Category Archives: 3D Modeling

How I turned my drawing into a keychain

Beyond working as a Community Manager at Shapeways, I love to draw.  Recently I realized that it could be cool to turn some of them into products. By using the Keychain creator and Adobe Capture on my iphone. I was able to quickly take an idea from my head and turn it into a readily available 3D printable file for printing. The whole process took me about half an hour, making this process a great way to start 3d designing.

First I made a drawing, then I took a picture of it with Adobe Capture and turned it into a vector image. This tool is great because it lets you choose which lines to use and smooth things out. As you can see the light on my drawing isn’t great and I made it on a lined piece of paper, but Capture can still find the shape I want.


Once I make the raw vector image on my phone it is automatically put into m Adobe creative cloud library. I just need to connect to wifi and hop on my computer, open Adobe Illustrator and find the little ghost.

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The image has all the vector anchors and handles already present, this is a huge timesafer if I need to make some adjustments so it can turn into a printable 3D object later on. Looking ahead, I know that the 2D to 3D creator is going to extrude the black parts into physical material and turn the white parts into open space. This means that I have to make sure all the black lines are thick enough to print and interconnected so they come out as one piece. The image can also be greyscale to show thickness. In this case I decided to do both to show you the results.

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The eyes need to be connect to the rest of the body if I wanted them to print as one part, so I draw some new lines to connect them. I also tweak some of the anchor points in the lines to thicken them and clean it up.

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After, I port it over to Adobe photoshop to add the grey. This will fill it in with some material but allow the lines I’ve drawn to be strong outlines. I also decided to fill in the black area around the eyes so its solid for aesthetic reasons.


I have my final image ready so I go to the Shapeways Keychain creator and click “upload design” to load my image. It takes a moment and shows me an interactive 3D rendering of the model generated from the image. On the side I can control the perimeters and size to make sure its exactly what I want.

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Since this is a keychain, I need to add something to attach the chain. I click the blue button that sales “+ Add a loop for a chain” and then right-click on the interactive view of the model where I want it to be. Again, I can change the perimeters of  loop so that its the way I want.

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Once I’m ready I can click the button at the bottom to finish my keychain, choose a material and place my order. I click “create my keychain” and wait until I get a notification that its ready. I can also go to the “my models” page and find it there.

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Using the keychain creator, the possibilities for turning my drawings into products are endless. What will you create?

Onshape + Shapeways Meetups


Presentation after the tour here in New York

We recently had a number of meetups cohosted by Onshape. We invited the Shapeways community over to tour the factory and listen to a presentation by Onshape about their cloud based CAD app.  We also presented publicly at Onshape’s headquarters in Boston and at Catalyst in Chicago.


Folks listening intently during the presentation in Boston

Onshape offers a free plan to makers that gives access to all their professional grade parametric tools. Upgrading to professional provides unlimited cloud storage. What struck me about the Onshape presentation is how excited designers are to see the features they’re developing. In Boston, they showed off the ability to compare two different versions of a part against eachother, even with a special visualizer that includes a sliding bar to morph between the versions. The crowd was audibly in awe of these previously unheard of tools, these are things CAD designers have only dreamt of before.

Slack for iOS Upload

Engineers and makers learning about CAD design at Catalyst in Chicago

Even more interesting to me is similarly both of our services approach developing with live feedback from the community. Onshape not only has developed novel tools for CAD, they release them on a monthly basis. They tweak and add according to what they see from their users. Shapeways applies this agile approach to ur materials and 3D tools as well. CustomMaker, Porcelain and others all started as pilots that could be opted into as soon as they were ready.  With the community’s feedback we’ve been able to hone these new programs into what they needed to be today.

If you are interested in more meetups with Shapeways you can visit here. If you’d like to learn more about CAD design with Onshape, they have an excellent network of local meetup groups you can sign up for here.


Onshape and Shapeways in a city near you

Starting today, Shapeways will be doing a series of meetups and presentations in New York, Boston and Chicago. Whether you’re looking to learn about the powerful browser based CAD software to develop your products or samples of professional materials to print them in, you should come and learn.

To join, you can follow the following links and RSVP:


Join us for evenings of learning, connecting, and idea sharing with fellow makers! We will provide snacks, booze, and of course, a showcase of our amazing 3D Printing materials.

We look forward to seeing you!

Earn $15 for Free: Join the Ornament CustomMaker Challenge


Ornament CustomMaker Challenge!

3D printing enables anyone to create amazing products – from jewelry and figurines to drone accessories and keychains. And with our CustomMaker feature, every product can be instantly personalized to every shopper.

For this challenge, design a unique holiday ornament, upload it to, enable CustomMaker to let your customers personalize it and share it with the community to get $15 in Shapeways Money. No purchase is necessary to participate and receive the credit – all you need to do is upload an ornament you designed and enable CustomMaker.

Shapeways will also choose our favorite models to be printed, professionally photographed and included in promotional material. By participating in the challenge you grant us permission to do so. Models be picked on the basis of creativity, manufacturing feasibility and presentation.

All Submission are due by Saturday November 14th at 12 PM EST. Shapeways Money will be processed the following week.

Share Submission

How to Join the Challenge

Design an ornament

  • Using your favorite 3D modeling software, design an ornament. Ornaments do not need to be new, you can use ornaments you’ve already designed as long as it has not been entered into a previous CustomMaker Challenge. Feel free to design for whatever material you think is best, but make sure they can hang from a tree.

Upload Your Design to Shapeways

  • Open up a Shapeways shop (if you don’t already have one). Upload your model* using the upload button. Put your model in the ‘Home’ and ‘Accessories’ categories and tag it as is relevant. Set your model to ‘public’ and ‘for sale’ in your Model Details page. Set the prices with your markup for the materials you want to offer in (we’d recommend the Strong and Flexible family).

*Models must be .stl or .obj

Activate CustomMaker to Personalize Your Design

  • In your model’s ‘Customization’ field, enable CustomMaker so shoppers can personalize your ornament with text and/or an image. Make sure that the text or image fits on the case correctly and that the shopper has instructions to understand the maximum number of characters they can use. Remember to set an adequate embossed or engraved depth for the materials that shoppers could purchase.

Share Your Entry!

  • Share a link to your product in the Ornament CustomMaker Challenge thread along with a photograph or render. Remember you can share as many products as you want, but only one credit will be given per shop. Then help choose which you think are the best entries.


  • Credits are limited to one per person

  • Products submitted cannot have been submitted to previous CustomMaker Challenge
  • By participating in the CustomMaker Challenge you are granting Shapeways a perpetual, nonexclusive, sublicensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to use your model, description, and photographs, as well as print and distribute prints of your model, for promotional purposes.

  • All submissions must be awesome

  • All submissions must be submitted by Saturday November 14th at 12 PM EST.

  • All submission must comply with the Shapeways Terms & Conditions and Content Policy.

Policy Updates from Shapeways

Today we’re excited to roll out a batch of updates to our policies.  These updates should make Shapeways work better for you, and bring your experience at Shapeways more into line with your expectations of Shapeways.  This post has detailed information about the changes.  As a reminder, you can always find links to archived versions of policies on that policy’s page.

For those of you looking for a quick summary of the changes, here it is:

-          We’ve revised our content policy.  The result is increased transparency around what we will and will not print, opening up a number of new possibilities for models.

-          We’ve updated our privacy policy.  It now has an even stronger commitment to protecting your privacy, especially in the face of requests for your information by third parties and governments.

-          We’ve clarified our terms and conditions.  It should now be easier for you to understand who is responsible for what if a model causes harm to others.

-          We’ve created special terms and conditions for our public API.  They are designed to establish a common set of expectations about how the public APIs work.

Want more details?  Keep reading.  As a reminder, this post is designed to explain the changes that we are making today.  It is the policies themselves, not these summaries and explanations in this post, that form the basis of our agreement with you.

Content Policy Update

The focus of our updated content policy is to bring additional clarity to our content rules.  To that end, we have broken the policy into two sections – one for weapons and one for obscenity – and given each section a list of do’s and don’ts.  These do’s and don’ts are intended to allow designers to get a more clear understanding of what types of models will result in heightened scrutiny or rejection.


The updated weapons policy should give designers added flexibility for their creations.  We continue to prohibit guns, parts that modify the functionality of guns, realistic replicas that could be easily confused with guns, and switchblades, throwing stars, and brass knuckles.  These restrictions are largely grounded in laws that restrict the manufacture, sale, and possession of these items.

At the same time, we will be much more accommodating of cosplay accessories, most knives and swords, and gun accessories that are not tied to core functionality – things like mounts and grips.  This should make it much easier for stores such as BrainExploder to offer camera mounts and Ammnra to offer cosplay accessories without worrying about being flagged for content policy violation.


In addition to weapons rules, we’re clarifying how we handle models we consider obscene.  We will continue to prohibit models that embrace sexual violence, hate speech, or that are designed to denigrate living beings.

However, we do recognize that obscenity can be a tricky line to patrol.  Therefore, we are committing ourselves to be responsive to designers who believe that we are missing critical context for a design that we reject for obscenity reasons.  That is not a guarantee that we will change our decision with additional context, but it does mean that we will seriously consider context that we may have missed.


In addition to more consistent rules, we’re also rolling out a more consistent internal process to enforce those rules.  All models will be checked for content at the same time they are checked for printability.  Models flagged for potential content violations at this stage will be sent to the Trust and Safety team for review.  In most cases, the Trust and Safety team will make a decision about the model.  If the model is rejected, the designer will be notified of that decision.  If the Trust and Safety team is not sure, they have the option to elevate the question to the legal department, which has final say.  This structure is designed to review models as quickly and consistently as possible so that models that comply with our rules can get printed and designers of models that do not comply with our rules can find out in a timely manner.

You can compare the new policy to the previous policy, which has been archived here.

Privacy Policy Update

The biggest change to our privacy policy is the addition of clear language about how we handle request for your information from government representatives and other third parties.

We take our obligations to secure the information you entrust to us seriously.  We also take our legal obligations to comply with governments and courts seriously.  In light of these obligations, we are adopting a policy that formally requires sufficient legal process before we disclose records about our users to governments and third parties.  Generally speaking, that means that governments and third parties will need to have a subpoena, warrant, or court order in order to access your information without your permission.  Those documents must have enough information to minimize the likelihood of accidental disclosure of information from unrelated accounts.

In the case of law enforcement and other governmental requests, our policy in most cases is to provide notice to a user if she is the target of a governmental request for information.  If such notice is temporarily prohibited by law, it is our policy to alert the users once that prohibition has been lifted.

This general policy does not apply to emergency situations, or to a handful of other third parties who we may share your information with as a normal course of business (our shipping partners or vendors, for example) described in our privacy policy.

In addition to this significant change, the update includes a handful of smaller edits and clarifications.  These include clarifying what types of emails related to our service you may receive from us, a reminder that your data may cross international borders, and how our data retention policy works.

You can compare the new policy to the previous one, which has been archived here.

Terms and Conditions Update

This is an incremental update to our Terms and Conditions, focusing specifically on the language regarding product liability.  This relatively small update is designed to clarify how liability works with 3D printed models here on Shapeways.  In addition to the liability portion of the update, we clarify that except in cases of fraud or policy violation we will give you a full cash refund if we cancel your order.

This rest of this part of the post is designed to help give some background information about how we are thinking about product liability and explain the changes themselves.  As a reminder, you can find all of the old versions of our Terms and Conditions here, along with links to the blog posts that announced and explained the changes.

Liability and Responsibility

This update focuses on events that we wish never happen – models failing and hurting someone.  While it is tempting to cross our fingers and hope that everything that is uploaded and printed will always work perfectly, the responsible thing to do is to face the possibility of error head on.  That’s a big part of the role of our Terms and Conditions generally, and for the sections having to do with warranties, disclaimers, and indemnification specifically.

The nature of what we do here at Shapeways upends some of the assumptions built into the traditional thinking about product liability.  Instead of large companies relying on deep, longstanding relationships to design, manufacture, ship, and sell products, Shapeways allows people working on their own to design objects and connect with buyers directly all over the world.

While this comparatively distributed and informal structure creates a lot of advantages, it also uncovers some challenges.   One of those challenges is that in most cases we here at Shapeways do not really know what we are printing.  That means that we don’t evaluate designs before printing them to make sure they are fit for purpose – in many cases we don’t know what “fit for purpose” would even mean. Similarly, after the objects are printed we don’t test them to make sure they will function as expected because we don’t necessarily know how you expect them to function.  This does not mean that we ignore red flags or do not respond to concerns.  It does mean that we cannot guarantee that a model will be well designed for any specific application.  That’s why we rely on the designer’s word that the designs make sense for their intended purpose.

Nonetheless, there are things that we can guarantee. We can promise that the models will be 3D printed correctly on properly calibrated printers operated by responsible operators.  We can also promise that the models will be packaged and shipped correctly.  That promise means that it is our responsibility if something fails because it was printed incorrectly.  However, it does not mean that it is our responsibility if a properly printed – but incorrectly designed – model fails.

Revised Language

That’s the distinction that the revisions to the Terms and Conditions are designed to highlight.  We have always required designers to certify that their models do not violate anyone else’s intellectual property or applicable laws because the designer is best positioned to know that information.  To that list of designer responsibilities, our update adds things like relevant design and safety standards.

Similarly, we ask designers to stand behind the design specifications of their model because they are best positioned to know if the design is adequate for its intended purpose.  That is also why designers are responsible for the selection of materials.  Designers know which materials are and are not appropriate for a given model, so it is their responsibility to only print (or offer to print) the model in appropriate materials.

Finally, we make explicit what was already implicit in our indemnification section – namely that designers have an obligation to indemnify us in the face of a personal injury or product liability lawsuit flowing from their design.   Again, this is because the designer is in the best position to anticipate – and address – problems related to design defects.

Exploring Together

As I noted earlier, Shapeways raises some novel legal questions about how product liability can work in the context of 3D printing.  In updating our Terms and Conditions language, we are hoping to make it as clear as possible where we understand different responsibilities to lie.  That being said, “novel legal questions” often also mean that the answer evolves over time.  We’re all exploring the implications of 3D printing together, and it is entirely possible that this section of our Terms and Conditions evolves over time.  If and when that happens, we’ll do our best to explain our thinking to you as we go.

New API Terms and Conditions

Still with me?  The final update is not an update at all, but rather an addition.  As many of you know, we have a fantastic public API.  The new API Terms and Conditions are designed to make sure that everyone making use of the API knows how it works and what to expect.  The API Terms and Conditions build on top of our existing site-wide Terms and Conditions.  One of the advantages of that is that the API Terms and Conditions can be brief and a bit more approachably written.  They clarify that we are granting API users a license, that we strive for but don’t guarantee 100% uptime, and how to handle applications that might push an especially large volume of traffic through the API.

Questions, Concerns, Comments?

And that’s the end of the update on the updates.  As I stated at the top of this post, our goal with these updates is to make sure that our rules make it as easy as possible for you to understand how Shapeways works, and to make sure that Shapeways works the way that you expect it to.  If you have questions, concerns, or comments about these changes, let us know.  You can raise them in the comments below, in our forums, or to me directly via twitter @MWeinberg2D or email at

featured image: Eyeglass Cap of Justice by Shapeways user Sabaku_Ika

Quick Tips to Spiff up your Shop for the Holidays

Tis the season to deck the halls & paint the walls spirit of the holidays! Well, okay, it will be in a few weeks. Until then, you can begin to get started thinking about how to boost the spirit of your Shapeways Shop to optimize for sales the holiday season.

#1 Add New Product Photos – Recently, we discussed some helpful hints on how to take beautiful photos of your products for your shop

#2 Enable the right Materials – Make sure you have the right materials for sale on your products. Don’t miss out on valuable sales – our Porcelain and precious metal materials will surely be a hit this holiday

#3 Shop Banner/ Avatar – If you don’t have one, you need one. ASAP! If you do have one, take a look and see if the look and feel is still in line with your brand. It may be time to brighten up for the holidays

#4 Product / Shop Descriptions – Go through your products, and read the descriptions OUT LOUD. Does it flow? Is it still relevant, or is the info out of date?

#5 Link your Social Media Accounts – At the top of your shop page, you can link to your twitter account. This can be hugely helpful if a customer comes across your page and is interested in getting status updates long term

#6 Product Display Order – Did you know that in your shop inventory page, you can change the way your products are assorted on the page? To reduce your bounce rate, boost your best selling items to the top of the page

#7 Visual Coherency – If you’ve gotten someone to your shop page, you’ve already completed 80% of the battle. However, this is the part that makes or breaks the sale. It’s important to keep in mind the branding and language that you used to navigate people to that shop in the first place – and keep it consistent throughout.

Got any other tips or questions on spiffing up your shop this holiday? Come join in the conversation over in our FORUMS page to give and get feedback from your peers!

Inspiring words from designer Ryan Kittleson

Last week, we sent designer Ryan Kittleson to 3D Print Show Santa Clara. While there, Ryan had the opportunity to observe how small businesses thrived in an ever growing market, and took a moment to reflect upon life as a 3D Designer and how he started his own business.

“You never realize that you’re part of an era until it’s over”

This is something that my friend, Conrad Winterlich, said to me in the the year 2008 about the feature animation renaissance of the 80’s and 90’s. Conrad is a traditional animator and worked on many films in that time period, so, basically, if you were a kid then, he animated your childhood.

Unfortunately, time has passed and traditional animation is barely hanging on by a thread these days. When I reflect upon why this quote still resonates with me seven years later, I believe it’s because at the time I was struggling to come to terms with the fact that the visual effects industry in the US was beginning to crumble just as I was attempting to break into it.

My dream career inspired by people like John Lasseter (Pixar) and Dennis Muren (ILM), nerds with a passion for making cool stuff, was being was being dismantled one film at a time by corporate greed, assembly-line drudgery, outsourcing and brutal overtime.

I believe that we are currently in a golden age of 3D printing; an exciting wild-west that is being won by the dreamers, nerds and individuals with ideas. And unlike what happened to visual effects and animation, I think that the 3D printing revolution is an era that will last for a long time.

Ryan at his exhibitor booth in Santa Clara

Last week, thanks to Shapeways, I had the amazing opportunity to exhibit my work at the Inside 3D Printing Expo in Santa Clara, CA. There were big corporations and small startups. There were techies and artists. Nerds and business types mingled freely, oogling the shiny new 3D printers and ever more detailed prints. And while there is big business to be done by players like Nike and Stratasys, it was clear to me that the real soul of 3D printing and what gives it its true power is its ability to make physical manufacturing accessible to the little guy.

One of Ryans 3D printed designs as a pendant

Regardless of how long it lasts, it’s clear to me that we’re at the very beginning of an amazing era of personal creative power. The ability to design an object and have anyone in the world get a copy of it is here to stay. Perhaps it will be a while before it’s a simple enough process for the non tech-friendly to manage. But like hiring a cake decorator, it won’t be long before it’s something that nearly everyone will be able pay a designer to do.

Just 4 years ago I never would have dreamt that I’d be running my own 3D printing design business. And now that it’s a reality I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t know what the future holds but I do know that we’re at the very beginning of it, and that is very exciting to me!

BY-3D? Creative Commons Attribution and 3D Printing


Earlier this month I was lucky enough to present at the 2015 Creative Commons Global Summit on a question that I’ve been chewing on for the past few months: what is the proper way to give attribution to a designer of a 3D printed object?

First, some quick background.  Creative Commons is the organization behind the Creative Commons (CC) licenses and logos.  CC licenses give creators a way to contribute their copyright protected creations to the public, while at the same time conditioning that contribution on some straightforward terms. For example, CC BY-NC means that anyone can use the work in a noncommercial manner without additional permission from the creator as long as they give the original creator attribution (“CC” is Creative Commons, “BY” is attribution required, and “NC” is non-commercial use).  CC BY-SA means that anyone can use the work as long as they give the original creator attribution (“BY”) and license any content the builds upon the work under the same  license (“SA” or share alike).  Credit is important to the CC ecosystem, which means understanding how to give credit is an important part of using CC licensed objects correctly.

The question of how to comply with these terms is important because not complying with a CC term means that you are infringing on the original creator’s copyright (for the purposes of this blog post, I’m ignoring the wealth of 3D printable models that are not protectable by copyright. If you are interested in exploring that line, this whitepaper may be a helpful place to start.)

For the original works that CC was primarily designed for, this attribution requirement was fairly straightforward (here’s the CC-maintained best practices for doing just that).  If you use a CC-licensed image in a blog post, put a credit below the image or at the end of the post.  If you use a CC-licensed song as the soundtrack to your video, add the credit at the end.  In most of the digital world, there is often plenty of space for attribution metadata.

As is often the case, this relatively straightforward system gets a bit more complicated when it comes into the world of 3D printing.  As long as we stay digital, adding attribution to a 3D file can be simple.  Once that digital file becomes physical, attribution can get a lot harder.

In some cases, that attribution takes care of itself because it is built into the model itself.


In the case of this model, the designer’s name is embedded in the bottom of the shoe.

Although even this is an imperfect solution.  If someone decides to remix the model – something that is allowed under the license – and not take the feet in the process, that attribution disappears.

Most models don’t even start with attribution embedded in them.  Thingiverse provides a solution in the form of a credit tag:


The credit tag can work in some situations, especially when you are displaying models in more formal settings like a gallery or trade show.  However, there are still plenty of times when a tag just doesn’t make sense.

Take, for example, jewelry.  When this designer CC licensed these earrings:


Or this designer CC licensed this bracelet:


Did they intend for the person who downloaded and printed the model to hang an extra tag off of them for attribution? Probably not. But what’s the alternative? Is it enough to tell people who ask where the pieces came from?  I don’t know that anyone is sure.

The existence of this question is actually a testament to the success of Creative Commons, and to the way that the 3D design community has embraced CC licenses.  CC has become so second nature to so many people that they don’t even feel the need to walk through each of the elements and spend time considering what they will mean in practice for a specific model.  I’m guilty of the same thing myself.


I released this coin with the logo of Public Knowledge under a CC BY license.  What kind of attribution was I imagining?  I have no idea.

So what is the best way to do attribution for 3D printed models?  I do not have an answer to this question.  It is fantastic that so many people have embraced CC licenses for 3D printable objects.  Now it is time to start building a common set of expectations and best practices.  There is no right or wrong answer.  It would just be helpful to have an answer so people who want to comply with the wishes of a designer know what is expected of them.

That doesn’t start with me. That starts with you.  If you create 3D printable models and license them under CC-BY, what do you expect?  What does that BY mean to you?  Let me know in the comments or on twitter @MWeinberg2D.

Eora3d launches Kickstarter to fund scanner prototyped by Shapeways

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Asfand Khan and Rahul Koduri from Eora3D here in New York. They had flown in to finalize plans to kickstart their new 3D scanner. They showed me a demo and I saw firsthand what a cool tool this could be for 3D designers of all skill levels.

The Eora3D scanner uses your smartphone ( supports iOS and android) to capture high quality 3D scans of objects up to a meter large. By projecting a green laser that moves across the surface of an object, it can detect a high-level of detail, perfect for translating objects into 3D models to be modified and 3D printed.

The initial concept of the scanner came from “working on a Concentrating Solar project where they had to measure the specifications of a parabolic dish that was used for tracking the sun. It turned out that the 3D Scanner that was precise enough to do this cost $20,000 ! Since, they couldn’t afford it they attempted building their own. 7 prototypes and multiple iterations later they created the eora 3D Scanner.”

These prototypes were made possible by printing at Shapeways. Using Strong and Flexible Plastic and our Frosted Ultra Detail, Eora3D honed in on their final product and started producing milled Aluminum bodies in the final version.


The team noted that Eoara3D is “the world’s first high-precision 3D Scanner that is entirely powered by a modern smartphone. Smartphone’s today are becoming ever more powerful, some even matching desktop performance. By leveraging the power of a modern Smartphone, they’ve managed to cut down costs and instead invest in a Green Laser. This is because CMOS sensors in cameras are twice as sensitive to the green spectrum, which means better high-resolution scans in a variety of lighting conditions.”

Turning smartphones into a 3D scanner makes a lot of sense and Eora3D made some smart decisions to really set this scanner apart from some of the other products on the market. In addition to using hardware many of us already have and green lasers, they have an optional rotating platform to put objects on has they scan. Many other scanners have this permanently attached, limiting the size and situations in which you could scan.
And most exciting, after you scan you’ll be able to upload to Shapeways directly from their free app!
Since starting their kickstarter campaign this week, they managed to reach their goal within 3 hours but are still going strong. This looks like a promising new piece of technology, so if you want to get it first head over to their Kickstarter before it runs out.



Introducing Pendant and Keychain Creators

Although 3D printing technology has come a long way, the learning curve for 3D modeling and 3D software is still a little steep. We hear from a lot of people that one of the barriers they’ve faced with 3D printing starts with the design process. They want to have something 3D printed, but the idea of using 3D modeling software is too overwhelming. Today we’re excited to announce the launch of our Keychain Creator and Pendant Creator, two new apps that aim to break down those barriers and enable more people to create amazing things! Now we’ve made it easier than ever for anybody, even those who little to no design experience, to create beautiful, unique 3D printed products.


Making your pendant or keychain is simple. If you’re familiar with our 2D to 3D Creator, these are both very similar. With just a few steps, you can create a keychain or pendant customized to your liking.

  1. Upload a 2D design or use one of our templates
  2. Customize your design by choosing your desired size, thickness, backing, etc.
  3. If you want, add a loop for a necklace chain or key ring
  4. Click “Create Pendant” or “Create Keychain”
  5. Pick your material and order!

To get started, check out our pendant tutorial, keychain tutorial, and for advanced users, our grayscale tutorial.

Controlling A Model Out in the World

This is the fifth post in a series about different types of rights that could be involved with models and files here at Shapeways.  Today we’re talking about what happens to rights in models after the model is sold.


Most of the posts in this series are about the rights of creators and about how those rights give creators control over their creations.  This post is something of the inverse.  It focuses on the rights of people who acquire those creations.  Specifically, it focuses on what happens to a creation after it is sold.

At its most basic, the concept of copyright “first sale” is that when you sell something to someone else, that something is theirs.  Your decision to sell the object means that you are giving up your ability to control that object.  Without first sale there would be no such thing as used record stores or libraries, yard sales would be a lot smaller, and eBay may never have gotten off the ground.

The Object is Not the Copyright, the Copyright is Not the Object

In thinking about first sale it is important to keep in mind the difference between the copyright for the object and the object itself.  This distinction is easy to understand once you have concrete examples. If you buy a copy of a book like Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, you own that copy of the book.  You can do whatever you want with that book – you can lend it to a friend, sell it at a yardsale, or cut it up and turn it into a collage.

You do not, however, own the copyright in Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age.  Without owning the copyright to the underlying book, you cannot make a bunch of copies of The Diamond Age and start selling them, or turn The Diamond Age into a musical, or sell a the German translation of The Diamond Age you created.

Fundamentally, the difference between these two sets of rights is the difference between owning a copy of something protected by copyright and owning the copyright itself.  Owning a copy of something gives you the ability to control that copy, but not over the work itself.

First Sale Applies to 3D Printed Objects Too

The same applies for copyrightable objects sold here on Shapeways.  If you sell a model on Shapeways, the buyer of the model owns it.  That buyer can paint it however she likes, give it to her cat, or resell it without getting permission.  However, that buyer cannot create copies of the object without first getting your permission simply because she purchased a single copy from you.

There are some potential exceptions to this. If I buy something from you and then try and resell it as my own work I may be engaging in fraud.  And in some cases happening in some places, mislabeling a model’s title or creator could run afoul of what are known as moral rights.  These are rights related to copyright designed to allow creators to assert their association with a work.

All that being said, in most cases there is nothing illegal about someone purchasing 3D printed models and reselling them somewhere else.

What Should I Do if I Discover Someone Reselling My Stuff?

Assuming you were paid for the models, the reseller probably is not breaking the law.  They are, however, giving you some potentially useful information about your models.  If the reseller is successful, that means that there is a significant market for you work.  That’s a good thing.

It also means that you may be under-pricing or under-marketing your models.  If a reseller can make money by buying your models at retail and reselling them somewhere else, that may mean that you are leaving money on the table with your retail price.  If a reseller has found a profitable market for your models that you didn’t realize existed, maybe it is time to explore that market yourself.  Of course, it may be easier to let the reseller pay you for your model and then explore that market themselves.  Remember that every customer that pays the reseller is also a customer that is paying you for the original model.

Two Caveats and One Place for Additional Reading

Caveat number one: none of this applies if the reseller (or anyone else for that matter) is making unauthorized reproductions of your copyright-protected model.  First sale does not protect someone making such copies, even if they are basing them off a legitimate copy they purchased from you.  You did not sell your copyright in the object when you sold the object itself, and first sale will not prevent you from asserting your rights.  If you discover someone making unauthorized copies of your models, it may be time to reach out to them and/or talk to a lawyer.

Caveat number two: if you are worried about fraud (such as someone passing your models off as their own) you should reach out to the platform hosting the fraudulent models for sale. Their terms and conditions almost certainly prohibit fraud (ours here at Shapeways certainly do).  If someone is committing fraud on their site they will want to know.

One place for additional reading: like many copyright concepts, the first sale doctrine was developed before the internet and digital goods.  Figuring out what first sale means in the context of digital goods can be complicated.  Sherwin Siy over at Public Knowledge has put together an interesting look at how we could make digital first sale work better.


Image by flickr user Ben Rea.

Hero Forge: Where Are They Now?

We are amazed with all the products that continue to come from designers’ imaginations and out of the printers. While 3D modeling takes some skill, we’ve seen a number of people take that mastery to the next level by creating apps that make 3D printing truly available to everyone. One of our favorite (and successful) examples we’ve seen is Hero Forge, a web-based app that lets you customize tabletop miniatures and statuettes.


Photo courtesy of Gnome Stew

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Solving Problems Through Product Design on Skillshare

Posted by in 3D Modeling, Classes

This summer we introduced a Skillshare class that went over the basics of using Shapeways to create and sell your designs. Those videos focused on the ins and outs of merchandising your shop, creating a product line and using social media to get the most engagement from current and potential customers. Today, we’re introducing a new class that takes a step back and focuses on the process of actually creating a product.

3D Printing: Solving Problems Through Product Design delves into the basics of creating a product – from finding inspiration in everyday things to the importance of prototyping. Lauren takes you through the steps of her own design process in creating a product that can hold her Metrocard and headphones.

An Online Skillshare Class by Lauren Slowik

Enroll For Free

Whether it’s deciding what software to use to design with, or figuring out the best material for the first print there are a lot of little decisions you have to make when creating a design. These videos will help you plan for those, and hopefully make your process much easier.

Leave a comment below and let us know your product ideas!

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Details in Glazed Porcelain

As Shapeways has developed our brand new Porcelain material, we’ve focused on using the most vibrant and beautiful colored glazes to really make each product pop. If you’re designing for Porcelain, it can be daunting to know which glaze is the right one to choose for your model.

Glazes aren’t just colors – each is a uniquely colored glass being applied to the surface of the model and will behave differently when put on the same geometry. Glazes have different levels of translucency and viscosity, so after glaze firing they may settle and move around the geometry in different ways. This may be most noticeable on the small but essential details of your model.

To help, we’ve printed some samples to show you what the effects of embossed and engraved text in OpenSans font are at different sizes with each glaze. Overall, the lesson here is to think big when it comes to detail, especially if it needs to be legible.

Another note is to use more translucent glazes if you need to have legible text. The top four glazes are more translucent, while the bottom four are less.

Gloss Celadon

Gloss Celadon

Gloss Cobalt

Gloss Cobalt

Gloss Blue

Gloss Blue

Gloss Oribe Green

Gloss Oribe Green

Gloss Red

Gloss Red

Gloss White

Gloss White

Gloss Black

Gloss Black

Matte Black

Matte Black

The Original 3D Model

The Original 3D Model