Category Archives: 3D Modeling

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

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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.

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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?

 


 

Win 3D Printed Jewelry from Shapeways

Calling all jewelry lovers! We’ve teamed up with some of our wonderful designers to host not one but two contests this month.

Daily Facebook Giveaway:

We are giving away 10 amazing pieces of jewelry on Facebook! Visit our Facebook page each weekday through the end of September for a chance to win. We want to spread the word about our incredible designers, so all we’re asking is that you “like” our posts. Check back each day to see the newest giveaway!

Pin Your Favorite Jewelry on Pinterest:

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Our designers are getting ready for fall and the holidays, so we want to see what inspires you for the season. Pin your favorite fall jewelry from Shapeways and beyond for a chance to win $500 of your Shapeways picks!

How to enter:
  1. Create a Pinterest Board titled “Fall Finds”

  2. Pin at least 10 fall flavored accessories by September 30, 2014

    • At least 5 must be Shapeways products (your prize, if you win!)

    • Tag each pin #ShapewaysJewelryContest

Prizes:

Five (5) winners will be selected! Winners will receive their Shapeways pinned products, up to $500 in value. If you pin more than $500 of Shapeways products, we will work with you to select your prize products.

Don’t know where to start? Check out some of our favorite 3D printed jewelry in gold, sterling silver, stainless steel, and even colorful nylon plastic.

3D Printed Rings

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Repeat Offfender Logo Ring by RepeatOfffender. See more unique rings in Gold, Sterling Silver, or Gold Plated Brass.

3D Printed Pendants

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Silver Shell Pendant by aeron203. See more unique pendants in Sterling Silver, Gold Plated Brass, or Stainless Steel.

3D Printed Bracelets

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Lines Bracelet by geekprints. See more unique bracelets in Sterling Silver, Gold Plated Brass, Stainless Steel, or Nylon Plastic.

3D Printed Earrings

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Pinwheel Earrings by JoyComplex. See more unique 3D printed earrings.

3D Printed Cufflinks

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Lieutenant Bar Cufflinks by bluelinegecko. See more unique 3D printed cufflinks.

3D Printed Necklaces

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‘Flourish’ Pendant by seanmcharg. See more unique 3D printed necklaces.

The Fine Print: If your Shapeways products cannot be successfully 3D printed, we will work with you to select alternative prize products. Shapeways employees and their families are not eligible to win. Contests end September 30, 2014.


 

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Build Your 3D Printing Reputation

This is the first in our new series, Shop Owner Bootcamp: 10 week countdown to Black Friday. Every week we will be discussing advanced tips and tricks for optimizing your holiday sales. This week’s focus is reputation. 

Can you feel it? The churn of excitement that only comes with Holiday season and sales? We are just 10 weeks away from Black Friday and it’s time to whip our Shops into shape.

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Wired Life Stag by Dotsan

This week we’re focused on Reputation. Customer trust is the single most important factor when it come to repeat business. Knowing that they can get something unique, custom, and awesome from you that works as expected is crucial to the growth of your business. How do you build this customer trust? Back when I was on the UK roadshow, Vijay Paul of Dotsan, one of the most trusted designers on Shapeways, was kind enough to discuss reputation and tips for building it with us.  He’ll be guiding us all as we ramp up to holiday with our new Shop Owner Series.

Video produced by Stephen Greenwood, with help from yours truly

Consider this checklist your challenge for the week:

  • Print Your Models- Much of what we create has never been done before, and unexpected things happen to even the best designs from the best designers. The only way you can ensure form and function will be as you hope and expect for your customer, is to print it for yourself first. We know that with nearly 50 materials offered now, from plastic to platinum, that printing in all of them may not be an option. That’s okay, focus on ways you can paint the best picture for your customers. For example, even if its not possible to print a product of yours in a premium alloy like gold or silver, our stainless steel finishes can give the customer a very good idea of what to expect.
  • Document Your Process- One of the most compelling things about Shapeways is that every product has a story. Taking photos of the iterations that didn’t make the cut and illustrating how you’ve improved a design over time lets customers know you care about your products. It gives them the confidence that you’re not selling something you wouldn’t try yourself, and shows them your keen design eye.
  • Engage With Your Customers- Shapeways now shares the user name of a customer if they made the purchased logged in. Make a note to check back with them after the product should have shipped and see what they thought! Encourage them to post their photos in the comments on your product page, letting others browsing know how great your work is. Be open to updating your design based on their feedback, these early adopters can give you great UX advice!
  • Be Yourself- In your brand, in the products you design, in the product descriptions you write. This is your business, your baby, and the more it aligns with who you are, the more it will sing. Talk about your inspiration for the piece in the product description, upload photos to your personal and shop profile; and make the Shapeways Shopping experience personal!
  • Complete your Profile- Seeing a face and lineup of great products instills confidence in any consumer. Knowing who is behind the brand encourages people to try it out. Uploading your avatar is more critical than ever, now that your designer card shows up on every product page. Include your twitter handle so shoppers can chat with you easily on the go. Make a sweet shop banner. Invest in this now, so when traffic floods your shop around holiday, you like the reputable, fabulous business you are.

Next week we’ll be talking about the importance of photography and tagging in the getting your products discovered. Feel free to get a head start!

What help do you need to take your shop to the next level? Feel free to ask for guidance here or in our Marketing Your Shapeways Shop thread on our forums.


 

Extend the Function iPhone 6 Design Contest

Duann'sCase

Are you ready for your next design challenge? In honor of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6, and in our tradition of powering the coolest phone cases in the world, and our ability to bring some of the first cases to market, we’re launching “Extend the Function” an iPhone 6 case design challenge! The goal of the challenge is to extend the function of your phone or of your favorite app, maximizing the capabilities of the iPhone 6. 3D printing lets us combine form and function like never before and we cannot wait to see what Apple’s latest innovation inspires you to design.

Ethan Imboden

We have a special guest judge for this competition, Ethan Imboden, the Head of Venture Design at Frog. Ethan is a serial innovator and incredibly talented designer, we are all lucky to have him as our guest expert! He will be using his keen eye when evaluating the best combination of form and function in the winning case. The winner will receive $500 in Shapeways credit!

Duann, our resident designer of awesome things, has generously put together a basic case based on the specs apple released this weekend. You can find it in his shop on Shapeways and on tinkercad.

When designing functional products like iPhone cases it is really important to specify the right materials and wall thicknesses.  Shapeways Nylon (WSF) is by far the best material to use for your iPhone case.  Keep wall thickness and wires to at least 1mm thickness.  We have designed the case at 1.2mm so that you can engrave the design with a 0.5mm cut and still keep 0.7mm thick which is the minimum.  It is always best to add rounded edges so that the product is not sharp, and adding a fillet between perpendicular planes makes the connection much stronger, and will reduce the chance of the part cracking.

Enter the contest by uploading and tagging your model “SWiPhone6” on Shapeways. Share it with your friends using the hashtag #ShapewaysiPhone on social media for bonus points!

You have until Midnight on October 1st, here in the city that never sleeps. How are you going to step up your case design?

Terms and Conditions

  • No purchase necessary.
  • Maximum of five entries per person. By entering this competition, entrants will be deemed to have accepted and agreed to the conditions.
  • No cash or other alternative prizes available. The prize draw is not open to Shapeways employees or their families.
  • The promoters decision is final – in case of dispute, no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Winning entries will be documented and printed by Shapeways and may be used for promotional purposes.
  • Contestants models must be uploaded to Shapeways and tagged #SWiPhone6 to be considered.
  • Winners retain all IP as per Shapeways standard terms and conditions. Winners and winning entries may be required to take part in any publicity resulting from this competition.
  • The winner will be contacted by Monday 6th of October, 2014
  • Promoter: Shapeways, 419 Park Avenue South, #900, New York, NY, USA, 10016.




 

Announcing the 3D animation to 3D print contest

We are thrilled to team up with the 3D Modeling and Animation Group on Facebook to bring you an exciting opportunity to bring a unique character to life with 3D printing! If you are an animator who creates movies and video games, we invite you to join the 3D Animation to 3D Print contest to win Shapeways credit and the opportunity to hold any creation that you can imagine in your hand. The contest runs through October 15th and you can get all the details on the contest page.

Strong Dog by Bill Plympton from the Plymptoons shop on Shapeways

Strong Dog by Bill Plympton from the Plymptoons shop on Shapeways

To help launch the contest I talked with the 3D Modeling and Animation Group’s founder Justin Haynes about what inspired him to start the group and why, as an animator, he is excited about the possibilities of 3D printing.

Eleanor: What’s your background and how did you get into animation and what inspired you to start the group on Facebook? 

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 Justin Haynes: I live in the extremely small town of Greenview tucked away in the mountains of northern California. It is in the middle of beautiful Scott Valley in Siskiyou County. My highschool offered a CAD class my Jr year that I took. In the class we also learned Rhinoceros Nurbs Modeling program.

I modeled as much as possible at school because I did not have a computer at home strong enough for modeling. I came in early, at lunch, and stayed after class working on models. The renderings on the school computers would sometimes take all night. So I wouldn’t be able to see a rendered image until the next morning.

I soon learned as much as the teacher and programs book could teach me so naturally I went online. I saw that there was no group specifically for modeling and animation on Facebook. Facebook was still rarely new at this point. I decided to create the group and it has grown far beyond my expectations.

How has the group grown and evolved? 

JH: Right now the group is the largest and most active 3d modeling and animation community on Facebook. We gain around 100 members every day.

The group has artist from all over the world from beginners to experts. Jobs have been offered and filled from this group. Artist collaborate across the globe.  New and growing artist get help from experts. And everyone gets to show off there work and receive feedback.

Working as a 3D artist is my dream. As of now I currently work 6/7 days a week at a lumber mill. Modeling and animation is a hobby at the moment.

The group is too large at the moment to moderate on my own. While working as a 3D artist is my dream, I currently work six or seven days a week at a lumber mill and modeling and animation is still a hobby at the moment. Fortunately, I have an amazing team of admins helping to keep the group as clean and helpful as possible.

I have bigger dreams for the group. I am working on getting a website up for the group and it will be amazing!

A model in process by Justin Haynes

A model in process by Justin Haynes

You are relatively new to 3D printing. What was it like the first time you got to hold one of your creations in your hand? 

JH: The first time I held a 3d printed model was a spring out of corn starch in high school. I thought…it actually works as a spring. My mind went off on everything I could now create and print! A working drum pedal? A bicycle? Anything!!!

Shapeways now let’s me create and print whatever I can imagine without having to own and hassle with a 3d printer! I am currently working on a ring for my girlfriend.

Do you have a creation that you want to bring to life? Enter the 3D Animation to 3D Print contest by October 15th! Visit the contest page for more details and for some helpful hints about getting started.

 


 

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!
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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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Designer For Hire: Scott Denton

If you are looking for a 3D artist to bring your ideas to reality with 3D printing, look no further than 3D modeler and all around 3D super star Scott Denton.  Scott has worked in the 3D modeling and animation industry for so many years he has a beard, that is also in 3D (at the time of writing). Contact Scott if you have an idea you would like to explore with 3D printing at Shapeways.

Name: Scott Denton

Shapeways User Name: Likesyrup

Shapeways Shop: https://www.shapeways.com/shops/Likesyrup

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 Bio:

I am currently a Freelance Modeler/Generalist living in Brooklyn, NY. I hail from Nashville, TN and studied 3D animation at Full Sail University graduating with an Associates of Science in Computer Animation. I have worked in this industry now for 9 years and continue to learn from everyone I work with as well as developing skills to make me more valuable to current and new clients alike. I really enjoy working with new teams of creative people and having a fun time in the process.

My current passions are modeling in Zbrush and i’ve been doing a lot with 3d printing. I look forward to where 3d printing is going to take us in the future.

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Services Offered:

3d modeling, file repair, Rendering/lighting, Design

3D Modeling Specialties:

character, organic, from photo, from sketch, Jewelry,Toys,

3D Software Used:

Maya, Zbrush, Mudbox, 3dcoat, sketchup, Meshmixer, Sculptris, Modo, C4D, Photoshop

3 Examples of projects undertaken:

https://www.behance.net/gallery/13762255/Swell-Ring

https://www.behance.net/gallery/13920287/Louboutin-display-at-Saks-Fifth-Ave-NYC

https://www.behance.net/gallery/12164961/Zbrush-Accessories

Scott Denton 3D modeling Expert on Shapeways

Pricing Structure:

by the hour/by project but also may do percentage of sales if they want the file, profit sharing

You can see more of Scott’s work at www.likesyrup.com or Contact Scott if you have an idea you would like to explore with 3D printing at Shapeways.

 


 

3D Print in Nylon with Selective Laser Sintering – Part 3

This is the last post in the series about Selective Laser Sintering Nylon. In this post I’m going to address the challenge of the cost of 3D printing in nylon and how to minimize it. Yes, we want to make it as affordable as possible for you to make your awesome designs come to life!

If you haven’t read the first and second posts, I would highly recommend that you do. I’m assuming you know some of the concepts introduced there.

To understand the costs involved in 3D printing using SLS, lets have a look at the process, which can be broken down into the following steps:

  • Checking the design
  • Planning the printing trays
  • 3D printing
  • Extracting the parts
  • Cleaning the parts
  • Sorting the parts
  • Postprocessing (tumbling, dyeing, sorting)
  • Shipping

Each of those steps has associated costs in labor involved in the process, machine cost and material cost. Let’s go through the steps and have a look at the cost drivers.

Checking. At checking, we need to evaluate every new file ordered to see if we can make it. We use automated checks, but a final human check is still required to get the best results. It’s actually not every file, but we check every part in a file since we are printing physical products and each file may contain multiple parts. As discussed earlier, some files contain hundreds of parts and you can imagine the amount of work involved. The cost involved here is labor, namely the time spent checking each part.

Example of multiple parts in a file

Individually checking the 55 parts in KidMechanos “New! ModiBot RhinoNychus: Reptobeast

Planning. After checking, we need to plan all checked parts in the 3D printer trays. We want to plan as many parts as possible in a tray, since the cost to run a printer is pretty much fixed regardless of the amount of parts. Today, we run over 20 printers every day and each print on average has over 100 parts per tray, so you can see how packing becomes a challenge. However every extra part we can cram in the tray, reduces machine cost. The packing process itself requires an hour or two of of work and some 10-20 minutes of computer calculations to optimize.

The cost involved in planning is labor, or the time spent selecting the right parts for each tray

SLS Tray ready to 3D print

62 models packed into a single tray of our smallest printer

3D printing. Step 3 is the printing process. When a printer finishes it’s previous job,we make sure we are ready to quickly remove the ready tray, clean the machine and refill the powder. Ensuring the printer starts running as soon as possible after it’s previous job is complete reduces cost further. The printer costs money whether you use it or not (from a business perspective this is called depreciation), so running it all the time and thereby maximizing the amount of products made every month is the only way to reduce cost. The complexity of the products or the size has almost no impact on the print time. The most important driver of the time a build needs is the height of the tray. The machines can print roughly 1cm (or 0.4″) per hour. To limit the time it takes to print we try to build trays that are no higher than 25cm. This conveniently means we run the printers with 1 job every day.

Another element of the print cost is the amount of powder used. If the printer is completely empty it would still build layer upon layer of powder. As the powder is heated it ages. The industry standard is to run each build with 50% new and 50% old powder. Each tray has roughly 5% of volume in parts so after each build you are left with 95% old powder. Of this old powder you can re-use 50% in the next build. The material cost is the new powder. Obviously using more old powder reduces material cost, but the problem is that too much old powder will cause the parts to look less defined and sometimes they discolor (orange peel). We (everyone using SLS) need to figure out how to make it possible to reuse all powder since this is the most wasteful part of the process. The cost involved in 3D printing is some labor to clean the machines before each run and mostly machine and powder cost. To calculate actual cost per part is quite difficult, since it depends on the other parts in the tray. Amazingly, if we print a part one week, and then again the next week, it can cost twice as much the second time only because of the other parts in the tray along with it. One of the reasons that we’ve never charged for machine space before is that we had to build up a huge amount of experience to properly control for this and charge you the right price.

Cooling, Cleaning & Sorting. After printing, the tray needs to cool as much time as it has printed (again typically 24 hours). And then the break out, cleaning and sorting starts. The costs here are mostly part based since every part needs to be dug out of the powder, cleaned and then made sure it goes into the right box. The cost involved is labor per part. Each part needs to be broken out of the powder, cleaned and then sorted.

Models with many similar looking parts are among the hardest to track and sort properly

Post Processing. The polishing and dyeing process again are mostly labor. The tumbler is fast and can polish many parts a time, so there is almost no machine cost involved. The cost involved is mostly labor. To put the parts in the polisher, remove them and then sort. Or dyeing the parts for a few minutes, remove, let the parts dry and re-sort. Much of the cost of post processing isn’t the processes themselves, but constantly combining and re-sorting the parts at each step.

As you can see, the cost in making a product using SLS can be broken down into 4 main categories:Fixed cost like utilities and rent of the factory; Labor cost to do the actual work involved; Machine cost to pay for machine depreciation; and material cost, based on how much is used.

It’s our challenge to reduce these costs by automating certain parts of the process, make sure the machines are always running, and are run at close to maximum capacity, and that we re-use as much powder as possible. It’s also clear that our cost is based on labor per part, cost of the amount of space the part utilizes in the machine and the amount of actual material consumed.

Next week I will cover how our current price model covers these costs and how we can optimize.

As always, let me know if you have questions or suggestions. In general I like to hear from you!

Pete / CEO Shapeways


 

Artist Michael Leavitt on creating 3D printed sculptures

Sculptor Mike Leavitt has created an edition of 3D printed miniature versions of one-of-a-kind wooden sculptures from his “Empire Peaks” series through his Shapeways shop Innovation Kitchen. He spent two years designing and hand-sculpting the wood statue series and the pop culture mash-ups debuted at New York’s Jonathan LeVine Gallery in late 2013. Before opening night Leavitt had the largest wood statues, some standing 3 feet tall, scanned by a local hi-tech medical engineering firm. A classically trained wood sculptor based in the Pacific Northwestern United States, he taught himself the necessary software to bring smaller, 3D printed versions of his work to a new market. I caught up with Leavitt about how he translated his work with wood and chisels into 3D design and the possibilities that 3D printing offers to visual artists.

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What inspired you to create 3D printed models of your “Empire Peaks” sculpture series?

Michael Leavitt: This might sound unexpected coming from an artist. My inspiration to create 3D printed “Empire Peaks” models was merely the marketing potential. As a full time visual artist, I’m the only one in charge of my career and I’m forced to consider these possibilities. I’ve passionately searched for ways to create affordable editions of my sculptures for years. It’s not as easy as it seems. Making quality prints of 2D paintings and canvases can be a challenge. Mass producing toys is a monumental task. Tons of quality control and capital investments are required. I learned of Shapeways somewhere during the process of 3D scanning my “Empire Peaks” figures. My first goal of 3D modelling and printing became crystal clear. Having the specific target really galvanized the learning process.

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As a classically trained sculptor, what was your process like learning 3D modeling software?

ML: My learning curve with 3D modeling has been massively steep to say the least. First I have to learn to sit at the computer all day when I’d rather put my hands on something other than a keyboard and mouse. Next I have to learn a new language. Even ZBrush, my primary tool, is very intuitive but there’s a lot of lingo to absorb. I watched a ton of YouTube tutorials. I took copious notes. I could’ve gotten a full quarter’s worth of college credit for the time I logged. I almost had to chain myself to the computer. I guess the process was like training a free-roaming dog to stay in a small crate.

How is the process of preparing a piece for 3D printing similar to and different from your process of sculpting a one-of-a-kind piece?

ML: There are few similarities between preparing a piece for 3D printing and sculpting my originals. So far there are only small, brief moments when I feel like I’m actually “sculpting” on the computer. Maybe it’s just a matter of my learning curve. Once I get more comfortable it might feel more natural. A major difference between the two is that I really have to work hard to hold long, linear thoughts in my head while 3D modelling. Too often I want to do one simple, little thing- make this one knob a little smaller or something- and it requires several linear steps to execute. Whereas, in physical sculpting, it all comes naturally. I can just instinctively alter things without having to perform a prescribed series of actions. One might say physical sculpting requires it’s own tedious, methodical process. I don’t discount it. I’ve just been at it so much more of my life. Another major difference: the undo command. Wow. I still have to wrap my brain around it. It’s bizarre how easy it is to experiment while 3D sculpting. That one will keep on giving to me.

Abe

How does having a Shapeways shop and 3D printed versions of one-of-a-kind sculptures available open up new opportunities for you as an artist?

ML: For one thing, having the Shapeways prints allows me to more directly connect my work with people’s hands. My originals can be fragile or sensitive to hand oils over time. So we limit direct contact during exhibits. Ironically, I engineer moving body parts that can only be experienced with physical interaction. My original sculptures are also quite valuable and only rarely displayed in public. I do a show in New York about every two years. It’s only on display for about a month. I try as hard as I possibly can to tell everyone I can about the show. I promote like crazy. I really try to drive traffic to the gallery. Still only a small handful get to either own or experience the work in person. Having an on-demand 3D printing service accessible by the entire planet is nearly a dream come true.

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Do you have any advice for other artists who might be interested in incorporating 3D design and printing into their practice?

ML: I’m still struggling with how to define the line between my fine art and 3D prints. I think it’s extremely important for artists to clearly communicate their intentions and definitions in this respect. Especially for an artist such as myself who is “established” to a certain degree. I have many long-time, loyal and heavily-invested collectors of my original works who deserve a clear delineation between the original, hand-crafted works for which they invested and the replicated editions available on a larger scale. My advice to other fine artists is to be careful, sensitive, and clear when incorporating 3D printing with their practice. I sincerely hope I’m following my own advice on this point.


 

You Have Until September 8th to Submit Your Designs for the Next Round of SuperFanArt

If you have 3D prints you would like to submit to be part of the Hasbro + Shapeways + You = SuperFanArt extravaganza, you have until September 8th 2014 to be part of the next round.

hasbro-blog-home

SuperFanArt is now accepting anyone to submit their 3D printed designs based on Hasbro owned IP including:

  • Dragonvale
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • G.I. Joe
  • Monopoly
  • My Little Pony
  • Scrabble (to be sold in US and Canada only)
  • Transformers

Full details and instructions for both new designers, and existing designs can be found on the Shapeways SuperFanArt page.

Most importantly, when you submit your design, please be sure to include the tag SuperFanArt so that we can find and include your submission.  For inspiration, take a look at some of the submissions that we have received so far.


 

Don’t Be Sad, Keanu: A Tribute to Keanu Reeve’s 50th Birthday

We only know one Keanu Reeves here at Shapeways and he is perpetually sad. Sad Keanu is one of the longest-running, top-selling, products ever to go viral on Shapeways. Nancy Yi Liang of Mixee Labs brought Sad Keanu to life years ago and his ability to delight and surprise never ceases to amaze us. Today, is Keanu Reeves 50th birthday. Since he’s been responsible for so much joy and fun both internally at our offices, and for the greater Shapie community as a whole, we wanted to throw a VIP birthday party for him. Pup Workshop, Success Kid, Pinky Pie, Woody Allen, RAWR Dinosaur and Grumpy Cat all came out to help Sad Keanu cheer up:

Sad Keanu Party

What Shapeways Stars would you like to see at your next birthday party? Let us know and we just might make it happen… Here’s a vine of the scenes from the party:


 

Join Shapeways in London for the 3D Printshow

Shapeways is coming to London this week for the 3D Printshow. We’re hosting a meetup, we’ll have a booth at the show and we’re also in the running for the Global Awards!  We invite you to join us at these events:

 London 3DPrintshow

3D Printing Meetup

Wednesday 3rd September, 7-9pm

Join the team at Hung Drawn and Quartered Pub. RSVP for all the details

3D Printshow
Thursday 4th and Friday 5th September 9:30am – 6pm

Saturday 6th September 9:30am – 5:30pm
1 Old Billingsgate Walk, 16 Lower Thames Street, London
Visit us in booth D10

3D Printshow Global Awards

This year, we at Shapeways are thrilled to be nominated for two categories for the 3D Printshow Global Awards: Brand of the Year and Best Online/App Based Service. There’s time until Wednesday so cast your vote now! (Please ;-) )

We hope to see you in London this week!


 

Monkey Selfie Becomes A 3D Print

Earlier this week the United States Copy Right regulators ruled that the infamous Monkey Selfie photo that went viral cannot be copyrighted. This quickly prompted Dutch designer Peter Rossdale to 3D model the monkey selfie and bring it to the life for everyone to own as a 3D print in full color sandstone. You can order one of these Monkey Selfie 3D prints here.

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 4.11.37 PM

Monkey Selfie 3D printed in Full Color Sandstone
Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 4.11.54 PM

Monkey Selfie 3D print taking a selfie of itself (Photo by Peter Rossdale)

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 7.32.04 PM

Who is Peter Rossdale:

“As an Amsterdam based graphic designer I’ve got 14 years of experience in designing websites, magazines. As my career evolved, I got more and more involved with photo/videography, 3d modeling and animation. All this experience comes in handy in designing 3d printed products. And I hope many more interesting designs will be created via Shapeways!”

The Monkey Selfie 3D model was sculpted using ZBrush which you can see in his video. It’s amazing to see designers inspired by viral trends bringing cool products to life with 3D printing. Which viral trend do you think we’ll see next as a 3D print?


 

3D Print in Nylon with Selective Laser Sintering – Part 2

This is the second post in a series of three about Selective Laser Sintering Nylon. You can read the first post here and the third here. In this post I’m going to focus on the challenges we have encountered and some solutions. It would be great to get your thoughts in the comment section, since we want to learn and are always working to improve our processes to better suit the needs of our community!

As you may remember from my first post, which covers the process of 3D printing, checking is the first step and it also presents the biggest challenge. We want to ensure that the final product looks like the design on the computer screen and that we can reliably make it. Within checking we see four main categories of problems: Thin walls, thin wires, disappearing details, and fragile parts.

Let’s talk about thin walls and thin wires first. When the walls of your design are extremely thin or the design has very thin wires (see example below) our 3D printers might not be able to print them. If we find a problem during the checking process, we make screen shots to indicate what the problem is. But, in some cases it is difficult to assess whether there is a problem. Let’s say you’ve designed something like the edge of a wing that gets thinner and thinner. The thick edge of the design might certainly be printable, whereas the thin edge might not be. The only way to know is to try it. Since we like to push what is possible, we sometimes print the design to see whether it looks great or not. If we then find out that the product fails during printing or post-production, we still have to tell you, and this will already be a few days after ordering, which is not great for either of us. Together we have lost time, we lost machine capacity and some powder, but hopefully we learned something.

Thin wires example

An example of extremely thin wires 3D printed using Selective Laser Sintering

Another design issue we see is when parts are too fragile. We can’t always predict which product will be strong enough and which product is not strong enough. In this case especially we often take the gamble and 3D print it because we want you to get your product. Sometimes this leads to a suboptimal result or we find out after trying that we simply cannot 3D print the design.

The last challenge in checking is disappearing details. A little car might have an antenna, which looks great on the computer, but the printer can’t make it. A ring might have an engraving (see picture) so small that after printing the engraving is invisible or unreadable. Sometimes these issues are clear and sometimes it’s right on the edge of what’s possible.

Almost unreadable engraving

Almost unreadable engraving made using Selective Laser Sintering

As a result of all these checking challenges we launched a massive internal effort to make sure we optimize the experience for you, our customers. The effort resulted in new features like “Print It Anyway” and visualization tools. We also refined our internal processes. The result is that we have been able to reduce the amount of rejections in the checking process by a factor of three!! Also, we learned that making sure we clearly communicate to you about our concerns or reasons for rejecting your design helps you a lot.

Print orientation of a product is another challenge. Depending on how the product is placed in the machine the result varies. The most obvious solution is to give the designer the freedom to orient the part, but s/he might not know what is best, and it also limits us in optimizing the packing of the print tray. Reducing optimization causes the printing to be more expensive. Since it totally depends on other parts in the same tray, estimating how much more it costs to fix orientation is very hard or perhaps impossible. Otherwise an increased price to set print orientation would be another solution.

The last topic I would like to address is multiple products in a single file. Since we started Shapeways, we always assumed that a design file would hold one (interlocked) part. This is not always the case in reality and we understand why. How else would you easily make puzzles (see picture below), chess sets and earrings available in your shops or organize them neatly? For us on the other hand, having multiple parts in a single file presents a substantial issue. As you may remember from my first post, we need to sort all parts (and sometimes multiple times). If there are multiple parts in a file (sometimes over 100!) that sorting becomes very hard. We first have to figure out how many parts there are in the file, and then individually separate them if they are all different. Since we have standardized our processes on files this is not easy. One solution is putting all parts in a file into a “sinter box”, a small mesh box around the parts. This makes the sorting super easy, BUT since the box is square and large it is suboptimal to fill trays with. It is much better to put the small parts into other parts than have them sit together in an encased volume. The trade-off here is more work in sorting versus higher machine and material costs. Neither option is great.

Design of twisty puzzle

Design of twisty puzzle for 3D printing – “Rhomdo Transformer

Next week in my last post, I will talk about the cost of Selective Laser Sintering. Please let me know what you think by commenting and leave suggestions on what else I should address in next week’s post!

Pete / CEO Shapeways


 

Shapeways Social: Follow a Feed of Designers You Love

Shapeways is excited to announce the latest social feature on the site: Follow a Designer! Now you can see the latest from your favorite Shops and Designers curated in your custom feed. It’s easy to get started, just start browsing. Click “follow” on the designer cards of the designs you love (process illustrated below), and come back to check your feed to see their latest updates. There is a lot of social noise on the web, and here you can quietly browse products in peace.
The Feed is in the top navigation bar of the Shop tap and Shapeways homepage. Even if you aren’t following any designers yet (but you will be after reading this) you can see the global feed: a stream of products and actions taken by your fellow Shapies like adding to lists, uploading, adding photos etc.
feed

Since we introduced “Follow,” I’ve been going through my favorites and following the designers I want to always know the latest on. For you, this may mean following designers whom you’ve purchased models from, or creatives you’ve always looked to for inspiration in your own work. Hopefully it’s a combination of both, and affords more opportunities to connect the greater Shapie community. Here’s a snapshot of my feed from a few moments ago. Looks like kspaho is submitting some great models for our collaboration with Hasbro; I spy Dragonvale and Transformers!
spaho
It’s easy to follow a designer when you’re browsing products, like this epic Caffeine Molecule Coffee Mug from Joaquin Baldwin:
cup
Follow is below the “Contact” button on the designer card to the right of the product, here’s a closeup:
follow joaquin baldwin
You will know you’re following the designer when the button reads unfollow:
following
You can also follow a designer when viewing their shop up in the top banner. Here’s Bathsheba’s Shop for example, whom I highly recommend everyone follow, especially if you like sculptures that push the limits of 3D printing.
bathseba
This is also a great reminder to add your twitter handle(s) to your profile- it shows up next to “follow” as well. It will encourage shoppers and fellow designers alike to connect to you through their preferred platforms. Here’s a sample tweet illustrating my joy about following Joaquin Baldwin, with a photo (tweets with photos get 3x engagement) and a link back to Shapeways to make any potential sales for him seamless:
Tweet to Joaquin

What do you think of Follow and the Feed? Let us know in the comments here or in the forum. We always welcome your feedback.