Category Archives: 3D Modeling

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

Continue reading


 

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

plated-brass-material-hub-20150203

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.

plated-brass-launch-blog

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?
plated-brass-launch-blog-2
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!

rush-625x465-2

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.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 4.16.35 PM

 

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.

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 12.13.02 PM

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!


 

New Year, New Tools: Introducing Shapeways 3D tools

Whether you are creating something for yourself or designing something beautiful for your customers, making your product come to life is incredibly rewarding. 3D printing has continually lowered the barrier from having an idea to actually holding your product in your hands.

Ensuring your 3D model can be printed, and understanding how design and material choices impact how you make your model can however be challenging.  The team at Shapeways constantly strives to make that easier, so with the new year, we’re thrilled to introduce a suite of 3D tools to empower you further. The Shapeways 3D tools give you more transparency into how we check your models and to help you check, visualize, and fix potential issues yourself before purchasing your model.

With the success of our wall thickness fixing tool in March of last year, we were inspired to invest in expanding the ways you can view your model against what our 3D Printing Engineers at Shapeways are looking at when you upload a model – our material design guidelines.  So we built 15 tools that let you view your model against our material-specific guidelines: mesh integrity and repair, bounding box, loose shells, part count, wire thickness, details, text, part clearance, escape holes, machine space, weak geometry, texture, interlocking parts, our content policy, and improved our wall thickness tool with a heatmap view.

Heatmap Wall Thickness 3D tools Flower

Each tool enables you to view your model against our design guidelines and clip your model along the x, y, and z axis for x-ray vision so you can identify any potential issues faster and with confidence.

Our tools are grouped into two types: ‘On upload we automatically check…’ and ‘After purchase we manually check…’ Our wall thickness, bounding box, mesh integrity and repair, loose shells, and part count tools in the first group have automatic checks that will show you a green check, yellow warning sign, or a red ‘X’ indicating our initial level of confidence that you will pass that check upon manual inspection post-purchase.  Every automatic check is still subject to a manual check post-purchase.

Machine space, loose shells, and wall thickness tools will also visualize any detected issues on top of your model.  The improved wall thickness and part count tools offer ‘fixes’ to change your model related to the issue in the tool in addition to a heatmap view.  You can also ‘sintershell’ a multi-part model in the part count tool, which encloses your parts inside a mesh, making it easier to handle and sort.  Adding a ‘sintershell’ can sometimes reduce the labor cost of a multi-part model.

Three Visualizations 3D tools Machine Space Loose Shells and Sintershell

Machine Space Visualization, Loose Shells and Sintershell example

These tools are not only helpful before you purchase, but also after you purchase if your model gets rejected.  If your model is rejected, you will receive the email with the detailed information explaining why, as always, but it will be viewable in our 3D tools right next to your model, and directly above our design guidelines – so you can see all the information you need to take action to fix and re-upload your model.

Rejection Inline with Guidelines in 3D tools Flower (1)

We hope that you’ll be as excited by these tools as we are and find them helpful as you design and get ready to 3D print. Upload a new product and read the 3D tools Tutorial or check out 3D tools with your existing models. This is just the beginning of the 3D tools so we’d love to hear about how you are using them, what you find them helpful for and if you have any suggestions. Post a comment or head over to the forum to tell us what you think!

 

 


 

Free UArtsy 3D Modeling Course for the Shapeways Community Plus a Discount!

wireframe dog

Wireframe Dog designed by CINEMO

The folks at UArtsy have created a free 3D modeling course called Learn Maya: Polygon Modeling with Michael Mckinley. All you have to do is follow the link and register. They’ve also got a great offer for the Shapeways community: 20% off of any course you choose. Simply register and enter the code SHP20OFF upon checkout. The staff at UArtsy recommends 3D Printing for Artists With Joseph Drust and Jewelry Sculpting In ZBrush Fundamentals With Tomas Wittelsbach, as two great starting courses for Shapeways designers.

UArtsy.com is a 3D modeling and sculpting course site started by Ryan Kinglien, the first product manager for ZBrush. The site offers a on-demand and live courses in several techniques.

Go ahead and learn a new 3D skill and make 2015 your year!


 

Bigger is Better for Shapeways 3D Printing Bounding Box

box

 

Have you had to update everything from your case to your jean pocket size since upgrading your phone? We too have adapted to the bigger-is-better trend taking the product world by storm.

Announcing a Bigger Polished Strong & Flexible Bounding Box!

Thanks to a little R&D, we are excited to expand our current bounding box limitation for Dyed & White Strong & Flexible Polished from 150 x 150 x 150mm to 150 x 150 x 200mm!

This means that our entire Strong & Flexible Plastic family is iPhone 6 Plus case friendly! We look forward to seeing the colorful creations you polish with this expanded bounding box.

What other bounding boxes do you wish would expand?


 

Nervous System Creates Kinematics Dress 3D Printed by Shapeways & Acquired by MoMA

Today we are excited to unveil an amazing dress designed by Nervous System and 3D printed at our New York City factory. Using Kinematics – Nervous System’s 4D printing system that creates complex, foldable forms composed of modules – designers Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg created a completely wearable dress that prints in one single folded piece. It is made of thousands of panels connected by hinge joints and fluidly folds and conforms to the body as it is worn. Both the dress and Kinematics software have been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art for their permanent collection.

We’ve been working closely with Nervous System since 2009. They have been instrumental in showing the world the potential of 3D printing with their beautiful designs, and in helping us push the limits of our production capabilities and design guidelines. This dress definitely pushes the limits of what’s possible today. Given the file size and complexity, our 3D printing engineers worked with Jessica and Jesse to plan the build and closely check for printability before it went into production. The dress, while folded, is still a relatively large print and required a longer build time than our normal production process (44 hours!)…so we really only had one shot.

Our CEO Pete likes to say, shoot for the stars and you’ll reach the moon. In this case, we definitely reached the stars. Congrats to Jessica and Jesse. You guys have thrown down the gauntlet in what’s possible with 3D printing.

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Kinematics Dress in motion. Image courtesy of Nervous System

We spoke with Jessica to hear more about the inspiration behind this dress and what she thinks the future of 3D printed fashion is…

How did the Kinematics Dress come about?

We first prototyped the idea for Kinematics on our Makerbot as a way to print something flat that could become three dimensional and wearable. We loved the materiality and movement of the hinged triangular components. Our first thought was that it would be amazing to produce something larger, like an entire dress, with this system on our little desktop printer. We quickly realized that making an entire dress out of tons unique 8” panels that would have to be flattened for printing and then assembled was crazy. There would be more work in the design process to panelize the dress and lots of manual labor to put it together. So we flipped the idea on its head. Instead of using the flexibility of the design to make something three dimensional that is produced flat, we simulate the movement in the computer to take something very large and 3D and make it flatter and more compact, so it can be 3D printed in one piece.

What was your inspiration?

This project really started from the limitations and opportunities of 3D printing. We were thinking about how we could harness the ability of 3D printers to make interlocking parts and very complex structures to create customized wearables.

In general, all our work is inspired by how patterns and forms emerge in nature. We take a systems approach to design. We don’t craft individual objects; instead, we create architectures for growing, sculpting or generating whole families of designs. For this project, we were more interested in designing a process and material than a garment.

In terms of other garments, we were definitely influenced by Janne Kyttanen and Jiri Evenhuis’s 3D printed chainmail dress. It set the standard for 3D printed garments not only by being the first but also by being one of the only ones that appears wearable and textile-like in its construction. If we were going to create a dress it was certainly going to a durable, comfortable, wearable piece. We were also inspired by the work of Issey Miyake, which often explores folding and structure in fashion.

nervous system 3d printed dress

An x-ray view rendering showing the hinges which structure a Kinematics design. Image courtesy of Nervous System

What are the benefits of the Kinematics approach versus traditional modeling?

Kinematics represents a new approach to manufacturing, which tightly integrates design, simulation, and digital fabrication to create complex, customized products. Our approach is completely different from traditional modeling and CAD software. The whole system is built up around the logic of a mechanism, in this case a hinge, which has been optimized for 3D printing and whose behavior we can simulate. Users interact with kinematics at a high level through an online design tool that lets them sculpt clothing shapes and “paint on” density and styles. Meanwhile, in the background the system is taking care of generating and connecting together all the geometry with our hinge mechanism. At the end of the design process, we have a 3D-printable piece of clothing made of thousands of panels interconnected by hinges. Rather than just ending up with big heavy file containing a bunch of “dumb” geometry, we end up with a smart structure that we understand as rigid panels connected by hinges. Because we understand the behavior of the geometry, we can use simulation to compress it down for efficient 3D printing.

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Kinematics Dress. Image courtesy of Nervous System

What do you see for the future of 3D printing in clothing and fabrics?

We are particularly intrigued by how 3D printing applies to clothing in two areas: new meta-fabrics and customization.

Additive manufacturing has to ability to create very complex structures. In the world of clothing and fabrics, this is particularly intriguing because we are already talking about constructed materials. Fabrics produced from fibers that are aggregated and connected to create cloth with certain properties. For instance, knit cotton has stretch and woven cotton does not. Typically these material properties are constant throughout a whole piece of fabric. With 3D printing, we can start to create really weird fabric-like assemblages or mashups. We can print a textiles with gradations of material properties like stretch, flex, warmth, color, etc.

3D printing also favors the production of hyper-customized, one of a kind goods. We will see more apps like Kinematics that create custom-fit clothing and accessories from body data.

How does this fit into your broader collection?

Nervous System’s goal is to use computation and new fabrication techniques to make products that push the boundaries of what is possible. Most of our work starts with an inspiration from nature that eventually is translated into some sort of digitally fabricated, customized product. In this project, we actually started on the other end, being inspired by the technology itself and ultimately creating our own material system and form generating process.

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Kinematics Dress. Image courtesy of Nervous System

How did MoMA get involved?

We met Paula Antonelli, the Senior Curator of Architecture & Design of the Museum of Modern Art, at an event this year where were demoing an early version of Kinematics Cloth app and displaying our Kinematics Bodice. She expressed interest in acquiring a Kinematics Dress for the MoMA collection… the only problem was we hadn’t made one yet. There were actually a number of design and technological hurdles we had to overcome before we could make a full dress. Even up to the last moment, just days before they needed it, we weren’t sure we would be able to deliver their final piece.

What’s next for Kinematics?

There are a lot of possible directions for Kinematics including new products, improved software and incorporating different mechanisms and structures. We’re doing more material experiments to explore how different types of connections can lead to different fabric behaviors. There are also still many improvements we can make to our folding algorithm to increase speed, accuracy and generality for other shapes. Another avenue we’d like to explore is creating a locking joint that would allow us to print a folded object that would snap into a rigid configuration when unfolded.


 

Video: iPhone 6 Case Semi-Finalists Reviewed, Finalists Announced!

Remember that iPhone 6 3D Printed Case Contest we hosted a few weeks ago? We waited to print the cases until the backlog of repricing orders had been cleared, and finally have them in-hand! I took the time to review the top 10 semi-finalists, and am proud to announce the final four. Everyone who participated did a great job, but like all initial prototypes, some need a few design adjustments to be ready for the main stage.

Curious as to which cases are making their way to Ethan Imboden at Frog Design in California for final review? You’ll have to watch the video to find out:

Now that you’ve seen them, which case would you like for your phone?


 

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Own Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday

This the tenth and final post in our Shop Owner Bootcamp Series counting down to Black Friday. Appropriately, today’s tips are all about how to win Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. We make an effort to embrace all global traditions in our community, but given that a significant portion of our shopper traffic comes from the United States, we want you to be prepared.

ponies-fun

Take a deep breath. Look around at the products you’ve created before you. And get in the zone. We are entering the highest traffic time of the year here at Shapeways, and we want you to capture as much of it as possible, bringing excited new customers to your shops. We try hard to showcase the diversity of great products on Shapeways, but with nearly 3 million models uploaded, it’s impossible to feature everyone. Below is a guide for how you can optimize every day in the holiday shopping weekend coming up. If you’re looking for personalized shop advice, be sure and sign up for our Shop Owner Sessions over the weekend and next week.

Three Golden Rules:

  • Schedule posts on your preferred social platforms: Shapeways shoppers come from around the world – you never know when they’re watching. Buffer is my favorite for this, and Tweetdeck works great as well.  Both are free and work seamlessly with all your twitter accounts. This will help pace your content if you get caught up with a customer during the day.
  • Respond to People Quickly: People are looking to buy between Black Friday-Cyber Monday more than any other time of the year.  This also means they’re looking to transact quickly. Be extra responsive to private messages, product comments, and engagement on social media. Showing people they matter goes a long way.
  • Be Shameless: Yes, we all want to avoid being spammy. Telling people about something they want or would be interested in however, isn’t spammy. Include educational tips and designer scoop on how you make your creations, how we 3D Print them etc. and include a product in every post. By giving your audience something (awesome behind the curtains info) you appear as much like an educator as you do a business oriented person. We’ll be looking to share your posts with the greater Shapie community, so keep ‘em coming!

Three Important Days

  1. Black Friday: Historically the theme of Black Friday is “doorbusters” aka Early-Bird deals for shoppers. Take advantage of the buzz online by including #BlackFriday in your communications. Consider experimenting with lower prices on a few of your pieces early in the morning to see if you can increase demand. If you’re putting an item on Sale, be sure an indicate in the product descriptions so your shoppers know to take advantage of this special deal! Historically very popular in the US.
  2. Small Business Saturday: A lovely day branded initially by AmericanExpress, #SmallBusinessSaturday is meant to celebrate the Independently owned businesses in our communities, both digital and IRL. Take the opportunity to tell people about your business, the collections you have available now, and the direction you would like to take it in the future. Though started in the US, it has spread across the globe. Take this day to tell your story through your products.
  3. Cyber Monday: The mother of all online shopping days. A global phenomena that brings more people to E-commerce land than any other day. Schedule the most posts across the most networks on this day. We’ve got some great surprises in store on-site, so be sure and check it out. #CyberMonday is the tag to go with, and discounts are the currency. Don’t feel like you have to have a sale, however, as many of you are already so modest with your markups.

Alright, what final questions can I help you with Shapies?