at Shapeways to empower makers.  Whether it is a mod for your drone, a case for your pi, or the body of a self-balancing robot, Shapeways is a place where makers can come to iterate and create.  A big part of making is making solutions that are customized for your needs.  And nothing is better for custom solutions than 3D printing. Enjoy the week of making.  If you make something great, share it with us on twitter @Shapeways and @MWeinberg2D.

Don’t forget, if you are new to Shapeways, use the promo code FIRSTFREE and get free shipping in the US on your order until June 30th!
Start Making Today

Ora Cufflinks: A story of design and collaboration

One of the great things about being a part of the Shapeways community (in our humble opinion) is the amount of talented designers you are able to connect with. We love seeing community members connecting on our forums, Twitter, Facebook and more. Sometimes those small connections lead to even more, as shown through this beautiful collaboration between two shop owners. Gabriel Prero and Bathsheba put their two talent forces together to create some amazing cufflinks. What we love the most about this product is that it really showcases each designer individually.

We asked them both a few questions about how this all got started. Read on to learn how the idea came about and their (great!) tips on working with other designers.

How did the idea for this collaboration come about?

G: Strangely enough, it came about through the Shapeways Crew. I was doing a Crew presentation for the School of Design at the University of Illinois Chicago, and was sent a sample pack of various Shapeways models. One of those was the ever-iconic Ora by Bathsheba. I’d seen it before online, but never in person, and I was taken aback by just how striking it is in person. Pictures really can’t do it justice. And it’s just a pleasure to hold and play with. So I figured I’d send Bathsheba a note letting her know how much I loved the piece. She replied that she had gotten many requests for cufflink versions, and asked if I’d be interested in the collaboration. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity.

B: Well, it started when Gabriel wrote to me that he had got one of my “Ora” pieces and liked it.  People have asked me for cufflinks of my designs before, but since I don’t really wear French cuffs it would be work for me to figure out what makes a good cufflink, and I’d always left those queries on the suggestions pile.  So when I saw Gabriel’s shop, which is a very nice presentation by someone who clearly knows his links, I though why not ask?

Why did you choose to do something with the Ora design?

G: The initial idea to make it a cufflink really belongs to Bathsheba. I was more in the right place at the right time:) Though I do think it lends itself very well to this scale. To shrink any sculpture down risks losing some detail, or having a print fail. The Ora scaled beautifully, and printed successfully right off the bat.

B: Most importantly it was Gabriel’s choice — since he did the work of adapting the design and photographing the product, definitely it should be something he likes.  On the practical side, not many of my designs can be printed in steel small enough for this application, so that narrows down the choices.

How long did the process take?

G: From initial email until the listing went live, about 6 weeks. Though the actual design work went pretty quickly. Most of the time were just back and forth emails and waiting for the Shapeways box to arrive.

B: From the beginning of April to late May, so quick as these things go.

What was the best part about working with another designer?

G: Often when I do custom work for customers, they’re unfamiliar with the CAD or 3D printing process. Collaborating with someone as experienced as Bathsheba, it was nice to speak the same language, and share experience.

B: He’s awfully good!

Any future collaborations coming up?

G: We’ve talked about “cufflink-izing” some of her other creations, so we’ll see!

B: We might do some more links if this one goes well.  Meanwhile I’m always open to suggestions!  I’m a fan of licensing deals; they’ve generally been pleasant and productive, so I try to answer any reasonable email.

Any tips on how designers can best work together?

G: I think the best tip I can offer is to just start the conversation! One of the things that keep surprising me about the Shapeways community is that the members are so open for exchanging ideas and giving meaningful feedback. Don’t be shy approaching someone you admire whom you’d consider to be in a “league above”.

B: I think it’s important to have a good contract.  The assets in play here were on Gabriel’s side, expertise in designing cufflinks and a platform to sell them; and on my side the design itself, and experience with licensing transactions.

The first three of these things are sort of obvious, but I’d like to unpack the last one.  I have a nondisclosure agreement which allows me to share the design file with less risk — you pretty much have to do this to evaluate the possibility, and without an NDA the risk is all on the designer’s side.  Having that handy gets rid of a major source of worry and distrust.

Thanks to both of you for your time and insight! Make sure to check out both their shops for even more amazing design.

 

Help build Amsterdam (the Ittyblox way)

Many of you already know Shapeways is a Dutch company (with a factory in Eindhoven), so imagine our delight when we realized Ittyblox is working on a new complete Amsterdam set. The collection of Ittyblox cities is constantly growing, but we’re especially excited to see one so close to home!

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Just like with the Flatiron Building, a Kickstarter was created to help fund these designs. While the campaign has already surpassed its goal (!), it’s still worth checking out to see how you can get your hands on this new collection before the rest of the world.

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We’ve talked a lot about using crowdfunding for your 3D printing projects, and this is a great example of how they can be successful. It’s not just about funding the final design, they can also help with prototyping, photographing and promotion. It’s important for designers and shop owners to try new things and continue to elevate their business – crowdfunding is one way to help get you there.

We’re excited to get our hands on this new Amsterdam set. In the meantime, what cities or buildings would you love to see 3D printed?

Five Tactics To Use On Instagram To Promote Your Shapeways Products

My favorite social media platform that I’ve been using in 2015 has been Instagram. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, the attention graph and organic reach of Instagram is the highest amongst all of the social media platforms out there. There are very few Ads, no ridiculous newsfeed algorithm, and it’s completely mobile.

Instagram has emerged as a leading platform for small businesses and niche communities to promote their products and generate visual awareness around their content. Instagram posts receive over 50% more engagement per follower (likes, comments) than Facebook and Twitter.  The engagement rate on average for brands is 4-5% on Instagram, much higher than the <1% we see on Facebook and Twitter per post.

In this post I want to highlight five specific tactics that I use on Instagram to promote my Shapeways shop and that you should be using as well.

1. Search Key hashtags and Engage

When promoting my products on Instagram I choose not to play defense and expect users to discover my Instagram account and content, instead I play offense and actively search potential customers and consumers who are sharing relevant posts. I do this by searching the specific hashtags that my product targets and begin liking, and commenting on their content making them aware I have a product that they might be interested in. For example I’ll search all the photos that have the hashtag #Tardigrade, filter through relevant photos of Tardigrades, read their photo descriptions and identify if they express interest in Tardigrades with keywords in their photos that say “I want one”, or “I love Tardigrades”. Then I’ll follow up with comments on their photo saying “You love Tardigrades? I have a 3D printed one on my page”.

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2. Link to your website on the location section of your post

Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links on post, no problem. Just add the link to your website on the location section by creating a “custom location” and just type the link to your website instead of an actual location. This will add visibility to your website for consumers. You can also direct users to the link on your bio which is clickable as an alternative. Either method works.

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3. Utilize Repost and Regram apps

Once I began selling a large quantity of my 3D printed products I began reusing customer photos that were shared on Instagram to promote them again with the Respost app. It essentially allows me to repost their photo, thank them for being a customer, and promote that product again. The respost app is essentially Instagram’s way for “retweeting” and “sharing” another users content on Instagram.

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4. Instagram Direct Messaging

Instagram launched photo direct messaging to users back in 2013. It’s a useful way to send direct photos to individual users and start a conversation. This feature has been very useful for getting in touch with influencers and other users who have a larger audience and reach than you. You can get in touch with them and ask them if they can cross promote your content. I would recommend the best course of action is to not go after big celebrities but instead go after relevant accounts. I first found success of this by DMing photos of my Thorgi figurine to niche Instagram users in the Corgi community. The reception was welcoming and I got quiet a few accounts to post and link back to my account and promote my product the lead to a increase in sales.

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5. Share Creative Video Content 

These are several content creation techniques and applications you can use to get creative with your content creation instead of just sharing static photos. Videos and short form micro content like slow-motion action videos, stop motion, slideshows, and Hyperlapse videos are a great way to get your audience hooked and wanting more.

 

Incorporate these tactics into your Instagram strategy and you’ll begin seeing better conversation and engagement. Are you currently promoting your Shapeways products on Instagram? If so be sure to incorporate #Shapeways in your photos so we can help discover and surface your work.

Learn 3D CAD the easy way with this Kickstarter: 20+ Hours of Meshmixer online training by HoneyPoint3D

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We’re always looking for new ways to educate people about 3D printing and CAD modeling. From the basics of how it’s done to how anyone can create amazing designs themselves, we want to educate as many as possible on how to get started in the 3D printing process. Whether it’s through tutorials, online videos, free apps, etc., we know there are a lot of channels through which people can learn.

We’ve been telling you a lot about various Kickstarter campaigns happening right now that Shapeways has some involvement with. In the spirit of education, today we want to tell you about a new campaign from HoneyPoint3D that is offering to help more people learn 3D CAD modeling through their online courses.

HoneyPoint3D is a company that aims to innovate in the 3D printing market by offering easy-to-follow online classes at a variety of skill levels. They have already taught 5,000 students and are writing MAKE magazine’s next “Getting Started on 3D Printing” book, releasing January 2016. All in an effort to help people with their 3D models from concept to finished product.

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Their Kickstarter is raising money for a full online course that will teach beginners how to create and advanced modelers how to enhance and fix 3D CAD files. HoneyPoint3D has partnered with our friends over at Autodesk to teach the course using their free 3D Sculpting software, Meshmixer. Taking the course will save designers time and money. If the Kickstarter reaches its goal of $8,118, the course will be launched starting at just $20 (compared to $149)!

Make sure to check out this campaign for more information, and stay tuned for more educational content from us!

Artist Uses 3D Printing To Combine Love Of Printmaking and Beer

Posted by in Community, Design

Graham Stephens is a Maker and Artist based out of Portland, OR. Graham has a passion for Printmaking and focuses on  print making projects that range from engraving, woodcutting, and sketching. He recently opened a Shapeways store and launched his first product in the marketplace, the Ink Brayer Bottle Opener. Graham’s Bottle Opener combines his love of printmaking and everything print related with his love of delicious craft beer.

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It took Graham three iterations and prototypes before arriving at his final version of his bottle opener that is large and strong enough to reliably open a bottle with ease, but also maintains the look and feel of a tiny ink brayer. 

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 The Ink Brayer Bottle Opener 3D printed in stainless steel

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Video of Ink Brayer Bottle Opener in action

Graham’s Ink Brayer Bottle Opener fits great in a pocket and can fit a key-ring. It makes a great gift for anyone who loves printmaking. Graham started using 3D printing for his own personal pieces over the years and plans on listing more of his designs on his Shapeways shop Diode Press in the future.

Have you ever used 3D printing to combine your love with another interests? Let us know in a comment below.

 

The First 3D Printed Melodica

Posted by in Community, Design

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When I first picked up a toy melodica, I was hooked. It only cost me £20, it was easy to play, and so small I could take it anywhere. I decided to devote a few years to it, and see if I could discover its full potential.

At first it was great fun, and quite a novelty to be playing a toy instrument to a high standard. But it had its drawbacks. You couldn’t play fast melodies without some of the notes dropping out, and the tone was so shrill, I felt sorry for anyone sitting next to me. But perhaps worse of all, I found it difficult to be taken seriously at music sessions when I pulled out a bright plastic instrument which was ultimately designed to appeal to kids.

I was ready for a professional melodica, but there wasn’t anything out there. That’s when I thought about making one. I’d heard of 3D printing, but it was something I know nothing about. How easy was it to learn?

I began the journey by getting some lessons in CAD software. Once I’d covered the basics, I took my melodica apart, and bit by bit, recreated it within a 3D environment. And once it existed in virtual reality, I could make all the changes I needed to create my dream instrument. I wanted something that sounded as good as any other professional instrument, with a clear tone, and I also wanted it to look a bit special, something I could be proud of.

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I ended up with the design for one large piece, a sort of frame which was 40cm long, and 32 small keys which slotted into it. I bought a Flashforge Creator Pro with the idea that I’d print the 40cm long frame in sections, and glue them together. After printing out some of the keys, it soon became clear that the accuracy wasn’t sufficient for building a melodica.

So, I sent my files to a printing company, 3D Alchemy, who printed the whole instrument in resin, on a Stratasys Eden 500V. This was much more accurate, but unfortunately, once the melodica was assembled, the keys began bending under the pressure of the springs I was using to keep them in place. It seemed my design and application didn’t suite the properties of the material. 3D Alchemy kindly offered to refund the keys, and took back the frame for extra UV curing.

I decided to get new keys printed in Nylon 12 (strong and flexible) from Shapeways, as I’d heard they were strong. Once they’d arrived, I put them together with the newly cured frame to see how the combination worked. Initially it was great, but over a few days, I was disappointed to find that the resin frame began to warp under the pressure of the springs, just as the keys had earlier. I needed a new frame, but what material should I print it in?

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I was so impressed with the strength and accuracy of the Nylon 12 keys, that I decided to reprint the 40cm frame in the same material. There was one potential problem – melodicas need to be airtight and watertight, and Nylon 12 is quite porous. I got around this by coating it in a few layers of acrylic sealant, before finishing it with paint and varnish. Once assembled, I could see that I had the right material. It was strong and light, and looked great with a layer of acrylic paint.

Once it was all working properly, it was time to turn it into an organic looking instrument that would look at home in a professional environment. So I carefully shaped some wood to fit on top of the black keys, and made some end pieces to give the instrument a traditional feel. I also stripped the ivory from some old piano keys to recreate the touch of a quality instrument. And I’m delighted with the result. I finally have a musical instrument that I can take out and play at professional concerts and recordings, and it looks just as good as it sounds.

Daren Banarsë is an artist and composer living in London. Read his blog documenting the making of the first 3D melodica here