Category Archives: Customization

Shapeways and ROCCAT team up to provide customized gaming gear

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Today we’re excited to announce a new partnership with ROCCAT that will enable gaming enthusiasts to customize gaming gear and create ROCCAT devices unique to them.

Based in Germany, ROCCAT produces innovative, high-quality products for the gaming community. Their input devices, headsets and accessories precision along with eye-catching design and their products are consistently ranked as world-class in the industry. With this partnership, ROCCAT is able to offer a new level of aesthetic by allowing customers to customize 10 of their button sets and have them 3D printed by Shapeways.

All of the products are designed with a focus on customization, so you can use our CustomMaker feature to personalize your pieces and make your ROCCAT device unique to you. You can also extend the functionality and aesthetics of your device using these custom 3D printed parts.

As of launch, their shop has 10 customizable pieces but the number will continue to grow and gaming enthusiasts will be able to personalize and buy even more accessories.

Introducing CustomMaker – the most powerful customization tool for 3D printing

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Emerald Top Ring by Damsel_In_Design; Brass Neck Anchor by seanmcharg; Klein Bottle Opener by Bathsheba.

Today we are thrilled to announce CustomMaker, a groundbreaking tool for designers to add customization elements to their models, so shoppers can get a personalized 3D printed product.

By blending artistic control for our shop owners with the freedom for shoppers to truly personalize their purchase, Shapeways is laying down the most scalable, most powerful customization platform for 3D printing. CustomMaker is free, easy to use, and requires no additional skills or software as it is powered by our own ShapeJS platform.

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CustomMaker enables designers to create the customizable experiences that they want. A designer can select an existing model, or upload a new one, and set a specific area of the model to be customized by text and/or image. They will instantly see how a model will look with a real-time viewer directly in the Model page. This ensures that artistic control remains with the designer – they choose which models they want to enable for customization, and how each model will look.

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Lucky Heart Pendant by Phits

Once a designer chooses their customization settings, any shopper will be able to personalize the product and get it 3D printed! A shopper can simply select a product they like, such as a piece of jewelry or a smartphone case, type in a name or upload an image, and see in real-time how the product will look.

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Today, CustomMaker is available to all 30,000 shop owners on Shapeways, making it the first time we are launching a new pilot feature to the public. As the feature is in pilot, we are asking all designers and shoppers to provide feedback via the Shapeways forums. Feedback from our community helps us to improve functionality and evolve our offerings.

To get started, check out this tutorial, our FAQ, and start customizing your models today (and be sure to tweet us at @Shapeways and let us know what models you are enabling). To check out products you can personalize yourself already, click here.

 

Our Newest 3D Tool: Scaling Your Models for 3D Printing

Today Shapeways is growing our suite of 3D tools by launching the ability to scale your model to different sizes during the upload process. This enables greater flexibility for you to purchase models at the price you want and to remedy common printability problems like thin walls and bounding box errors on-site. You will have the option to scale your model by dimension and percentage in two different locations: the Model Edit page so you can see how pricing changes after scaling and within 3D tools for when you are trying to improve the printability of your model.

Scaling your model by dimension or percentage is easy in 3D tools or on the Model Edit page.

Scaling your model by dimension or percentage is easy in 3D tools or on the Model Edit page.

Scaling empowers you to quickly and proportionally resize models to exact specifications so art, home items, games, and other products can be adjusted without using 3D software and then having to re-upload the model.

Scaling can be used by experienced designers and is easy enough for beginner designers and modelers with limited to no modeling experience. For example, the availability of 3D scanned people, monuments, art, and objects of all sizes available on sites like Sketchfab offer a new source of 3D printable content and inspiration. Now, with the option for simple, straightforward scaling that requires no modeling experience, novice to experienced designers can make incredible scanned data like an ancient statue come to life in a size that can fit in your home – and fit in our 3D printers.

Bringing scanned content to life

Sketchfab designer Nebulousflynn’s scanned model of one of the daughters of the sea-god Nereus from the Nereid Monument constructed in 390-380 BC is well over 5 feet (or ~1.52 meters). Using the new scaling tool on Shapeways, you can reduce its from a statue that would take considerable space in your living room to a stunning miniature in full colored sandstone you can place on your bookshelf. Simply download the model like this from Sketchfab, upload it to Shapeways, scale it down – and we will 3D print it!

Scanned model of one of the daughters of the sea-god Nereus from the Nereid Monument by Nebulousflynn, a designer at Sketchfab

Scanned model of one of the daughters of the sea-god Nereus from the Nereid Monument by Nebulousflynn, a designer at Sketchfab

Printability plays a key factor in determining what size to print a scanned model. If the scanned model contains thin walls, you can increase the size of the model within 3D tools to thicken the walls while checking on the bounding box to ensure you aren’t making it too big to print in your desired material. Increasing the size can also ensure that small details are visible. Humanti’s statue of a woman carrying a harvest, Heykelhigh2suport, presents a great example of bringing existing scanned data to life, while making sure that the model is large enough to show all the details that make it beautiful.

Beautiful scanned model called Heykelhigh2suport by Humanti, a designer from Sketchfab

Beautiful scanned model called Heykelhigh2suport by Humanti, a designer from Sketchfab

Finding the right scanned model to work with when considering file formats, model completeness, licensing and attribution, and other factors can sometimes make 3D printing a scanned model tricky. Check out our tutorial to help you navigate these considerations.

Empowering entrepreneurs with greater pricing and model size consistency

For entrepreneurs who are using 3D scanning to capture new models, scaling offers additional controls to price and size products consistently.  Scanned data often introduces a lot of variability, especially when you are scanning people, because every individual is unique. This creates variability in the cost per printed miniature person; with scaling, as long as you maintain the printability of the model, you can adjust the size of miniatures to create greater cost consistency.  Or, if size consistency is more important, you can make each miniature exactly the same height.

Three printed scans of Dan in full color sandstone in different sizes: from front to back, 10.5cm tall, 12.5cm tall, and 14.5cm tall.

Three printed scans of Dan in full color sandstone in different sizes: from front to back, 10.5cm tall, 12.5cm tall, and 14.5cm tall.

To demonstrate this, we scanned and printed one of our team members Dan using Skanect, a 3D scanning software made by our partners Occipital.  Skanect makes it very easy for users to scan and prep models for 3D printing using a variety of scanning hardware, including Occipital’s own Structure Sensor, and allows you to scale your model by percentage when uploading to Shapeways.  Together, scaling on Shapeways and Skanect allow you to confidently and consistently offer and print your scans at the size or price you want. We printed Dan in three different sizes at three different price points to show how easy it can be.

It’s important to remember that changing the size of a model will always impact both the price and the printability of your model. Check 3D tools after you scale a model to ensure that your new model is printable and you are aware of any changes to how your model may be printed.  Also remember that when you scale your model, it will be saved as a new version of your model which will not carry over any printability data.  This means if you scale an existing “For Sale” model, and scale it to a different size, it will have ‘First to Try’ status.

We hope you enjoy this new tool. Upload a new model or use one of your existing models to try scaling today!

Behind the product: Pocket Clip for Fitbit Flex

We love to hear all about the amazing products we see here at Shapeways. What was the inspiration? How many times was it printed before it was perfect? This series is about exploring the stories behind the creative and unique products that go through our printers.

The Pocket Clip for Fitbit Flex has been a popular product since it was introduced. It’s the perfect example of a product that fulfilled a market need – something that really can’t be found anywhere else. We caught up with the designer, Tom Felker,  to find out more about how the idea came about and how he works with customers to create various versions and improve upon the model.

Where did the idea for this product come from? 

I think this fell into the “necessity is the mother of invention” category. My job’s health insurance program gave everyone Fitbits as part of a fitness incentive, but I already wore a watch and didn’t want two bands. My friend and I were talking about it, and we thought maybe we could 3D print something. The way it snaps in was sort of inspired by how the Fitbit USB charger works, though that snaps in a little differently and uses a spring.

I think I just got sort of lucky in that the problem I solved is shared by lots of Fitbit users, and there are quite a few of them out there.

Walk us through the iteration process? How many designs did you go through?

I iterated the design on paper a little bit before even making a model. At first I didn’t have a great idea for how you’d take the Fitbit out, and I was thinking about having a bendable tab you’d push or something. I decided to figure that out later, make a model and sent it to Shapeways to be printed.

When I got it, I put the Fitbit in and it snapped in perfectly – but I forgot that I had no way to get it out so prying it out was quite a project. Around then I had the obvious-in-retrospect idea to add a hole in the back so you could just push it out with your finger. First I just used a rasp to add the hole into the model I had, and then I changed the 3D model and ordered version 2. I think I made one more version with some minor changes to the geometry to make it snap harder.

Somewhere along the way, I also tried different materials. I found that alumide was too stiff, and I knew the UV resin materials would be a little too brittle but WSF worked great. I had tried rubber and realized I would need a very different design to make that work. Much later, I tried a different design to work with metal but I haven’t gotten too far with that yet. I also tried a version my friend printed out on his hobbyist FDM printer in ABS, but it wasn’t dimensionally accurate enough and was way too stiff – and didn’t look too good.

How important has customer feedback been to you?

When making the first proof-of-concept model I wasn’t talking to customers yet, but later I was. There was a customer who wanted to put it on a pendant, so I made that variant for her and have sold a few of those. Another wanted the pendant loop to go the other way, and so I modeled that, then added a ring to it so you’d have a choice, and at that point you might as well add a chain, and the keychain version was born. Somebody was asking about a version you could use to make a paracord bracelet, so I did that as a beta model. I also ended up strengthening the clip on the pocket clip version due to customer feedback.

What have you learned about the 3D printing process through this product?

I think a lot of what I’ve learned has been more about selling things. The power that exposure can give you. The need to be very clear when communicating to customers.

Do you think gadget accessories will continue to be a popular category for 3D printing?

I think gadget accessories will always be a pretty big part of 3D printing. I come from an engineering side of things, and I probably don’t have a good understanding or appreciation for art (or a lot of budget or space to spend on purely artistic objects), but when you have a dealy-bob and you really need a widget holding bracket for it, 3D printing is perfect for that.

Thanks for the insight into this popular product, Tom. We’re excited to see what else you come up with in the future!

 

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

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

3D printed dollhouse mini house

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

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

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

3D printed dollhouse modern mini house living room

Living room by Megan Hornbecker

Modern mini house 3D printed dollhouse kitchen

Kitchen by Megan Hornbecker

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

3D printed dollhouse mini house shed toolbox

Shed by Carol Mitcheson

3D printed dollhouse mini house living room

Living room by Carol Mitcheson

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

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

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

Love in 3D: From Wedding Contest Winners to Newlyweds

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

3D printed wedding rings

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

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

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

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

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

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

3D printed wedding favors neckalce

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

3D printed wedding favors cufflinks groomsmet

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

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

3D printed wedding cake topper

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

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

wedding 3D printed

Bastiaan + Alicia Ekeler

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

 

2014 in Review: Shapeways Community 3D Printing Stories

What was your 2014 3D Printing Highlight? There are so many great Shapeways stories to tell from 2014, the team here has had a hard time narrowing it down for our Year in Review. Really, what matters to us is what mattered to you! We asked the community what their 3D Printing highlights of 2014 were, and here are some of your great responses:

Inspiring Quotes from Top Shop Owners:

The entrepreneurial mind behind Joy Complex and 3D RacetracksJeremy Burnich, saw his business grow and had “sales every month!”

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He also noted, Small Business Bootcamp was definitely a highlight for me personally. Was amazing to be in a room with so much talent and knowledge in one place. The HP color printing announcement was pretty exciting. Looking forward to seeing how that pans out for HP and Shapeways.”

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Corretta Singer, who lives in Jamaica but somehow managed to meet up with us in London on our UK roadshow and in New York City also agreed, “Shapeways Small Business Bootcamp was Awesome.” Corretta is the Queen of the Caribbean as the regions top Shop Owner and as an island hopping 3D evangelist and educator.

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For Shop Owner and beloved forum moderator Stony Smith, it was hitting an important Shop milestone “September 5th, 2014: 5000th unit sold.” Full steam ahead, Stony!

Fernando Sosa, a Shapie veteran, launched a new Shop and brand this year, Political Sculptor. He confirmed 2014 was “the birth of 3D Printed Political Satire,” all starting with his hilarious Chris Christie Bridgegate Sculpt.

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Gil Rivera, a rising Shapeways star said “being recognized by the white house! also being selected as a Shapeways “designer for hire!” were his Shapeways highlights. Some of ours too, Gill!

Quotes From and About the Wonderful Maker Community:

I am a closet anatomy nerd and when I read Rachel Case’s tweet it gave me chills. Her highlight was “making custom brain jewelry for my neuroscientist wife — from an MRI scan of her brain!” 

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Rachel was so inspired by the experience, she even opened up a Shop! Good thing Valentines day is on the way (hint hint, babe).

For many, it’s about 2014 was the year they introduced their friends to Shapeways. Shapie legend Ryan Kittleson was one such example, “A lot of my friends already know how to do 3D modeling, so it was only natural that they get involved with printing their work on shapeways.” Also, he added, “getting that Shapeways package in the mail is like Christmas day any time of the year!” Much Agree, Ryan.

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Mark Greenwood, an Englishmen and avid coffee drinker needed a serious solution when the bracket that holds the milk in his refrigerator broke. His highlight was “designing and 3D printing the bracket to help keep milk in the fridge!” An ingenious Shapeways hack, Mark, nice work. He was even kind enough to blog about the experience. 

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Chic Testimonials from the Front Lines of Digitally Fabricated Fashion:

For Alexis Walsh, her 2014 3D Printing Highlight was “exhibiting the SPIRE DRESS at 3D Printshow London and 3D Printshow Paris. Designed by me & @rossleonardy

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Alexis and Ross used our White Strong and Flexible Plastic and made the dress out of 400 individual pieces!

Designed by Isis was most excited by “the birth of my lily bracelet” this year. We can see why!

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Quotes About the Gift of Giving Custom, Personal Gifts Through 3D Printing:

Many of you know the magic of giving a 3D Printed gift and this time of year we’re lucky enough to hear many of them. This one from Thom May was particularly fun. “I made this figurine of my niece and gave it to my sister for xmas. seemed like a hit!” We were also happy to hear that appreciates the quality, it came out great! the printed steel is so cool: definitely anxious to try more!”

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One of my favorites comes from Tommy Serrien on Twitter, who said that his highlight was “the face of my girlfriend when i gave her these one of a kind 3D Printed earrings! :-) We know the feeling, Tommy!

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What was your 3D Printing Highlight of 2014? Share yours in the comments here or with us on twitter @shapeways for a chance to be featured on an upcoming blog.

Customized Pet Gifts for Animal Lovers

How many times have you heard “I want a pony!”? Well now, you can give one! Whether you’re a dog or cat (or bunny, pony, or hamster) person, we can all agree: pets are family members. We adore their companionship and love. Each and every pet is unique in their own way, so it’s no surprise to hear that some awesome people have come up with some apps to help customize a figurine of your pet, or products for your furry friend! Check out some of our favorites below.

Cuddle Clones
Cuddle Clones is a great site that lets you create your very own customized versions of your pets! Simply send in a photo of your favorite pet(s) and Cuddle Clones will make a full-colored figurine with a personlized base! Such a wonderful way to honor your favorite furry family members.

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Pupworkshop
Pupworkshop is a fun app that lets you customize your pup in a different way. Choose from colors, ears, eyes, snouts, tails, and even spots! The final product is a cute little animated pup who requires no puppy training!

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If you’re an animal lover in general, we’ve got plenty of 3D printed animals. Jewelry, home decor, accessories and more!

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Top row: NODE – Tiger Pendant by jbfontes, Dragonfly Pendant with Honeycomb Wings by markbenson, Hunting Cat by RobTorres. Middle row: Wired Life Stag by Dotsan, Mini Tiger Head by SimonStrauss. Bottom row: Morton the Elephant by HiLobster, Goldfish Pendant by alaswadi, Owl Pendant by echuckjackson.

Check out our apps page for more fun creations, and browse shops from the designers above more more great products! Happy shopping!

 

 

Create Your Own 3D Printed Fantasy Football Trophy

We are excited to introduce a new 3D printing creator app to the community designed by our own Andrew Thomas as a collaboration with Mixeelabs.com. It’s a Fantasy Football Trophy Creator app!

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With this product, you can give a football (American Football) enthusiast or the champion of your Fantasy league something customized this season, or just a friend who loves football something customized this season.

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Andrew Thomas designed this product to bring 3D Printing to the world of sports and Fantasy Football. You can choose from different logos (designed by Sue Kwong) or even upload your own graphic or logo. Create a personally branded mini-Football Helmet.

This product is made with 3D Printed Full Color Sandstone which feels like unglazed ceramics. The surface texture is slightly sandy, like fine dry coral or sandstone.

To check it out:

Head to https://www.mixeelabs.com/creator/fantasy-football-trophy

Pick from present logos or upload your own add your own text to the side and on the face guard.

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This product is 3.5 x 3.5 x 4 inches (89 x 89 x 102 mm)

What type of future creators apps would you like to see in the future that utilizes Shapeways 3D printing? Let us know in a comment below!

Target Opens Up Shapeways Shop With Customizable, Exclusive 3D Printed Gifts for Your Holiday

 

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We’re excited to announce today that Target is the first major retailer to embark on 3D printing with Shapeways, debuting an exclusive holiday collection of customizable charms, rings and ornaments in the Target Shapeways Shop.

Shapeways and Target share a philosophy of making great design available for all, whether you know how to 3D model or prefer to tweak and tinker. You can choose from over 150 exclusive, one-of-a-kind products created by Target’s design team. The best part? You can personalize your product, from the material to color to engraving. The keepsakes can be shipped anywhere in the U.S. and can be purchased for as low as $7.99, so you can find and create the perfect gift at any price point.

This partnership marks big steps for the 3D printing industry, helping people see the amazing benefits of technology and create more easily:

  • Target’s products can be easily customized, making getting what you want even easier. Like other customization and DIY tools we offer, this marks a big step in giving everyone the ability to design their own product.
  • 3D printing is proving to be a viable option for product development across all stages, for independent designers to larger teams. Moving beyond prototyping, the Target at Shapeways Shop features finished 3D printed products in materials including Steel and Silver.
  • Target’s designs are being displayed side by side with those of our vibrant community. This highlights just how talented our community is and the amazing products that are made every single day through 3D printing.

In order to create customizable products, Target is using ShapeJS, a developer tool we launched earlier this year that makes adding your personal touch to products even easier. Using this technology, Target enables you to “be the designer,” truly styling products without having to open up CAD. If you’re interested in using ShapeJS to customize products, try it out here.

Our goal has always been to make 3D printing more accessible and affordable, and we’re thrilled to partner with Target to make this possible for more people this holiday season.

Getting Personal with Men’s Accessories

Check out this fun video for a few examples of products you can customize with your own personal touch!

Have some fun with the products you saw in the video.

Micro car - Micro car with open doors and turning wheels by DavidSun is not, in fact, a customizable product. It does, however, print with moving wheels and doors that can open and close, which is just as neat.

Add iPhone 4s Card Case by QuentinT

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This phone case is customizable in two ways! Add your name or text. Take it to the next level with a fun DIY project by painting your case.

YO, URCustom cufflinks by byShapeways 

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Cufflinks are such a great item to personalize. For men’s accessories, you can’t get much custom than this!

PersonalCustom bottle opener by MarcHeusdens. Because who doesn’t want their very own bottle opener?

PersonalMessage Cuff by designerica

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Steel makes for great men’s jewelry, with a more sturdy and rugged look. A bracelet with some custom text is the perfect gift for the guys who like to accessorize.

TCustom wax seal 3/4″ by Lightbringerouch Sheriffs Star (6 point) Pet tag/Pendant/Key fob by BluelinegeckoWI, THCufflinks Personalized with Your Initials by michiel_willemse

3DName night light by Heng

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Super fun idea, specifically great for 3D printing. Our White Strong & Flexible plastic is perfect for creating hollow objects that are transformed with just a few lights. Make it special for the holidays, or a unique nightlight for your kid’s bedroom.

P, RKeychain with letter by Astraris. Brag about your 3D print while reaching for your keychain; you’ll never mistake your keys again!

INTiPhone Charger Name Tag by kenan_godfrey

charger

We all have those friends who “borrow” our chargers. Never worry about a stolen or misplaced charger again, thanks this handy sleeve!

INGKey Sleeve by Daphne. You have keys to your house, your friend’s house, your car, mail, work, and probably a few that you’ve forgotten what they’re for. Keep organized with a key sleeve that tells you which one is which!

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There are so many ways 3D printing can help you create products just for you. The Shapeways marketplace is full of creative minds who are making products easy for you to customize with the click of a button. Check out our DIY page for more ideas of how to get what you really want.

Hire a 3D Modeler & Designer: The Three C’s

Getting in the DIY spirit and want to hire a designer to bring your project to life? You’ve seen the directory of Designers for Hire, read about a designer you like, and now you’re ready to get started. Even if you’ve never hired a designer before, keeping the three C’s in mind is a good guide: Clarity, Communication and Cost.

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Clarity

Knowing what you want is half the project! The more specific you can be, the better chance you will get exactly what you want.

When talking about your idea, sketches, photos, Pinterest boards, magazine clippings and even screenshots of elements you like are all really helpful in communicating what you like. Photos are especially useful whether it be similar items that represent your idea or elements of different objects that you would like to incorporate.

It also helps to be specific about your preferred style, finishing touches and how your completed product will be used. If you know what material you would like the finished product to be made it, that helps immensely, as the 3D printing guidelines vary between materials and may influence the design itself.

If you’re still in the ‘concept’ phase (say if you are designing a new functional product) and are seeking project guidance or inspiration, be sure to choose a designer who has those skills listed as their specialty.

Designers are creative problem solvers. Once you have given them a clear outline of your requirements, let them do their creative thing and come up with creative solutions.

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Communication

Designers are experts in bringing ideas to life, and most of this magic happens through effective communication. Throughout the creation process, it’s important to communicate openly and frequently with your designer to ensure that they have a clear understanding of what you want, and you know their schedule. They should be asking you just as many questions are you are listing specifics.

Throughout the process, be honest but polite. If your designer is making something that isn’t going in the direction you were imagining, let them know. Many designers are more than happy to modify their designs as long as they have clear direction. I recommend highlighting what you liked (the more specific the better) and exactly what they need to improve on. Don’t just say “I don’t like the hard edges”. Explain why: “The hard edges make it feel minimalist and modern, I am looking for a romantic, organic feel”. The latter statement is much more useful.

In the end, designers like being able to use their own creative judgment to improve ideas. So while it is important to be specific, leave them some space to work their magic to delight you.

Depending on your project, it may be a good idea to formalize your agreement in writing. This digital contract should include all of the specific details that you and the designer agreed upon, including timing and pricing.

The process of bringing an idea to life

 

Cost

Which brings us to the last and most important point: Money. Two things to keep in mind here are how much you are willing to spend and understanding the design process.

Part of having clarity around your idea is knowing how much are you comfortable spending. Three things to consider may help you get an estimate beforehand:

1. Finished product or 3D file? Do you want just a 3D printable file that you will upload and order yourself? Or do you want a finished item? Material cost comes into play here – if you want a silver ring, part of the cost will be made up of the silver itself, and part for the design.

2. Time and labor. Larger or more detailed projects can sometimes take more time to complete, and therefore cost more.

3. One of a kind design. If this is a one of a kind item, it’s not something that you could buy in a store even if you wanted to, so the price may be a little higher than you would expect. If you are working on a brand new product, it’s worth investing in a good design. There is really no way to put a price on how incredible it is to hold something that you imagined, so keep that in mind!

4. Similar items.To get a sense of the general cost of an item before you hire a designer, look for similar items and get a sense of the price. For instance, if you want to make a piece of jewelry, browse our jewelry category section to find a handful of custom items that are of a similar size and scope. The average cost of those items is often a good starting point for you to discuss your budget with a designer.

It also helps to understand the process. Designing is a process that takes time and effort. You may not be aware of all of the “behind the scenes” work that takes place including creative brainstorming, sketching, drafts, revisions and renders. Asking your designer about the process involved in making your specific idea will help you understand the level of work involved.

Communication is key here as well! Talk to your designer as some charge by the hour, some charge by project and the complexity of your design will influence this. The more detail you can give them, the better they are able to estimate a price for you.

3D printing gives us the unique ability to make custom things to order, helping you get exactly what you want, and not just what is available. While we at Shapeways do what we can to give access to the best materials at the lowest prices, ultimately the design is what sets a product apart, and this is where the skill lies. Translating an idea into a physical object is a designers skill, and this alchemy is worth paying for!

How you work with a designer comes down to your project but keeping in mind the Three C’s should help you minimize stress and get exactly what you want. Have you hired a designer on Shapeways? Tell us about it in the comments! If you are a designer, what other tips would you offer for potential clients?

Happy creating!

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

How 3D Printing Is Revolutionizing Surgery

One of the most-common ways professionals use 3D printing is as a method to create rapid prototypes of potential products. But the ability to produce quick, affordable, and precise models can have a much bigger impact than getting the fit of an iPhone case just right. Over the last year, doctors have started using 3D-printed body-part replicas to help them prepare for complicated surgeries that they might not have otherwise been able to perform.

For doctors, capturing 3D models of surgical sites is already part of normal medical-imaging procedures, but printing those images allows doctors to see the sites with more clarity than ever before. The typical treatment for kidney cancer, of which there are 64,000 new cases in the U.S. each year, is surgery. The procedure is extremely delicate and must be completed quickly. Earlier this year, a team of doctors at Kobe University in Japan converted CT (computer tomography) scans of tumor-containing kidneys into 3D-print-ready models. Practicing on 3D models has allowed doctors to more-precisely target the affected areas, and cut the time that they must restrict blood flow from 22 minutes down to 8. As of April, the team had produced individualized scale kidney models for ten patients.

In more extreme cases, practicing on scale 3D models gives doctors the confidence necessary to operate on otherwise inoperable tumors. Surgeons at the Hospital Sant Joan de Deu in Barcelona, Spain had been through two failed attempts to remove a child’s tumor before they decided to try working with a 3D-printed likeness of the tumor. The patient has a common childhood cancer called neuroblastoma, which forms in nerve cells in the adrenal glands (which sit above the kidneys), chest, spine, and neck.

Doctors used a multi-material 3D printer to produce two models: a replica of the tumor with surrounding organs and a version of the patient’s abdomen without the tumor, so they could see what he should look like after a successful surgery. The team practiced on the 3D model for about a week-and-a-half before successfully removing the tumor. The hospital has since commissioned 3D models for two more patients.

Credit: Hospital Sant Joan de Deu

Credit: Hospital Sant Joan de Deu

In some instances, 3D prints can offer surgeons insight that might change their surgical plans for the better. Cardiologists at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center study and treat congenital heart disease in children. After 3D printing a model of a three-year-old patient’s heart last July, doctors Matthew Bramlet and Karl Welke realized that they could perform a surgery that would leave the child with two ventricles (the main chambers of the heart), while the previous plan would have left him with only one. According to Welke, traditional imaging techniques, including MRIs and echocardiograms, give doctors only vague shadows of what the heart looks like; 3D printing, on the other hand, presents a level of detail of that’s much closer to what doctors will actually encounter in the operating room.

Bramlet’s ultimate goal is to build a Library of Hearts that other doctors can use as a reference for congenital heart defects. He’s asking for pre- and post-op CT scans and MRIs of defects, which he will upload into a database of 3D-print-ready models. Other cardiologists with access to a 3D printer (ahem, or a 3D printing marketplace like Shapeways) can reproduce them.

3D Printed Bone Model

Right now, most of these hospital-based 3D prints are pricey and/or require partnership with another technical institution to complete. The neuroblastoma team in Barcelona worked with Polytechnic University of Catalonia. Meanwhile, making a 3D-printed at Kobe University can add as much as $1,500 to costs. So ingenuitive doctors are turning to more-affordable DIY methods to replicate necessary body parts. Mark Frame, a doctor in Glasgow, used freely available 3D modeling software to convert CT scans of a patient’s fractured bone into a print-ready model. He uploaded his design to Shapeways and received a scale model of the forearm bone within a week and for only £77 (about $132). A scale model would have otherwise cost him around $1,200.

Often doctors are unable to experiment with new techniques freely, as time, cost, and availability work against them. But the increased accessibility of 3D printing through services like Shapeways is removing all of those barriers in one fell swoop, giving practitioners—and their patients—chances they’ve never had before.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Creators: Announcing Our Collaboration with Google on Made with Code to Inspire Millions of Girls to Code & Create

I’ve been coding since I was 13 years old. I’d spend hours taking apart computers, putting them back together, and creating worlds of my own. Technology has not only impacted the way I solve problems, it’s framed the way I view the world. First with coding, and later with 3D printing, I found that my imagination was my only limitation.

Today, I’m thrilled to share that Shapeways is collaborating with Google on Made with Code to inspire girls to code. Our goal has always been to give everyone access to the best technology in 3D printing, and we’re now investing in that access for girls — a group that has historically been underrepresented in science and technology.

Made with Code offers fun and simple projects aimed at helping girls take the first step in learning how to code. The premier project of the initiative is a coding project based on Blockly, Google’s visual programming editor, in which girls can create a custom bracelet that we will 3D print in our New York City factory using EOS printers.

Made with Code and Shapeways

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