Category Archives: 3D Modeling

Friday Finds Six New 3D Designers for Hire

Happy Friday! For this week’s Friday Finds we’ve rounded up six new Designers for Hire. Sometimes, the best way to get what you really want is to work with one of our talented designers.

Whether you are looking to make that custom piece of jewelry, have a killer product idea or just need help with getting your 3D file repaired there’s a designer who can make your dream come to life.

We’re adding new designers regularly, here’s this weeks roundup:

First up, Scott Denton. With over 10 years in the 3D modeling and animation industry, he’ll help you create a custom cartoon character or a special piece of jewelry. He’s recently started making custom head badges for bikes, so you can really pimp your ride.

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Robert Blinn is the lead designer for GothamSmith and a SolidWorks pro. He has modeled everything from animal jewelry to a life size hockey goalie and reverse engineered heels for fancy shoes and theft proof iPad cases. Contact him for all your product design ideas. He’s also based in New York City and happy to meet in person.

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Antoine Boulay is a French CAD professor at the Ecole Boulle Paris and as a jeweler has worked with luxury brands like Chanel, Swarowski and Baccarat for over 20 years. Contact him to realize your fine jewelry and watch design ideas. He prefers to work in French, so if you are a Francophile, you’re in luck!

Corinne Hansen has been modeling for 4 years and is very familiar with Shapeways materials. As a jeweler, metalsmith and ceramicist, she specializes in 3D design, especially in creating costume props, jewelry and imaginative characters. Contact her to realize your most fanciful ideas!

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On the other end of the design spectrum, we have Tim Solomon who specializes in engineering and mechanical design. He has been modeling for 10 years and uses his versatile skills to model everything from toys, statues and figurines to parts for cars, computers, washer/dryers and RC parts. Contact him to make replacement parts and complex mechanical designs.

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Last but not least, our very own Andrew Thomas, a sculptor and designer with ample 3D printing experience of artworks, toys and prototypes. He  works as a customer service agent at Shapeways, so he knows the ins and outs of our design guidelines. He’s great at complex toy design like this working miniature Foosball Table, which doubles as an iPhone 5 case! Amazing!

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Got your creative juices flowing? Browse our Designers for Hire now! If you’re a 3D designer and wish to be considered, please apply here.

Have a happy and creative Halloween!


 

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Make Each Social Media Platform Work For You

Hello Shapeways designers and shop owners! My name is Eric Ho and I am the Social Media Specialist here at Shapeways and in this blog post I’ll be teaching you how to promote your business on social media and how to make each social media platform work for you. The four big social media platforms we will be focusing on will be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

In the world of social media there is no one social strategy fits all, there is only one social media strategy tailored to you. The better you understand the tools, function, and advantages of each social platform the better you will be able to develop a social media presence catered to your business. One rule that everyone should follow on social media is that content is King and distribution is Queen. Tailoring your messaging to your audience with eye catching visuals and thought provoking text will increase the likelihood of people sharing and engaging with the content you’re sharing on social media. Mastering how to tell stories and tailoring your messaging specifically for each of these four major social media platforms will allow you get attention and increase your chances of you acquiring new audiences.

Facebook

The largest social media platform on the internet means there is the most demand for attention to be sought after on ones newsfeed. Make sure you have a business fan page on Facebook and most of your posts should include a highly engaging image. especially a high quality image that visually showcases the product. Keep the text short, straightforward, and include the information readers care about. Don’t be afraid to include a call to action which can include “learn more, shop now, get started”. Facebook posts with photos included get at least 2X more engagement (likes, shares, comments) than text posts alone, and including a video in your post can lead to 4X more engagement. For more information on managing your Shapeways Shop Facebook fan page go here.

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(embedding a video to the Facebook post instead of linking to a YouTube video increase views of that Facebook post by 3X, Learn how to upload a video to Facebook here.)

Twitter

Twitter is like one giant cocktail party and anyone is invited. If you are going to use Twitter for one purpose I recommend you take advantage of Twitter search, whether that’s searching a keyword or a specific hashtag. For example if you’re a jewelry designer and want to jump into a conversation about Jewelry, just search #Jewelry on Twitter and you can begin tweeting at people talking about Jewelry, following those people, or you can tweet about #Jewelry to anyone else looking to join in on the conversation about Jewelry.  Learn more about how to how to best compose tweets here.

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Pinterest

People come to Pinterest for visual discovery, creative inspiration, and sharing and collecting those discoveries and inspirations. The Pinterest platform is made up of 80% females, It is no coincidence that many businesses are using this platform to attract shoppers. Just like with Facebook, keep the text short and post  visually attractive images of your products. Make sure to Pin to various categories which your designs may overlap. Also similar to Twitter, you can search various categories and comment on other people’s pins to increase the chance of pinners discovering you. Interested in having your own Pinterest board on the Shapeways Pinterest page? Learn how you can have your own Pinterest board on the Shapeways Pinterest page here.

 

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Instagram

Think of a photo snapped from your phone straight to Instagram. Instagram is one of the most personal and human ways you can engage with your customers on social media. Often times photos on Facebook and Pinterest are touched up to look pretty but with Instagram you have the option to make photos and video up close and personal, whether that’s with products or behind the scenes of your business. When it comes to sharing products I find that utilizing videos and photos that show the products out in the open and in the wild are very effective. Share photos of people engaging with your products and ask yourself what does my customer look like? And what use case scenario can can they use my product in? If you’re making sculptures, share photos of your your sculptures on someone’s bookshelf. If you’re making jewelry share a photo of someone wearing your jewelry trailered to a specific occasion or outfit. Get creative with Instagram and you’ll make it work.

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The best way to find success on social media is to jump right in it, experiment, learn, and get better based on results you are looking for whether that’s growing your followers, increasing engagement, driving sales, or driving traffic. There is no one method fits all when it comes to creating a social media plan for your business but if you’re looking to get more active on any of these four major social media platforms, the information above is a good starting point.


 

 

Hire a 3D Modeler & Designer: The Three C’s

Getting in the DIY spirit and want to hire a designer to bring your project to life? You’ve seen the directory of Designers for Hire, read about a designer you like, and now you’re ready to get started. Even if you’ve never hired a designer before, keeping the three C’s in mind is a good guide: Clarity, Communication and Cost.

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Clarity

Knowing what you want is half the project! The more specific you can be, the better chance you will get exactly what you want.

When talking about your idea, sketches, photos, Pinterest boards, magazine clippings and even screenshots of elements you like are all really helpful in communicating what you like. Photos are especially useful whether it be similar items that represent your idea or elements of different objects that you would like to incorporate.

It also helps to be specific about your preferred style, finishing touches and how your completed product will be used. If you know what material you would like the finished product to be made it, that helps immensely, as the 3D printing guidelines vary between materials and may influence the design itself.

If you’re still in the ‘concept’ phase (say if you are designing a new functional product) and are seeking project guidance or inspiration, be sure to choose a designer who has those skills listed as their specialty.

Designers are creative problem solvers. Once you have given them a clear outline of your requirements, let them do their creative thing and come up with creative solutions.

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Communication

Designers are experts in bringing ideas to life, and most of this magic happens through effective communication. Throughout the creation process, it’s important to communicate openly and frequently with your designer to ensure that they have a clear understanding of what you want, and you know their schedule. They should be asking you just as many questions are you are listing specifics.

Throughout the process, be honest but polite. If your designer is making something that isn’t going in the direction you were imagining, let them know. Many designers are more than happy to modify their designs as long as they have clear direction. I recommend highlighting what you liked (the more specific the better) and exactly what they need to improve on. Don’t just say “I don’t like the hard edges”. Explain why: “The hard edges make it feel minimalist and modern, I am looking for a romantic, organic feel”. The latter statement is much more useful.

In the end, designers like being able to use their own creative judgment to improve ideas. So while it is important to be specific, leave them some space to work their magic to delight you.

Depending on your project, it may be a good idea to formalize your agreement in writing. This digital contract should include all of the specific details that you and the designer agreed upon, including timing and pricing.

The process of bringing an idea to life

 

Cost

Which brings us to the last and most important point: Money. Two things to keep in mind here are how much you are willing to spend and understanding the design process.

Part of having clarity around your idea is knowing how much are you comfortable spending. Three things to consider may help you get an estimate beforehand:

1. Finished product or 3D file? Do you want just a 3D printable file that you will upload and order yourself? Or do you want a finished item? Material cost comes into play here – if you want a silver ring, part of the cost will be made up of the silver itself, and part for the design.

2. Time and labor. Larger or more detailed projects can sometimes take more time to complete, and therefore cost more.

3. One of a kind design. If this is a one of a kind item, it’s not something that you could buy in a store even if you wanted to, so the price may be a little higher than you would expect. If you are working on a brand new product, it’s worth investing in a good design. There is really no way to put a price on how incredible it is to hold something that you imagined, so keep that in mind!

4. Similar items.To get a sense of the general cost of an item before you hire a designer, look for similar items and get a sense of the price. For instance, if you want to make a piece of jewelry, browse our jewelry category section to find a handful of custom items that are of a similar size and scope. The average cost of those items is often a good starting point for you to discuss your budget with a designer.

It also helps to understand the process. Designing is a process that takes time and effort. You may not be aware of all of the “behind the scenes” work that takes place including creative brainstorming, sketching, drafts, revisions and renders. Asking your designer about the process involved in making your specific idea will help you understand the level of work involved.

Communication is key here as well! Talk to your designer as some charge by the hour, some charge by project and the complexity of your design will influence this. The more detail you can give them, the better they are able to estimate a price for you.

3D printing gives us the unique ability to make custom things to order, helping you get exactly what you want, and not just what is available. While we at Shapeways do what we can to give access to the best materials at the lowest prices, ultimately the design is what sets a product apart, and this is where the skill lies. Translating an idea into a physical object is a designers skill, and this alchemy is worth paying for!

How you work with a designer comes down to your project but keeping in mind the Three C’s should help you minimize stress and get exactly what you want. Have you hired a designer on Shapeways? Tell us about it in the comments! If you are a designer, what other tips would you offer for potential clients?

Happy creating!


 

Six New 3D Designers for Hire

Excited by 3D printing, you’ve got an idea but don’t know how to make it? We’re got an ever growing list of Designers for Hire to help you! Sometimes, the best way to get what you really want is to make it yourself, or better yet work with one of our talented designers.

Whether you are looking to make that custom piece of jewelry, have a killer product idea or just need help with getting your 3D file repaired there’s a designer who can make your dream come to life.

We’re adding new designers regularly, and this weeks roundup includes six new faces:

First up, jeweler Kathy Cherry has 14 years experience designing jewelry for brands such as Jessica Simpson, Vince Camuto and Guess. She enjoys challenges and unusual projects, so give her your best ideas!

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Urbano Rodriguez is an Art Director, Designer and 3D Modeler at mkt1, a Digital Agency based in Sao Paulo, Brazil and has over 14 years experience. Contact him with your product design ideas like his fun desk urchin.

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Justin Armstrong has a degree in 3D Design & Animation and a certification in 3D commercial design. He has worked commercially with well-known companies, like Budweiser, for a over decade and specializes in character modeling.

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Jeffrey Keiffer has over five years experience 3D modeling jewelry, architecture models, personal accessories, and other inventions. He specializes in woven or Celtic knot-like patterns,  and can help you design specifically for ceramic, metals, plastics and resins.

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On the materials note, former Shapeways employee Kat Kinkead has an extensive knowledge of our materials, and can help you with your industrial design projects from jewelry to hardware.

Last but not least, José Miguel has been the 3D content director for Vórtice Digital Media since 2000. His skills cover every step of an audiovisual production, from modeling to rendering. He can help you with portrait modeling and taking your ideas from sketches into 3D.

Ready to get started? Browse our Designers for Hire now! If you’re a 3D designer and wish to be considered, apply here.

What will you make this weekend?


 

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Reach New Customers Through Existing Forums

This is the fifth is series of 10 Shop Owner Bootcamp posts counting down to Black Friday. We’ve covered reputation, photography, market research, tagging your products and today we’ll be talking about engaging with your audience and community on forums.

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Do you want to get more traffic to your shop? Do you wish that everyone in ___ niche, category or community knew about your products? You can tell them yourself by taking part in other existing online communities. Much of our referral traffic comes from community powered forums and message boards like reddit,  PhantomPilots and TheMiniaturePage. The Shapies who engage on these forums often reap the greatest financial benefit from those visits. David Dewey, of d3wey designs, is moderator on PhantomPilots and generously shared his top 10 tips for engaging on forums. Use these to guide you in your quest to grow your audience and evangelists.

    1. Read the “Sticky” Topics: If they have them then, always read a Forum’s ‘sticky’ topics. These will often answer frequently asked questions. Failing to read them and then asking one of the questions answered within can cause some of the less friendly in a forum to be… well less friendly.
    2. Understand and Familiarize Yourself with Forum Terminology: A ‘post’ is an individual bit of writing (a posting) from a user. Posts are found inside a ‘thread’ (also called a topic). A thread is basically a discussion going on between users who’s comments are ‘posted’. When you start your own ‘thread’ it will sometimes be via a rather confusing ‘post new topic’ button (in other words start a new thread).
    3. Google Acronyms: Acronyms are everywhere and Google is your friend! If you see abbreviations or acronyms that you don’t know then Google them. If you can’t find an answer don’t be scared to ask but again you may find a ‘sticky’ that tells you all of them. Then you’ll know your I.M.O (“In my opinion”) from your IIRC (“If I Recall Correctly”)
    4. Use the Forum’s “Search” to Uncover Answers: Learn to use the search tools to answer your questions. Some forums have really good search tools (some are awful). Try where possible to do a ‘search in topic title only’. This will get you much more relevant results than searching all posts. “motor failure” for example could be written in any post in a discussion about the risks of wiring something wrong “careful or it could result in motor failure”. Search for topics with “motor failure” in the title and you are more likely to get a page full of discussion about “Why have I got motor failure?” The search on our forum works great, too!
    5. Post in the right place: Make sure if you are going to start a discussion thread or ask a question, to do so in the correct place. “Why do I have motor failure” in a sub forum called “Classifieds” isn’t going to get you anywhere.
    6. ALL CAPS IS YELLING: Remember that people will read your post based on the mood they are in. If you type in caps you will, rightly or wrongly, be seen as shouting.
    7. Beware the ‘Troll’: Love it or hate it there are people in all forums that that will just be rude, blunt and unhelpful. Ignoring is the best method and while it is noble to step into someone else’s argument it will end in raised blood pressure for little gain. You will never win them over so why waste the time trying.
    8. Forums are a Give and Take: Give back in some of what you take out. If you ask a lot of questions and get a lot of answers to begin with then drop back in from time to time and look at others who might be asking the same. Help them out and point them in the right direction. Forums are only good if the knowledge is shared.
    9. Do as Others Do with Photos: Learn how to post photos in the forum’s preferred methods (usually found in a sticky!). Many forums now allow you (and prefer you) to attach images like you would an email but some require you to post via a linked photo. If this is so Photobucket is a great free place. Create an account, upload your image, click the ‘share links’, copy the [IMG]http://www.linkisinhere.com[/IMG] link and paste it in.
    10. Video, Video, Video: A video says a thousand words. If you have a question with a problem that can be demonstrated then try and video it! Pop it on Youtube (unlisted link if needed) and post it on a thread. People are MUCH more likely to press play on video than read 500 lines of text. Most forums embed the video on the post so people can click play from there. Speaking of video, here’s a fun one David took near Loch Ness: 

Big thanks to David for sharing this awesome tips with us. His shop is full of treats for your DJI Phantom quadcopter, with everything from battery doors to GPS and GoPro mounts. There’s no mystery that the more people who see your products, the more sales you will have. By engaging with people interested in things like your products, you not only show that you’re eager to contribute to the community at-large, but you may also find work & inspiration from those communities.

Our forum is very active here at Shapeways, and is one of the ways we keep in closest touch with our community. Have you visited our forum before? What forums do you wish you were more active in but haven’t had the time or guts to join?


 

Learn How To Make Your Own Action Figure With 3D Scanning

One of the questions that we always get asked is how do you do 3D scanning? And how do you prepare a 3D scan for 3D printing? Our friends at Corridor Digital made a video to explain just that and more. Learn how they use 3D scanning using Skanect software by Occipital to prepare their custom miniatures for 3D printing with Shapeways.

Check out the video

Are you into DIY and would like to learn more about incorporating 3D printing into your projects? Check out our tutorials page where you can find information and how-tos about everything from using different 3D modeling software tools, creating 3D printable models, to managing your Shapeways shop. Also give our easy 3D printing apps a try here.


 

Local Motors Launches New 3D Printed Car

Ever wanted to order a car on demand? Fantasized about when you design even more components of your life on Shapeways than you already do? Well, with the launch of Phoenix, Arizona, USA based Local Motors new 3D printed car, we’re now accelerating faster towards this future. Meet the Strati, Italian for layers, of course.

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Image, video and specs courtesy of Local Motors

The car is 3D printed in 49 parts, aka less than 1/100th of the 5,000 parts cars that are traditionally manufactured are made of. The 3D printing of the Strati took 44 hours, but this 45 second time-lapse video is one you’re going to have to see to believe:

Local Motors is global innovation community, like Shapeways, driven to make our collaborative dreams into vehicular realities. They are a resource for sharing ideas, designs, prototyping and miro-manufacturing and given the humble vision of their founders, it’s no surprise this community created the Strati. Unlike other prototypes, this model is practical and functional. More of this car was 3D printed than other that has precluded it – including the chassis- and here are the specs to prove it:

  • Engine – 100% electric (not 3D Printed ;) )
  • Features – electronic engine immobilizer, regenerative braking, disc brakes front and rear, rear- wheel drive
  • Transmission – Automatic, single speed
  • Battery – 6.1 kwh battery, 62-mile range, 3.5-hour charge time
  • Motor – 5 bhp or 17 bhp, 42 lb-ft torque*
  • Body – Approx. 212 layers, direct digital manufactured vehicle (DDMV), carbon fiber reinforced ABS plastic
  • Top speed – approx. 50mph*
  • Wheels – custom made by Fifteen52

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The historic first drive of the #3DPrintedCar – Enjoy!

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At $20,000 USD, would you drive a Strati? I’ve certainly signed up for the newsletter to be kept in the know…


 

Shapeways iPhone 6 Case Design Challenge: “Extend the Function” Semi-Finalists Announced

Have you checked out all of the great iPhone 6 cases already on Shapeways? In honor of Apple’s latest launch, we challenged Shapies to “Extend the Function” of their iPhone 6 through an awesome case design.  It took a lot of deliberation to narrow it down to these top 10 from the great looking cases the Shapie community came up with, but by focusing on the function the entries extended (app or otherwise) we were able to make the tough decisions.  We’re excited to see who Ethan Imboden, our guest Designer Judge selects as our winners. You can browse all of the entries by searching “SWiPhone6” on our site. Below are the top 10 entrants, in no particular order.

Keep your coif classy with this iPhone 6 Slide Out Comb by jfuhrman:

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iPhone 6 case with “steady selfie stick” by Facetious cuts out the awkward upper shoulder selfie:

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Adapt your phone to any viewing environment with this iPhone 6 case CELLULAR with 2 Add ons by The Midnight Raid.

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Turn your iPhone 6 into a portable speaker with this iPhone 6 Speaker, Kickstand and “More” case by Fusion Imaging:

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This iPhone 6 case by Entity Development comes with interchangeable backplates making iPhoneography easier and keeping your headphones from tangling in your pocket.

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Analogue meets digital when cross-stitching and 3D printing come together with this iPhone six Cross-stitching Frame Case by Diogenic Design.

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The phone may be bigger but your subjects don’t have to be with this handy Macro Case from District 2 Design:

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This iPhone 6 Controller Case by Paralogical Design could be the stocking stuffer for every gamer we know:

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13 year old Shapie Natalya_A knows that iPhones often live on our desk near other supplies, so we designed this iPhone 6 desk/dash caddy, case and charging station:

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While the volume of your iPhone is limited, this iPhone 6 Safety Whistle Case by Shopshopshop ensures it will be heard:

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And just because this is an incredible example of responsive design, we had to include a mandatory honorable mention to Amznfx and his epic bendgate iPhone 6 case that went viral over the last two weeks. Clever and awesome!

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Which of these cases do you want for your phone? Which case do you think “extends the function” of the iPhone 6 best?


 

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Five Reasons You Should Tag Your 3D Prints

This is the fourth in a 10 part bootcamp series counting down to Black Friday. We’ve covered reputation, photography and market research already and this week we’re talking about tagging.

How is your work currently being discovered? There are now millions of models on Shapeways, and the best way to stand out from the crowd (aside from photographs of your great products and collections) and be discovered by shoppers is by tagging your products properly. Yes, it can be monotonous, but it is literally how we and others discover many of you. Since the tag is a plus sign, there was no more fitting lead image here than Lucas Goossen’s Solid Plus Pendant.

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Here are five reasons taking the time to tag your models is worth it:

Tags Equate to More Sales Through Organic Search (aka SEO) – Tag words help your products get found on and off our site. The more people that find you organically, the more “popular” your products become in our search engine, leading to greater sales. For example, when I search “Drone” Shapie MaikelsDesigns takes the top spot.

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Niche Communities Have a Home on Shapeways - the products that are most unique are often the most successful on Shapeways. Products that fulfill needs not met by other markets. The search terms on our site are always very specific. Think about the words your target audiences uses and would use to search for you and be sure to include them. When shoppers view products like yours, they often are served your products in the “related items.” Looking at the Pitch Control Lever of Maikel’s above, Shapie shoppers are served products from four related drone mod designers:

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Trending Tags Lead to New Shopping Hubs- We’ve built awesome features now that allow us to create tag pages. Connect with people who model similar things in our interest groups forum and come up with a shared model tag. Share the tags on social media so shoppers (and us) can easily spot them. You can always post in “feature this” on our forums, include the tag you & others are using, and we’ll direct shoppers looking for products like yours straight to you! Here’s an example of the DJI Phantom Niche Hub:

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Tags are Often How We Curate our Newsletter & Homepage- Wonder how we pick the products on our homepage? Aside from catching them in feature this, we find them by searching key terms. Recently we searched “space” for our space themed newsletter and “pumpkin” for fall finds. Thinking about seasons and holidays your work may be popular at is a great way to get extra eyes on your products.

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There is a Higher Chance Your Products Will Get Advertised if They are Tagged Properly- Tags can lead to your products being featured in our retargeting and Ad Words campaigns. Not only does properly tagging benefit you through the promotions we run, the models we feature, and relevant surfacing based on customer searches, it can even get you advertised courtesy of Shapeways.

Bonus: Tagging is also a way to sort through your shop inventory!

The best time to test tags is the holidays. Apply your learnings from google analytics, monitor which of your products get the most hits and optimize your collection’s tags based on that data. It’s great for your sales and makes our curation easier. Remember, we generally only feature products with photos, and tag those beautiful creations so they can be found by the whole Shapie community.

What tags do you wish had a more prominent home on Shapeways?


 

Shapeways takes part in National Manufacturing Day

Today is National Manufacturing Day in the United States. The day was created to address common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers (like Shapeways) an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t.

Our Vice President of Manufacturing David wrote in detail about how Shapeways is tackling challenges to manufacturing in the 3D printing industry and our CEO Pete spent a great deal of time explaining what we’ve learned about manufacturing with 3D printing over the last six years in his series of blog posts.

Watch the journey of a 3D printed product through our factory below. On average ten people handle each of the 120,000 parts that are printed and shipped every month. We’re 140 employees strong, manufacturing products for customers in 119 countries across the globe.

All the discussions are great, but we all know seeing is believing, so we’d like to invite you for a peek behind the curtain and join us in late October for a tour of the factory. RSVP here for details. In the meantime, here’s an express tour:

 

3D Printed Case Protects Your iPhone 6 From BendGate

If you’ve been following the media frenzy over the new iphone 6 being easy to bend then you’ve probably heard of #BendGate trending over the internet. The virality of BendGate quickly prompted two designers to design pre-bent phone cases for the bent iphone 6 in anticipation iphone 6 owners phones will become bent.

Bent Case iPhone 6 case by CarlS

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Iphone 6 BendGate Case by MStyle183

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Maybe the solution to not having a bent phone is to not forcefully try to bend your phone, and by not wearing really tight pants. In the case your new iphone 6 or iphone 6 plus does become bent, these 3D printed cases are here for the rescue.

On the topic of iphone 6 case designs, don’t forget to enter our Extend The Function iPhone 6 Design Contest currently running. You have until Midnight on October 6th to enter!


 

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Building Your 3D Printing Brand & Collection Through Market Research

This is the third in a 10 part Shop Owner Bootcamp series counting down to Black Friday. We’ve covered reputation and photography in our last two posts and are looking at branding and collection building today. This is last post in the polishing your shop for holiday phase, next week we’ll begin talking about building the relationships necessary to optimize your sales over holiday.

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Do you ever wonder what to design next? Or what makes a product sell? Do you have a product in your shop that outsells all the others and wish that you could get more products on that level? This week we’re focused on building your brand story and developing your collection through market research. I know that “market research” sounds boring and stale to the creative mind, but it doesn’t have to be! Shapeways Shop Owner mentor Vijay Paul is back this week to discuss how he became Dotsan, and how walking around Scotland inspired his stag and the “wired life collection” that followed.

Building Your Brand: Why it’s Personal (and Should Be)

Vijay highlights in this video how going from VDesign to Dotsan was a big turning point for his business. It was when he realized that this was going to be more than a hobby, and a place that people could come for products and art that he created for them. Many of you have developed your brands and logos, but are you giving your shoppers all of the story?

Every time someone buys something from your shop you have the opportunity to create a new brand evangelist. If they love your work, they’re going to come back to your shop time and time again, likely referring others who are interested in your products. They will expose your products, and in turn your brand, to their in-real-life communities. Ask yourself, have I highlighted my design process and inspiration in my shop? Have I armed consumers with a story they can tell about the creation of this product and increase the likelihood they’ll send others to my shop? If you have to hesitate, take this opportunity to refresh your shop and product descriptions. Your brand should tell your story.

Many of you have already developed great brands, so I challenge you to think about how that can be illustrated through out your shop. Perhaps watermarking your photos or integrating your brand into your avatar. People see your designer cards on every product page now, use that opportunity to remind them how awesome it is to buy from you.

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Market Research: It’s as Easy as Going to Look at Beautiful Things

Every successful business has conducted market research at some point in their growth; and if they’re smart, likely multiple times at regular intervals. Vijay knew he wanted to design something that would appeal to a lot of people, and wandering around Scotland he noticed there were Stags everywhere. He saw them in museums, on signs, buildings and iconic Scottish settings. This observation drove his design decisions and gave birth to the Stag, which originally was a 3D render meant to live in 2D. After creating the render he was curious to see if it could work as a wireframe 3D print, I think it’s very clear that it did :) .

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Think about your audience: are you trying to sell to people in your region/country or are you trying to sell to people who like a specific category of things? What is popular in the culture your products speak to? For example, if you are making masks, you should always be up on the latest cosplay fashions. If you’re doing household products, keeping up with industrial design trends can be clutch. If you’re modeling drone accessories, you should pay attention to what drones people are buying. I don’t believe Vijay ever expected to sell as many stags across as many countries as he has, but he went into designing it with the confidence that at least locally, he would receive some interest.

Build Your Collection: Your Best Customer is One Who Buys Again

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There’s a famous marketing stat that 20% of your customers will be responsible for 80% of your future business; and Shapeways is no exception. Our marketplace is full of passion, and folks who have a great buying experience from you once are likely to brag about it. How can you keep them coming back? Ask yourself, what other types of things to people interested in your subject matter like? Have you ever asked your customers what other products they think would compliment the one they already purchased from you? Think about ways you can expand the collection and have multiple top-selling products. Our Interest Group forums are a great place to get the conversation going.

Sets are very appealing during the holiday season. Think about which of your products could go together and that could expand the story of your work/brand.

Alright everyone, we’re now just 7 weeks from Black Friday- we’ll be focused on building digital and physical relationships that will help your holiday sales in the coming weeks, so take advantage of the opportunity now to ‘dust the shelves’ and put a fresh coat of paint on your ‘open’ sign.

What brands and designers on Shapeways do you look up to?


 

New Pricing for Strong & Flexible Plastics and Steel

Posted by in 3D Modeling

This is one of the most important blog posts of the year. We’re changing the way we price Strong and Flexible Plastic and Steel in a way that makes it more transparent, and better for you, our customers. This change is based on over nine months of research in our factories and an analysis of the over 2.6 million parts we’ve printed.

Why are we doing this?

We’re learning and iterating towards a pricing model that truly reflects cost as we gain experience and better understand the production process and range of products we’re capable of making. From the very beginning, we’ve strived for the most transparent pricing possible. But this is a new industry, and figuring out the cost of a single model inside a machine with 400 others is far from easy. It’s taken us this long to figure out what the right price structure should look like, and therefore how to give every model the “right price.”

We expect you to optimize your models for cost, and we want to make it so that when you do that, the models are getting easier – not harder – for us to make. Now, when your model gets cheaper, it’s because you’ve made it easier for us to make.  With your prices based on our manufacturing costs, our incentives are aligned.

Pricing in this way lets us lower the price of 75% of the models we’ve printed this year in White Strong & Flexible Plastic, and 85% of the models we’ve printed in steel. On average, across the marketplace, WSF models are now 20% less expensive, and Steel models are now 30% less expensive. This is the biggest price drop we’ve ever had on these materials, and we’re excited to see how it will enable you to make even cooler products than ever before. Unfortunately, some of the popular products on Shapeways are much more expensive to produce than we realized, and as a result will go up in price with the new price structure.

What is the new pricing structure and how will this impact you?

As you’ve learned from my blog post on the Selective Laser Sintering process, a huge amount of work and some very expensive equipment go into producing your products. Our new pricing structure reflects these realities by pricing models on three components:

  • Labor (part count): the number of things that need to be handled individually during production.

  • Material: the amount of material that is needed to manufacture your product.

  • Machine Space: the amount of space your product takes inside our 3D printers.

To see a more in-depth explanation of how we price, refer to this support page.

Starting today, and for the next week, you will see the new prices on the models you own. We offer this week as a way to get used to the new prices, and if you are a Shop Owner, an opportunity to prepare your shop for the change. There is no immediate change for products sold in shops, but we expect Shop Owners to change their product prices starting next week (here’s more info on how to update your prices). If you happen to be negatively affected by the change, you can still buy a few of your own models at the old price.

On October 7th, we will implement the new prices.

Below are a few models and their before and after prices to illustrate.

1. Basic iPhone 6 Case by Duann
Old: White, Strong and Flexible Plastic: $22.46 Red Strong & Flexible Plastic: $24.71
New: White Strong and Flexible: $16.31 Red Strong & Flexible: $17.31
Machine CC: 50.55 Material CC: 14.97 Parts: 1

2. Humble Drops by HenrikRydberg
Old: White Strong & Flexible Polished Plastic: $20.38 Red Strong & Flexible Plastic: $20.63
New: White Strong & Flexible Polished: $13.65 Red Strong & Flexible Plastic: $15.15
Machine CC: 20.1 Material CC: 12.25 Parts: 3

3. Parametric Faceted Bracelet uploaded by rstargrove, found on thingiverse
Old: Red Strong & Flexible Plastic: $64.72 Metallic Plastic: $112.27 Steel: $512.37
New: Red sf: $37.39 Metallic Plastic: $64.10 Steel $322.45
Machine CC: 81.73 Material CC: 63.3 Parts: 1

What are the new prices going to be exactly? Have a look at the materials pages for Strong & Flexible, Metallic Plastic, Elasto Plastic and Steel.

You’ll notice that in the Strong & Flexible family, the machine space and material prices are the same for all materials, making large models in finishes much less expensive. This is because the different finishes and colors are achieved with post-processing and all use the same 3D printers and raw materials. The difference is in labor, which is a fixed cost per part.

We are excited about this new way of pricing and at the same time are empathetic to the ones which are hardest hit by these changes. In the end, we believe this is the right thing for everyone in the Shapeways community, making 3D printing more accessible and affordable for everyone. Definitely share your thoughts by commenting below or discuss with our community in our repricing forum.

best,

Pete / CEO Shapeways.


 

Shapeways Launches SVX, a Voxel Based File Format for 3D Printing

Shapeways has created a new SVX format for transmitting voxel data for 3D printing. After much research we found no existing format that satisfied our requirements. Our primary design priorities are simple definition, ease of implementation, and extensibility. There are plenty of things you could dislike about the STL format, but it’s brevity and simple implementation are not one of them.

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A voxel is a 3D dimensional pixel. Most 3D printers work internally with voxel like representations. Your 3D model is sliced into 2D image slices, each pixel represents a dot of material that the printer builds your object with. Voxel formats allow direct control over those dots. One promise of 3D printing is that complexity is free. Sadly with STL files we’ve had the disconnect that more complexity equals more triangles equals larger files. Above a certain limit you just can’t use triangles to specify the details you want in a 3D printed model. Whether that information be material allocation, density, RGB color both internal and external or a custom id that could be used for another variable, not yet available in the 3D printers on the market.

Another area that is interesting for voxel usage is in making printable objects. A mesh for 3D printing needs to meet certain mathematical properties. It is easier to write voxel software that meets these demands. This makes the barrier to entry much lower for writing creators and its especially easy to include 2D imagery into your designs. See ShapeJS for some examples. One area that is typically tricky is turning voxels into triangles. We’ve worked hard to provide some nice routines for much high quality conversion to triangles when necessary. When you upload a voxel model to Shapeways you’ll be leveraging that work, just concentrate on making the voxels right and we’ll handle the triangles if needed.

You can view the new format specification at: SVX Format. We’ve added support for voxel uploads at Shapeways so you can start sending full resolution voxel files now!