Category Archives: Interview Creating interactive 3D printed jewelry

Jussi Ängeslevä is the creator of Ciphering, which is part of a research project project of Berlin University of the Arts and the Technical University Berlin, which is using scientific methods to explore the role of rapid manufacturing, like 3D printing, in product creation. The ring uses the Shapeways API to create beautiful rings with hidden number messages that you can see when you take the ring off your finger and shine a light through it. As the Ciphering is part of the research process its only available for a short time – until December 31, 2014.

ciphering1 Introduce yourself. What is your background and what inspired you to create Ciphering?

I’m an interaction designer juggling my time between academia and industry, creating experiences in fantastically different scales. My role as Vice Creative Director at Design Studio ART+COM keeps me busy with creating larger public space experiences, ranging from museums to public art commissions. In parallel, as a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts, we are looking at the impact of digital technologies and “computational thinking” in everyday life. In both contexts, the meaning of interactivity, code and digital is increasingly shifting to physical world, where creating experiences with mechatronics, robots doing things designed by some complex algorithm, or where the physical form and the digital behavior cannot be separated anymore, as the programming takes place in both.

“Ciphering” is a generative jewelry, where the customer can encode 4 digits to the physical structure of the ring, which can be decoded when shining light through it, or when aligning the ring just right, and looking through the pattern. The project is a part of a larger research effort at the Berlin University of the Arts, where we are currently working on a research project called “Beyond Prototyping.” Together with the Technische Universität Berlin, we are trying to find the sweetspot between atelier service and mass manufacturing, and find out what aspects of design makes sense to leave open for the customer to decide. So, in the case of Ciphering, the idea is that the designer defines the aesthetics of the form but the customer decides the four important digits that then define the physical shape of the ring.


What was your design and iteration process like?

We did a lot of iterations with the design, where the initial ideas were based around using caustic reflections that could be decoded with focussed light source. These studies took place purely in software, and the first test print through Shapeways showed the physical limits with surface smoothness and resolution, and we shifted to using shadow casting as the carrier. With a quick iterative loop we designed different pattern languages for encoding text to the ring surfaces, and printed them in larger scale with a MakerBot that is sitting at our studio. When the over sized prototypes showed promise of success, we ordered lot of different material samples of the rings through Shapeways. With these results, we then decided the final wall thicknesses, the material choices and edge roundings. We also decided to limit the content that the customer can encode to four digits only, as we realized that only by strict limits, we could provide the aesthetics right, and with pixel fonts you can only do so much.

3D printing was essential to realize this project. These computational shapes would be very difficult to produce manually. Especially, as every single ring will be different. Actually, the project is still very much on-going, because for the research project, my ultimate question is to understand the “aura of the digitally fabricated.” What is it in these artifacts that differentiate them from the handmade or the mass manufactured? Ciphering is trying to give one tangent to this, by having people be part of the meaning-making, by encoding their own special numbers in the shape but we as designers still control the overall aesthetic. If people are interested in the ring, I would like to ask them few months later, how they feel about it, what will it end up meaning.

Can you tell me more about the the research project between the Berlin University of the Arts and the Technical University Berlin that Ciphering is part of? What is the focus of this project and what else are you working on?

We have an organization between the two Universities called Hybrid Plattform which tries to facilitate transdisciplinary projects. Our collaboration “Beyond Prototyping” is one such things, enabled by generous funding from Einstein Stiftung. In this project we are looking at how things can be designed partially algorithmically, and partially with an in-depth knowledge of the materials and manufacturing processes, and then apply them to different fields, where the end-user can be part of the creation, therefore having a stronger sense of agency about the final outcome. The work falls somehow under the trendy “mass-customization” but we are trying to push the customization much more to the meaning, not only focussing on the optimization with sizing, or choosing random parameters like colors of different parts of a design.

Another case we have almost ready as a service is an oak table, where we use openstreetmap to let the customer define the meaning of the table. You can see a software prototype at ,but it’s not quite ready yet.


Happy Mothers Day From Success Kid’s Mom

What makes a successful mom? For Mother’s Day this year we caught up with a mom who knows a thing or two about success. Her name is Laney Griner and she’s known for bringing Success Kid into the world. Because Mother’s Day is a special day where we recognize that special woman in our life who helped raise us, I caught up briefly with “Success Mom” to learn more about her and her son Sammy and her love for 3D printing.

Laney and her son Sammy along with 3D printed Success Kiddesigned by Ryan Kittleson.

1) What does being a mom on Mother’s Day mean to you? 

Sammy is such a great, fun kid. I feel fortunate to be his mother all year long.

2) How does it feel being the mom that birthed Success Kid? 
It never stops being super awesome and equally bizarre. But it’s not like he’s recognized anywhere. Not so far, anyway.
3) What does it mean for you to be able to hold the 3D printed Success Kid meme in your hands? 
I fell in love with it from the first moment I saw it on and was so excited to get it in the mail. Every parent should be so lucky.
4) What does your son want to be when he grows up? (He is already a success as it is.) 
Right now, at age 7, he wants to be a painter and tattoo artist, like his dad, Justin. He’s already a pretty talented little artist.
5) What is your favorite 3D printed meme on Shapeways besides success kid?

They aren’t memes, but I love all of the skeletal ones, human and animal. The whole process (3D printing) is just so cool.

We’d like to know what does Mother’s Day mean to you? Let us know by commenting below or tweet us with the hashtag #3DMothersDay 

You can purchase your own 3D printed Success Kid here.


From Animated Character to 3D Printed Figurine with Bill Plympton

This spring we were thrilled to welcome animation legend Bill Plympton to the Shapeways community. Bill is an Oscar nominated animator whose studio, Plymptoons, is based in New York City. He draws all of his work by hand, but was intrigued by the possibility that 3D printing offered to enable him to bring his characters to life. Bill teamed up with 3D animator and modeler Andrew Thomas to realize the The Dog, the “most loyal dog in the world,” and the main character from his hit 2005 animated short of “Guard Dog” and subsequent shorts such as “Guide Dog” and “Hot Dog” as a figurine for sale in his Shapeways shop.

I talked with Bill about his process of bringing The Dog from animation to desktop sculpture and the possibility that 3D printing holds for animators.

Continue reading


The Designer Behind the Chris Christie Bridgegate Figurine

Today we are celebrating Fernando Sosa for his 3D modeling skills, sense of humor, and ability to quickly turn a trending topic into a 3D printed desk top toy and figurine.

You may have seen his Chris Christie directing traffic BridgeGate figurine this week on, NY Daily News, MSNBC Hardball with Chris Matthews or other media outlets. Well, Fernando offers even more 3D printed products in his Shapeways shop, Amznfx, including all-in-one custom iPhone cases, accessories and other figurines.

We chatted with Fernando to better understand the inspiration behind his figurine and his design process.

What inspired you to create this model?  

I wanted to make something unique, of my own, and I liked politics and always wanted to make political figurines. I had an idea for Obama, but it wasn’t “hot.” When I was watching Gov. Chris Christie’s interview, he mentioned cones, overalls, and I got a mental picture of him wearing a construction vest directing traffic and just started modeling.

How long did it take and what 3D software do you use?

About 40-50 hours. My figurines are original and copyrighted and so it’s a worthy use of my time.  I use Maya, Meshlab, sometimes Netfabb, but I tried almost everything out there.

How did you get into 3D printing?

I learned 3D modeling in school, but I learned most of what I use today on my own. I have always worked in design, and had an idea for a custom iPhone case (iPhone case + wallet + money clip + bottle opener), which was almost impossible to make. So, I decided to try 3D printing it — that was the first thing I ever 3D printed with Shapeways and I was really happy with it. I now also have my own 3D printer and run a prototyping company called nuPROTO.

Why do you use a 3D printing service like Shapeways if you own a 3D printer?

For prototypes and things I need right away, I use my 3D printer at home. You guys have the highest quality and can print in detail that home printers can’t. I find it valuable to be able to use both.

How would you describe Shapeways to a friend?

3D printing for the everyday guy. You don’t have to know how to model, you can just find something you like and buy it.

Want to see more of Fernando’s designs? Check out his shop or his prototyping company, nuPROTO.


MYMO: The Beautiful Pendant Generator Built on the Shapeways API

Did you know Shapeways has an API? New companies are forming around it everyday!

MYMO is a great recent example of Shop Owners taking advantage of the API. I sat down with them at their office to discuss the launch of their jewelry app, MYMO, that lets users combine any two letters or numbers in an elegant form factor. Our Alan Hudson helped them set it up, has worked with them a lot. He even connected them to a geometry generator. Rex, their developer, built MYMO off the Shapeways API which let him leverage his existing coding database.

Continue reading


Dinovember Feature: An Interview with 3D Printing Dinosaur Design Master David Krentz

Are you a fan of Dinosaurs? Or a recent #Dinovember bandwagoner? If you just answered yes, and should you like your Dinos in cinematic form, you’ve likely seen the work of David Krentz. Given his feature in our recent Bronze launch, the timely nature of viral heartwarming dinosaur stories, and in an effort to showcase some of the Shop Owners we’re so grateful for, I give you…

Interview with David Krentz: “I still pinch myself that someone pays me to make dinosaurs.”

Continue reading


MakerFaire San Mateo Roundup

Whew! What a whirlwind that was! Shapeways was at MakerFaire San Mateo last weekend, and as always, we had an amazing time meeting makers and sharing the excitement of 3D printing. The weather was great, and there was lots to see. Pictures are worth a thousand words so here’s a few…

We can’t lie, R2D2 was our favorite booth visitor 

Continue reading


Basketball Fans, This is the Egg Cup For You: Nothing But Egg

This may be the first time basketball fans have had a way to celebrate their favorite game at breakfast thanks to 3D printing.  The Nothing But EGG Holder by makerb1ocker holds your boiled egg and spoon so that you can slam dunk your breakfast.  Perhaps you can even try for a 3 pointer and throw your egg straight from the pot and into the holder.  Available in all of the Nylon color options on Shapeways this might even make the perfect mother’s day gift for your basketball loving mother?

absketball eggcup made with Shapeways 3D printing


Designer Spotlight: Wayne Losey, 3D Printed Toy Designer

This weeks Designer Spotlight focues on Wayne Losey, who is striving to get us to play again, by making modular, interactive toys.

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

I make playthings! My background is in toy and character design, visual storytelling, and play systems. I’ve worked on action figures for 20 years. I’m based in Providence, Rhode Island and am a member of the vibrant local maker, startup and entrepreneur communities. Providence is a great place to bring unconventional ideas to life.

Continue reading


An Interview with Joshua Harker on Shapeways 3D Printing, Kickstarter and the 3rd Industrial Revolution

Joshua Harker on the 3rd Industrial Revolution

We were happy to have Joshua Harker visit us at the Shapeways HQ in New York City to finally meet after 3D printing SO MANY of his skulls.  We took the opportunity to record our part of our conversation about how he used Shapeways 3d printing and Kickstarter to take his career into a new direction, how on demand 3D printing makes it possible for artists and designers to realize their ideas, and how platforms like Shapeways and Kickstarter make it possible to reach a massive audience with no financial investment or risk.  In short, 3D printing and the 3rd industrial revolution as celebrated by his latest Kickstarter project, Anatomica di Revolutis.

The full interview runs for around 15 minutes and covers much of Joshua’s amazing success over the past 12 months, check it out.

Relevant posts on the Shapeways Blog.
Shapeways Innovation 3D Print Kickstarter
Shapeways 3D Printed Skull Kickstarter
Innovation Amplifier : Crowdsourced Capital and On-Demand Digital Fabrication
Anatomica di Revolutis: The 3D Printing Revolution on Kickstarter


Designer Spotlight: Justin Howlett

This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on Justin Howlett, an animator who uses the 3D modeling skills he learned through animation to create steampunk inspired rings.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?

Hi my name is Justin Howlett, I am 24 years old and I have lived in London for about a year. I studied animation at Bournemouth University where I used my computer model making skills to make 3D sets and props for animation productions that we would put on as students. After leaving university and now working as a freelancer I continue to develop my practice.

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

I’ve been working on my ring project for the last few months. Much like the steampunk aesthetic, I really like to imagine my rings as something someone from the future might wear or something you might find that was once lost in the ground centuries ago. I have always been interested in ancient Egypt and especially the pyramids and I often have this in mind when I start a design. I like to use triangles or other simple forms as a starting point for the shapes in my designs. Sometimes me and my girlfriend Jess brainstorm ideas together which can lead to interesting results! 

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
I was asked to design some 1/24th scale props for a stop motion short film, and we chose to 3D print them. Shapeways stood out as the most feasible and convenient place to produce them. Shapeways has plenty of materials and a boasts a good detail resolution which appealed to us as the props would be viewed close up and a good level of detail was very important. When I discovered people’s Shapeways shops and their designs I decided to give it a go myself. Holding my computer designed models, as real objects in the real world felt amazing, and now I’m hooked!
How did you learn how to design in 3D?

When I was 12 I bought a game and it came with an editor which lets you create maps for the game. Later on taught myself to use 3D modeling programs like Maya and 3D Max.

How do you promote your work?

I have recently used Pinterest and Twitter to get more exposure for my shop. My website is where I keep my portfolio of work and a link to my Shapeways shop, but I am new to this and I’m still figuring out the best way to do it.

Who are your favorite designers or artists?
I love the graphic design work of chrislabrooy it’s amazing that his pictures aren’t real! HR Giger and MC Escher have always inspired me too. 
Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
I love the skull rings hdrop has made, his designs are fantastic. I like the dark nature of them and how the skulls form seamlessly into the ring shape . I especially like the ‘masked skull ring’. Other designers that I admire are: kacheric, sbruins, jeff.  I also love the impossible triangle pendants by SB3D, Eragatory and The Museum of Small Things.
If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
I can’t wait until I can print larger 3D printed interlocking parts in metal and silver. 


Designer Spotlight: Stijn van der Linden

This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on Stijn van der Linden, the creator of one of our most popular items on Shapeways: Gyro the Cube. He is an avid and prolific designer, and he also finds time to answer questions on the forum as one of our moderators.

Hi everyone! My name is Stijn van der Linden, probably better know as Virtox around here :-) . I live in Tilburg, in the Netherlands together with my lovely wife and son. I am a work-at-home dad, so I juggle my time between housekeeping, changing diapers and late night sessions of tinkering, designing and programming. I have a college degree in Electrical Engineering and worked as a software engineer for several years, but shortly after discovering 3D printing and Shapeways, I switched careers to my life long passion of 3D Art & Design.

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

Initial sparks often come from the intrinsic beauty found in nature, science and life: a twig, an atom or a kitchen sink. I have a particular fondness for using primitive shapes, such as circles, cubes and spheres and morphing them into the desired forms.

How did Gyro the cube come about?

I have a great love for trying to create the impossible and this is clearly visible in Gyro the Cube. At the time I had just discovered the real power of 3D printing and the possibility to make stuff with moving parts. So, while I was playing around with morphing cubes into spheres and vice versa, I noticed that two of these closely nested cubes could rotate freely about a diagonal axis. I could then repeat this and change the axis for each one and make this impossible looking gyroscopic sculpture, that could (theoretically) move and spin straight from the printer! I was quite anxious after ordering, whether I had made any calculation errors and if it would actually work. It did spin (phew!) and the ease of movement exceeded all my expectations! I still keep one handy near my desk.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

I am mostly self-taught, as a young kid I started with simple 2D graphics and programming in C64 BASIC. This quickly went on to more advanced programming languages and working with 3D in PovRay, a very elegant scripted 3D rendering engine. During college I had access to more advanced software, like 3D Studio Max which had even more powerful scripting languages and programming APIs. All this evolved to the point that I stopped using off-the-shelf software and I currently make most of my work with home-brew software built in C++.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?

In August of 2008 I saw a mention of Shapeways somewhere and I signed up for the closed Beta. At the time I thought it was mostly expensive and very complicated,  but I kept a close eye on the newsletters and forum and started to learn about the wonders of 3D printing. I tinkered about on the site, uploaded some models and tried the shop feature. To my shock and amazement, I sold something within mere days! Someone had actually bought Holey, a model I had designed years before and now someone, somewhere, was actually going to hold something I had once designed to be impossible to make. And worse, they beat me to it! So this led me to quickly place my first order and ever since I’ve been hooked on 3D printing.

How do you promote your work?

It has never been my strong suit, and it’s hard to find the time, but I try to post updates to social networks as much as possible, such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, my own blog and occasionally to design blogs and websites such as Designspotter and Behance. But all things marketing, I learned from the Shapeways blog, as it contains a goldmine of tips, tricks and hints on how to promote your designs and shops. ;-)

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

My all-time favorite artists are Salvador Dali, M.C. Escher and H.R. Giger. Their mind-bending work really sparked my love for art and I am very fond of surreal and impossible looking stuff! After four years of being part of this community, I must say there are so many great members helping and inspiring others, I could not hope to name them all! So a big thank you to ALL for making this place the success it is today! A special shout-out to Youknowwho, Magic, StonySmith and Stop4Stuff for driving the community forward and to Nervous System, Bathsheba, Unellenu and Opresco for making the most inspiring works. And apologies to all that escape my mind at the moment!

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

Oh wow, well just about anything and everything! I can’t wait to sink my teeth into an impossibly shaped designer steak, sit down in a fully personalized chair and strap on that pair of extra robotic arms to get things done. But this technology is evolving so quickly I really do not feel limited. If anything, 3D printing just seems to be the ultimate addition to any toolkit.

Thank you to all Shapies for all your efforts to make the impossible possible, you are changing lives and the world with it!

Check out Stijn’s incredible designs on his Shapeways Shop, his website, or hop onto the forums and chat with him and the rest of the Shapeways community.


Glowing 3D Printed Architectural Models on Shapeways (VIDEO)

We see many architects 3D printing their models using Shapeways 3D printing service but most of them remain behind the scenes and never make it onto the Shapeways site or blog so it is always cool to see architectural 3D prints in the Shapeways marketplace to share what architects are doing.

Shapeways 3D Printing Architectural Models : 1 WTC

One of the coolest architectural models we have 3D printed at Shapeways lately is the 1 WTC by Stefdos which is a 3D model of One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) that glows when lit from within with an LED.

Shapeways Architectural 3D Printing Service

Shapeways Architectural 3D Printing Service Glowing Models

This amazing model that is 3D printed in full color at 25cm high is only $25 on Shapeways, that’s $1 per cm… bargain. Check out the video below….

Also check out New Orleans tower Rotterdam 15cm by the ame designer that also glows when lit from within. 

3D Printer architectural models Shapeways


Video: Shapeways Designer Spotlight in Action with GothamSmith

What is the future of creativity, manufacturing, and design? How is the
Shapeways community and 3D Printing enabling everyone to make their
ideas real?

“It was this real desire to make real things…” explains Peter Knocke of Brooklyn-based GothamSmith, a four friend team who are “taking the benefits of digital and applying it to the physical world for something that’s new and interesting.” Carl Collins and Peter share how they stumbled into designing popular 3D Printed cufflinks and jewelry.

This is the third in our series of films about 3D printing, our
creative community, and how this incredible technology is changing all
of our lives.


Video: Shapeways Designer Spotlight in Action with Nervous System

What is the future of creativity, manufacturing, and design? How is the
Shapeways community and 3D printing enabling everyone to make their
ideas real?

Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg of Nervous System share how they grow products using computer programs, algorithms and 3D printing. The results are beautiful, organic pieces that reflect objects found in nature.