Category Archives: 3D Modeling

What is this insane new mecha-like gamepad contraption?

Gamers have long debated the superior performance of the keyboard/mouse found on a PC versus the more “casual” gamepad of consoles for competitive gaming purposes. The use of WASD keyboard configuration and a mouse has long been victor, and thus shaped the current focus of competitive First Person Shooters (FPS) and Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs) on the PC, while casual or arcade based games typically go to gamepads.

 

One Shapeways designer is working to close the technology gap. Looking like a futuristic contraption straight out of a Neill Blomkamp film like Elysium, the Immortal Mechanical Gamepad Paddles is a cool solution to turn a gamepad from casual to hardcore.

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What’s been holding back gamepads is that you can only use your thumbs for movement and your index finger for the rest of your buttons. The designer Solodus solves this by 3D printing mechanical triggers you can use to push the buttons on the tops of the controller. He explains via a forum thread:

“The main problem with first-party gamepads is the difficulty to perform two actions at the same time. For example, you can’t activate a bomb, and defend yourself at the same time. Your thumb is busy pressing the activation button, and you can’t aim. (You could use the claw technique, which is using your index finger to press the face buttons, but this is very uncomfortable for most, and could result in injuries).

With this accessory, you will never have to take your thumbs off the joysticks, allowing you to perform more than one action at the same time, and comfortably.

Another added benefit of this accessory, is the reduced reaction time. Because, the distance from your fingers to the paddles is less than the distance of your thumbs to the buttons, it takes less time to press a button. This is great for First Person Shooter games, where reaction time is critical. “

Check out the video below to see the results for yourself. This looks like the perfect accessory to gain a little bit of an edge in Trials of Osiris and other highly competitive FPS’. You can check out Solodus’ shop and follow them here.


Introducing our Newest Material: PLA – Our Maker’s material of choice for testing their product ideas!

Say hello to our newest 3D printed material family, PLA.

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PLA, or Polylactic Acid is a common bioplastic and one of the most popular materials designers use to prototype in FDM printers. PLA is environmentally friendly, inexpensive and best of all fast, taking 2 days to ship in the USA. For those looking for a quick turnaround time so they can iterate their designs, PLA is a great way to go. PLA comes in the following colors:  Black, Orange (we were born in the Netherlands you know), White and Grey.

One of our favorite Shapeways shop owners, Susan Tiang of Bhold has been using PLA printed from Ultimaker machines for years. Susan utilizes the speed of these machines to rapid prototype her designs and gather feedback on how she can make changes and improvements.

Check out some of the early prototypes that lead to her beautiful products available here.

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Given that you’ve used PLA to iterate your designs for Bhold for years, can you share a little about your iterative process?

Sure, Bhold‘s iterative design process is a combination of rapid prototyping with physical beta testing that ensures the most thoughtful design. Products go through anywhere between 35 to sometimes over 100 versions before they are deemed ready for release. Each product is inspired by and solves a problem in our everyday life.

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Our aim is to keep the end consumer in mind throughout the entire design process and design for maximum functionality and also the best aesthetics. The formalization of this process is our tester program Bhold Labs, the first program of its kind in both rigor and scale.

Why is it important to iterate your designs?

The reason behind the speed in prototyping is to maximize the number of exploratory concepts we can test, and with the broad base of feedback through Bhold Labs testers, we can get the most usability data with the least amount of bias. It’s a very data-driven way to design, but it’s the way I’ve found that works best to maximize impact by designing the best product for a given problem. If you’re going to invest your time and energy into such a highly engaged project as creating a product, why not do it the best way possible?

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What makes FDM machines with PLA such a useful material for you iterate?

PLA is a super easy material to work with. It has a lower melting point than almost anything else you can 3D print with, so it saves both energy and time. It’s also completely non-toxic because it’s made from corn starch, which I love because I’m handling and working closely with it every day of a design cycle.

Much of your experience will have to do with the machines you use of course, which is why going through Shapeways for your PLA prints can save you the time and energy of managing and fixing machines. 

What did you learn from each iteration?

Sometimes my assumptions are wrong, and the only way to know is to find out through testing. My favorite “learnings” are those that are pretty much accidental and completely spontaneous and unexpected. For example, to create a sturdier stand, we lifted up the outer rim of the prototypes for the Bheard Sound Pod acoustic speaker, but this actually had the extra benefit of improving sound quality. To me it’s addictive to design because you don’t stop learning in the process. Glad that you guys are launching PLA to enable more designers to experience this as well!

 

Want more details…here is how it is made and an interview with our product manager sharing why we love PLA here at Shapeways.

PLA 3D prints come from machines in a process called Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). The machine extrudes hot filament onto a bed, building up the form layer by layer. Because of the way the material is extruded, overhanging features may need to be supported by additional support structures. These types of printers are common from schools and makerlabs to design companies and we’re excited to be providing access to this process now to everyone.

 

And once you have finished testing your idea in PLA, you can print it in one of 56 other materials here at Shapeways for a finished, professional look to truly show off your amazing idea!

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Have questions?  Ideas?   Please share them with us in the comments below. You can also follow Susan’s Shapeways shop here.

Mastering 3D printing : Why Orientation of Parts Matters

Shapeways is committed to making this process easy, but we also want to make sure you get you have control over quality. Last week we launched a new feature to help with this: the ability to set 3D printing orientation for SLS materials.

Orientation Fail

orientation fail, this stepping could be avoided by laying the phone case flat in the printer

But why does this matter? How the file is built up in the printer can affect the dimensional accuracy and legibility of details of any given part. Parts printed in the Z axis, or “up” dimension tend to be slightly less accurate in the X and Y. That said, parts angled sideways may show less stepping depending on the geometry. Check out the video below to learn more.

 

Spring Policy Updates

Spring is in the air, and that means that it is time for a few policy updates here at Shapeways.  This blog post serves as a summary of those changes.  As a reminder, if you want to go deeper you can always check out the archived versions of specific policies in order to compare them to the current one.

The biggest update is to the Shop Terms and Conditions.  These terms were last updated in 2012 and, as you can imagine, Shapeways has evolved significantly since then.  In addition to the Shop Terms update, this update includes much smaller fixes to the general Terms and Conditions, the API Terms and Conditions, and the Content Policy.  We are also bringing our content policy precheck program out of beta.  I’ll detail all of the changes below.

Shop Terms and Conditions

These are the terms that govern shop owners on Shapeways.  This update overhauls the format so that it makes a bit more sense, and updates some of the policies.  It also takes steps to simplify the terms.  Since you need to have a regular Shapeways account in order to open a shop, it tries to incorporate terms from the standard Shapeways Terms and Conditions by reference instead of repeating them again in the Shop terms.

For example, instead of having a big section on content rules, the new terms incorporate the existing Content Policy.  That should reduce confusion by just having one content policy that governs the entire site and make the terms a bit more concise and easier to read.

While the payment terms remain largely the same (we pay your markup if it is over $30 on the 15th of each month) there are a few additions designed to clarify policies and address issues that have emerged over the years.

One of the most important changes is to highlight the importance of providing us with correct PayPayl information for an account that can receive transfers from the United States or the Netherlands.  Failure to do this can cause all sorts of problems, so we wanted to make sure that there was ample warning in the terms that you need to do that in order to receive  your markup.

Another change is adding rules about how we handle markups on orders that later get returned or rejected.  Sometimes a model is returned because we did not print it correctly.  In those cases we will continue to reprint the models at our expense and send shop owners their markup.  However, sometimes a model is returned or rejected because of an error on the part of the designer.  We are currently exploring the best way to handle those situations.  It is likely that in at least some of those cases we will not pay the designer a markup if the return or rejection stems from errors that they made.

The changes to the terms give us the ability to begin testing rules governing what happens when a product is returned due to designer error.  The process of exploring options will take some time, and we will strive to do it in an open, inclusive way.  Expect to hear more about the process soon.  Until we roll out a more formal tests, designers will at most receive warnings that their model was returned due to what we believe to be their error.  To put it another way, we will not begin withholding markups for returned or rejected models until we have new rules in place.

Most of the rest of the changes are relatively small.  We added a reminder that some tax authorities require us and/or our payment processors to report data on accounts with gross payments over $20,000 and 200 transactions in a calendar year.  We also did a better job of linking the indemnity and product liability sections of the shop owner terms with the general site terms.  At the end we made it explicit that we may change the terms from time to time.

Finally, we linked the confidentiality terms in the shop owner terms to those in our privacy statement.  Hopefully that will give all users of the site a  more uniform set of expectations in terms of privacy on the site.

Terms and Conditions

As I noted at the start of this post, in addition to an overhaul of the shop terms and conditions we also made some updates to other policies on the site.  In addition to fixing some typos in our general terms, the update has two substantive additions.  These are actually clarifications of existing policies that we wanted to make even more clear in the terms.  Remember that these apply to all users, not just shop owners.

The first is what happens when a model violates the content policy. The terms now make it clear that if a model violates our content policy we will refuse to print it and issue you a refund.  If we catch the violation after we print the model, we will not ship you the model and may not issue you a full refund.

We are pairing this with removing the content policy precheck program from beta.  You can email  content-precheck@shapeways.com if you are worried that a model might run into trouble with our content policy.  Even if your model is incomplete – or even just an idea – we will do our best to give you guidance about how our content policy applies to you.

The second update to the general terms a clarification as to what happens when you remove a model from Shapeways.  The terms now make it clear that we may continue to use the model as part of our internal education and testing process. This is largely because we use user models to develop testing benchmarks that need to be consistent over time.  However, you can still always email customer service when you remove a model and request that it also be removed from internal testing.

API Terms and Conditions

The updates to the API Terms and Conditions are relatively modest.  In addition to some minor typos, the terms now make it clear that developers using the API are responsible for all fraud and chargebacks related to their use.  Since the API developer is in the best position to design their application in a way that avoids these sorts of fraudulent charges, it seemed only fair that they are responsible when someone uses the application fraudulently.

Content Policy

Last on the list of updates is the Content Policy.  The biggest change, which I already  mentioned above, is that we are bringing the content policy precheck out of beta.  Besides cleaning up some typos (by the way, feel free to let me know when you see typos in our policies….), the only other change is to make our preferred way of receiving copyright takedown notices more prominent.  Sending emails to content@shapeways.com is the best way to get a takedown request processed efficiently, and now that email address is more obvious on the page.

Thus concludes the spring recitation of the Shapeways policy updates.  As always, if you have any comments, questions or concerns, feel free to put them in the comments below, email them to me at mweinberg@shapeways.com, or tweet at me @MWeinberg2D.

featured image: Eyeglass Cap of Justice by Shapeways user Sabaku_Ika

Designer Spotlight : Stephen Arsenault

3D printing is all about pushing boundaries and solving problems. No one embodies this more than wearables shop owner  Steven Arsenault. Stephen runs a cool shop called Parts and Accessories where he makes useful and stylish accessories for the Fitbit, Pebble, Garmin and more. Let’s hear what he has to say! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?

I have worked in ad-tech since arriving in San Francisco in 2012 from Canada. Prior to leaving Canada I worked as a graphic designer in the rapid prototyping industry with sheet metal for nearly 5 years, serving many branches of NASA, Naval laboratories, confidential US contracts, and the aeronautical industry.

 

Stephen Arsenault

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?

Ranging from radioactive to purely utilitarian, I like to explore new designs and solutions to tricky problems.

One of my first designs was a carefully designed enclosure for the Fitbit Flex made in brass with semi-precious plating, I named it Fitbit Armour. When I say ‘carefully designed,’ I mean a tolerance of roughly 0.15mm, any less and it wouldn’t work. If I said I like to push the 3D manufacturing provided by Shapeways to their extremes it might be an understatement.

I would gladly accept the title nerd, because it’s tolerances like that which bring me back again and again to produce something new and exciting – it’s the challenge of pushing my technical design skill with the tools and manufacturing available to me.

 

 

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?

Prior to the winter of 2013 I had never used 3D printing before. To me, it was just a buzzword for people toiling away over hot extruded plastic. But I had worked with 50,000 watt laser cutters and ward-jet cutters, so I knew the extruded plastic couldn’t be the limit to additive manufacturing.

That December my soon to be grandmother-in-law showed me a “Neva-5″. If you’re not familiar with that name I can forgive you – it’s a weaving loom manufactured in the 80′s in Soviet Russia.

There’s a switch which must be flipped to adjust the tension on some of the loom mechanism. The original had been roughly cast and eventually broke.

To make a short story even shorter, two weeks later I gazed in awe at my first 3D printed part and had one very impressed grandma (though, no woven sweaters yet).

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

I was exposed to Solidworks during my experience with rapid prototyping. I had tried rhino and 123D CAD but Solidworks just felt RIGHT to me! Also, Youtube is a very patient teacher (if only I were a more patient student).

 

How do you promote your work?

I promote my work through Twitter and Instagram. I have a shop on Etsy as well, but direct most of my traffic to my Shapeways shop. You get what you put into social marketing!

Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?

Is it too cliche to say Jony Ives and Dieter Rams? No matter, I love minimal design where the emphasis is on details that matter.

Still, there’s a special place in my heart for whimsy and clever flourishes. That would lead me to my two favorite Shapeway designers, Michael Mueller and Steven Gray. If consistency is key, these two guys never fail to impress.

 

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?

I would make bicycles and things that propel themselves, the mechanical, the necessary. I would make it all!

 

Thanks for sharing Stephen, and make sure you check out his shop and follow him here.

How a Simple Mod Made an Entire Community Happy

Every few years automakers change up the entire design of an automobile. Frame, sheetmetal bodywork, engine, transmission and more to help give a vehicle a refresh and push buyers to want the newest model.

With the redesign of their Cooper line, Mini changed a lot about the third generation model. It was elongated, given a new engine and transmission, along with smaller details like this alien-like spaceship keyfob design.

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User jwhdevries wasn’t fond of this odd component and after a little research and seeing other Mini drivers fix the issue with Sugru moldable rubber or electrical tape, decided there was a better way to fix the issue at hand. The fob was unnecessarily large, and odd-shaped, and they found that the extra plastic was entirely unnecessary. With his 3D design knowledge, he designed this product in Strong & Flexible Polished plastic.

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After posting it on North America Motoring, a Mini- focused forum community with a massive positive response, it was reviewed on Motoring Fun, further pushing it up the ranks.

Through a bit of frustration, a lot of motivation and some serious creation, this product has been one of our top sellers in April; starting as a shared issue within a tight-knight community..

Have you created an amazing lifehack that helps fix a simple issue? We want to hear about it! Tell us about it in the comments below, and share it with us on social media by using #Shap3dByMe!

Follow Seth on Shapeways here

Easily Make 3D Pendants With a 2D Image!

It’s said that the most unique gift is one you’ve created yourself, and we wholeheartedly agree. Unfortunately, 3D modeling isn’t a skill that’s instantly acquired, and often takes time to build prowess to create the idea that’s lingering inside your head.

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And that’s why we’ve created the 3D Pendant Creator. This tool lets you take a 2D drawing and turn it into a jewel to go around your favorite person’s neck.

Here’s how it works:

First off, you’ll need a drawing. Begin by sketching out that pendant you’ve been itching to give to that special someone. Black lines on white paper works best.

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After you’ve finished sketching, outline the design with a dark pen or marker for best results. These will be the tallest parts in the pendant (think borders, or accents).

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Here’s where it gets really cool. Shade in parts that you want “lower” than the dark lines, keeping in mind that the darker shades will be taller than lighter shades when put into pendant form.

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After you’re happy with the product, take a picture with a smartphone or camera.

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Head on over to shapeways.com/creator/pendant, and upload the design. Your model will render and process.

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On this page, you have a few sliders you can play with to customize your pendant.

Size will adjust the overall sizing.
Thickness determines how thick you select the pendant to be.
Backing adds a square or rectangular backing to the pendant. This can be useful if you’re uploading a larger design or photograph.
Flat or Mirrored Back chooses whether the back is the same as the front, or flat.
Softness of Detail adjust the rough corners and features, to smooth them out a little bit.

Once you’re decided on that sweet pendant of yours, add a loop to the pendant to allow it to be put on a chain or necklace by clicking directly on the pendant where you want a loop to appear.

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Diameter of Loop adjusts the overall size, while Thickness of Loop adjusts the amount of space on the inside of the loop. Pie Slice or Half Circle change the type of loop from a X to Y axis.

After you’re totally satisfied, click Create My Pendant, and your pendant will process to allow you to choose the material you want it to be printed in (metal is the coolest!). Select the metal, add to cart, and you’re set!

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We know you’re creating some seriously awesome pendants, so once you receive them, tag us on social media @Shapeways with the hashtag #Shap3dByMe.

Follow Seth on Shapeways here

 

Set 3D Printing Orientation: Making your SLS Dreams Come True

We’re excited to show you one of newest features: the ability to set  the 3D printing orientation in Strong and Flexible Plastics, and to have consistent orientation between different production runs. This is something that our community has wanted for a long time, and nothing feels better than giving our expert designers the tools they want.

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What does orientation in 3D printing mean? You can change the direction of how a 3D model will be transformed into physical material. How a part is oriented can have a small effect on the the surface and dimensions of the final product due to how the model is orientated. To use the set 3D print orientation tool, go to the edit model page and click the button above the Strong and Flexible materials.

Previously, our team of engineers picked the best orientation for products. Now we give you the ability to choose it in 90 degree increments at your own discretion. In addition each time you print a specific product, we’ll keep the orientation of the part consistent with previous prints.

Check out the video below courtesy of Hunter, our Product Manager, for more on what this release is all about.

3D/DC 2016 Roundup

Last week Shapeways participated in the fifth annual 3D/DC conference.  3D/DC is an event held by the nonprofit advocacy organization Public Knowledge (full disclosure: I used to work there) designed to connect 3D printing with policymakers in Washington, DC.

The world of 3D printing has evolved a lot since the first 3D/DC, and the conference has evolved right along with it. The first 3D/DC (video highlights here) was primarily focused on introducing 3D printing to policymakers and introducing policymakers to 3D printing.  Most attendees of 3D/DC in 2011 had barely ever heard of 3D printing, and may never have even seen pictures of 3D printers.  Similarly, the 3D printing community itself was largely unfamiliar with the policy world and had never even thought about trying to set up a meeting with a Member of Congress.

Fast forward to 2016.  Everyone may not have seen 3D printing first hand, but panelists didn’t have to begin every conversation with an explanation of what 3D printing was.  As a result, after a day of private meetings with Members of Congress and their staff, the public day of 3D/DC could focus on the application of 3D printing to important areas of policy.

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Public Knowledge’s Courtney Duffy did a fantastic job of bringing new perspectives and areas of focus to the event this year.  The first panel, on 3D printing and STEAM education included Shapeways’ own Lauren Slowik.  Lauren is our point person on connecting the educational and arts community to Shapeways, so she was able to bring an applied perspective to the conversation.  She was joined by two kids who live 3D printing and STEAM education, John (age 11) and Becky (age 15) Button, along with Sophie Georgiou of Morphi and Joseph Williams of Perris Union High School District.

That first panel set the tone for the rest of the day by talking less about 3D printing for 3D printing’s sake, and instead focusing on how 3D printing integrated into issue areas such as the environment, workforce development, social impact, and the arts.  These panels, which brought together diverse perspectives from both inside and outside of government, were possible because 3D printing has expanded well beyond its original group of enthusiasts.  As we here at Shapeways see every day, many of the most exciting applications of 3D printing comes from people who care less about how 3D printing works and more about what 3D printing can do.

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While a policy conference in Washington DC would not be complete without policy panels, 3D/DC is not complete without its culminating reception.  Although many more people have heard about 3D printing in 2016 than in 2011, there are still plenty of people who have never experienced it in person.  The reception and demonstration gives policymakers a chance to see 3D printing and talk to the people behind the printers in a less formal atmosphere.

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This reception has evolved over the years as well.  As more and more local community groups, libraries, and maker spaces grow up across the country, 3D/DC can draw on a vibrant local 3D printing scene to demonstrate at the reception.  As a bonus, staffers and policymakers who live in the Washington, DC area can walk into 3D/DC and walk out with information on how to join a local hacker space.  Over the long term, a cadre of wonks who have deep first hand experiences with 3D printing will make sure that 3D printing policy coming out of Washington is created with a nuanced understanding of the technology.

You can check out more about this year’s 3D/DC by searching #3DDC2016 on twitter.  I’ll also try to update this post with a link to videos of the panels as soon as they are up.  In the meantime, you can learn more about what Public Knowledge is doing to help advocate for good 3D printing policy here.

Sharing our Creativity. Why it matters.

As children our creativity is without limits. If you watch children surrounded by stacks of white paper and crayons in every color of the rainbow, they will pick up a color at random and start drawing right away.  And then proudly display their drawing prominently.

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But give most 16-year-olds a blank piece of paper and a box of crayons and they’ll sit there for several minutes trying to think of what to draw.  And if you post that picture on Instagram and tag them, they’ll be horrified.

As we grow up, we are trained out of freely expressing ourselves. Our paper gains lines and we’re told to color within them. Our rainbow crayons are replaced with blue and black pens and #2 pencils. And everything we create gets marked up in red, outlining where we went wrong. Even though we may still take pleasure in making things, we become shy about sharing our creations with others.

I think Seth Godin has a profound insight into why we don’t share our creativity or ideas in general:

“One reason we often find ourselves with nothing much to say is that we’ve already decided that it’s safer and easier to say nothing.”

But he goes on to say, “If you’ve fallen into that trap, then committing to having a point of view and scheduling a time and place to say something is almost certainly going to improve your thinking, your attitude and your trajectory.”

This is the same with sharing what we create. There’s value to it, for ourselves and others.

  • It keeps us thinking for ourselves.

  • It keeps us brave. As children we are quick to take risks because we have no fear. No fear of failure, no fear of rejection. It brings us back to this fearlessness.

  • It keeps us humble because we are making ourselves vulnerable to feedback or even criticism, and to learn from it.

  • It encourages us to create and share more when someone likes or even buys our ideas.

  • It inspires others to be creative.

At Shapeways, we believe in supporting your ability to be creative and share with others.  We invite you to always sharing your projects and your ability to model with the community at large by opening a shop in our marketplace or joining our Designers For Hire program.  In addition to all the great reasons listed above you can also make a little extra money.  (we make that turnkey too!)  

We are always innovating and building new features to support sharing your creative gifts.  Be brave and inspire someone new.

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Turn Your Drone into a Work of Art

Drones are hot right now, and are developing quickly, not just in terms of technology but also aesthetics. Ferrari, Harley-Davidson and other large brand name vehicle manufacturers have huge followings because their products don’t just perform, they look great while doing it. Drones may be earlier in their adoption of aesthetic designs but will likely go the same route as high end cars as customization and looking cool become increasingly important to consumers.

One Shapeways designer and drone manufacturer recognizes this. Microdronecases, a shop run by beloved shop owner Kai Branchers (who also runs a shop making decorative home goods and artwork), is creating new sculptural cases for customizing your microdrone, like the Microdone 3.0 from extremeflyers, one of the coolest little drones to come out in years. 980871_1036082129784457_7244704189508583867_o

 

 

For the past few weeks Kai has been documenting his process of adopting his “wasp” case to the new Microdrone 3.0 body on his Facebook page and the results are a pleasure to watch. It really transforms the drone into a giant flying bee.

 

Keep an eye on the Microdronecases Shapeways shop and their Facebook page for more cool cases to customize the Microdrone 3.0

 

 

 

Unique Gift Ideas for the Perfect Mother’s Day

We know finding the perfect gift for mom isn’t always easy, so we’ve curated a list of unique gift ideas for you! Because every mom deserves a gift as special as she is.

Personalized Pendants

MOMPENDANT

If your mom has been hanging your drawings on the fridge since you could pick up a crayon, we bet she’ll love a personalized pendant created by you. You can make one using our pendant creator app. Check out the video below to see how.

Portraits in Porcelain

Have a photo you’re looking to memorialize in a special way? You can upload the photo and have it 3D printed in our Porcelain Ceramic with our celadon-selfie creator. These make for perfect, long-lasting and unique gifts for Mom.

Prefer to get her something one-of-a-kind designed by our creative community based around the world? Take a look at our Mothers Day Gift Guide or check outa few of our favorite unique gifts for mom.

Have you made something special that you’d like to share with us? Show us your work by tagging us on Instagram or Twitter with #3DMothersDay or post it to our Facebook page.

Legendary HO Scale work : The Franklin & South Manchester Railroad

Not knowing what to expect, I was absolutely floored when I walked up the narrow staircase and through the door covered in railroad signs. The HO scale railroad doesn’t take up much space square-footage wise, but the level of detail is staggering. Every inch of the diorama, set in a depression era New England, drips with attention to detail.

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I was told to go check out the Franklin & South Manchester Railroad in nearby Peabody, Massachusetts, when giving a clinic on 3D printing at the Fine Scale Model Train Expo last week (more about that here). Created by George Sellios, this HO scale railroad has been a work in progress for over 30 years.

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The well weathered, HO scale kits have remarkable realism. Every figure–and there must be thousands of them–is busy engaging in their lives, working, playing or relaxing. They appear to be interacting and as I looked closer, I started to find wonderful little narratives. The more time I spent wandering the layout, the more I noticed clever little details, humorous characters and Easter eggs (yes, dyed Easter eggs). George has artistic touches sprinkled throughout his railroad, some for fun and some deeply personal.

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After seeing the Franklin & South Manchester Railroad, I completely feel the passion that our community has for model railroading. This work is a lifetime achievement. Check out the video below for a short interview with George Sellios and a look at the full railroad set-up.

 

 

A SuperHERO Case for Your GoPro HERO | Shapeways Reviews

You’re an action sports HERO, or at least you want to be. So, you went out and bought a GoPro to record those CRAZY things you planned to do. Skydiving, scuba diving into the depths of the ocean, and evading NYC taxicabs on your bicycle. But you really just use it to document your family vacations, finding you want better sound quality and don’t ALWAYS need that waterproof case.

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This simple GoPro case by whitenoise_customs frees up your GoPro. By being completely non-restricting, this case allows amazing access to the microphone, and all the buttons, while still allowing you to attach the stock mounting base. Tether this onto the selfie-stick or gorillapod of your choice, and be ready to capture some footage to remember. (As long as you’re not going swimming!)

Getting this case on is super simple.

Take the GoPro out of its waterproof housing.

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Slip the GoPro into the frame case.

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Screw the mounting base on, and there you go. A super simple case with a sunshade. Or without. The case comes in a few different variations, all with the same awesome fit, so pick the one that best fits your needs.

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Check out whitenoise_customs’ shop here to get your case, and check out our full video review of this great accessory.

We want to see your favorite 3D printed GoPro accessories. Tag us on social media with #Shap3dByMe, and send us your Shapeways GoPro lists! Let us know what you want to see next in the comments below, and never stop creating.

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Great Learning at the Fine Scale Model Train Expo

Railroad modelers have a long tradition of learning from each other in order to turn ideas into physical 3D objects at scale. A hobby that goes back for generations, they have wonderful organizations that regularly get together to share their passion of scale modeling. They are exemplary both in their ingenuity and in their willingness to share new techniques.

Last weekend, I got to meet with these modelers at the Fine Scale Model Train Expo in Danvers, Massachusetts and to give a clinic on using 3D printing with Shapeways. I also got to show off our newest material: Black High Definition Acrylate. The response was incredible and we’re already starting to see this new, high-detail material take off. Folks in the clinic asked awesome questions about how they can start modeling, how our materials work and gave thoughtful suggestions on what they’d like to see from Shapeways in the future.

After the talk, folks gather around to get a closer look at Shapeways materials:

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Walking around the expo I was blown away by the detail I saw in the scale models, particularly in the contests. The Expo centered around O and HO scale models (with some G as well) and the vendors who produce kits for these sizes. The level of craftsmanship in these kits was simply incredible. Everyone I spoke to was was incredibly excited for 3D printing and many had already adopted it into their toolkit.

HO scale kit by FOS Scale Models:

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I garnered some great insights about the hobby as well. The focus on HO scale and all the elements that go into making a layout helped me better understand how 3D printing fits into the equation. I saw real wooden scale lumber, remarkably accurate greenery, laser cut architectural motifs and white metal/pewter cast figurines. The HO (or other scales) ecosystem relies on materials that mimic the properties and look of a larger object and I’m constantly impressed by the ingenuity of model makers to find the perfect solution to scale-based issues.

HO Scale module:

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This is what makes 3D printing so useful to modelers. With so many materials to choose from, they can make nearly unlimited forms and have access to thousands of models for purchase that like-minded designers have already made. However specific or obscure the inspiration, 3D printing and your fellow modelers can get you there.

Andrew Thomas (Shapeways Community Manager) with Expo organizer Hal Reynolds:

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Below is a short interview with Shapeways community member David Yale from the floor of the expo about his products that were included in some incredible custom kits.

 

Bonus: The diorama above has an incredible series of videos showing how it was made on youtube.