Category Archives: 3D Modeling

Designer Proposes With Beautiful 3D Printed Crystalized Hearts Ring

When the love of 3D printing meets the love of another person, a marriage between the two usually occurs. Belgian designer Kurt Drubbel recently proposed to his long time girlfriend with a gorgeous 3D printed engagement ring he designed. This unique piece is covered with tiny crystalyzed hearts (visible up close only). The ring was prototyped in alumide and finally printed in polished silver.

Kurt and his fiancé have a 2 year old daughter together. He presented the 3D printed ring to her on a ferry on a rough sea at night, between the islands of Malta and Gozo. The answer was an overwhelming yes.

Here are some photos of the ring printed in polished silver

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Video showing the prototype and final ring

On behalf of the Shapeways team, we want to congratulate Kurt and his fiancé on their engagement! Do you have a 3D printed love story to tell? We’d like to hear it. Shoot us a email to community@shapeways.com.

Introducing the 3D Manufacturing Format

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You may have heard the news that a new 3D Manufacturing Format (3MF) was announced recently at Microsoft Build. We’re excited to have a part in this news and wanted to come here to tell you more about it. The announcement today was in regards to the 3MF Consortium we are a part of. Seven leading companies in the global 3D printing sector have come together and will release the 3FM specification, which allows design applications to send full-fidelity 3D models to a mix of other applications, platforms, services and printers. The first version of the specification is available now for download at no charge!

We’re in great company as the other members of the 3MF Consortium are: Dassault Systemes S.A.; FIT AG/netfabb GmbH; Microsoft Corporation; HP; SLM Solutions Group AG; and Autodesk. For additional background, the 3MF Consortium is a Joint Development Foundation project. The Joint Development Foundation is an independent non-profit organization that provides the corporate and legal infrastructure to enable groups to establish and operate standards and source code development.

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The mission is to deliver a 3D printing file format that is:

  • Rich enough to fully describe a model, retaining internal information, color, and other details.
  • Extensible so that it supports new innovations in 3D printing.
  • Practical, simple to understand and easy to implement.
  • Free of the issues inherent in other widely used file formats.

 

While modern 3D printers, including lower-cost models, are capable of printing items that are otherwise difficult to describe using existing formats it was definitely time for a change. The 3MF specification eliminates the problems associated with currently available file formats, like STL (which was originally designed in 1989!). It resolves interoperability and functionality issues, and will allow for further innovation in the industry.

Sounds great, right?

So how did this all start? It all began with a discussion among industry leaders regarding the best way to enable all of our various products to work well together. The group determined that the best approach would be to create a new 3D file format and support it through a collaborative effort with broad industry involvement. Accordingly, Microsoft donated its 3D file format work-in-progress as the starting point for the 3MF Consortium’s further development of the specification.

We’re honored to be a part of this amazing group and hope the 3D printing community is excited for what’s to come. We’ll be sure to keep the community updated as things progress and new versions of this specification are released!

Shapeways and DJI Take Flight

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Today we are excited to announce that we have partnered with DJI, the market leader in easy-to-fly drones, to further enable the Shapeways community to create unique 3D printed accessories for drone products. DJI hand-picked some of their favorite drone accessories on Shapeways for a special curated list to show support for the current (and future) maker community.

Why is this so exciting? It’s the first time a major brand has supported the maker community in this way. By acknowledging the unique creations Shapeways designers are making for their products, they are truly showing their support of the maker community and the innovation that is produced on a daily basis. Check out this page to see the amazing DJI-curated accessories!

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We’re also thrilled to announce that Adam Savage (host of Mythbusters!) is working with us and DJI to show his support of the 3D printing community. An avid DJI drone fan, Adam has been making his own modifications for years. He is a fan of 3D printing with Shapeways to bring to life durable, custom add-ons, creating more drone accessories that build off the incredible design of DJI drone products. He will be working with the Shapeways community of designers to create more accessories to offer to drone fans around the world.

Fresh off the announcement of their new Phantom 3, we’re excited to see what new designs and accessories show up in the future. We’re so glad that DJI is further supporting its customers’ passion and innovation by highlighting some of the best community-designed accessories and opening up co-creation to its whole fan base.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more exciting news and collaborations between us and DJI. In the meantime, keep creating amazing products!

 

 

Announcing the winners of our 3D Printed Miniature Houses Contest

We are thrilled to finally announce the winners of our 3D Printed Miniature Houses contest! In conjunction with the fabulous blog Modern Mini Houses, we invited mini house fans to share the beautiful displays they’ve created that incorporate 3D printed furniture and accessories. Modern Mini Houses blogger Megan Hornbecker teamed up with Kacie Hultgren of Pretty Small Things and Carol Mitcheson of Mitchy Moo Miniatures to judge entries.

I do not envy their position, as all entries were really wonderful (and cute!). But they’ve narrowed it down to the four winners! And the awards go to…

Gold $125 Credit: Otterine
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Silver $75 Credit: Alice Miniatures
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Bronze $50 Credit: Paper Doll Miniatures
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Shamrock Luck of the Draw $25 Credit: Mod Pod Miniatures
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Thank you so much to all the participants and a big thanks to Megan, Kacie and Carol for their hard work and time on this. It’s so wonderful to see a community take so much pride in their work, while incorporating others’ products! Keep up the great work and congrats to all the winners! If you have ideas for more contest, let us know! We love to see all the creativity come to life thanks to 3D printing, but more importantly, thanks to you!

Our Newest 3D Tool: Scaling Your Models for 3D Printing

Today Shapeways is growing our suite of 3D tools by launching the ability to scale your model to different sizes during the upload process. This enables greater flexibility for you to purchase models at the price you want and to remedy common printability problems like thin walls and bounding box errors on-site. You will have the option to scale your model by dimension and percentage in two different locations: the Model Edit page so you can see how pricing changes after scaling and within 3D tools for when you are trying to improve the printability of your model.

Scaling your model by dimension or percentage is easy in 3D tools or on the Model Edit page.

Scaling your model by dimension or percentage is easy in 3D tools or on the Model Edit page.

Scaling empowers you to quickly and proportionally resize models to exact specifications so art, home items, games, and other products can be adjusted without using 3D software and then having to re-upload the model.

Scaling can be used by experienced designers and is easy enough for beginner designers and modelers with limited to no modeling experience. For example, the availability of 3D scanned people, monuments, art, and objects of all sizes available on sites like Sketchfab offer a new source of 3D printable content and inspiration. Now, with the option for simple, straightforward scaling that requires no modeling experience, novice to experienced designers can make incredible scanned data like an ancient statue come to life in a size that can fit in your home – and fit in our 3D printers.

Bringing scanned content to life

Sketchfab designer Nebulousflynn’s scanned model of one of the daughters of the sea-god Nereus from the Nereid Monument constructed in 390-380 BC is well over 5 feet (or ~1.52 meters). Using the new scaling tool on Shapeways, you can reduce its from a statue that would take considerable space in your living room to a stunning miniature in full colored sandstone you can place on your bookshelf. Simply download the model like this from Sketchfab, upload it to Shapeways, scale it down – and we will 3D print it!

Scanned model of one of the daughters of the sea-god Nereus from the Nereid Monument by Nebulousflynn, a designer at Sketchfab

Scanned model of one of the daughters of the sea-god Nereus from the Nereid Monument by Nebulousflynn, a designer at Sketchfab

Printability plays a key factor in determining what size to print a scanned model. If the scanned model contains thin walls, you can increase the size of the model within 3D tools to thicken the walls while checking on the bounding box to ensure you aren’t making it too big to print in your desired material. Increasing the size can also ensure that small details are visible. Humanti’s statue of a woman carrying a harvest, Heykelhigh2suport, presents a great example of bringing existing scanned data to life, while making sure that the model is large enough to show all the details that make it beautiful.

Beautiful scanned model called Heykelhigh2suport by Humanti, a designer from Sketchfab

Beautiful scanned model called Heykelhigh2suport by Humanti, a designer from Sketchfab

Finding the right scanned model to work with when considering file formats, model completeness, licensing and attribution, and other factors can sometimes make 3D printing a scanned model tricky. Check out our tutorial to help you navigate these considerations.

Empowering entrepreneurs with greater pricing and model size consistency

For entrepreneurs who are using 3D scanning to capture new models, scaling offers additional controls to price and size products consistently.  Scanned data often introduces a lot of variability, especially when you are scanning people, because every individual is unique. This creates variability in the cost per printed miniature person; with scaling, as long as you maintain the printability of the model, you can adjust the size of miniatures to create greater cost consistency.  Or, if size consistency is more important, you can make each miniature exactly the same height.

Three printed scans of Dan in full color sandstone in different sizes: from front to back, 10.5cm tall, 12.5cm tall, and 14.5cm tall.

Three printed scans of Dan in full color sandstone in different sizes: from front to back, 10.5cm tall, 12.5cm tall, and 14.5cm tall.

To demonstrate this, we scanned and printed one of our team members Dan using Skanect, a 3D scanning software made by our partners Occipital.  Skanect makes it very easy for users to scan and prep models for 3D printing using a variety of scanning hardware, including Occipital’s own Structure Sensor, and allows you to scale your model by percentage when uploading to Shapeways.  Together, scaling on Shapeways and Skanect allow you to confidently and consistently offer and print your scans at the size or price you want. We printed Dan in three different sizes at three different price points to show how easy it can be.

It’s important to remember that changing the size of a model will always impact both the price and the printability of your model. Check 3D tools after you scale a model to ensure that your new model is printable and you are aware of any changes to how your model may be printed.  Also remember that when you scale your model, it will be saved as a new version of your model which will not carry over any printability data.  This means if you scale an existing “For Sale” model, and scale it to a different size, it will have ‘First to Try’ status.

We hope you enjoy this new tool. Upload a new model or use one of your existing models to try scaling today!

3D Print Week Meetup with Shapeways, Formlabs and the Made in NY Media Center

Happy 3D Print Week everybody! We’re busy getting ready for a lot of NY-based events this week, but wanted to let our community know about a great meetup happening soon.

Join us on Wednesday, April 15, in partnership with Formlabs and the Made in NY Media Center by IFP, for a meetup focused on bringing together 3D modelers and media makers to share their work, tips for getting started and more. The event will also feature a panel, moderated by our own Andrew Thomas, including Shapeways designers discussing how 3D printing is making media more dynamic and varied. We will have their work showcased, along with Formlabs artist Gilles Deschaud.

  • What: 3D Printing + Media Making: Content, Challenges and Inspiration
  • When: Wednesday, April 15th; 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Where: The Made in NY Media Center by IFP (30 John Street, DUMBO, Brooklyn NY)

 

Panelists:

David Lobser, Creative Coder

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David Lobser is a Brooklyn based artist, animator and creative coder. He had a long career in commercial computer animation and has recently been producing 3D printed work and virtual reality experiences.

Melissa Ng, 3D Printing Mask Maker and jewelry designer

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Melissa Ng is a doodler, entrepreneur and 3D Printing mask maker. She is the founder of Lumecluster, wonderlands for the entrepreneurial mind. She is also a co-founder of Piano Verse, a place to play, learn, and love music in New York.

Peter Zaharatos, Architect

As principal designer for the Second Avenue Subway Line, Peter Zaharatos has established the line identity, and through his multifaceted design strategy, developed signature designs for a new metro which will represent future NYC subway stations. His work has been published in Architectural Record and was exhibited at the Mayor’s groundbreaking ceremony in 2007. His professional work experience has made him a leader in many work environments, while establishing his strong ability to manage design projects through programming, schematics, development and construction document levels.

If you’re interested in attending please register for the event here.  Join us afterward for a reception. Hope to see you there!

 

3DPrintingDog Creates 3D Printed Kinetic sculptures

Some of the best designs we come across on Shapeways are the ones that take advantage of the printers we use to create incredible unique products we’ve never seen before. A Digital design studio called 3DPrintingDog based out of Philadelphia, PA uses the power of Shapeways SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) printing to make 3D printed Kinetic sculptures that come out of the printer with no assembly required. Here are a few examples of the designs that they’re making designed with Solidworks.

Deconstructed Bicycle Freewheel

 

Deconstructed Bicycle Freewheel

What are some of your favorite fully articulated designs you’ve come across on Shapeways? Let us know in a comment below or tweet us @Shapeways.

Welcome Michael Weinberg: Shapeways General Counsel and IP Expert

Hi Shapeways!  I’m excited to be joining the team as the new IP and General Counsel around here.  3D printing is obviously amazing for all sorts of reasons, and one of those is how it gives people an opportunity to rethink their relationship to intellectual property law.  3D printed objects and files do not fit as neatly into intellectual property law as things like music and movies.  This gives the 3D printing community a chance to redefine the relationship between creativity, creation, and intellectual property law (among so many other things).  Law certainly has an important role, but a healthy community does not rely on law alone in order to thrive.

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For the past few years, I’ve been working on public interest technology policy at Public Knowledge.  While there, I wrote a few whitepapers on 3D printing and intellectual property law: : It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw It UpWhat’s The Deal with Copyright and 3D Printing3 Steps for Licensing Your 3D Printed Stuff.  I also helped to organize 3D/DC, an annual 3D printing policy conference in Washington, DC.

I’m excited to join Shapeways and to try and put some of the ideas I have been working on for the past few years into practice.  As the leading 3D printing service and marketplace, Shapeways is uniquely positioned to help establish and model the ways in which we interact with the 3D printed world.  Doing things right here at Shapeways means proving to the world that we can avoid some of the fights that have held back new technologies in the past.

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Fortunately, Shapeways already has a track record of doing things right.  We have partnered with Hasbro to create SuperFanArt and pioneer a new model for collaboration between existing IP holders and their most devoted fans.    We have also taken a community-first approach to defining and implementing our content policy in order to make sure that Shapeways works for the Shapeways community.

I know that these great initiatives are just the beginning.  The best thing for Shapeways and the Shapeways community is to create a space that works for everyone.  That means respecting rights and creativity, and encouraging experimentation and new models.  It also means continuing to be strong advocates on behalf of 3D printing and the 3D printing community.  We’re still at the beginning of this process, and look forward to continuing to develop new methods of fueling creativity in the future.

Of course, part of trying new things is sometimes getting things wrong.  Fortunately, the best way to respond when you are getting something wrong is to make it right.  In that spirit, if you see us doing something wrong or you have ideas of ways that we could be doing more right, send me an email at mweinberg@shapeways.com or a tweet @mweinberg2D.  I can’t promise that I will be able to answer everything, but I’ll do my best.  Of course, you can also send me emails and tweets if we are doing something right.

Finally, I look forward to connecting with the Shapeways community through this blog and other channels.  Shapeways works because it works for you, and I know that sometimes changes (especially changes that involve legal aspects, and even if they are good changes) can be disruptive.  I will strive to be as transparent as possible about what we are up to.

Until then, keep making great things!

 

 

Behind the product: Pocket Clip for Fitbit Flex

We love to hear all about the amazing products we see here at Shapeways. What was the inspiration? How many times was it printed before it was perfect? This series is about exploring the stories behind the creative and unique products that go through our printers.

The Pocket Clip for Fitbit Flex has been a popular product since it was introduced. It’s the perfect example of a product that fulfilled a market need – something that really can’t be found anywhere else. We caught up with the designer, Tom Felker,  to find out more about how the idea came about and how he works with customers to create various versions and improve upon the model.

Where did the idea for this product come from? 

I think this fell into the “necessity is the mother of invention” category. My job’s health insurance program gave everyone Fitbits as part of a fitness incentive, but I already wore a watch and didn’t want two bands. My friend and I were talking about it, and we thought maybe we could 3D print something. The way it snaps in was sort of inspired by how the Fitbit USB charger works, though that snaps in a little differently and uses a spring.

I think I just got sort of lucky in that the problem I solved is shared by lots of Fitbit users, and there are quite a few of them out there.

Walk us through the iteration process? How many designs did you go through?

I iterated the design on paper a little bit before even making a model. At first I didn’t have a great idea for how you’d take the Fitbit out, and I was thinking about having a bendable tab you’d push or something. I decided to figure that out later, make a model and sent it to Shapeways to be printed.

When I got it, I put the Fitbit in and it snapped in perfectly – but I forgot that I had no way to get it out so prying it out was quite a project. Around then I had the obvious-in-retrospect idea to add a hole in the back so you could just push it out with your finger. First I just used a rasp to add the hole into the model I had, and then I changed the 3D model and ordered version 2. I think I made one more version with some minor changes to the geometry to make it snap harder.

Somewhere along the way, I also tried different materials. I found that alumide was too stiff, and I knew the UV resin materials would be a little too brittle but WSF worked great. I had tried rubber and realized I would need a very different design to make that work. Much later, I tried a different design to work with metal but I haven’t gotten too far with that yet. I also tried a version my friend printed out on his hobbyist FDM printer in ABS, but it wasn’t dimensionally accurate enough and was way too stiff – and didn’t look too good.

How important has customer feedback been to you?

When making the first proof-of-concept model I wasn’t talking to customers yet, but later I was. There was a customer who wanted to put it on a pendant, so I made that variant for her and have sold a few of those. Another wanted the pendant loop to go the other way, and so I modeled that, then added a ring to it so you’d have a choice, and at that point you might as well add a chain, and the keychain version was born. Somebody was asking about a version you could use to make a paracord bracelet, so I did that as a beta model. I also ended up strengthening the clip on the pocket clip version due to customer feedback.

What have you learned about the 3D printing process through this product?

I think a lot of what I’ve learned has been more about selling things. The power that exposure can give you. The need to be very clear when communicating to customers.

Do you think gadget accessories will continue to be a popular category for 3D printing?

I think gadget accessories will always be a pretty big part of 3D printing. I come from an engineering side of things, and I probably don’t have a good understanding or appreciation for art (or a lot of budget or space to spend on purely artistic objects), but when you have a dealy-bob and you really need a widget holding bracket for it, 3D printing is perfect for that.

Thanks for the insight into this popular product, Tom. We’re excited to see what else you come up with in the future!

 

Easy steps to get started 3D printing right now

Dain Penman is a member of Shapeways Crew and the owner of the Madasu Designs Shapeways shop

This blog outlines what you need to do to start 3D printing, based on my own experience.

The first thing you will need (aside from an idea) is a design program – unless you would like to use one of Shapeways Easy Creator Apps. I am currently using Autodesk’s 123D Design which is a free 3D design program I downloaded (http://www.123dapp.com/design). Autodesk also have a number of associated programs such as 123 Catch which is a 3D scanner using a smartphone and Meshmixer, an editing program where you can update textures, combine models and generally play around with 3D models.

To create a design, there are 3 main methods I use (often in combination):
Working with functions such as using 3D objects like cubes, spheres and cylinders. I then modify these objects to end up with a 3D model;
Create 2D sketches using 2D objects like squares, circles and lines and make them 3D by applying a thickness, or;
Importing 2D sketches from the internet.

The process is best explained using an example of a pair of cufflinks:

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I started by importing a 2D image (which I found on the internet and converted to a .svg file), as below:

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The imported file becomes a 2D sketch, to which I applied a thickness – so I then had a 3 dimensional object shaped like the above. The picture was quite large (about 20cm across), so I used a scale tool to reduce the size down to around 2cm across. The program has a grid, so I estimated the size against the 5mm grid the object was placed on.

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I then checked the thickness by using the measuring tool as I wanted a more precise measurement for the height. I made it 2.5mm high.

To make the backs for the cufflink I created two cylinders. When I create the cylinders I specify the radius of the cylinder and the height. I created one short, wider one for the back piece and a taller, thinner one for the piece joining the front and the back.

I then filleted the edges on the cylinders to create smooth edges. Where the angle is external, it trims away and makes a smoother edge. Where the angle is internal (like where a wall meets the ceiling), the rounding ‘fills in’ to make a smoother corner, much like a cornice on a wall/ceiling join.

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Once all this was done and a single cufflink was complete, I duplicated the design to make the pair. I then exported the file in a .stl format which contains the model data including the size of the model.

The file is uploaded to Shapeways on the design page where the model is automatically checked against a number of characteristics to check it can be printed.

The requirements differ between different materials, so you should have an idea what materials you are designing for before you start.

Once it is checked, Shapeways gives you prices for different materials and you can then order your model! You can also select materials to sell and set the price. You can add tags, categories and a description for the model, to get the final product:

get into 3D print pic 4What was your first 3D printing project? What inspired you to get started and what resources were helpful?

Arty Lobster creates 3D printed tributes to favorite pets

Lars Anderson is the founder of Arty Lobster and a member of Shapeways Crew

My name is Lars Andersen, and I am the founder of Arty Lobster, the largest company specializing in accurate 3D pet sculptures in the world. Our modelers covert a photo of a favorite pet and convert it to a life-like 3D model, which is then 3D printed in full color sandstone.

3D printed dog sculpture Arty Lobster

Max by Arty Lobster

At Arty Lobster, we love pets. It is brilliant to see how our customers react when they see a realistic sculpture of their dog or cat. My background is in (2D) printing customized products, and I could see that 3D printing pet sculptures, with the challenges of fur and modeling, seemed like a great challenge

Real life Max

Real life Max

Arty Lobster is completely dependent on excellent 3D printing capability. As the company has grown we made a strategic decision to initially invest in strong in-house modeling capability, but not to purchase our own 3D printer. 3D print technology moves so fast, and full colour printers are fairly expensive, so we were happy to outsource this. Arty Lobster looked at both local (London, UK) and remote 3D printing options, and we chose Shapeways for speed, choice of materials and price. The good customer service at Shapeways, as well as all the automated tools to assess printability are also very important to us.

The most passionate testimonials we receive are from people who have recently lost their pet. “Just received my small statue of Shadow and had a little cry. It resembles her so much. Thank you,” was the feedback from a recent customer.

Photo and 3D model of Bertie by Arty Lobster

Photo and 3D model of Bertie by Arty Lobster

For as, the biggest modeling challenge is to get an absolutely accurate representation of the pet, bearing in mind the small size (approx. 8 cm tall) and the printing resolution, the right color, right proportions and the look in its eyes. Fur is probably the most challenging individual part of modeling dogs or cats. No full color machine can print high resolution small strands of hair yet, so we have to find an artistic solution instead of modeling each hair.

It is also sometimes a challenge to get the personality of a pet into a sculpture. We can often see that a dog looks calm, intelligent or fierce, and we try to convey this in the sculpture
The shape of very lean dogs like greyhounds can be a challenge, as they have very thin legs and tail that can easily be too delicate for 3D printing.

Bonnie by Arty Lobster

Bonnie by Arty Lobster

As we do not use a scanning booth, but ask customers to upload their own photos. Sometimes the photos we receive have been taken 5 or 10 years apart, showing a very different looking pet. They can be before/after fur is trimmed and sometimes very low resolution or out of focus. Particularly when a pet has passed away, we might have to work with very different images. I like to think that we manage to get a good results for most, if not all of them.

Like many creative businesses, marketing Arty Lobster is a big challenge. In addition, with 3D printed sculptures, many people want to see and touch the product to understand what we do. We have had a number of great bloggers who have featured us after receiving their own sample pet sculpture, and we grow on word-of-mouth from our existing customers. Lately, we have also started to sell through resellers who heard of us through word-of-mouth, such as online pet shops and vets.

See more examples of Arty Lobster’s pet sculptures in their testimonials section.

Be irrational and celebrate National Pi Day!

Posted by in 3D Modeling

What do you get when you cut a jack-o-lantern by it’s diameter? Pumpkin Pi!

What is the official animal of Pi day? A Pi-thon!

Whether you’re a mathematician or not, National Pi Day is always a good time. From the jokes to the (sometimes) free pies, March 14th is a special day.  Tomorrow is particularly special, as it’s 3.14…15! Super Pi Day!

At Shapeways, we can’t help but get in the spirit with so many fun Pi inspired products being created by our community! Check out some of our favorites below:





3D Racetracks lands licensing deal with major European motorsports complex

As we’ve talked about in recent weeks, we think it’s becoming more important and relevant for larger organizations and brands to open up their Intellectual Property and allow their fans to create products based on some of their favorite characters, and the like. As Hasbro has done with SuperFanArt, we’re always happy to see our designers working with companies to expand creativity and innovation. It continues to be a topic of discussion, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the conversation.

Today, we’re excited to talk about one of our amazing shop owners, Jeremy Burnich, who recently struck up a licensing agreement with motorsports complex, Nürburgring, to produce four Nordschleife track sculptures – including the unique topographic models, a design only available through 3D Racetracks.

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We caught up with Jeremy to talk a little more about his designs and how this deal came to be:

Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration behind these tracks?

I started making these track models because I am pretty obsessed with MotoGP – Grand Prix motorcycle racing. There’s a few places where you can get track sculptures in wood but they are close to $300+. Since I was designing jewelry and other items for Joy Complex I decided to try making models to be 3D printed. When I came up with the idea of making these tracks, all I really wanted to do were the circuits on the current MotoGP calendar. That’s how it started. It got a little more serious after I showed them to my local MotoGP friends. They really dug them. I printed a few more and shared the photos on Reddit and the response was very positive.

After that I decided I wanted to make something REALLY different and it just so happened that when I did I was glancing at an article on the new (at the time) Circuit of the Americas in Texas. I was admiring the elevation changes and that’s when it hit me – no one had ever done topographic models before, only outlines. Topographic models would be sort of hard to make traditionally, but 3D printing is kind of perfect for making them. That’s when I started hunting for elevation data and experimenting with designs!

What is your favorite part of designing these tracks?

As a MotoGP fan, I suppose my favorite part is that I get sort of more acquainted with the circuits my favorite riders compete on. Being sort of hands on with the topography really makes me appreciate the sport even more. Also, I guess it’s the same reason anyone builds a model airplane, train or spaceship – to be transported somewhere else. To feel closer to a place or maybe even a time. In the end, I thought it would be neat to hold my favorite tracks in the palm of my hand. You really feel connected to the particular track when you’re holding it. It’s strange. Really, it makes you want to see a race even more, so I guess it feeds the obsession. My other favorite thing is when they sell! Each track I sell goes into my MotoGP fund for my trip to COTA or Indy. If I sell a lot, maybe even a race in Europe!

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How did you connect with Nürburgring?

I posted a picture of the track model on their Facebook page and tweeted about it, but because I used their logo without permission they kindly asked me to stop. However, they also asked me if I was receptive to working with them and perhaps officially license the track model so that I could use their logo. After that, we were emailing back and forth until we hammered out a contract we were both happy with. 

What’s next for you? Any fun new designs coming up?

I’m in negotiations with another big European racing facility, and I’m always adding new tracks or refining the designs on old ones. I am also working on a collaboration with my friend Alex Alexander who runs the shop Mini F1 Drivers. We should have something pretty soon! He’s doing amazing work and has a few official products of his own. He’s big into Formula 1 and with me being in MotoGP, maybe we can corner the 3D printed motorsports market! 

Great stuff! The Nürburgring North Loop models will be available at the Online Nürburgring Store and in their paddock shop. They are also available to purchase directly from 3D Racetracks on Shapeways.

Two New Visualizations in Shapeways 3D tools: Bounding Box and Parts

Designing for 3D printing is more than just making a 3D model.  It’s understanding how big you want your figurine to stand on your desk, how thin your ring can be in plastic versus gold, and keeping track of all the details on intricate models while making sure all the parts are connected.  We launched Shapeways 3D tools in January to help bridge the gap between creating and designing a 3D model and actually  having it printed by giving you more confidence to know when your model is ready for the printers.

Today we are launching two new visualizations in 3D tools to help you further understand what your model will look like when it lands in your hands: a bounding box visualization and a part count visualization.

 Understanding Model Size: Material Specific Bounding Box Visualization

Understanding how big or small your model is physically and what materials you can print it in based on it’s size can be challenging when you are staring at your model on a screen and can easily zoom in and out.  This is especially true if you are designing for multiple materials – what’s the right size model that lets you print in all your favorites? Understanding how to change your model to make it the right size – is one part of the model too long? Do I just need to scale it slightly smaller? – can be tricky without being able to see the maximum and minimum size you can print in for a specific material.

By clicking on the bounding box tool in 3D tools, you can understand both how large or small your model is in relation to the bounding box for a specific material, and what part of your model is too big or small. Our visualization combines two elements: coloring parts of the model that are too big or too small red so you know which parts have issues, and visualizing the maximum and minimum bounding box oriented around your model as a transparent box.

When your model is within the size guidelines to be printed, you will see it inside the maximum bounding box.  So if you were thinking of making it a bit bigger or smaller, you can get a sense for how much you could change the size of your model.

size, bounding box, visualization, shapeways

If your model is too large, the part of the bounding box where the model is sticking outside the maximum bounding box will turn red to help you identify along which dimensions your model is too large.  If you have a multiple part model, only the parts of the model that exceed the bounding box size restrictions will turn red. Parts of your multiple part model that are OK in size will remain grey.

bounding box, size, too big, shapeways, visualization

If your model is too small, you will see it colored red inside a minimum bounding box.  By moving your model around, you can see which dimension(s) of your model are too small.

bounding box, size, too small, visualization, Shapeways

Identify Accidental Loose Shells: Part Count Visualization

Building detailed, complex models can result in incredible creations that are a marvel to hold and see.  Sometimes though, with so many details and parts, loose shells can accidentally be created.  Loose shells are pieces of your model that are separate and unconnected from the base part of the model. These can be intentional, but are often unintentional.

Our new part count visualization helps protect you from ordering a model you expect to come in one piece, but actually receive in many pieces because it uniquely colors each and every part. For example, in this model made of connected stars, all the stars were intended to connect to each other except two of them were slightly misaligned.  With the part count visualization, you can clearly see the accidental loose shells – the two unconnected stars – and fix your model appropriately.

part, multiple parts, part count, 3D tools, Shapeways

Go to 3D tools today from My Models or Model Edit and check out your models in the bounding box and part count tool to see how big or small your models are or if you have any accidental loose shells!

 

Designer Spotlight: Urbano Rodriguez

This week we are thrilled to feature Urbano Rodriguez. A clearly creative mind, Urbano creates some amazing gadget accessories that are not only functional, but fun to look at. As a professional designer by day, he also takes his skills and experiments with unique jewelry and toys, so he’s created a shop full of interesting items for everyone!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
All of my family is from Spain, but I was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and I live and work here. I graduated with a degree in marketing and advertising. I have since developed my work as an Art Director, Designer, and Web Designer at mkt1, an small Internet Agency I founded with a friend, about 14 years ago.

urodriguez

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