Category Archives: 3D Modeling

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:

get into 3D print pic 4

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

get into 3D print pic 1

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.

get into 3D print pic 2

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.

get into 3D print pic 3

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?


 

Designer Spotlight: Jeremy Burnich

This week we are very proud to interview Jeremy Burnich of not one, but two Shapeways shops! Joy Complex is a shop best known for Jeremy’s Sound Wave Jewelry, but has expanded to gadget accessories, modular jewelry, and collaborations with other designers and artists. His other shop, 3D Racetracks (recently landed Jeremy with a licensing agreement) gives him an avenue for even more interests, and shows the power 3D printing can put into the hands of those who just want to create, no matter what the product! Jeremy is also an active Shapeways Crew member, helping spread the word, but most importantly inspire Shapeways members near and far!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
My name is Jeremy Burnich and I currently live in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh is a great city that is always making top 10 lists of “Great [Insert Positive Attribute Here] but I’m originally from Connecticut and think I will always consider that state home. I like being by the water and Pittsburgh is sort of inland, even though it has more bridges than any other city in the US.

Burnich_ModestMouse_1

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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!

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.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.09.24 AM

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!

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 11.23.35 AM

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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How I Made a mini 1:12 scale pendant light for my dollhouse in SketchUp

Written by Megan Hornbecker

I’ve been fascinated with miniatures for as long as I can remember. 8 years ago I became addicted to modern miniatures. I had been carting around the dollhouse my mom made for me as a kid and thought it would be a fun project to redo the Country Victorian interior into something more contemporary. I searched online and found a few blogs that showcased modern miniatures and I was hooked. The only problem was there are very few artists out there making them. I started a blog, Modern Mini Houses, to feature the artists and designers I found making modern miniatures.

Megan-Headshot

Since I couldn’t find some of the decor and furniture I’d see in designer stores and magazines, I figured I should try to make them in miniature. The next problem was I knew nothing about 3D modeling. I found Shapeways and tried out a few of the free 3D modeling programs they recommended and had the most success with SketchUp 8.

By no means am I an expert modeler, I taught myself by trial and error. I’d have an idea of what I wanted to make and would search for videos and tutorials until I figured out how to do it. I’m writing this tutorial to share some tips and tricks for beginners to get started making 3D models in SketchUp. I was using SketchUp 8. It has been updated and the new free version is SketchUp Make 2015. The tool icons look a little different but they work the same as in this tutorial.

3D printed dollhouse light 1:12 scale

My designs are inspired by modern décor I want in full scale and by small pieces I find online or at random stores. I find something I like, work out the dimensions in 1:12 scale and then start designing. I found these LED battery operated earrings that I thought I could make into a cool light. The above two full-scale hanging lights inspired me to make a modern hanging pendant light with my LED lights, I like the structural supports on the bottom and the tall pendants.

I cut the clip-on earring attachments off the backs, arranged them where I thought they would work and measured the perimeter = 2.5″ x 1.25″. Each light is about 12mm wide by 10mm tall. To make sure the lights fit in the pendants I added 1mm of wiggle room and 1mm for each side of the wall so the pendant needed a 15mm diameter. I guessed the pendant should also be 15mm tall to hide the LED with room on top to be lit up by the light.

The Basics: Getting started in SketchUp

When you select the tool you want to use, the first mouse click in the drawing space starts the action that the tool is supposed to do and the second mouse click stops the action wherever you clicked. This works great for freehand design. If you want an exact measurement, click once where you want the action to start, move the curser the direction you want it to go, then type whatever dimension you want and hit Enter. There is no need for a second click, Hitting Enter will stop the action. Typing will fill in the dimension field in the bottom right corner field without having to click in that box. This field changes depending on which tool you have selected. If you select a tool, click once, but when you start to move the curser something crazy happens you didn’t want, just move the cursor back to the tools and click on another tool and the action will disappear. Undo/redo will be your friend as you get started figuring out how everything works.

Step 1: Add guides to define the perimeter of the light. Start to make first pendant.

3D modeling SketchUp dollhouse light

1A Select the Tape Measurer tool. Click once anywhere on the Green Axis, move the curser to the right to move the guide, type in 2.5 and hit enter (the default is inches so you don’t need to type the “ symbol).

1B Zoom in so you can see the line. (On a Mac: 2 finger scroll up on our track pad to zoom in, down to zoom out. On a PC: Select the Zoom tool. Click and drag anywhere in the drawing area. Move the cursor up to zoom in and down to zoom out.) Click once anywhere on the Red Axis, move the cursor up to the right, type in 1.25 and hit enter. Now we have guides marking the perimeter of the light.

1C Select the Circle tool. Type 100 and hit enter. (This changes the Sides to have more line segments making the circle’s edge smooth and round. Sides set to 24 or 48 will print corners or ridges on the circle’s edge. If you zoom in really far, you’ll see that the circle is actually made up of lines). Click once anywhere outside of your guides and move curser to the right.

1D Type in 7.5mm and hit enter to set the Radius (=15mm diameter divided by 2).

Step 2: Make base of pendant

3D modeling SketchUp dollhouse light

2A Select the Push/Pull tool. Click once on the circle to select it, drag the curser up to make the base.

2B Type 1mm and hit enter to set the distance. Note the default is inches so sometimes it will change the Dimension to inches like ~ 3/64″ after you hit enter, other times it keeps the Dimension in mm.

Tip: I make all of my miniatures at least 1mm – 1.5m thick so it can be polished and so it looks true to scale. Sometimes I do thicker, but under 1mm is too flimsy, the walls can bend, and everything I’ve tested under 1mm wasn’t high enough quality for me so I ended up redesigning to be over 1mm. Save yourself some time and just start at 1mm or thicker.

2C Select the Offset tool. Mouse over the top outside edge and click once when it says “On Edge”. Move the cursor towards the middle. Type 1mm then hit enter.

2D Select the Push/Pull tool. Click once inside the 1mm ring you just made and move the cursor up. Type 14mm then hit enter (the base is already 1mm, so add14 mm and that gives us the 15mm height I determined at the beginning).

Step3: Move pendant inside perimeter guides

3D modeling dollhouse light SketchUp

3A This will pull the walls up so we have the first pendant for our light.

3B Next, I want to move the pendant into position on the middle edge of the perimeter we measured out in Step 1. Select the Tape Measurer tool. Mouse over the intersection of the Blue, Green and Red Axis until the yellow “Origin” dot shows up, click once then move the curser up the Green Axis. Type .625 then hit enter (half the length of the 1.25″ side). If you haven’t saved yet, now is a good time.

3C Select the Orbit tool. Click and drag anywhere in the drawing area. Move the cursor to turn your perspective so you are behind the pendant. Select the Select tool (arrow in top left) and draw a box around the pendant to select the whole thing.

3D Select the Move tool. Find the most outer “Endpoint” on the pendant and click once, then move the curser to the “Guide Point” and click a second time to move it into the correct position.

Step 4: Copy and place second pendant

3D modeling SketchUp dollhouse light

4A Select the Tape Measure tool. I’m not exactly sure where I want to put the second pendant so I’m going to mark two distances. Click once on the Intersection of the Green Axis and the guide on the left of the pendant. Type 20mm then hit enter. Repeat and type 22mm then hit enter.
4B Since we already have the pendant selected in blue, copy and paste (under Edit tab, or Ctrl+c/Command+c and Ctrl+v/Command+v), then click once to drop the copied pendant farther away from our workspace.

4C Select the Orbit tool, click and drag to move around the side. Zoom in or try the Pan tool (white hand) to get the perspective you need.

4D Select the Move tool. Find and click on the outer Endpoint then move and click on the 20mm Guide Point.

Step 5: Copy and place third pendant

3D modeling SketchUp dollhouse light

5A The 20mm Guide was a little too close so I used the Move tool to put it on the 22mm Guide Point. I grabbed the wrong Endpoint so I used Orbit/Zoom/Pan tools to check on the bottom that the right Endpoint was on the Guide Point (if the pendant is on the line it’s perfect, if part of the pendant is over the guide line try grabbing the Endpoint that is over the line and move that to the Guide Point).

5B Orbit to the top, copy and paste the third pendant.

5C Orbit then select the Tape Measure tool. Click on Origin and move curser up the Red Axis, type 22mm then hit enter.

5D Move Endpoint to Guide Point.

Step 6: Copy and place other half of light

3D modeling SketchUp Dollhouse Light

6A Orbit/Zoom out, select all (under Edit tab, or Ctrl+a/Command+a). This will copy all three pendants and the guides.

6B & C Paste (under Edit tab, or Ctrl+v/Command+v) and move cursor outside the perimeter and click to place. Select the Rotate tool. Click once on the top guide line when it says “On Line” so the Rotate tool is flat, then move cursor parallel to Green Axis so it is drawing a green line when it says On Green Axis then click a second time. Type 180 then hit enter.

6D Select the Move tool and match guide lines to move it into the perimeter.

Step 7: Move and add center guide points

3d modeling SketchUp Dollhouse

7A Looking again, it seems too tight so I moved it more to the right half an inch.

7B Orbit to the bottom. Select Tape Measurer click on any Endpoint edge of any circle, then move curser towards the middle. Type 7.5mm then enter. Do this on all of the pendant bottoms so we have the middle point to attach the supporting beams.

7C Select the Tape Measure tool. Measure from center guide point of one end to the other, which equals ~2 9/32″

7D Select the Rectangle tool. Click once above and away from current model and move curser up and to the right. Type 2 9/32, 2mm then hit enter. (Tip: I’m making the support bars 2mm thick to be strong enough to connect all six pendants so everything stays together in the polisher, and 2mm looks the most realistic at this scale)

Step 8: Add support beam

3D modeling SketchUp Dollhouse

8A Select the Push/Pull tool and click on the new rectangle.

8B Move the curser up and type 2mm then hit enter. Use Select tool to draw a box around the new rectangle bar to select it.
8C Orbit to side view.

8D Select the Move tool. Click once on the Midpoint of the rectangle bar then move curser and click on the Guide Point in the middle of the pendant bottom.

Step 9: Fix length and measure cross beam

3D modeling SketchUp Dollhouse

9A Orbit to the other end of the rectangle bar and Zoom in. It’s a little short.

9B Select the Push/Pull tool. Click on the square end and pull forward then click on the Guide Point to line it up perfectly in the middle.
9C Orbit then measure the next center Guide Points = ~21/32″

9D Select the Rectangle tool. Click once above and away from current model and move curser up and to the right. Type 21/32, 2mm then hit enter.

Step 10: Add first cross beam

3D modeling SketchUp Dollhouse

10A Select the Push/Pull tool. Click on the rectangle, type 2mm then hit enter.

10B Select the Select tool and draw a box around new cross bar to select all of it.

10C Orbit to side. Copy and Paste. Click to the side of the first bar to place the copied bar next to it. Select the Move tool. Click on the Midpoint.

10D Move curser to and then click on the Guide Point. (You know it’s in the right place if the tops of the two bars are flat.)

Step 11: Add second cross beam and adjust length

3D modeling SketchUp Dollhouse

11A Repeat for the other cross bar. Use Select tool and draw a box around the other cross bar. (Tip: for any part you plan to move, it’s best to leave it far enough away from other components so you can easily draw the select box around it without selecting other things near it. You know it’s too close when you try to move it and things you didn’t intend to move go with it. Never fear, that’s what Undo is for. You will use it a lot. Just zoom in and adjust your perspective to be able to isolate a section you are trying to surround with the select tool in order to move only it.)

11B Select the Move tool. Click on the Midpoint of the bar, move curser to and then click on the Guide Point.

11C Orbit to the other side and we’ll see the bars are a little short again.

11D Zoom in and select Push/pull tool. Click on the end move curser to and click on the Guide Point.

Step 12: Add cross bars to attach hardware

3D modeling SketchUp Dollhouse

12A Orbit to the top. Almost done, but we need to add holes to be able to add hardware to hang the light. Measure between pendants (the two green dots in photo) = 5/32″. Select the Rectangle tool. Click once away to the left side of the light (sorry no photo, I didn’t take enough screen shots here) and move curser up and to the right. Type 5/32, 2mm then hit enter. Then use Push/Pull to grab the top and type 2mm then hit enter to create a small cross bar. Copy and Paste moving the second one out of the way.

12B Zoom in between where 3 of the pendants meet. The two horizontal lines are where the cross beam is connecting these two pendants and the dotted vertical line is the Guide we started with that runs down the middle. We’re going to add our new bar above this to create a hole. Select the Tape Measurer. Click on the Intersection of the middle guide and the lower horizontal line. Move the curser up until it is drawing a blue line parallel to the Blue Axis and sides of pendants. Type 2mm then hit enter.

12C Select the Select tool and draw a box around one of the new short cross bars to select all of it. Select the Move tool. Click on the Midpoint.

12D Move curser to the Guide Point and click to connect it. Orbit to the other side and repeat steps 12B C D to attach the second new short cross bar into place.

Step 13: Upload and print

3D modeling SketchUp Dollhouse

13A DONE!! Save if you haven’t lately. Then go to File > Export 3D Model… then select Format: COLLADA File (*.dae)

13B Go to Shapeways, set up an account and then click Upload. Select your .dae file. Make sure you set the Model Units to “millimeters”.

13C Once the file is uploaded you can see which materials it is printable in and if there are any issues that won’t allow it to be printed. (If there are problems Shapeways explains the issues and links to more details on guidelines for each material and has a cool option to Fix Thin Walls for you.) I selected to print this in White Strong & Flexible Polished.

13D I ordered it on Jan 12 and it was on my doorstep on Jan 24. Every time I get an order from Shapeways, I still get excited. It’s just so cool to hold something in your hand that you created in digital format.

3D modeling SketchUp Dollhouse

To save drying time, I painted the cross beams with a gold Sharpie (the strong & flexible material is very porous so GO SLOW as it easily sucks up the paint and spreads where you might not want it go. Or just use regular acrylic paint and a tiny brush). There was a little bit of powder residue in the holes to attach the hardware; I poked that out with a toothpick and then attached a wire to hang the pendant light 2.5” above the table (standard suggested height). Here is the finished pendant with the lights on and off in my dollhouse kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Proudly Presenting Precious Plated 3D Printing from Shapeways

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Have you been lusting after our Rose Gold, Platinum and other premium alloy offerings? Have you wanted to use them but have been waiting for that special project that makes sense and/or is less cost sensitive? We’re excited to announce our new price-friendly Precious Plated Metal finishes!

Introducing Precious Plated 18k and 14k Gold, 14k Rose Gold and Rhodium Plated!


Products made in Precious Plated Metal are made the same way our Polished Brass is with a few bonus steps. Wax casts of your model are 3D printed, plaster is poured around the wax cast, and then the brass is poured in the cast. The brass cools and takes form before we carefully remove the cast. We then layer it with palladium, increasing strength and durability, before finishing your products with 0.5 microns of the precious alloy of your choice. The electroplating on our new upgraded offering is more durable and we are excited to delight even more designers and shoppers with these materials.

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Precious Plated Metal is a great choice for all of your jewelry. The 18k Gold Plated will replace our existing Gold Plated Brass. If you were currently selling this material in your shop, we’ve gone ahead and updated the offering and carried over your markup on Shapeways. Be sure to enable your models in the new Rhodium, Rose & 14k Gold Premium Plated, too- they’re all the same price!

Material Guidelines at a Glance:

  • Maximum Bounding Box: 89 x 89 x 100 mm
  • Minimum Bounding Box: 2.4 x 2.4 x 0.6 mm
  • Minimum supported & unsupported wires & walls: 0.8 mm
  • Minimum Embossed Detail: 0.4 mm
  • Minimum Engraved Detail: .35 mm
  • Minimum Escape Hole Width: 4 mm if just one, 2 mm if 2+ Holes
  • Minimum Clearance: .3 mm
  • Accuracy: .125 mm

What will you make first with our new Precious Plated Metal?
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Here are some tips for designing in polished metals:


 

5 3D Printed Drone Accessories to Help You Avoid Crash Landing on the White House Lawn

Are you loving the latest aerial videos shot by drones? Tempted to buy one yourself? Many of us in the Shapie family fly, and we love seeing how the communities of pilots and 3D modelers overlap.

Everyone here is a huge advocate for the safe flying of multirotors, quadcopters, drones and other fun RC devices. We, like many of you, cringe when we hear about incidents like the White House Drone crash landing. In the spirit of safe flying and us all working together to set good examples in our communities, here are 5 Accessories to prevent you and your fliers from suffering a similar fate.

Worth noting: This blog post has products embedded in it made possible by our new product widget. Learn more about it and share your products and those you love easily. 

Ultralight Landing Gear by Brian Self Design

Prop Guard from Fusion Imaging

Video of the Prop Guard in action:

UAV GPS Holder by FDNYFISH

BIG Battery Door Upgrade by MaikelsDesign

Samsung Galaxy S5 Visor by Fusion Imaging

What other accessories will make our drones safer?


 

Introducing RUSH 2 & 3 Day Production on Shapeways Regular White Strong and Flexible Plastic!

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Have you ever wished your 3D prints would arrive faster? That you could order on a Tuesday and receive parts the same week? Today we have some very exciting news for you:

Introducing RUSH 2 & 3 Day Production on Shapeways Regular White Strong and Flexible Plastic!

You’ve convinced us to give it a try. You’re all invited to sign up for our Rush Pilot! Anyone can sign up, and we’ll slowly let users over the coming weeks in accordance with our capacity. You’ll be notified via email when you’re in.

Important Details about 2 & 3 Day Rush:

  • Rush offering is for unpolished White Strong & Flexible only with a bounding box < 150x150x200mm

  • Target Ship Day for North America, Australia, and New Zealand:  Leaves our factory in 3 business days for orders made before 2pm CET / 8am EDT. Orders placed after that time will be counted towards the next business day.

    • i.e. Order placed on Tuesday 7am EDT, parts are shipped end of day Friday. Order placed on Thursday 4pm EDT, parts are shipped EOD following Wednesday.

  • Target Ship Day For All Other Geographies: Leaves our factory in 2 business days for orders made before 2pm CET / 8am EDT. Orders placed after that time will be counted towards the next business day.

    • i.e. Order placed on Tuesday 7am EDT, parts are shipped end of day Thursday. Order placed on Thursday 4pm EDT, parts are shipped EOD following Tuesday.

  • Rush orders are twice the price of regular WSF (pricing may change in the future)

  • You can use the  ‘Print it Anyway’ option along with Rush if you choose.

  • Beta users will have a rush option added to checkout flow. All rush parts will need to placed in a separate shopping cart in order for the rush option to appear.

  • Check the material status page before you order to make sure we have capacity before placing your rush order. This is an experiment, and we physically have a daily-maximum volume capacity for Rush.  While we will always do our best to make it happen, we may not always have room to accommodate your order. If you place an order that we won’t be able to deliver on time, customer service will reach out so you can cancel your order and place it again as regular White Strong & Flexible.

  • To ensure your order arrives as fast as possible, you still need to select Next-Day-Shipping (or fastest available) in your region.

What do you look forward to making faster with RUSH?


 

Five Social Media Tactics That Will Drive Traffic And Sales For Your Shapeways Products

We all want more sales and exposure for our Shapeways business and products but in order for that to happen we have to put in the effort to make it happen. Social Media has made selling and marketing online so much easier in the digital age, and with the right tactics and practice you can begin seeing sales and traffic to your Shapeways products increase immediately. In this blog post I will highlight five specific tactics and channels that will help get you in the mindset of being your own sales person and sales lead generator.

1) Facebook Fan page direct Messaging

Whether you’re selling miniatures, jewelry, figurines, or tech accessories there are Facebook fan pages and brand pages associated with that specific product category. By doing a simple search on Facebook and filtering out your search to “pages” you will see a list of fan pages. From those search results you can find a blog fan page that might be interested in sharing your content. In this case I will use my Thorgi as an example, I searched “Corgi” on Facebook, filtered out the pages related to Corgis and began direct messaging the fan page owner asking in a kind and respectful way if they would be interested in sharing my 3D printed product with their audience. It’s ok if you don’t get a response back or they say no. My philosophy for why we share on social media is that we tend to share content that makes us look good to our audience. If the content you’re asking them to share isn’t relevant or interesting, don’t be offended if it doesn’t get shared.

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2) Creating albums and uploading your photos to Imgur

Imgur is a online photo hosting service where users can upload their photos and create photo albums that can be easily shared across the internet. With a click of a button you can upload your product photos to Imgur, share with the Imgur community, and then share across your own social media channels, and Reddit. Sharing Imgur photos and albums is now the preferred way to share photos on Reddit which is a great platform to drive hundreds to thousands of visits to your Shapeways product page. Here is my previous blog post for Reddit best practices for showcasing your work.

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3) Instagram – Search hashtag and Comment

Instagram is becoming more and more a platform where brands and small businesses go to attract shoppers. By searching the right hashtags and commenting on relevant photos, you can go straight to your customer and make a direct sale. In this example I will use my Tardigrade as an example, I searched #Tardigrade and found hundreds of photos of die hard Tardigrade fans. I began commenting on a few photos letting these Tardigrade fans know I made the World’s first 3D printed Tardigrade and before you know it users were commenting on the photo of my Tardigrade and buying them a few days later. A important tip for promoting your products on instagram, when someone comments on your photo and says things like “This is awesome” or “I need this”, they have expressed interest in purchasing and it is YOUR job to ask for the sale and engage those users letting them know where to find and buy your product.

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4) YouTube Influencers and unboxing videos 

Youtube is the largest platform for video content creators. In this previous blog post I speak on the importance of having a engaging product video to showcase and sell the product. A tactical way to get your product seen by thousands of potential shoppers is to reach out to a Youtube channel relevant to your niche and contact them about featuring your product whether that’s through a giveaway, unboxing video, or product review video. You can find Youtube influencers simply by doing a simple search on Youtube, browsing their channel, and often times their business contact information is on their Youtube channel information page under “contact”. Here is an example of a product review done by Scott Manley on 3D printed dice designed by Avandius.

 

5) Product browsing website outreach

A great way to get your products seen by shoppers is to get your products featured on sites where shoppers browse products in a form of entertainment. One of my favorite sites to browse cool and interesting products for geeks are ThisIsWhyImBroke, DudeIWantThat, CoolThingsAddicted, and Nerd Approved. There are hundreds of them out there for your specific niche that if you were to reach out with a great product design it might get featured. A great way to get in contact with the editors of those websites is through their contacts page or following tactic #1 on this blog post.

 

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Give these new marketing tips and tricks a try and you just might see a big increase in exposure, awareness, and sales for your 3D printing business. If you haven’t done so already read my previous blog post on how to make each social media platform work for you and your Shapeways business here.


 

 

I Spent My Weekend Learning to 3D Model with ShapeJS, Here’s How It Went

Written by community member Daphne Laméris, and you can see her key sleeve here.

ShapeJS, ever heard of it? I did, but it took me a long time to actually look at it and try to understand it. The whole idea of using code to model a part looked really hard, and is not what I am familiar with. I can use SolidWorks to model, tried Blender twice and Rhino once. In the end, I always stuck to what I knew, SolidWorks. It became time to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.

The great thing about 3D printing is the option for mass customization. For a lot of designs, I already use the co-creator options. This way, I can offer rings in difference sizes and a key sleeve that can be adjusted in size and with text. But every order still takes time to make and that order cannot be produced until I make the model. Therefore, I looked into ShapeJS.

shapeJS key label

With ShapeJS you can use javascript to make models. Numbers and texts filled into  textboxes can be used as parameters in your code. For my key sleeve, this could be the diameter of the key and the key thickness. For a better explanation you can check out the Shapeways.com shapeJS introduction.

So I set the goal to make my key sleeve in ShapeJS. It is a simple shape that needs multiple values of the user as input. The first problem is that I had no experience whatsoever with javascript before I started. Luckily, there are some examples available as well as some text. I read all the text and look at all examples, not understanding most of it. But I changed some values in the examples and saw what it did. Especially the example with the picture is fun, it’s easy to just upload a photo and see what it does. The next step was sketching the key sleeve. How could I build my design from simple shapes with  the Booleans? The original key sleeve was made with SolidWorks. Using code is a different way of modelling. It still works with solids, but you can’t make a sketch as with SolidWorks (well, at least not that I’m aware of). So I wrote down what the code should do:

pseudocode for shapeJS

The picture above was a first rough sketch (made without the intention to show it to anyone else, this is often referred to as “pseudo code” where you write out in plain words what you want to code to do and in what order). I wanted a hollow cylinder by subtracting a small one from the big one. Next a part should be cut out – this is the opening for the key. So I need to make a box, give it a position connected to the key radius and subtract it from the hollow cylinder. The design also needs a hole for the key ring. The position is determined by user input as well as the size of the hole. Finally, the key has some text that needs to be on the front. With this, I had my recipe for what I wanted to make. And then I realized I did not know what my ingredients were. The examples showed how to make a box, but how to make a cylinder? I couldn’t really find a list with explanation of all shapes and functions that would be useful for modeling. I did find more examples, and from that I used the cylinder. I’m not going to describe every step I took to create my model. But I can tell you how it went globally: like creating Frankenstein’s monster. Copy here, paste there. Use a part of this example, use a part of that example. Adjusting things to see how it works. Deleting stuff if I didn’t know what it did. If the script stills runs, okay. If not, put it back. It’s not a sustainable approach for creating very complex shapes, but it is a great way to learn new stuff.

shapeJS

In the end, it worked! With the set input from the user (key diameter, key thickness, keyhole diameter, distance keyhole to top) a key sleeve is created. It took most of my Sunday afternoon and evening (and a bit of my Saturday). Next step is getting in the ShapeJS co-creator pilot so this could actually be used for sale. And then it’s time to learn and create more!