Category Archives: Customization

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.

sammy

 

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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!

animals

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

lightgip

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?

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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!
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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!
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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).
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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?
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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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DIY With Raspberry Pi And 3D Printing

Posted by in Customization
Today we’ll be showcasing some creative ways people in the Shapeways community are using Raspberry Pi with 3D printing. Raspberry Pi is a small and capable mini computer that can fit in the palm of your hands. The Raspberry Pi is essentially a caseless computer board which serves as a base where you can construct your own DIY computer from parts like the keyboard and USB outlets, to configuring its operating system.

For makers, designers, and tech enthusiast; Raspberry Pi is a way to create creative DIY projects. Raspberry Pi can serve as a customizable general purpose computer, media device, or even as part of robotics / electronic experiments. Watch this video to see more on what you can do with Raspberry Pi.

If you own a Raspberry Pi we’ve got some awesome 3D printed cases for them. Here are a few Raspberry Pi inspired 3D prints from our community.

Pi Dish by duckandflea

 

 

Raspberry Pi: Standard Case by FreakyShape

Raspberry Pi cases by pilarian

For more inspiration on how people in the community are using Raspberry Pi here’s a wonderful example of how a father built a custom rig and scanner to do a 3D scan of his son using raspberry pi, then sent the 3D file to be 3D printed with Shapeways. You can read about his story on Instructables here.

Do you have a project that you’ve done with Raspberry Pi or with 3D printing? Share them with us by tweeting @Shapeways using the hashtag #Pi3D with a photo or link to your creation and we can showcase them to our community!


 

2013 Shapeways 3D Printing Year in Review

Each year at Shapeways, we like to do a roundup of amazing accomplishments in the rapidly evolving 3D Printing world, often powered by your innovations and creativity. We’ve been digging in and must admit, 2013 was quite the year!

To date, we’ve 3D Printed 2.2 million products — that’s 61,000 boxes worth of Tic Tacs! We are so proud to have 13,500 Shapeways shops…and counting (a growth of 75% from 2012). And the number of people creating products on Shapeways has doubled in the past year.

Shapeways 2013 3D Printing Year in Review in Numbers

The 3D printing industry as a whole has also experienced incredible growth. We’re seeing more retailers, like our friends at UPS, offer in-store 3D printing. The price of 3D printers for the home and office continues to drop. And 3D printing is constantly making stock market headlines.

Basically, this incredible technology is shaping industries far and wide—from healthcare and electronics to aerospace and home construction. And we’ll continue to see this impact in the coming years.

We couldn’t make such strides without wildly imaginative, creative, thoughtful, and fearless people like you, our community, who continue to upload nearly 100,000 new products per month. You help us push the limits of what’s possible to 3D Print, creating products from gorgeous to quirky to functional, and continue to wow us with how you use new materials.

It’s a beautiful world when anyone can create and get what they want, not just what’s available in stores.

Check out our Slideshare for 3D printing trends, stats & more of our exciting year in review.


 

 

MYMO: The Beautiful Pendant Generator Built on the Shapeways API

Did you know Shapeways has an API? New companies are forming around it everyday!

MYMO is a great recent example of Shop Owners taking advantage of the API. I sat down with them at their office to discuss the launch of their jewelry app, MYMO, that lets users combine any two letters or numbers in an elegant form factor. Our Alan Hudson helped them set it up, has worked with them a lot. He even connected them to a geometry generator. Rex, their developer, built MYMO off the Shapeways API which let him leverage his existing coding database.

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Nervous System Releases ‘Kinematics’ Jewelry Customization Apps (VIDEO)

Nervous System have just released a new Kinematics jewelry range coupled with a customization app to create unique 3D printed jewelry based on interlocking components. While this is a beautifully simple interface to create customized 3D printed jewelry, it is the potential for draping and compression to fit a large design within a small 3D printer build size when using a process such as Shapeways Selective Laser Sintering that really makes this an impressive application for 3D printing.

Kinematics is a system for 4D printing that creates complex, foldable forms composed of articulated modules.

The system provides a way to turn any three-dimensional shape into a flexible structure using 3D printing. Practically, Kinematics allows us to take large objects and compress them down for 3D printing through simulation. It also enables the production of intricately patterned wearables that conform flexibly to the body. Kinematics produces designs composed of 10’s to 1000’s of unique components that interlock to construct dynamic, mechanical structures.

Each component is rigid, but in aggregate they behave as a continuous fabric. Though made of many distinct pieces, these designs require no assembly. Instead the hinge mechanisms are 3D printed in-place and work straight out of the machine.

Above for example, you see a full scale dress design that would be far too large to fit into even our largest printer that can take parts up to 650x350x550mm in Nylon.  By converting the structure into a series of self folding connections the entire dress could be compressed down to the smallest possible form (whilst maintaining enough distance so parts do not sinter together) and then be 3D printed in our EOS slective laser sintering 3D printer in one entire print.  We would then unfurl the dress from the print build, air blast the excess Nylon powder out of the dress and it would be ready to wear.

This project evolved out of a collaboration with Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group which challenged Nervous System to create in-person customization experiences for low cost 3D printers. The genesis of the project is discussed at length in The Making of Kinematics post on the Nervous System blog.

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