Category Archives: 3D Modeling

This 3D Printed High Elf Miniature Is Downright Incredible

Late last year, we made our Black High Definition Acrylate (BHDA) available for sale by our Shop Owners, enabling them to market incredibly detailed models. Since then, we’ve been watching with a ton of excitement as miniature makers prototype and iterate their concepts to prepare them for sale. Shapeways Shop Owner Gareth Nicholas, the multitalented 3D designer and award-winning miniature painter, shared his thoughts and process around designing for and finishing BHDA on his blog, and we were so blown away that we had to share.

SEO Miniature painting, toy models, figurine, heroforge, Dnd miniatures, how to paint miniatures, dungeons and dragons, reaper miniatures, dungeons and dragons character generator, sheet, mini figures, fantasy miniatures. GAMES WORKSHOP, gameworkshop, citadel paints, war games, games, boardgames, high elve, shapeways

Nicholas took his already expert-level experience in painting Warhammer and Reaper miniature figurines to the next level by creating his own figures with 3D printing. On his blog he explains:

“Concept-wise there’s nothing particularly original here. Games Workshop have been starving me of High Elves recently (at the moment it’s starting to look doubtful they’ll ever return, but I live in hope) so I decided to make my own. As I usually do when I sculpt something, I spent a while with a pencil and paper sketching various designs for armour and so on. I rejected a few designs that I thought looked cool on the grounds that they probably wouldn’t print very well or look good when painted.”

SEO Miniature painting, toy models, figurine, heroforge, Dnd miniatures, how to paint miniatures, dungeons and dragons, reaper miniatures, dungeons and dragons character generator, sheet, mini figures, fantasy miniatures. GAMES WORKSHOP, gameworkshop, citadel paints, war games, games, boardgames, high elve,

To start the design, Nicholas blocked out the character with simple shapes in (free software) Blender. We strongly recommend emulating his process here because he kept the overall model at the same level of finish throughout his process. This allows him to make good judgements as he improves the model through iterations, working from the most general forms to the most finely detailed.

“I roughed out the proportions in Blender and spent a fair bit of time viewing the model from every angle until I was happy that the anatomy wasn’t too awful. I then went back and refined each element, and made decisions about how the hair and the cloak would flow.”

Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways Hereforge, Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden

Afterwards, Nicholas describes how he took the smooth finish of BHDA and made it glow with simple paints (check out his blog for more awesome expert painting tips).

“I elected to go with non-metallic metal when painting as there are some interesting shapes and I wanted to explore the reflections. For the steel parts I used my tried and tested method of highlighting with cyan and shading with red added to the mix.

“Overall I am quite pleased with how the miniature has turned out for a first effort at this scale and I’ve learnt a lot that will hopefully lead to better results in the future.”

Finally, check out the finished product below, and find more of Nicholas’s original miniatures in his Shapeways Shop here. This High Elf would be an impressive addition to your next Warhammer battle or Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden

Looking for more custom-made miniatures? Check out Gareth Nicholas’ shop here, Tabletop & Wargaming accessories here, and the Miniatures marketplace here. And, let us know in the comments what figurines you’d like to see in the marketplace in the future!

When 3D Printing Opens Up New Ways of Seeing

Henry Segerman’s new book Visualizing Mathematics with 3D Printing provides non-mathematicians with exciting new ways to understand complex mathematical shapes. Segerman’s easy-to-follow book and companion website show how we can use 3D prints to gain a tactile awareness of these objects and use our full stereoscopic vision to understand them better than we ever have. In this excerpt from the chapter on symmetry, Segerman explains what we learn when we look at Bathsheba Grossman’s beautiful and symmetric sculpture “Soliton” from dozens of angles — the only way to sufficiently capture the complexity (and artistry) of the form.

Bathsheba_soliton_montage

The picture above shows two photographs of Soliton, a sculpture by mathematical artist Bathsheba Grossman.

This is a difficult object to comprehend from a couple of photographs. Sinuous curves twist around each other in a complicated, but obviously symmetrical way. Rotation by half a turn is a symmetry for each of these views. But it isn’t so easy to see how these two views are related to each other, or even that they are photographs of the same object. With a few more viewpoints of the same sculpture however, we can see how they are connected. See the picture below. The first view shown in the picture above is at the far right, and the second is at both the top and the bottom.

soliton_array

25 unique views of “Soliton”

Let’s think of the sculpture sitting at the center of a sphere of possible directions to take a photograph from. We get a panel of possible views: a quarter of the entire sphere, like the panel of a four-panel beach ball. The picture below shows camera positions evenly spaced out over one of these panels  photographs from these positions make up the array of images above.

soliton_camera_positions

An illustration of the camera’s positions

Some of the photographs around the edges are repeats: they show the same view as each other. The pair of photographs above and below the rightmost photograph in the figure are the same as each other, as are the pair two above and two below, and so on. In fact the whole boundary edge from the rightmost point to the top is the same as the edge from the rightmost point to the bottom. The same is true of the two edges above and below the leftmost edge. This tells us how to cover the rest of the sphere of possible photographs: we can do this with a total of four copies of the panel, tiling the sphere so that the photographs we see along the edges match up.

—–

The rest of this chapter goes on to investigate and catalogue the other ways in which things can be symmetrical, and show more beautiful symmetric sculptures by various artists.

In case you were wondering, I took the grid of photographs using a rig that allows me to (relatively) precisely control the angle that the camera sees the cube from. Then there was some surprisingly tricky math and programming to generate the array of photographs!

photo_rig

The camera rig Segerman devised

For more, pick up a copy of Visualizing Mathematics with 3D Printing. All of the models discussed in the book are available on Shapeways, many from Segerman’s shop, with the rest linked to from the book’s companion site. We’re in awe of the work that mathematicians and designers like Henry are contributing to the Shapeways community — and how that work is advancing our understanding of mathematical and scientific concepts. Are you working on a project you’d like us to share on the blog? Make sure to get in touch, whether in the comments below or at community@shapeways.com.

Designer Spotlight: Knight Customs RC Cars

RC cars are hugely popular worldwide, and the RC car community on Shapeways is growing bigger every day. Designer James Knight of Knight Customs is a highly respected creator of RC car accessories. He shares with us how he got started, and how anyone interested in RC cars can use 3D printing to bring their dream cars to life. Let us know in the comments what parts you’d like to see James tackle next.

One of the most popular RC cars to upgrade, the Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. The image shows the following Knight Customs parts: AJ40011 Halo Light Bucket Set (frosted ultra detail) AJ30006 Skull Face Grill & Mount (White strong & flexible polished) AJ10030 Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Bumper & Stinger (Stainless Steel) AJ10018 Hood Latch (Black strong & flexible) AJ10023 Smittybilt XRC JK Front Fenders AJ10020 Snorkel Tall (frosted ultra detail) AJ10037 Smittybilt Stingray Hood

One of the most popular RC cars to upgrade, the Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. Jump to the bottom of this post for a full list of 3D printed parts used.

How did you get started creating custom RC car parts?
I have been a fan of RC cars since a very young age. Many of the cars I have collected were based on full-sized models but didn’t always have all the details of the full-sized vehicle. I started making custom parts to add those missing details and to create my own unique versions of a particular model.

Were you always using 3D printing, or did you begin with a more manual process?
Early on, I used a lot of traditional model-making techniques, glue and plastic, but it was very time-consuming to create multiple copies of certain parts. I also found that by using certain 3D printed materials I could create parts that were much more durable than if they had been created with traditional techniques that were available to me.

What inspired you to open your shop and offer your products to the RC car community?
People within the RC community often asked me to build them a copy of some of the parts I had created, so it just made sense to open a shop so they could purchase one of my creations.

Are there any designs that are proving particularly popular? What need do you see these designs filling for the community?
The most popular designs have been those that allow you to add more realistic details, such as working LED lights to your RC model. This is a popular upgrade for many RC vehicles and if you have ever seen an RC with working lights, they look awesome (see picture of our Halo lights fitted to the Axial Jeep®). Other popular parts allow the modeler to give a fresh new look to a stock vehicle. Just like in the 1:1 world, everyone wants their car to look a little different from the stock showroom model.

How did you determine which brands to offer parts for?
I take inspiration from the 1:1 world. I am a fan of off-road vehicles so I look at the classic and modern vehicles to see which are the most popular and what sort of modifications the 1:1 communities make to those vehicles. I partner with the real 1:1 companies to create officially licensed replicas of many of the popular off-road parts from great companies like Magnaflow, Smittybilt, RotopaX, Front Runner Outfitters, and Ripp Superchargers.

SOR Graphics make our licensed T-shirts and RC vehicle graphic wraps. We also have relationships with leading RC companies Axial, RC4WD, and Vanquish Products.

A few of Knight Customs licensed products

A few of Knight Customs’ licensed products

What advice would you give to RC car fans who are just starting to customize?
I would say make sure you pick a good base for your project. When you decide on the car you want, then check to see if anyone already makes that model as a kit. There are some great base models to use from the top manufactures like Axial and Tamiya. There are many great RC forums to go on to find information and inspiration on building your custom project. My favorite is www.scalebuildersguild.com. Doing a little research online will show you what parts are already available to customize your rig, and of course a search on Shapeways shows you all the great parts the community here have helped create. If you want to learn to create some parts yourself, I recommend Rhino CAD software. It has great functionality for the price and there are many great tutorials on YouTube teaching you how to create models.

In the Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon model featured at the top of this post, Knight Customs parts include:

AJ40011 Halo Light Bucket Set (frosted ultra detail)
AJ30006 Skull Face Grill & Mount (white strong & flexible polished)
AJ10030 Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Bumper & Stinger (stainless steel)
AJ10018 Hood Latch (black strong & flexible)
AJ10023 Smittybilt XRC JK Front Fenders
AJ10020 Snorkel Tall (frosted ultra detail)
AJ10037 Smittybilt Stingray Hood

Thanks for sharing your story with us, James! We can’t wait to see what you decide to work on next.

Oculus Medium Sculpting the Beast

The adorable Beast and mini Beast

The adorable Beast and mini Beast, courtesy Facebook

We were super excited to see Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook video of an artist at Oculus creating a 3D model of Beast, Mark’s ridiculously cute pup (who, might I add, is more of a celeb than I can ever aspire to be). The video has us excited for a number of reasons:

  • One, the sculpture was created with Oculus Medium, a tool that we’re incredibly excited about because of the potential for it being a game-changer in making 3D modeling more accessible. Pete talked about the possibilities in this Mashable article and Mark’s video is the perfect example of the technology in action (and obviously leveraging some serious design talent).

  • Two, we know from first-hand experience how challenging it can be to capture a quality scan of a beloved pet using 3D scanning technology, thanks to our adventure with Franklin the Pig. While the Structure Sensor from Occipital works well on people, pigs are wiggly and aren’t the best subjects for a physical scan.

Kinda jealous of Beast’s mini-me figurine? Our partners Cuddle Clones and Arty Lobster create mini figurines of pets using photos of your favorite little fur-baby. And, stay tuned, because we’ll be using them to do Franklin better justice than his 3D scan did.

Have you used Oculus Medium yet? If so, let us know in the comments what you’re designing.

An Oculus designer using Medium to sculpt Beast

An Oculus designer using Medium to sculpt Beast

Scanning Stories: Fine-Tuning Your 3D Scans

A group of 3D Selfies

In the last edition of the Scanning Stories series, we discussed the gold standard: a 3D scanning booth. Most of us don’t have the money, time, or space to set up a scanning booth, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all get in on the action. Below, Shapeways’ 3D Scan Engineers Brigitte and Astrid tell us how to make the most of easy-to-use 3D scanning software Skanect to edit scans captured with the Structure Sensor.

While scanbooths are amazing, most of the time, we use a tablet-mounted Structure Sensor with Skanect software. Today, we won’t get into exactly how to take those scans (for a full rundown, click here), but we’ll go ahead and skip to the tricky part: editing the 3D models created by your scans.

3D models created using Skanect usually need some editing to become printable. Most of the time, the texture is too dark to print and has small flaws that need to be fixed. Thankfully, these fixes can be fairly easy.

There are multiple ways to edit your file:

After editing your scan in the Skanect software (most common steps are “Fill Holes”, “Move & Crop”, “Remove Parts” and “Colorize”), you can either choose “External Edit” in the Process tab or “Export Model” in the Share tab.

skanect 1

Let’s start with “External Edit,” which you can find on the Process tab:

Clicking this button will allow you to export a file named editme.ply. You can import this file into different editing software that can handle .ply files, like MeshLab and Meshmixer. Both of these programs are Freeware.

MeshLab is a free and open-source software you can download here. There are lots of easy-to-follow videos tutorials available. See MeshLab tutorials.

Meshmixer is a tool with several functions for manipulating 3D meshes. It’s great for tidying up a 3D model. You can remove unwanted areas, fill holes, sculpt the shape, and correct its orientation prior to 3D printing. You can download it here. For video how-tos on this software, see Meshmixer tutorials.

In our experience, MeshLab works best for adjusting texture. It has a bunch of filters you can use to adjust the texture’s appearance, like contrast, brightness, and hue. You can also add supporting platforms to your 3D selfies with MeshLab. Meshmixer also has the ability to adjust the texture, but doesn’t have too many options for doing so. It’s better for adjusting the mesh.

Once you’re satisfied with the result, you can export the model with the same name (editme.ply). This will overwrite the previous file.

Then, go back to Skanect and reload the edited file.

skanect 2

Then, if you go to the next tab, you can upload and save your model.

We have tested both MeshLab and Meshmixer, and now we also work with ZBrush.

One of the advantages of ZBrush is that you can export scans as .obj files, which creates separate mesh and texture files. With the texture file, it’s possible to adjust the colors and brightness of the texture in programs like Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. In our next post, we will import the mesh and texture from ZBrush to further adjust it. Orientation, hollowing, and platforms will be done in Netfabb.

If you have a subject in mind that we should address in a future Scanning Stories post, please get in touch.

Let us know what you think of this story, stay focused, and enjoy the world of 3Dscanning!

Shapeways Goes to India: Maker Fest Ahmedabad

Perched on the western side of India sits Ahmedabad University, the site of the fourth annual Maker Fest Ahmedabad. This past weekend Shapeways attended the three-day event which welcomed over 30,000 attendees from Gujarat and around the world.

Maker Fest was founded by Asha Jadeja, an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and philanthropist. Jadeja’s vision for the festival is “to catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship in India at the grassroots level.” Maker Fest is fulfilling this vision through the incredible artisans, makers, and hobbyists who showcased. These included everyone from ceramicists with wheel-throwing tutorials to local drone startups. The diverse group of regional and international makers offered over 45 workshops throughout the three-day event.

The author at Maker Fest

The author at Maker Fest

Lauren Slowik (Shapeways Design Evangelist) and I represented the Shapeways community at the event. We featured a bevy of Shapeways designers and offered a variety of workshops from 3D scanning to hand-dyeing 3D printed products. The visitors, of all ages and expertise, were introduced to the different 3D printing methods and the possibilities of the technology.

Lauren Slowik demonstrates 3D modeling

Lauren Slowik demonstrates 3D scanning

The Maker Fest included over 15 speakers with a keynote by Jan Jannink, Stanford professor and entrepreneur. The lecture covered the importance of A.I. to modern society and what the future may hold.

india 4 

To learn more about this continuously growing event, click here. Let us know in the comments what local maker events you love, and where you’d like to see Shapeways go next.

 

Making a 3D Printed Meeple Is Easy — Here’s How

Last week, I showed our community on Facebook how they can create their own meeples for game pieces. If you missed the demonstration, you can find the video and a breakdown of the steps below.

 

Step 1: Find a 2D image

giphy

I went to the Noun Project and used this because it has a Creative Commons license.

Once I download the knight image, I headed over to the Shapeways keychain creator.

 

2: Upload to the pendant or keychain creator and choose your image file

giphy-1

 

3: Adjust the size on the left:

giphy-3

 

Then, give it some more thickness:

giphy-2

Once I’m happy with the  size and thickness, I click “Create Now,” choose my material, and order away.

That’s it!

Give it a try and let us know in the comments if you have any questions (or hit any snags).

D-School or Self-Taught: How did you learn to 3D design?

One question we get all the time is: What’s the best way to learn how to 3D design? Did you learn the tools and processes in an academic setting like school? Did you teach yourself though experimenting? Did you watch tutorials or take online classes?

Experiments with MagicaVoxel software

Experiments with MagicaVoxel software

We posed these questions to our community on the Shapeways forums and got some amazing responses. Here are some of these learnings that could serve as a great guide for others interested in starting their journey in digital manufacturing.

“I have always loved to draw with pencil and paper as a hobby. But I am a Mechanical Engineer and I started my professional career as a CATIA application engineer at IBM in 1992, and did that for more than 15 years. I had taken several CATIA training classes and spent many hours studying by myself. ” – Shapeways Shop owner Glehn

In the forums, our community has a range of backgrounds, from fine arts to science to engineering. Most reported learning the design software themselves from online tutorials and YouTube. They were creative prior to learning 3D design, and had begun their journey earlier with other hobbies like drawing and model building.

Many started learning before academic classes in 3D design were available. Personal digital manufacturing is still in its infancy and the educational infrastructure around it is still forming. Those who taught themselves are leading the charge to start educating the next generation of designers.

Most importantly, community members have learned to come to design with a creative, can-do mentality. By working on specific problems, like wanting to create a necklace or a robot, they’ve experimented with the tools at hand — and found solutions. Design always requires a combination of patience, problem-solving, and elbow grease. They’ve learned to value hard work, and that making something yourself pays off.

“My parents instilled in me the belief that it’s better if possible to craft something on your own than to buy it pre-built. 3d printing just gives me better construction tools” – Shapeways shop owner Stony Smith

How did you learn to 3D design? Did you learn in school or pick it up yourself? Let us know in the comments below.

How I Made It: 3D Printed Roller Coasters

Our new How I Made It series takes us inside the projects that have inspired our designers, shoppers, and makers. Last week, designer and Shapie Mitchell Jetten’s miniature roller coasters got lots of attention from the community. I asked him to share how they came to be. Leave a comment if you’re interested in having us feature your latest project.

Back in 2014, I got the idea to start 3D printing rides from a game I used to love, RollerCoaster Tycoon.

I had no idea how to paint this, and not having too much money in my pocket, I decided to make a small version in Full Color Sandstone.
Mitchell 1

I’m sure many people will still remember these rides and their iconic entrances and exits.

Same goes for these two renders of the burger and drinks stalls:
Mitchell 2

A couple of years ago I decided to go a bit bigger. I decided to 3D print a Boomerang Rollercoaster, which cost around $300.

Definitely worth every penny, as it was a staggering 60cm long.

I included some roller coaster cars, which as you can imagine were just static (you can move them by hand) as it wouldn’t be able to do a full run back and forth.
Mitchell 3
Mitchell 4

This was all great, but I didn’t expect that anyone would be willing to spend $350 on a 3D printed roller coaster.

Rescaling this roller coaster wouldn’t work; the rails would be too thin to print.

I designed around five or six rollercoasters back in 2014, but, with a Boomerang already coming out at $350, there was no way the others would be close to affordable.

This plan went in the fridge till last month.

It made me think about the issue: why couldn’t I rescale the coaster and sell it for a lot cheaper?

The tracks where too thin, so the the only option was to get rid of the detailed track, make a tube, and hope it would still have a coaster feeling.

As everything is done by using splines, changes were made easily to the track.

In the image below, on the left is the first prototype and, on the right, the second prototype with a flattened track.
Mitchell 5

The test print of the second prototype arrived just days later.

A quick picture of the model with a coin for scale and a post on Facebook in a roller coaster group was all it took to create a buzz — people loved it already.
Mitchell 6

Right away, I noticed that some supports had to be a bit thicker due to their length, but that wasn’t really a problem and it was fixed just minutes after detecting the problems.

Here is a picture of my first attempt to paint the roller coaster:
Mitchell 7

And a bonus picture of another coaster, the Raptor:
Mitchell 8

And the results:

Rougarou (1:1200)
Mitchell 9

Raptor (1:1200)
Mitchell 10

A few more rollercoasters can be found here:

https://www.shapeways.com/shops/miniaturized

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Mitchell! Remember to leave any questions for Mitchell below, and let us know if you have a project you’d like to share.

When Should You License Your Work?

As you launch into a year of designing, engineering, and selling your work on Shapeways, our top legal brain, Michael Weinberg, takes on a sticky question around licensing and IP. How do you best protect your intellectual property – while avoiding the pitfalls of over- or under-licensing your work? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Is it Better to Over-License?

Licensing is all about setting rules around what people can and cannot do with the stuff you create. If you make something that is protected by copyright, someone else needs your permission in order to make a copy of it. A license is one legal form that permission can take. In many cases, the license essentially says “I give you permission to make a copy of my work as long as you do X”. X can be “pay me $50”. X can also be “give me attribution.”

Technically, the reason that someone else would need your permission to copy your work is because the work is protected by copyright. If they do not get your permission first, you could (at least in theory) sue them for copyright infringement.

There is a flip side to all of this. Not all work is protected by copyright. For example, functional objects are broadly excluded from copyright protection. That means that someone else can copy the functional item you made without legally needing your permission first. They do not have to worry about a license on your work because it is not legally enforceable. In fact, putting a license on a work that is not actually eligible for copyright protection can create all sorts of unintended problems.

All of which means that if you are creating something that is eligible for copyright protection and want to share it with the world, you should release it with a copyright license. And if you are creating something that is not eligible for copyright protection, you should not release it with a copyright license.

Which is all well and good if the thing you create fits obviously into a copyright/not-copyright category. But what if the thing’s copyright status is a bit more ambiguous? Should you err on the side of releasing it with a license just in case? Or should you err on the side of not using a license so you don’t unintentionally complicate things?

This is a harder question than you might expect and this blog post does not try to answer it. Instead, this blog post is designed to try and lay out the costs and benefits of each path. It explains what happens if you over-license by applying licenses where no copyright exists, as well as under-license by not applying a license where a copyright does exist. It then ends with a plea for your input. The norms around 3D printing, copyright, and licensing are still being established. Although this is an easy question to ignore, there is a benefit to the community coming together to try and come to consensus about expectations. We here at Shapeways are going to try and work on this in 2017, and in order for that to end well we will need your help.

Wait, what?

Admittedly, this problem can be a bit abstract. In order to make the following a bit easier to follow, it will probably be helpful to have a specific product in mind. Ideally, it is an object where the copyright status (is it protected by copyright? Is it not protected by copyright?) is unclear. Since we have used this as an example of an object with an ambiguous copyright status in the past, let’s stick with studiogijs’ birdsnest eggcup.

(Note: none of this should be implied to attribute any sort of position about copyright to studiogijs. I am just using the eggcup as an example because it is a good illustration of the type of object that can trigger this kind of problem. The rest of this blog post also assumes that studiogijs wants to share the eggcup under some sort of sharing-oriented license such as Creative Commons, although the core issues are the same if studiogijs wanted to use a more restrictive license)

Birdsnest eggcup quattro by studiogijs

Birdsnest eggcup quattro by studiogijs

As you may recall, this eggcup combines functional (read: not eligible for copyright protection) elements that allow it to hold an egg and nonfunctional (read: eligible for copyright protection) elements that mimic the look of a birdsnest. Since there is currently a case being decided by the United States Supreme Court trying to determine if this sort of object that combines functional and nonfunctional elements is protected by copyright, it is probably safe to say that the copyright status of the eggcup is ambiguous.

That means it is not totally clear what happens if someone were to make a copy of the eggcup without studiogijs’ permission. If the eggcup is protected by copyright, making a copy without permission would be copyright infringement. If the eggcup is not protected by copyright, making a copy without permission would be (legally) allowed. In the first case – where copying without permission would be copyright infringement – a license would be really useful. In the second case – where copying without permission is totally legal – a license does not matter very much.

But studiogijs cannot do both. They either have to use a license or not use a license. That choice is not a simple as it might seem.

If it turns out that the cup is not protected by copyright, attaching copyright license to it would be an example of over-licensing. Conversely, if it turns out that the cup is protected by copyright, failing to attach a license would be an example of under-licensing. Since right now the copyright status of the cup is unclear and there isn’t an obvious right answer, designers like studiogijs need to decide if they are going to err on the side of over-licensing or under-licensing.

Here are some of the costs and benefits of either path:

Over-Licensing

Over-licensing would happen if the studiogijs decides to err on the side of the eggcup being protected by copyright and releases it under a copyright license.  If it turns out the the eggcup is protected by copyright, “over-licensing” just becomes “licensing.” The eggcup is protected by copyright and there is a license governing how it can be used.

However, if it turns out that the eggcup is not protected by copyright, “over-licensing” becomes “putting a license where it does not belong.” From a legal standpoint such a license is essentially meaningless: without an underlying copyright, there is no actual punishment for violating the terms of the license. It can be ignored by downstream users. But even this legally meaningless license can send ripples out into the world.

Clear up Ambiguity (Good)

The most obvious impact of over-licensing is to remove ambiguity. While there are plenty of 3D printed things that fit cleanly into a “protected by copyright” and “not protected by copyright” dichotomy, there are also many that fall into a grey area. This grey area can exist because the rules around copyright today are unclear, or because there is a chance that the rules around copyright could evolve in the future.

In either case, adding a copyright license can act as a “just in case” tool. Studiogijs can use the license to assert “this eggcup is probably not protected by copyright, but if it is here’s a license that you can rely on.” That makes it easy for downstream users to confidently make copies of the eggcup under clear rules regardless of the ultimate answer to the “is this protected?” question.

Social Signaling (Good)

This benefit is easy for lawyers to overlook, but it is an important one. Licenses act at a legal level and also (probably more often) at a social level. A well expressed license is an easy way for studiogijs to tell the world “here is how I want you to use my work.” Even if that desire is not supported by the law it can still be quite important to the community. People in a community are motivated by all sorts of impulses not grounded in the formal legal system. If you are a fan of studiogijs you may care how they want people to think about copying the eggcup even if they cannot haul you into court for going against those wishes.

Restriction-Free Licenses Reduce the Downside

A license such as the Creative Commons Zero license would dedicate the eggcup to the public domain. It imposes no restrictions or obligations on the people who would make copies of the eggcup and makes no attempt to control their behavior. In this context, it tells the world “the eggcup is probably not protected by copyright, but if it is I hereby remove its copyright and make it freely available to everyone” while asking for nothing in return. If a studiogijs is relying on a truly restriction-free license in an ambiguous situation, the effect of the over-licensing with this type of restriction-free license is almost all benefit with no cost.

This calculation changes if studiogijs uses a conditional copyright license. Even a very permissive Creative Commons Attribution license could create problems because it places a condition on people who make copies of the eggcup (they are required to give attribution). In this context, such a license tells the world “the eggcup is probably not protected by copyright, but if it is you can use it as long as you give studiogijs credit as the creator.”

If the eggcup really is protected by copyright, such a license is great – all you need to do in order to make a copy is give studiogijs credit. But if the eggcup is not protected by copyright, a person who wants to make a copy might think they are required to credit studiogijs where no legally enforceable requirement exists. In other words, the license attempts to impose obligations on people who want to make copies without the actual ability to do so. That can create confusion and disappointment for everyone involved. All the more so if the relatively benign restriction to give the studiogijs credit is replaced with a more aggressive demand for a royalty payment.

Normalizing Expanded Copyright Protection (Bad)

In addition to possibly imposing obligations that are not legally enforceable, over-using copyright licenses can have a long term effect on how people understand the scope of copyright’s reach. It is not hard to see how “if you are unsure, slap a copyright license on it” can evolve into “the widespread use of copyright licenses in 3D printing means that all 3D printed stuff should be protected by copyright.” That could potentially remove countless objects from the public domain and expand the scope of copyright well beyond its intended bounds. Over-using copyright licenses could evolve into a situation where such licenses are actually legally required.

Under-Licensing

Under-licensing is the flip side. Instead of releasing the eggcup under a “just in case” copyright license, studiogijs could simply choose to not apply a license at all. In doing so studiogijs is gambling that the eggcup is not protected by copyright so the license is unnecessary.

Avoids Normalizing Expanded Copyright Protection (Good)

Not surprisingly, erring on the side of not using a license can have the opposite effect of erring on the side of using it. If in ambiguous situations there is no license, it will set an expectation that no license is necessary. This expectation could prevent the expansion of copyright to cover these edge cases. This could preserve the public domain as it is today.

Complicates Social Signaling

A license is not the only way to signal to people who want to make copies of the eggcup how studiogijs wants them to do so (if at all), but it is a clear and easy one. Without a license, would be copiers who want to take studiogijs’ wishes into account have to rely on other cues in order to determine how studiogijs might want or not want their work to be used.

Can Prevent Further Use (Bad)

The lack of a license, even in ambiguous situations, can create problems. If a person who wants to make a copy of the eggcup is risk-averse (or is having risk aversion pushed on them by their legal department), the lack of a license clearly granting them permission might prevent them from copying the eggcup even if there is no legal barrier to doing so. Additionally, if it turns out that there is some sort of latent copyright in the eggcup, the lack of a license could legally prevent people from copying it even if studiogijs wanted them to do so.

Which is Better?

I’m still not sure. Trying to weigh all of these factors will be part of 2017. If you have thoughts, please let me know. There is not going to be a real “right” answer. Hopefully we can come together to help form some sort of consensus around which of these not-great options is better.

Scanning Stories: How We Created Ultra-Lifelike 3D Selfies

3D Selfie Row

Our Scanning Stories series continues this week with an update from Shapeways’ 3D Scan Engineers Brigitte and Astrid that lets us in on how they achieved incredibly detailed 3D scans at Dutch Design Week. Learn more about 3D selfies in our first Scanning Stories post, and read on below for more tips and tricks to help you make the most of 3D scanning.

As 3D selfies get ever more popular, we’re excited to have the opportunity to use a variety of scanning tools, from top-of-the-line scanning booths to handheld tablet-based software.

At Eindhoven’s Dutch Design Week (DDW) in October, we were lucky enough to present the amazing 3D Scan Lounge from Scanologics and offer members of the public a chance to have their 3D scans taken.

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We 3D scanned lots of people during DDW: young and old, parents with their kids — together or separate — grandparents, and even a man with his dog. Everyone was super enthusiastic about the booth. Plus, taking a 3D scan within a split second gave some the opportunity to experiment with different poses.

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The scanbooth is a portable, full body, photogrammetry 3D scanning solution. That means that in one second, hundreds of 2D pictures are taken that will be processed into a printable 3D selfie. The main differences between a 3D scan made with a scanbooth and those made with a handheld scanner like the Skanect are speed and quality. Taking a 3D scan in a scanbooth only takes a few seconds, whereas handheld scanners will take about a minute. And, the faster the scan, the more accurate it will be.

Check out the high-definition results below:

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In our next post, we’ll talk about editing your manual scans from tablet-based software Skanect.

That’s it for now. Stay focused and enjoy the world of 3D scanning!

A Visionary Artist Takes on the Smart Home

This year’s Amsterdam Light Festival is putting Dutch artist and Shapeways designer Anouk Wipprecht’s designs in the spotlight. Her Living Pods exhibit asks us to rethink the smart home as something more than purely functional, with interactive clothing and flower-inspired pods that welcome visitors “home” by reacting to their presence.

Mechatronic “LIVING PODS” – Anouk Wipprecht x Somfy Home Automation from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

Wipprecht is already well-established in the Fashion-Tech world, and her current exhibit expands on past work around reactive and wearable tech. The Pods are part of The Art of Motion, the artist’s ongoing collaboration with connected home company Somfy, Michael Sagan of Autodesk’s Fusion 360 team, and LA-based concept designer Igor Knezevic. The project envisions a time when all the objects in our homes become sensory and smart. While Wipprecht’s fashions focus on interaction with (and mediation between) the human body and the outside world, the Pods aim to bring humanity and soul to home electronics.

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Visitors to the Amsterdam Light Festival take in Wipprecht’s work

To articulate the concept, she created an one-piece hanging mechanical gripper structure with hooks that allowed 3D printed leaves to be connected. The gripper mechanism was created in Fusion 360 by the designer during her residency at Pier 9 — Autodesk’s maker-workshop in San Francisco. The Pier 9 Artists in Residence program allows artists, makers, and fabricators to work with high-end tools and machinery in Autodesk’s digital fabrication workshop, bringing dream projects to life. The final pieces were printed at Shapeways, each in a single piece, using SLS for strength and rigidity. The Pods light up, and a linear motor moves their petals in response to a sensor, emulating a living flower’s reaction to the sun.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Amsterdam this week, check out Anouk’s exhibit at the Amsterdam Light Festival, now through January 8, and let us know in the comments what smart home tech you’d like to see in the future.

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Living Pods designs for Somfy in Fusion 360, printed at Shapeways

Living Pods designs for Somfy in Fusion 360, printed at Shapeways

Bonus: Check out the video below to go behind the scenes of the Living Pods’ creation. Behind The Scenes // LIVING PODS [Mechanic Flower lamps in Fusion360] from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

Our Community in 2016

The year ends tonight, and what a year it was. While the world got a little crazy in 2016, the Shapeways community grew and thrived. Here’s a look back on some of the ways you, our community, made 2016 our best year yet.

We made amazing projects!

Lumecluster created the Dreamer Regalia Armor for Felicia Day and showed what it takes to use Blender to create custom-fitting cosplay gear.

Our community grew closer, and through members who love 3D printing scale models, we made new friends around the world. The Kogashima Streetcar is a testament to how 3D printing can bring people together across borders.

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Winter finally came, and along the way we got to see some incredible props printed by Shapeways for (my personal favorite) HBO series Game of Thrones!

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We launched new materials and tools!

We introduced the strongest and lightest ever material at Shapeways, DMLS Aluminum! We saw it used to create working mountain bike prototypes and an amazing FPV drone!

For those who are prototyping and iterating on their designs, Shapeways started offering PLA to provide a quick turnaround.  Shop Owner Bhold showed us how she uses her own printer to iterate on her concepts and come up with the final product she sells on Shapeways.

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One of the best parts of printing with Shapeways is being able to create products that couldn’t be made without 3D printing. Building on these remarkable products, we launched innovative Interlocking Metals. For the first time ever, we can print complex geometries in precious and semi-precious materials.

At Shapeways we’re all about being responsive to our community. One feature designers have asked for was the ability to determine the orientation of of how the machine prints their model. So, we released the print orientation tool so makers can better control aesthetics and accuracy when printing with Selective Laser Sintering.

Above all, we had fun together

The best part of Shapeways is being part of an amazing community. This year we got to meet so many of our designers and Shop Owners in their own element.

We talked to Model Railroad enthusiasts about the best way to design a 3D printed N Scale train.

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We played games together at Gen Con using the amazingly artistic dice created by Shapeways designers.

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We teamed up with DJI to challenge the Shapeways community to help first responders save lives with augmented drones.

We saw old friends and enjoyed great math puns like the Klein Bottle opener created by Bathsheba.

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Finally, we joined forces with Fat Cat Fab Lab to sell designers’ unique jewelry and home decor as last-minute gifts for the holidays.

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We had an incredible time in 2016, and we’re looking forward to seeing you all in 2017!

Beating Tech Obsolescence With 3D Printing

One of the most exciting — and practical — ways our community is using 3D printing is in the creation of replacement parts for household electronics. Australian designer MichaelAtOz of Matter Haus is a perfect example of a maker who starts with existing tech (in Michael’s case, Dyson vacuums), and creates a range of parts to extend the life of the high-end devices. In his recent forum post, shared below, the designer tells the story of his latest work.

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Adapter for Dyson V8 to pre-V8 tools/accessories by Matter Haus

This is my latest major design. An adapter to fight obsolescence, which I think is a great aspect of the evolving maker/3D printing possibilities. This is how it happened.

A friend’s daughter was cleaning her car, and managed to drop their Dyson Handstick vacuum into a bucket of dirty water. Fitzzitzt…the vacuum now sux  not. So they bought the latest Dyson V8 Handstick.

It wasn’t until they got home that they realised the V8 had changed the connectors, and so they couldn’t use the variety of additional accessories they had bought for the previous version.

I had previously modeled the old version’s connector to make a range of holders/wall mounts for the accessories/tools. I needed to measure the changed V8 sizes and the new clip mechanism to update my holders anyway, so I though an adapter would be possible. Plug the new measurement into my OpenSCAD designs, and after a bit of that design magic, blood sweat and tears, I worked out that Strong and Flexible Plastic (S&FP) would allow me to use “flex” in the design of the release clip.
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I often prototype my designs on my personal FDM 3D printer, but that imposes design constraints which Shapeways S&FP doesn’t have, like gravity. However, the bad thing about Shapeways is that it isn’t here in Oz, and a prototype can take some time to arrive. So you have to adapt, firstly make sure it fits, cut out bits which aren’t needed and show the internals; luckily this was doable with minimal support material. The first physical prototype confirmed the fit, and the flexi release worked as intended.
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(My printer is a bit long in the tooth, it could use some adjustments for better results)

Similarly working out a good way of joining the new V8 tip design to the old receptacle I also considered how I could prototype on my local printer; after careful attention to the angles, I had a design I could print with little support.
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It was time for a real Shapeways prototype; finalising the design and ensuring the Shapeways 3D tools were happy took a few more iterations. Again it was necessary to incorporate cut-outs otherwise you couldn’t see how well the parts will fit.
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As, until I sell some more designs, I’m not made of money, I also chopped off bits not needed for testing to save on material and machine space costs.
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I chose White & Un-polished S&FP as it saves several days production time, and awaited delivery…
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Thankfully my measurements, earlier prototypes, and tolerance guestimates were good, and it fit like a glove. The next step was a final prototype of the complete model. Previous testing with a variety of the Dyson tools showed a small variance in size, so there was a small gap to allow for this. I was concerned how that may affect the vacuum suction, something I couldn’t test with the cut-out prototype.

Not wanting to spend too much on prototypes I decided the design should be finessed for the next order. It needed a seal/gasket/washer, this took a lot of searching to find the most appropriate, cost-effective, and easily acquired solution. The best balance turned out to be o-rings, so I had to find the right size to fit the design and incorporate an appropriate recess to hold it.
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It was ready for the full prototype, or as I hopefully like to call it, the first production model. As the design has a friction fit I had always intended Polished S&FP as the production Material, and given the Dyson design, it had to be red.

And so, a new design is born
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As it turned out, it works pretty well without the o-ring, but the capability is there if you want perfection ;)

So after six weeks from concept to product, it came just in time for Xmas, so my friend can keep his old accessories.

That’s how it happened.

Thank you for sharing your story, Michael!

Which electronics would you revive with the right replacement parts? Let us know in the comments what parts you’re working on or would like to see our community develop.

Designer Spotlight: Daren Strange – East Tower Design

Daren Strange is the designer behind East Tower Design, a Shapeways Shop that boasts some beautifully designed architectural models and cityscapes from around the world. We’ve asked him about his work below, which lends some incredible insight into his design process and what it might mean for architecture.

Speaking of being illuminated about Daren’s work, we love that you can take a lamp (or even just your phone flashlight) to light his city models from below (check out his photos of it here).

Which cities have been among the most popular for customers?
I have sold more Houston and Los Angeles models. The scale of the cities was very important. I try to print the smallest buildings I can without them failing to resolve. I have tried to test most of the materials at Shapeways, determining the limits of the machines and allowing me to minimize the amount of material required. Chicago is one of the models I scaled where it really requires the space of two models to print well, and I have not submitted for sale.

Los Angeles, California by East Tower Design

Los Angeles, California by East Tower Design

How do you decide which monuments to design?
I am developing a model of New York that covers the size of 12 of the printed cities, but I am only done with three out of the twelve parts. I also have several more cities ready to be printed. If I sell 100 of the city models I will take requests, and develop more choices.

You’ve designed a few stand-alone buildings and structures. How did you decide to do that?
The choices I have made with my architectural projects is directly related to my ability to remove as much solidity as I can, in other words, skeletonize the building. If you reference my model of the John Hancock building in Chicago, and my model of the Bank of China building in Hong Kong, you can see they are perfect candidates, since they are iconic in form with either the actual structural steel in the case of the John Hancock, or configuration with the Bank of China. Currently the John Hancock building received a 67% print success which means I have to update the file for sale. I see this as a setback, but it also means that I am on the literal cutting edge of the tolerances for your machines. As a designer, that gives me an advantage.

Concerning my model of the Burj al Arab in Dubai, it is unique in its ability to remove the entire habitable space and still have a model that is easy to understand and recognize, especially with a helicopter pad with a scale helicopter. I keep this model in the corner of my office and the sun hits it directly during the day. It is absolutely stunning, and represents the future of printing for architects and owners.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai by East Tower Design

Burj Al Arab, Dubai by East Tower Design

What’s next for your modeling and designing?

I am experimenting with projecting real-time information onto the models, such as current weather, or traffic. The idea of having a 3D printed solid model with animated information is fascinating to me.

I am also developing a paper box with led lights to place the city models on top of.

What inspires you to design?
As to my inspiration, I love architecture. It is the ultimate in sculptured reality, and it has to provide the Vitruvian principles of firmness, commodity, and delight. The complexity of a city and all of its buildings, rivers and geography is comforting. In the same way the complexity required to produce a building is also comforting. If you have seen a working model file from the Autocad Revit software you know what I am talking about.

I am removing myself from the traditional process of architecture and hopefully inserting a useful addition for communication between architects, themselves and their clients. My endgame is consulting business where I deliver 3D printed models to architects for internal use after which they can sell them to the client, or donate them to schools. My focus in development is being able to convert a 3D file for delivery (scale 3D printed model) well within the schedule of each phase of an architectural project.

Architects use varying pieces of software to produce construction documents. Currently, the process to just “print out a building” is fraught with failure and expectations unfulfilled. The size and material demand for scale 3D printed models are prohibitive in nature, although they do not compare to traditional methods of architectural interns using exacto knives to produce paper models. I have consulted on several architectural projects, where the architects wanted a 3D printed model and ultimately the cost of production (including my fee) is the limiting factor. If I can lower the cost of the 3D print by removing irrelevant information and by skeletonizing or even hollowing an entire building I can bring the cost into play for useful models that architects will happily pay for.

Boston, Massachusetts by East Tower Design

Boston, Massachusetts by East Tower Design

We’re excited to see all that Daren will achieve with 3D architectural models. In the meantime, check out his incredible shop here, and let us know in the comments what buildings or cities you’d like to hold in your hand.