Category Archives: Community

The Hate Project

With almost 25,000 shops on our site, we could spend all days browsing the amazing products our community has for sale. We’re always interested in seeing what new things pop up and how customers are finding new shops.

A few weeks ago we noticed a shop called The Hate Project was very popular. Obviously we were very curious and connected with the shop owner to find out more about the shop and how they attracted customers.

Tell us a little about yourself!

My Name is Rob Baptie and I started a small social experiment called the Hate Project based on selling good via the internet from California and giving the money away to charitable causes.

What’s the story behind your shop?

The Hate Project is a crowdsourcing endeavor based on the idea that together, smaller donations that might be deemed insignificant can make a huge difference when lumped together.  This idea/project was born out of trying to help a friend whose nieces’ were stricken with Cystic Fibrosis raise money for their foundation.  This process is documented here: The Hatedust Project .

To date we have given away about $195,000 to different charitable groups like AlphaK9.org and The Make A Wish Foundation. Why HATE? I like the idea of repurposing a negative into a positive. HATE comes from what we decided your insides would do if you ate too much of our pepper concotion called HateDust.

What’s the story behind your designs?

The designs mainly involve variations on my pig based theme. I started fundraising for Make-A-Wish by donating pig bbq’s for their charity. What inspires you? I am inspired by the good in others.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?

The ease of operation Shapeways brings to my efforts.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

I don’t! I have a good friend, Wes Newman, do it for me and he is GREAT!

How do you promote your work?

I promote via my Facebook Group: The Hate Project https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheHateProject/

Anything else you want to share?

I’d just like to thank all the HATERs who have supported this idea over the last 18 months.  100% of our net proceeds have gone to helping others.  This idea is nothing without their ongoing support.

Thanks, Rob! We always love seeing our community use their creativity for good. Also, be sure to check out the website to learn more about the project (and to find out what Hatedust is!).

Introducing Improved Product Discovery

Today, we are proud to announce that we are further improving the way shoppers can discover great products on Shapeways. With improved sort capabilities, we’re offering a better way for shoppers to travel through our vast catalog and find products of interest.

dynamicbrowse

From the beginning,  Shapeways has allowed users to upload a 3D model and see it become a 3D print. This was the beginning of a new technology and a new community. As the community grew, so did the number of products coming out of our printers. This new library of products meant 3D printing was no longer just for those with modeling experience, but a place to create, buy and/or sell 3D printed products. Two years ago, with this in mind, we introduced a new way to discover and purchase products on Shapeways.

With the introduction of a marketplace, our community was quick to respond to the initiative and opportunity to be able to sell their products on the same platform they were able to create them on. They began filling up categories with iPhone cases, jewelry, drone accessories, miniatures and much more. We now have nearly 25,000 shops with thousands of products for public sale on Shapeways, and as these numbers continue to grow we will continue to improve upon our marketplace.

Today we are integrating a lot of the functionality people are familiar with when it comes to browsing an online marketplace in order to make it easier to shop. We are taking steps to ease browsing with tag filters, shop by material, and more.

materials

These new features also translate over to your mobile devices. We’ve taken more steps to make our site responsive and customers are able to browse and shop on any device.

IMG_0590

Here are some of the core upgrades of the new Shapeways Marketplace experience:

Ubiquitous category, price, material, customizable and Beta filters

  • Want to know what’s new in your favorite category and material combination? Or customizable products in a specific subcategory and in a specific material? We have you covered with the available facets on the left pane of any Marketplace view.

In-material product pictures or digital renders displayed in the results when using a material filter

  • Wondering how to easily compare products? Enable a material filter and watch the displayed results update with photos or digital renders in the specified material.

Narrow results with a tag

  • Looking for all Miniatures tagged at scale 1:144? Activate a tag filter to your view and the displayed results will reflect your choice.

Improved merchandising

  • This allows the Merchandising Team at Shapeways to better curate products on additional dimensions, such as subcategory, tag, material, featured products, shops, co-creator apps and more. This means more opportunities for shop owners to be featured in new places across the marketplace.

So what’s next? As with all major feature releases, we will be closely monitoring how the new marketplace is adopted and used. That data and feedback will be used to tweak things where needed, and we look forward to continuing to improve the experience. All of us here at Shapeways are inspired by the creations of our community. We strive to showcase them to the public in the best ways possible and we believe this new marketplace experience improves the discoverability of those creations.

Using 3D Printing to Recreate a Lost Sculpture

We say this a lot, but we are always in awe of our community and excited to see the projects you are working on. One we’re really excited about is from UK-based designer, Matt Smith, who has launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds to recreate a sculpture by Umberto Boccioni that was destroyed nearly 100 years ago. Shown in 1913, all that is left of the sculpture is a collection of original photographs and sketches.

Using those sketches, Matt will recreate the original piece using digital sculpting techniques and 3D technology to exhibit the work at various galleries, with the first showing in London.

Single image Launch

For background: Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) was a prominent Italian artist of the Futurist movement, who rejected traditional materials and embraced technological advances. Several of his plaster sculptures were destroyed, leaving an important gap in his artistic legacy. It seems appropriate that the contemporary technologies of digital sculpture and 3D printing, which Boccioni would have probably embraced, are now being used to recreate his lost work. Replacing his missing work will be an invaluable contribution to the art world; benefiting scholars, researchers, artists and the public .

Matt discovered Boccioni’s work as an art student and was immediately inspired. During a trip to Italy, Matt discovered Boccioni’s own photographs of the lost sculptures and began an exhaustive investigation of the remaining records of the missing artwork. As he states in his press release:

“I wanted to understand more about this unique sculpture, to study the work. As it no longer existed, that was going to be a challenge. The photographs taken by Boccioni over 100 years ago are an invaluable guide. I saw the possibility of piecing the fragments together and sharing what I learned with others. I believe I have found enough evidence, photo references, drawings and research to help me recreate the work in 3D as the artist intended.”

Matt became an avid 3D designer thanks to constant inspiration from 3D in all its forms; at Art School it was clay, then 3D computer graphics. Having worked in the virtual 3D world of games, using Maya, Lightwave and ZBrush, 3D printing allowed him to use his experience to make virtual objects physically real. His first 3D printed object actually  was Umberto Boccioni’s ‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.’ This was before 3D scanning was feasible, so he took reference photographs and sculpted it in ZBrush.

3D print rewards MSmith

He believes the “all or nothing” funding approach of Kickstarter makes the most sense for his project, and is sure backers will make a significant different (he’s already raised almost half his goal!). If the target goal is reached Matt is offering some great rewards to those who make pledges. Be sure to check it out and support a fellow 3D designer!

 

Help Shapeways 3D Print The Next Big Meme Contest!

We all love memes — they’re hilarious, introspective, and sometimes downright deep. It’s time for us to expand our collection in the Shapeways marketplace, and we want you to help us pick our next meme!

Share your favorite memes on Instagram & Twitter with the hashtag #SHAPEWAYSMEMES until April 30th. We will choose one of the memes with the most shares to be modeled by one of our community all-star designers and put it up for sale in the Shapeways marketplace. Be sure to check if we already have your favorite meme in our marketplace before you share!

To help you build your meme collection in preparation for the new model, we’re giving you $5 off all memes and figurines in the Shapeways marketplace until April 30th. Simply use the promo code SHAPEWAYSMEMES at checkout to save $5 when you order one of our memes.

 

DogeMeme

 

 

Why Shapeways is Participating in 3D/DC

On April 29th, we’re heading down to Washington, DC for 3D/DC.  3D/DC is an event organized by the nonprofit organization Public Knowledge designed to introduce policymakers and the 3D printing world to each other.  Instead of waiting for a crisis, the goal of 3D/DC is to make sure that policymakers are familiar with 3D printing – and that the 3D printing community is familiar with policymakers – in an environment that facilitates education and understanding. (Full disclosure: I have helped to organize 3D/DC since the beginning and, even after leaving Public Knowledge last month, continue to be closely involved in its operation.)

This year the event (which is free and open to the public) will feature a full day of panels on various aspects of 3D printing, along with a demonstration reception so everyone can see and talk to people using 3D printers themselves.

So, why is Shapeways participating?  As the leading online service and marketplace for 3D designers and 3D printing, we sit at the intersection of a huge number of 3D printing-related policy issues.  With such a great view, we want to make sure that policymakers in Washington understand the amazing things that are happening in our community.

We are operating at the bleeding edge of 3D printing.  That means  the challenges facing our community today will be felt throughout the larger 3D printing community tomorrow.  That also means  the ways  we work to address current challenges will serve as a model for addressing challenges in the future.

We know  being in such a position gives us a special responsibility to explain to both our community and policymakers what we are seeing.  Good policy starts with good information, and Shapeways has some of the best information around on what people are doing with 3D printing.

We are looking forward to connecting with policymakers in DC, and with any of you in the DC area that want to come out to join us!

3DPrintingDog Creates 3D Printed Kinetic sculptures

Some of the best designs we come across on Shapeways are the ones that take advantage of the printers we use to create incredible unique products we’ve never seen before. A Digital design studio called 3DPrintingDog based out of Philadelphia, PA uses the power of Shapeways SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) printing to make 3D printed Kinetic sculptures that come out of the printer with no assembly required. Here are a few examples of the designs that they’re making designed with Solidworks.

Deconstructed Bicycle Freewheel

 

Deconstructed Bicycle Freewheel

What are some of your favorite fully articulated designs you’ve come across on Shapeways? Let us know in a comment below or tweet us @Shapeways.

Five 3D Prints To Celebrate International TableTop Day

International Table Top Day is right around the corner and we wanted to curate some of the coolest 3D printed products on Shapeways designed by community members to help you take your table top gaming to the next level this year. Whether you’re into RPGs or card games, these 3D prints are sure to impress your family and friends.

1) Celtic Dice Set by eondesigner

2) ‘Twined’ Dice D20 Spindown Life Counter Die by Foxworks

3) Catan Card Management designed by Carpemortis

4) Role Playing Counter Blades Set designed by Berian

5) HeroForge Custom 3D Printed Miniatures - Making custom  3D printed tabletop gaming miniatures gets real easy with the Hero Forge App.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 5.21.26 PM

 

We have a very active and engaged tabletop gaming community on Shapeways and you can always explore more tabletop game inspired designs on our game category on Shapeways. What are some of your favorite table top games to play? Let us know in a comment below or feel free to tweet at us @Shapeways on Twitter. 

What I learned from exhibiting at my first Maker Faire

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

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

Vicky Somma at the NoVa Mini Maker Faire

Vicky Somma at the NoVa Mini Maker Faire

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

Shapeways prints ready to go to the faire

Shapeways prints ready to go to the faire

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

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

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

Giving my talk at Nova Mini Maker Faire

Giving my talk at Nova Mini Maker Faire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community Advocate Michael Williams at Nova Mini Maker Faire

Community Advocate Michael Williams at Nova Mini Maker Faire

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

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

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

My mom makes a puppy through Pupworkshop

My mom makes a puppy through Pupworkshop

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

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

My three year old designs a Color Me Teddy

My three year old designs a Color Me Teddy

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

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

Vicky works the booth with Dyson

Vicky works the booth with Dyson

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

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

Working on a Dial-O-Lantern face

Working on a Dial-O-Lantern face

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

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

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

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

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

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

More of our photos from the event are on Flickr.

 

 

Easy steps to get started 3D printing right now

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

This blog outlines what you need to do to start 3D printing, based on my own experience.

The first thing you will need (aside from an idea) is a design program – unless you would like to use one of Shapeways Easy Creator Apps. I am currently using Autodesk’s 123D Design which is a free 3D design program I downloaded (http://www.123dapp.com/design). Autodesk also have a number of associated programs such as 123 Catch which is a 3D scanner using a smartphone and Meshmixer, an editing program where you can update textures, combine models and generally play around with 3D models.

To create a design, there are 3 main methods I use (often in combination):
Working with functions such as using 3D objects like cubes, spheres and cylinders. I then modify these objects to end up with a 3D model;
Create 2D sketches using 2D objects like squares, circles and lines and make them 3D by applying a thickness, or;
Importing 2D sketches from the internet.

The process is best explained using an example of a pair of cufflinks:

get into 3D print pic 4

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

get into 3D print pic 1

The imported file becomes a 2D sketch, to which I applied a thickness – so I then had a 3 dimensional object shaped like the above. The picture was quite large (about 20cm across), so I used a scale tool to reduce the size down to around 2cm across. The program has a grid, so I estimated the size against the 5mm grid the object was placed on.

get into 3D print pic 2

I then checked the thickness by using the measuring tool as I wanted a more precise measurement for the height. I made it 2.5mm high.

To make the backs for the cufflink I created two cylinders. When I create the cylinders I specify the radius of the cylinder and the height. I created one short, wider one for the back piece and a taller, thinner one for the piece joining the front and the back.

I then filleted the edges on the cylinders to create smooth edges. Where the angle is external, it trims away and makes a smoother edge. Where the angle is internal (like where a wall meets the ceiling), the rounding ‘fills in’ to make a smoother corner, much like a cornice on a wall/ceiling join.

get into 3D print pic 3

Once all this was done and a single cufflink was complete, I duplicated the design to make the pair. I then exported the file in a .stl format which contains the model data including the size of the model.

The file is uploaded to Shapeways on the design page where the model is automatically checked against a number of characteristics to check it can be printed.

The requirements differ between different materials, so you should have an idea what materials you are designing for before you start.

Once it is checked, Shapeways gives you prices for different materials and you can then order your model! You can also select materials to sell and set the price. You can add tags, categories and a description for the model, to get the final product:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some attempts at clay cups – not very successful!

Some attempts at clay cups – not very successful!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arty Lobster creates 3D printed tributes to favorite pets

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

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

3D printed dog sculpture Arty Lobster

Max by Arty Lobster

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

Real life Max

Real life Max

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

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

Photo and 3D model of Bertie by Arty Lobster

Photo and 3D model of Bertie by Arty Lobster

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

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

Bonnie by Arty Lobster

Bonnie by Arty Lobster

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

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

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

Shapeways Community on the road in March!

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

Community Events 2015

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

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

3D printing hackathon

Brandeis University Printathon participants and judges

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

Setting up for the 3D Print Show in Madrid

Setting up for the 3D Print Show in Madrid

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

Me and author Michelle Ward at Craftcation in 2014

Me and author Michelle Ward at Craftcation in 2014

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

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

Modern Miniature Inspiration: Carol Mitcheson of Mitchy Moo Miniatures

This week we are pleased to feature Carol Mitcheson, of the blog Mitchy Moo Miniatures, and some of her inspired displays that use 3D printed miniature furniture and accessories. Carol is one of the judges for our Mini House Contest, where you have until April 10 to share photos your mini house or display with 3D printed details for a chance to win Shapeways printing credit and a feature on our blog.

3D printed miniature house dollhouse modern miniatures

Introduce yourself and tell us how did you get interested in mini houses and what inspired you to launch your blog?

My name is Carol Mitcheson, but my friends call me Pepper and my interest in miniatures started after a rather tongue-in-cheek comment about my husband’s action figure collection. A friend suggested I make a pub for them so they would have somewhere to hang out. I hated dusting them every week so I thought “why not.” It wasn’t until I started furnishing the pub that I realized modern miniatures where hard to come by and I ended up making many of them from scratch. I started the blog to record my progress and share anything I’d learnt with other miniaturists.

3D printed custom dollhouse miniature house

What inspires you to create your houses and rooms?

I probably do this the wrong way around but I collect miniatures, find I have nowhere to display them and then design a home for them. I get inspiration from everywhere – other miniaturists, interior design magazines and real-life buildings.

How did you discover Shapeways and 3D printed miniature accessories and furniture?

Another blogger, Megan from ModernMiniHouses, opened a shop on Shapeways and did a post about it. I was just fascinated by the technology. I realized then, that at last, there was a way to create complicated, scalable items that didn’t cost the earth.

3D printed miniature dollhouse minihouse

You’ve collaborated with designers using Shapeways to design accessories like a toolbox. Can you talk about how these collaborations came about and your process for creating them?

There are certain things in real-life that a very hard to replicate in miniature. I was building a miniature shed at the time and keen to fill it with as many realistic items as I could. I wanted to create an opening toolbox and some stacking boxes. Every miniature shed needs a miniature tool box, right? I read through the Shapeways forum to find a designer for hire and settled on a design team that had good feedback. Over two months I emailed my ideas, measurements of the life-size objects and received a work-in-progress report as the project developed. I received the designs in a file format that I could upload to Shapeways. The items were printed and received within a week.

Once you receive a 3D printed item, how do you work it into a display? Do you do any additional painting or finishing?

The first items I received were already painted and good to go. I bought another tool box later that I wanted to look like the ones sold by a well known DIY store in the UK. I painted it in the stores colours and added decals to make it look as realistic as possible. The addition of miniature tools and painting techniques to age the items make them look at home in the scene.

3D printed miniature dollhouse minihouses

Carol’s display featuring a miniature stag head by Dotsan

If miniature enthusiasts wanted to get started with 3D printing, what advice would you give them?

There is a lot of information on the Shapeways forum to get you started with 3D printing. If you don’t feel confident enough to design it yourself, there are many sellers and designers happy to help. It’s an exciting time for miniaturists – I feel the only restriction to our hobby now is our own imagination!

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

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

Around here, I’m primarily known for my cufflink store, Cufflink Junkie. Aside from cufflinks, and working as a full time Industrial Designer, a friend and I recently started a brand new company making soft lures for bass fishing called BioSpawn Lure Company, and Shapeways and 3D printed prototypes were an integral part of our development plan.

My friend is an avid bass fisherman, has a marketing background, and does some work in the fishing industry. While working to distribute soft fishing lures, he found that there was an opportunity in the market for a cooler, edgier brand experience. We realized for a new lure brand to be successful it would need innovative, cutting edge, and in-your-face design. So about 2 years ago we paired up to create something new.

3D printed fishing lures

We discovered that getting started in the industry of soft lures had one advantage over many other product industries. The plastic used for soft lures is a low heat resin, so you don’t need big tooling (and big tooling costs) to get going with a new product. You can make a mold at home, in your basement or garage, heat up the plastic in your microwave and get good results. What this meant for us is a way to test our bait designs with the actual material they’d be produced in, and that we could keep costs down. All we needed to do was design some bait and make some molds.

And this is where the Shapeways came in.

Over the next few months, we developed 3 distinct lure designs. I would model them up in Solidworks, and we’d send them off to Shapeways to print.

With our first round, I took the models we printed, and using modeling clay and wood forms, we poured some silicone molds, and then cast the lures in Plastisol, the lure plastic used by the industry. They were a bit rough, but it gave us a good baseline. Now we needed to iterate these designs.

We knew we had a good look and idea, we were onto something, but our mold making process was too complex, messy, and imprecise. Instead of making Strong White Flexible (SWF) parts of the actual iterations, we realized it was more important to print mold-making forms. So I took our iterative 3D designs, and using Solidwoks, I split them, blocked off the backs, and made mating pegs so that all we’d need to do order the split mold-ready parts from Shapeways, slide them into pre-cut wood forms I had made, pour the silicone, peel it off, and then pour the lure plastic. It was way faster, and the quality we got from the molds went up a ton. The detail was amazing. We got consistent parts, and our iterative process moved along much faster. Better yet, we had prototypes we could test with accurate results.

3D printed fishing lures molds iteration

With one of our lures, we went through probably a dozen or so iterations, and the ability to turn these around with our sample mold process was integral to us hitting target deadlines. With a quick turnaround for SWF, we were getting parts within a week.

Even when doing concept packaging, we were able to send Shapeways parts to our packaging designers so they could work around that while we were waiting for finalized parts to come off the tool.

Our website, BioSpawn.com, has been up and running for just under a year now, and we’ve been getting a great response from our designs and brand, and have steady growth. Our sales keep jumping, and some large on-line retailers have picked us up, both in the US and abroad.

3D printed soft fishing lures

In addition to our online success, we’ve been able to catch the attention of various sales rep groups and distributors who are interested in getting our products in front of larger retailers. Through these relationships, we’ve been lucky enough to get in to one of the larger big box stores who will be doing a trial run with us, both on-line and in a selection of stores, this coming spring.

Even though we have a small product selection compared to many of our competitors, we’ve been able to bring some great detail, nuance, and innovation to these generally ho-hum kind of products, and all because of our prototyping process using 3D printing at a fast pace, with high detail, and low-cost.

 

The next frontier: Meta augmented reality and 3D printing

Posted by in Community, Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

Augmented reality meta 3D printing

The Meta 1 Developer Kit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3D design augmented reality meta

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

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

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

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

Meta augmented reality 3D printing

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

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