Category Archives: 3D Printer

Shapeways receives the first HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D Printer!

Posted by in 3D Printer

Today we’re super excited to announce a massive step in a partnership that will help revolutionize the way the world looks at product design and digital manufacturing. We have installed the new HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer at our factory in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

Why are we excited? Back in 2014 we learned from Hewlett Packard, a company that holds true to a long history of deep innovation, that they were working on a new 3D printer. They told us that the new machine would be built for finished manufacturing (not only prototyping), would deliver great quality, would be 10x faster than existing machines and deliver parts at greatly reduced cost.  We know that better quality, lead times of 1 or 2 days and lower prices are exactly what the market needs.

That is why, in October that same year, we announced a partnership with Hewlett Packard.  This collaboration will enable both Shapeways and HP to work side-by-side to take 3D printing and digital manufacturing to a new level, with the official introduction of their new HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D Printing System.

During the last year and a half, teams at both HP and Shapeways have been working together forging the next milestone, which we are celebrating today; the announcement of this new printer by HP at RAPID and it’s first installation in our Eindhoven factory.

Being the first to take delivery of a prototype on this new platform in our Eindhoven factory, will enable a constant stream of information and feedback between HP and Shapeways.  This work will be focused on making sure the quality, speed, and experience is second to none.  (Seen here with Virginia Palacio from HP with Stefan Rink, our VP of Manufacturing)

In the early stages of testing, we will keep you posted on progress and hope to start using the machine to print your parts soon.

What’s so special about this new platform? Everything. Addressing 340 million 3D pixels or voxels per second, versus one point at a time means that the printer can bring high-quality nylon parts to life up to 10x faster than existing machines, at a much lower cost. This increase in speed could equate to the ability to move from same-week shipping to next day delivery. But that’s not all; Although this revolutionary system is rolling out with one color: Black nylon, over time the range of colors will dramatically increase, enabling the ability to include full-color plastic printing.  Yes, full-color plastic, at a cost potentially lower than current dyed nylons.




Halloween 3D Printing Contest

Hey Blenderheads, have we got a (trick or) treat for you!

Design your best 3D printable JACK-O-LANTERN and enter it into the Halloween 3D Modeling and Printing Contest to win $1,000 worth of prizes!  We’re thrilled to work with our friends at CG Cookie and Sketchfab to bring you these prizes and support your spooktacular creations.

We encourage you to get wild with your creations – fun, scary, cute, we can’t wait to see it all. The First Place winner will receive $100 in 3D printing credit with Shapeways, your design 3D printed in orange strong and flexible plastic ($50 value), a one year subscription to Sketchfab Pro ($120 value) + a Sketchfab T-shirt, Cardboard VR kit ($25 value) and a one year subscription to CG Cookie Citizen ($172 value)!

You have until Halloween night (October 31st, at 11:59pm) to submit your entry. Don’t miss out! Not a Blenderhead? You’re still eligible! See the full contest details and submit your entry here.


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

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


Photo courtesy of SpaceX

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

Video courtesy of

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

Video courtesy of SpaceX

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

ISS Prize

Screen Shots here and below courtesy of

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

Shapeways prints

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

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

Astronaut Doug Wheelock explains further:

Video courtesy of

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

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


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

To infinity… and 3D Printing beyond Earth!



Made In Space and SpaceX to Deliver First 3D Printer to Space

Imagine… being able to design tools for astronauts in outer space, that could be printed in space, using materials found right there, out in the galaxy. Sound like the start of next Armageddon-esk blockbuster? Well, it’s not.


Launching today, is SpaceX CRS-4, another historic Dragon spacecraft on a mission to the International Space Station; but this time, it carries more than supplies and moustronauts. This spacecraft is taking a specially tested, groundbreaking new 3D Printer designed by the our friends at Made In Space, to the International Space Station for it’s first in-space testing. This marks the start of a new era, the first step in bringing on-demand additive manufacturing to outer space.


There are many challenges when designing for printing in 3D. For starters, there’s nothing to hold anything material in microgravity. Even after solving the gravity dilemma, the printer has to get off the ground, and endure 9G’s of force during launch. Ensuring precision with an extruder stabilized by no gravitational force was a problem our friends at Made In Space were committed to solving. After four years of extensive testing on microgravity flights and research at their NASA Ames office, their dream of 3D Printing of space is now being realized. You can watch the this historic moment live during the wee hours of the morning, a sleep sacrifice I’m personally more than willing to make.

After this initial round of tests, including the printing of 21 demonstration parts, Made In Space looks to recycle broken tools, space waste, and even regolith (aka moon dust) as material for the printer. The fact that this space man could be made of the moon dust we first saw Buzz Aldrin’s footprint in someday, quite soon, is absolutely mind blowing.

Astronaute Wireframe by Vidal Design

Oh, and about those Moustronauts. SpaceX will also carry 20 mice that will live on the ISS for 6 months, approximately a quarter of their lifetime, allowing scientists to study the effects of prolonged zero gravity exposure. This data can then be extrapolated out to apply to human life and weightlessness tolerances. Currently, astronauts spend six months in space at a time, missions to mars could take two years or more. The only way to see the effects of prolonged space travel, is to get help from our furry rodent friends. I can’t help but wonder, if things get out of control, will they have to 3D Print mousetraps?

All jokes aside, what is the biggest challenge you see with 3D Printing tools in space? What tools do you want to design for astronauts?


The Tribot – 3D Printer, CNC Milling and Injection Molding All in One Machine

Posted by in 3D Printer

It squirts, it cuts, it dices.  The Tribot by Luminar is trying to be the ultimate machine to take your idea from prototype to product using all the super powers required for each step in the manufacturing process.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 4.46.10 PM

The Tribot will retail at $9,950 in early 2015 but Kickstarter backers can back the progress for $7,700 with 8 units going pre-kickstarter (that’s a new thing) for only $5,000. While this may not be the finest resolution 3D printer on the market, the largest CNC milling bed or the type of injection molding rig capable of churning out tens of thousands of injection molded parts with multiple part molds and shut off faces, the ability to make a small run of a simple part in your workshop is something that desktop 3D printers cannot yet achieve.

The Tribot is not being launched by the usual geek/hipster trio that has become the default demographic for launching 3D printers on Kickstarter, the Tribot is being developed by a group of old school engineers and business types with years of experience with machines for making things.

What would you make with the 3DP, CNC and Injection molding combo?

Your Next Tattoo Made with a 3D Printer

Posted by in 3D Printer, Art, DIY, Video

What better use of the computer controlled x y motors of a 3D printer than to give yourself a tattoo.  Tattooing straight lines and perfect circles are super hard so the enigmatic crew of Appropriate Audiences have solved that problem by attaching a tattoo machine to their 3D printer to give the perfect circle tattoo (not the band logo).

3d print a tattoo

This should be listed under ‘do not try this at home’ as many territories have different laws on who and how to you can get tattooed.  To follow their process so you can see exactly how not to try this at home, Pierre Emm and friends have shared their how (not) to on Instructables.

SnowWhite a Low (ish) Priced ‘Cold’ SLS 3D Printer Currently in Development in Italy

The SLS 3D printer market is looking to be shaken up with yet another (relatively) low price SLS 3D printer currently in the research and development stage in Italy.  The SnowWhite is a cold SLS 3D printer by Sharebot that they are getting ready to unveil at the London 3D Printshow.


Looking at the images they are still early on in the process, using a round piston as a print bed (round pistons are easier, ask Andreas Bastian with his Open SLS project) and a fairly small build area.  With the industrial 3D printers Shapeways uses for SLS 3D printing made by EOS, we heat the Nylon powder to just below melting point, then the laser raises the temperature only slightly to sinter the material from powder to solid.  Sintering the Nylon without pre-heating may cause greater thermal shock to the parts, and increase the power required of the laser, but it may also make it faster to cool down which could be a huge advantage to getting prototypes out faster.


To get some insight from someone who has actually experimented with ‘cold SLS’ I asked Andreas Bastian to see if he could see an advantage over ‘pre-heated’ SLS.

I would be hard-pressed to list the performance advantages of cold SLS– while it saves on energy and BOM cost, the thermal gradient the material is subjected to is significantly larger (possibly leading to material degradation) and the curling/warping due to the massive thermal contractions of the material require support (really restraint) structures.  It’s the heated chamber in SLS that allows such freedom of form and geometry– an unheated SLS machine will have nearly all the same geometry constraints as an FDM machine, including the necessity of adhering the print to a build surface.  That being said, support/restraint structures for SLS are new territory and there may be viable options there.  As many of the low-cost FDM machines have demonstrated, it may not be necessary to fully replicate the process used at the industry level (heated chambers).  That being said, I would like to see some ASTM D638 tensile testing data before I print any functional parts on their system.

Sharebot are pitching the SnowWhite SLS 3D printer to sell for under $26,000 USD when it hits the market to join the Ice 1 & Ice 9 by Norge Systems  in the first wave of relatively low cost SLS 3D printers that may spread in a similar manner as FDM 3D printers have over the past 4 years.

The First Desktop SLS 3D Printer Now on Kickstarter

We have seen many FDM 3D Printers, a couple of SLA and even a few DLP 3D printers launch on Kickstarter, now the first of the much awaited SLS machines are starting to test the ravenous market for 3D printers.

DIY SLS 3D Printer on Kickstarter

SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) is the core technology behind our 3D Printed Nylon (white strong & flexible) 3D printing at Shapeways, one of our most popular materials.  The SLS process is by far the most versatile as the powder surrounding a sintered part acts as support material, so you can make complex, interlocking parts, with overhanging parts, cantilevers, holes in multiple directions, and hinged parts fully assembled, the excess powder is then brushed and blown away to reveal the part.  No nasty support material or structures to deal with.  In short, it is an incredibly versatile process.

The process is called Sintering, because the layer of powder is heated up to just below melting point, the laser then follows and melts the powder turning it into a solid, without it going to liquid form first.  This helps to control the material warpage and thermal shock so the 3D prints are accurate and strong.

The Ice 1 & Ice 9 by Norge Systems may be the first SLS 3D printer available at a price that is affordable for a small design firm at just over $8,000 USD at current exchange rates for the smaller Ice 1 on Kickstarter which has a Build volume: 200x200x250 mm Layer thickness: 0.1 – 0.15mm.  Not Shabby.  The Ice 9 promises a Build volume: 300x300x450 mm at a price point closer to $35,000 USD.

Ice9, the first low budget 3D SLS printer! from Norge Ltd on Vimeo.

To temper excitement, (oh, and I am VERY excited) the units are proposed to ship in December 2015 which is quite a wait if you have dropped $8,000 as a backer, coupled with the tendency for hardware on Kickstarter to ship late.  The video shows the printer in action, but does not show the printed part as traced by the laser, they do show a different 3D printed part being pulled from the powder so perhaps the machine is not quite fully functional yet.

If you have the cash and patience I would really love to see this unit hit the market so please do support this project and the designers behind it.  Meanwhile there seems to be another play flirting with the desktop (ok, maybe a little big for your actual desk) market with an eerily similar logo to Norge. The videos by Sintratec look to be a little further on in the machine development.

Keep your eyes peeled, either way, the SLS market is going to change, maybe not in the exact same way as the FDM 3D printer market, but it will change.

Announcing the Winners of the Prototype to Product Contest with Formlabs

We had a huge response to the Prototype to Product Contest we ran with our good friends at Formlabs. Entries ranging from highly detailed ZBrush sculpts through to complex, interlocking mechanical parts, architectural models to 3D printed fashion and jewelry,  through to the whimsically weird.  We even received a submission all the way from Gran Canaria (yes we had to google the location, and yes it is crazy remote).

Although we received nearly 300 designs, only one person will have a brand new Form 1+ 3D printer shipped to their door.  The judges deliberated against the criteria, there were was tension, there was joy, they argued long into the night.  The Formlabs team pumped some serious excel magic to tally the votes, Shawn Sims from NotCot cast his well trained eye over the entrants,  The Shapeways team checked that the designs would withstand the 3D printing test and together they deemed the winner of the grand prize to be…

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New Matter partners with Frog Design and Launches Desktop 3D Printer for Under Two-Hundred Dollars

Posted by in 3D Printer

Today, New Matter, launched their new and elegant desktop 3D Printer, MOD-t, on Indiegogo. There are a lot of Desktop 3D Printers on the market, and many companies and creatives have one for home iteration and leverage our million-dollar machines for the high-resolution, premium quality we ensure with our designs. New Matter’s entrance into the space with MOD-t caught my eye for a few reasons…

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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.

What Does the 3D Printer and the Synthesizer Have in Common

Posted by in 3D Printer, Design, Video

In a recent interview for Dezeen, architect, industrial designer and artist, Ron Arad stated that 3D Printing is abused by designers, in much the same way as musicians used synthesizers in the past.

“Synthesisers were abused completely and so is this technology we’re talking about” Ron Arad

Now while this statement may have have an element of truth, it is worth exploring the comparison in the context of Ron’s position in the design world, and what this concept opens up.

First, let’s compare the 3D printer and the synthesizer.

The first analogue synthesizers made it possible for one instrument to make a massive range of sounds. Professional musicians used these expensive synthesizers to emulate existing instruments in a recording studio and on stage, to broaden their palette of available sounds, whilst only needing to know how to play the keyboard, not strings, woodwind, brass, etc.  At the same time some more experimental musicians started to experiment with the synthesizers to make sounds that were otherwise impossible, tweaking resonant filters and using effects to make sounds that were unique to the synthesizer.

The first 3D Printers (or rapid prototyping machines) made it possible to make a massive range of shapes. Engineers and designers used these expensive 3D printers to emulate products quickly in their studios and workshops, to test parts before manufacturing.  For many years this remained the case, the 3D prints were expensive and only used to emulate other materials and processes.  

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China Builds Giant Laser 3D Printer While Foxconn Boss Calls 3D Printing a Gimmick

Posted by in 3D Printer, 3D Printing

The manufacturing landscape has changed massively in the past sixty years, evolving from hand crafted products to becoming one of the heavyweights of mass manufacturing nations churning out a large percentage of the products in the world today, from children’s toys to high tech devices.  Many of those high tech devices are manufactured by Foxconn using advanced technologies but according to Foxconn chief 3D printing is just a gimmick.

“3D printing is a gimmick,” Gou said. “If it really is that good, then I’ll write my surname ‘Gou’ backwards [from now on].”

Gou (or Oug as he will soon be known) goes on to state that the inability to 3D print multi materials and leather(?) is what he sees as a barrier to the mass adoption of 3D printing for manufacturing.  While that may be the case for industrial 3D printers now, research is currently being undertaken to make both multi material, (and leather) 3D printing a reality in the near future. Foxconn have been using 3D printing for the past 30 years though it was not stated in what capacity.

At the same time The Asian Manufacturing Association in mainland China announced its plans in May to invest 200 million yuan in building 3D printing manufacturing centres across the country and the Dalian University has built the world’s largest laser 3D printer while Panasonic are already using 3D printing as part of the process to manufacture consumer items such as their 3D TV (I know) and also plan to continue to use 3D printing in consumer products to shorten the manufacturing lead time while reducing the need stock of semi-finished products.

This on demand manufacturing, reducing the need for inventory and giving the ability to quickly iterate and improve a product is a massive advantage that Mr. Gou/Oug will soon adopt, or see his competitors in China and the rest of the world pass him by.  Multi-material 3D printing is a technical barrier that will be overcome, and perhaps surpassed with processes far more advanced such as self assembling materials that will make current mass manufacturing techniques look like Neolithic masonry. 

Gravity Defying 3D Printing Robot (Almost) Makes Objects Appear in Thin Air

Mataerial by Petr Novikov, Saša Joki?, Joris Laarman Studio and IAAC is a 3D printing robot that instead of building an object layer by layer, draws forms from any surface out into thin air.

Working in the same manner as the “3D printing pen” except instead of your shaky hand trying to make a recognizable shape from an ooze of hot plastic cooled by a fan, this process uses two thermosetting polymers which set when combined by a precision robot actually 3D Printing in space.  The team also state that CMYK colors can/could be combined in the same manner to create full color 3D printing using the same method.  The same process could of course be used at a much smaller scale and theoretically multiple robots could 3D print different materials simultaneously onto any surface such as a conductive material and a non conductive material to create electrical pathways.  This is definitely a technology to watch and hopefully their patent application is not so restrictive as to restrict its potential.   

Mataerial is the result of the collaborative research between Petr Novikov, Saša Joki? from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) and Joris Laarman Studio. IAAC tutors representing Open Thesis Fabrication Program provided their advice and professional expertise. During the course of the research we developed a brand new digital fabrication method and a working prototype that can open a door to a number of practical applications. The method that we call Anti-gravity Object Modeling has a patent-pending status.

via Dezeen

The Lyman Filament Extruder May Drop the Cost of Desktop 3D Printing Forever

The Desktop Factory Competition launched in June 2012 challenged makers to design a cheap, open source method to turn plastic pellets (which sell for $10 kg) into filament suitable for a desktop 3D printer (that currently sells for $50 per kg).  83 Year old inventor Hugh Lyman developed the Lyman Filament Extruder II which for under $250 in parts can take standard plastic ABS pellets and squeeze them into filament.

The fact that this device is released as open source hardware means that others can modify and improve the mechanism to lower the cost and increase the efficiency, just as we have seen with the open source desktop 3D printers based on the RepRap.  

Not only will this result in a massive reduction in the cost of raw 3D printing media, but it is also a very small step away from being able to grind and reuse failed 3D prints to feed into fresh new filament, or perhaps adding conductive media into the hopper to create filament suitable for making basic elctronic circuitry, or any type of tweak to customize the base material.


The speed of innovation in the open source 3D printing world is making many of the large industrial 3D printer manufacturers appear to be moving in slow motion.  We are not seeing the same rate of innovation in machines nor materials and we at Shapeways would LOVE to have new materials to share, or have a way to drop the material cost by a factor of five or ten as we see made possible by innovations like the The Lyman Filament Extruder.  

Congratulations to Hugh Lyman who scored a giant $40,000 cheque for his invention and the respect of thousands of makers around the world.