Category Archives: Art

Collectible Frank Stella 3D Printed Ornaments

This week we’re highlighting some of our favorite home and holiday decor items. Whether you are looking to spruce up your own home for the holidays, or need some new gift ideas our gift guide has you covered.

In addition to the products in our marketplace, there are other places you can find incredible 3D printed pieces and today we’re excited to tell you about one project we’ve had a hand in.

The Whitney Museum of American Art’s  ”Frank Stella: A Retrospective” is now open and runs until February 7th. The exhibit features the most comprehensive presentation of Stella’s career to date, and showcases his work from the 1950s to present day. Paintings, reliefs, sculptures and more will all be on display in the 18,000 square foot gallery.


So what do we have to do with this? The Whitney Museum is now selling collectible ornaments based on Stella’s work that are all 3D printed by Shapeways!


The items are all printed in our Strong & Flexible Plastic and allow those who love Stella’s work the opportunity to own one of his designs. You can pick just one or even buy the full set of 7.


It’s always incredible to see these projects where 3D printing is used to honor amazing art. We’re thrilled to be a part of this history and help people own the art they love.

Click here for more information on the exhibit.

Incredible Artwork at SIGGRAPH by Shapeways Designer Brian Chan

Posted by in Art, Community

The annual SIGGRAPH exhibition brings together the best minds in 3D graphics and design for a week of sharing acacemic papers, emerging technology and remarkable creative ideas. This year’s art exhibition, Hybrid Craft presented artists who merge high tech and traditional processes to create vibrant art objects that speak both to history and technology.


Shapeways designer Brian Chan was included in the group show, presenting a collection of hand painted invertebrates. Fully articulated and highly detailed, these 3D printed creatures are created in the ’jizai okimono’ Japanese tradition of making lifelike sculptures of small animals.

While beautiful in their own right when freshly printed in White Strong and Flexible, Chan then carefully hand paints each model with water color paints. Chan notes the laser sintered nylon has similar qualities to fine textured water color paper and soaks up the paint well, allowing for multiple layers of pigment with delicate precision.


The show also included examples of Chan’s foldable instruments, created from a variety of materials and using parts printed at Shapeways and CNC milled components. These fully working instruments are based on historically accurate designs, but are more than meets the eye because they can be deconstructed and turned into a box like a Transformer.

As the art exhibition was curated to investigate, Brian Chan’s work combines high tech (but accessible) technology and old fashion craft to achieve incredible results. As a dedicated tinkerer and teacher, Chan constantly pushes the boundaries of technology and creativity while paying tribute to traditional or forgotten crafts.





Ashley Zelinskie’s world where things made of code are made of things are made with code….

C0DE DENS1TY is a collaborative, multi-media show presented by Lightbox, a gallery Space in New York City from July 23- 26. The show highlights work by Shapeways community member Ashley Zelinskie. Zelinskie creates sculpture which are made of numbers drawn from the code of the design file itself. Her work explores the process by which the objects are transformed from numerical data into physical objects through digital fabrication. The code that defines and creates the object becomes part of its physical manifestation…

…its a pretty mind-blowing concept.

The show itself is an immersive experience bringing viewers into the brackish waters of technology and art. Sparse, geometric objects ranging from monumental to palm sized are displayed throughout the space while nearly every inch of wall is used for a projected video that loops geometric imagery as it builds to a frantic pace and glitches out into nothingness. On the second story loft area a small 3d printer farm reproduces out miniatures of the work.

Faces made of 3D printed plastic are part of the show’s vocabulary as well. An interactive piece has several white masks displayed with light projected onto them. Visitors are encouraged to touch the masks, doing so causes the projection to animate boxes emitting out as if from underneath them.

On of the most interesting pieces is also the most personal. A 3D printed portrait of Zelinskie created with 3D scanning, the surface is constructed from a portion of her own DNA.

Zelinskie’s futurist universe invites the viewer to both question how the objects are made and what the implicates are of a world where data and matter can become interchangeable. Far from a dry series of formulas simplified beyond human comprehension, the vision of the Singularity posited by C0de Dens1ty is like stepping into a thunderstorm of information.


Photos: by Ashley Zelinskie.

Behind the Product: Glass Vase Mold

Today we’re showcasing Tim Belliveau, a glassblower, digital artist, illustrator, teacher, and business owner. Tim’s creativity and capacity to bring together 3D printing and glassblowing has proven to be a success and this can be seen in his newest work of 3D printed steel molds used to create hand blown glass vases.  We asked him a few questions about the story behind his work, the creation process, and what he sees for the future.

Who are you? Where are you located?

My name is Tim Belliveau, my current home is Montreal.


What is the inspiration and story behind your designs?

Well, the glass piece is a graduate research project in material research from Hexagram at Concordia so I’ll try not to be too wordy. About 2,000 years ago, Roman glassblowers started figuring out how to blow glass into molds and we still use a lot of the same techniques in glass today. I’ve been a glassblower for about 10 years and have been trying to figure out a way to form hot glass with 3D printing and I thought of making molds like the Roman ones. I went to see an exhibition on ancient Roman glass at the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York this spring. That exhibit really highlighted the technology of the first century and how the glass is a record of the innovations at the time. I wanted to do something like that with the technologies of today and have tool marks from the mold on the glass too. You can even kind of see the deposition layers on the glass from the 3D printed bronze if you’re nerdy enough to look for them. Since my vase was born from a computer basically, I thought it made sense to have it faceted and kind of low-res-looking but about the same scale as the old Roman ones.

What was the process you used to create your final pieces?

I made the mold in 3D software and tried to get it as thin as possible. I sent that file to Shapeways to be 3D-printed in bronze. Once I got the mold in the mail, I hired another glass artist, Armel Desrues to assist me at Espace Verre studio in Montréal; he held the mold in place while I would gather hot glass, make a small bubble and then inflate it in the mold. The whole process is pretty finicky; I broke a bunch of glass trying to get it right, but eventually it started working and we finished a small batch of glass pieces. Most glasswork requires assistance and teamwork so its great to have that in the studio since 3D modeling can be so solitary.

Was it necessary to post process your mold before use?

I didn’t have to do anything else to the mold which is great because I’m trying to keep this practice minimal by doing it all from my laptop. There’s something surreal about getting a 3D printed glass mold in the mail and then just walking down the street to make glass pieces from it.


Are others in the glass community using 3D printing?

There are lots of interesting projects popping up in the glass community and some that have been around for a while. I’m going to assist with a class led by Fred Metz and team at the Pilchuck Glass School this summer; its focused on interactions between 3D printing and glass. Sometimes 3D printed positives in plastic/wax are used to make a negative mold that fills with glass later in a kiln but there are lots of techniques.

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How are molds for glass blowing typically created? Was 3d printing beneficial to this process?

For this kind of glass blow-mold the ancient way to do it is to make it by hand out of clay/ ceramic. The industrial revolution way was to cast metals (usually very thick) into molds. You can also use carved wood that has been soaked in water for a few days but those degrade faster and don’t have great detail, same with plaster molds- they’ll give you a few good glass pieces but nothing like the consistency of a metal mold. What impressed me with this process was how I could do everything from my laptop and the mailed pieces were ready to use. Its still very strange to me when I finally get to hold a 3D print that I sculpted but never touched until its done. I also have a lot of control over mold thickness and detail so I was able to get away with using very little material for this mold.

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Looking back on modeling your mold and creating your glass-blown vase, what were some integral steps?

You have to be careful about having undercuts as with any mold-then it just gets stuck and won’t open when the glass goes in. Obviously you have to know the 3D software pretty well to do this kind of thing too. in the glass shop, a good assistant is pretty important too, so again, working with Armel was great.

For the next mold, what would you do differently? The same?

I’m hoping to use ceramic/ porcelain for the next piece; which is nice because it leaves a smoother surface on the glass than bronze does. I learned in this project that the glass can get a lot of detail out of the mold so there are lots of possibilities. I want to work a lot bigger of course but I’m not sure the next thing will look like this. I have a short attention span and change my ideas often.

What were your greatest feats throughout each of the production steps?

I took a risk printing as thin as I did, the glass heat can warp metal sometimes or stick, but I did something right, there. Blender wasn’t originally designed for 3D printing as far as I know so getting accurate dimensions are difficult in parts of the modeling. Glassblowing is a skill that takes years to acquire so combining that with all of these recent developments in 3D printing presented a big enough feat to keep me interested.


Who are some of your favorite designers or artists? Who on Shapeways has inspired you?

I saw an excellent talk by Del Harrow last year. I’ve also been following the 3D printed work of Caspar Berger and Sophie Kahn (I don’t yet know many artists who work with Shapeways). In a bit of a different direction, I’ve been really interested in some of the work and theory Hito Steyerl is doing with digital media too.

How did you first hear of 3D printing?

A friend of mine told me about Shapeways at a party a few years ago; it sounded like the future and I like the future.

How did you learn to design in 3D?

I taught myself from online tutorials. The tutorials are mostly made by kids half my age and way smarter than me. Its humbling!

Do you have a preference in modeling software?

I mostly use Blender for a few reasons. One, is that its free and I work in the arts so I can share it more easily and download or teach it anywhere. The other great thing about Blender is that I can use it for modelling, printing and animation; the extra features needed are usually free plug-ins and the standard render (cycles) engine is kinda nice. Blender does have its limits though, so I have to come up with work-arounds for some of the ideas I want to do in the program. I started in Truespace years ago which isn’t around anymore and then got into Sketchup when it came out; I’ve also dabbled in Cinema 4D, Rhino and 3DS Max and currently I’m playing with some of Autodesk’s mesh repair and layer-cutting software.

What opportunities do you believe 3D printing brings to artists? How is that demonstrated in your work?

My work goes back and forth between objects that I make physically and art work that exist visually instead, which is sometimes hard to decide on. 3D printing is in a phase where it is expanding into all kinds of art and craft practices; its pretty novel now but in time I think it will fall into place with all kinds of other tools we’ve adopted over the years. I hope my work lands uncomfortably between looking handmade and digital – then it would be demonstrating the opportunities in 3D print. A lot of the things I build in 3D are full-scale large sculptures but I can work on them anywhere and store them for free. I think that’s also a big opportunity with this medium.

Do you have other 3D printing projects in mind?

Yes but I have an intense superstition about talking about new work until its done so I have to be secretive! A lot of the other work I’ve been experimenting with though is laser-cut as 2D layers and assembled into 3D sculptures after. Some of my upcoming work is using that process as well.

For more work by Tim:

You can check out his site here:

Or through his collaborative art studio, Bee Kingdom Glass, alongside Phillip Bandura and Ryan Fairweather.

If you are in the Calgary area you can find Tim’s work showing in the ‘Magical Thinking’ exhibition at the Ruberto Ostberg Gallery this fall.

Using 3D Printing to Recreate a Lost Sculpture

We say this a lot, but we are always in awe of our community and excited to see the projects you are working on. One we’re really excited about is from UK-based designer, Matt Smith, who has launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds to recreate a sculpture by Umberto Boccioni that was destroyed nearly 100 years ago. Shown in 1913, all that is left of the sculpture is a collection of original photographs and sketches.

Using those sketches, Matt will recreate the original piece using digital sculpting techniques and 3D technology to exhibit the work at various galleries, with the first showing in London.

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For background: Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) was a prominent Italian artist of the Futurist movement, who rejected traditional materials and embraced technological advances. Several of his plaster sculptures were destroyed, leaving an important gap in his artistic legacy. It seems appropriate that the contemporary technologies of digital sculpture and 3D printing, which Boccioni would have probably embraced, are now being used to recreate his lost work. Replacing his missing work will be an invaluable contribution to the art world; benefiting scholars, researchers, artists and the public .

Matt discovered Boccioni’s work as an art student and was immediately inspired. During a trip to Italy, Matt discovered Boccioni’s own photographs of the lost sculptures and began an exhaustive investigation of the remaining records of the missing artwork. As he states in his press release:

“I wanted to understand more about this unique sculpture, to study the work. As it no longer existed, that was going to be a challenge. The photographs taken by Boccioni over 100 years ago are an invaluable guide. I saw the possibility of piecing the fragments together and sharing what I learned with others. I believe I have found enough evidence, photo references, drawings and research to help me recreate the work in 3D as the artist intended.”

Matt became an avid 3D designer thanks to constant inspiration from 3D in all its forms; at Art School it was clay, then 3D computer graphics. Having worked in the virtual 3D world of games, using Maya, Lightwave and ZBrush, 3D printing allowed him to use his experience to make virtual objects physically real. His first 3D printed object actually  was Umberto Boccioni’s ‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.’ This was before 3D scanning was feasible, so he took reference photographs and sculpted it in ZBrush.

3D print rewards MSmith

He believes the “all or nothing” funding approach of Kickstarter makes the most sense for his project, and is sure backers will make a significant different (he’s already raised almost half his goal!). If the target goal is reached Matt is offering some great rewards to those who make pledges. Be sure to check it out and support a fellow 3D designer!


Coco Rocha & Sebring Studio Bring 1,000 Poses to Life in “Study of Pose,” and in 3D with Shapeways

Supermodel Coco Rocha is not only fashion forward, she’s tech forward. And in her latest innovative feat, she collaborated with world renowned photographer Steven Sebring on Study of PoseThe book is an incredible 2,032-page volume of 1,000 unique poses that celebrates the beauty and versatility of the human form.  Each pose is captured from 100 different angles on Steven’s experimental 360 degree “rig.”

Study of Pose hardcover and iPad app, alongside 3D prints from Shapeways. Image credit to Steven Sebring Studio.

In the book’s forward, Steven Sebring explains, “I wanted to document the fluid, ever-changing beauty of the ever-flexible human form…I had always planned on shooting the one thousand images with just one camera and one model.”

If the book were not dynamic enough, Coco and Steven brought the book to life with 3D printing. Because the rig took photos at 100 different angles, those photos were easily stitched together into 3D models.

3D prints of Coco Rocha printed by Shapeways. Image credit to Steven Sebring Studio.

3D print of Coco Rocha alongside image from Study of Pose. Image credit to Steven Sebring Studio.

Coco Rocha explains, “A few years back I got to personally tour Shapeways facilities in Long Island and see their capabilities. To be honest I’ve been itching to find a way to work with them ever since! When we were in the process of creating a whole exhibition around my new book with Steven Sebring, ‘Study Of Pose,’ we realized that the data we had from the 360 degree poses could easily allow us to create fully formed 3D renderings of all 1,000 poses in the book. That’s when the proverbial light bulb went off and we took our idea directly to Shapeways. Seeing those images from the book come to life in tangible three dimensions was so amazing for me, and it proved to be a great source of conversation at the art exhibit we had at Milk Gallery. We are talking about making ‘Study Of Pose’ book ends, candelabras, toy solders… the sky is the limit with a partner like Shapeways!”

Coco Rocha visiting the Shapeways factory in 2013.

The book is on display at Milk Gallery in New York until December 21st, where you can see gorgeous images from the book as well as interpretations of Study of Pose by local artists. You’ll also find our collaboration with Coco and Steven, a display of 500 3D prints of Coco’s form.

Congratulations to Steven Sebring, Coco Rocha and the whole team on bringing this idea to life!

3D prints of Coco Rocha by Shapeways. Image Credit to Zlatko Batistich | Milk Made

3D prints of Coco Rocha by Shapeways. Image Credit to Zlatko Batistich | Milk Made

3D prints of Coco Rocha by Shapeways. Image Credit to Zlatko Batistich | Milk Made

3D prints of Coco Rocha by Shapeways. Image Credit to Zlatko Batistich | Milk Made

3D prints of Coco Rocha by Shapeways. Image Credit to Zlatko Batistich | Milk Made

Study of Pose exhibit at Milk Gallery. Image Credit to Zlatko Batistich | Milk Made

Study of Pose exhibit at Milk Gallery. Image Credit to Zlatko Batistich | Milk Made

Study of Pose exhibit at Milk Gallery. Image Credit to Zlatko Batistich | Milk Made

Study of Pose exhibit at Milk Gallery. Image Credit to Zlatko Batistich | Milk Made

Study of Pose exhibit at Milk Gallery. Image Credit to Zlatko Batistich | Milk Made

Study of Pose exhibit at Milk Gallery. Image Credit to Zlatko Batistich | Milk Made

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.


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.

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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.


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.


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.

Movember Madness for Friday Finds

As we hit mid-November, how are your mustaches shaping up gents? In case Movember-Mania missed you, it’s an annual event held around the world are to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Community member Rick Stringfellow decided to make 3D printed Movemeber really special at his work….

Each year EA’s Art Department in Canada hosts a charity show to raise money for the Movember foundation. Along with growing as many real mustaches as possible, we hold the ‘Moshow’ where our artists create and present mustache inspired art.

This year I decided to use 3D printing to build a series of art pieces that are inspired by the seven deadly sins. Each Mustache was modeled in Modo3D then printed in detailed plastic with Shapeways. I then finished each printed model using Krylon acrylic paints and primers. The ‘Lust’ mustache was covered in gold leaf and then sealed with a clear Krylon finish.

Having worked in 3D for over 30 years this is my first venture into 3D printing for pure art – I learned a lot during this process and will definitely be working on some more creative adventures with Modo3D and Shapeways.

bomb geo gold mcd red

Though we can’t compete with these artistic marvels, here’s some of our team clowning around with some 3D printed ‘stache attachments. Happy Friday!



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Fascinating 3D Printed Animatronic Honey Bee

At Shapeways we’re accustomed to seeing incredible 3D printed designs and DIY projects using Shapeways 3D printing. Today we wanted to highlight a nature inspired 3D printed animatronic Bee project by designer Jonny Poole of innerbreedFX. Jonny was contacted by his local bee sanctuary seeking to add some animatronics to their tour.

Jonny took it upon himself to take advantage of Shapeways 3D printing and SLS technology to design a fully articulated Bee using the Shapeways strong and flexible nylon material. Here are some photos of from project.

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3D modeling of the Bee design

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Animatronic Bee fully articulated printed in nylon plastic 

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The wings were printed in Fine Ultra Detail

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 12.05.01 PMThe final result of the Bee! You can purchase the articulated honey bee on Jonny’s shop here.

We’ve noticed a few amazing 3D printed insect designs on Shapeways. For example check out the articulated mantis by designer Brian Chan and the Bee Keeper Chess set by designer Ricky McRae. Do you have a DIY project you’re working on that you want to share with the community? We’d love to see it, share it on the “Work In Progress” section of our forums here.


Your Next Tattoo Made with a 3D Printer

Posted by in 3D Printer, Art, DIY, Video

What better use of the computer controlled x y motors of a 3D printer than to give yourself a tattoo.  Tattooing straight lines and perfect circles are super hard so the enigmatic crew of Appropriate Audiences have solved that problem by attaching a tattoo machine to their 3D printer to give the perfect circle tattoo (not the band logo).

3d print a tattoo

This should be listed under ‘do not try this at home’ as many territories have different laws on who and how to you can get tattooed.  To follow their process so you can see exactly how not to try this at home, Pierre Emm and friends have shared their how (not) to on Instructables.

This Is The Internet as 3D Printed Clay

Posted by in Art

If you have ever had trouble visualizing exactly what internet traffic may look like Vincent Brinkmann has the answer in the form of rough extruded clay looking a little like the ashtray I made for my (non-smoking) mother in 2nd grade.  

While this may be considered a form of 3D printing to communicate an idea, the resolution is so low and the abstraction from the data so great that the project’s statement that “EXtrace reflects the change from quality to quantity of modern communication as the printed sculpture itself don´t mirror the data input that they have been created with, but conserving this hidden data physically for centuries.”  makes me question whether the sculpture actually communicates anything.

the internet

EXtrace is an apparatus that 3D prints clay sculptures out of the appearing data amounts of the world’s biggest internet node. In contrast to ancient physical communication media, like clay tablets or books, today´s communication got faster to near real-time. Furthermore EXtrace reflects the change from quality to quantity of modern communication as the printed sculpture itself don´t mirror the data input that they have been created with, but conserving this hidden data physically for centuries. As an input EXtrace uses a 2 day chart of the upcoming data transfer that goes through the internet node De-Cix located in Frankfurt am Main. This rapid data flow easily breaks the 2500 Gigabit per second mark and stands for a widely connected, fast paced and ubiquitous network of today´s communication. This data input is transformed and remapped to a physical data visualized clay sculpture.

We have seen previous projects using Shapeways to 3D print data visualization and to communicate information with higher resolution and Unfold have been creating elegant extruded clay 3D prints for many years.

What do you think is the value of this project?

Artist Michael Leavitt on creating 3D printed sculptures

Sculptor Mike Leavitt has created an edition of 3D printed miniature versions of one-of-a-kind wooden sculptures from his “Empire Peaks” series through his Shapeways shop Innovation Kitchen. He spent two years designing and hand-sculpting the wood statue series and the pop culture mash-ups debuted at New York’s Jonathan LeVine Gallery in late 2013. Before opening night Leavitt had the largest wood statues, some standing 3 feet tall, scanned by a local hi-tech medical engineering firm. A classically trained wood sculptor based in the Pacific Northwestern United States, he taught himself the necessary software to bring smaller, 3D printed versions of his work to a new market. I caught up with Leavitt about how he translated his work with wood and chisels into 3D design and the possibilities that 3D printing offers to visual artists.


What inspired you to create 3D printed models of your “Empire Peaks” sculpture series?

Michael Leavitt: This might sound unexpected coming from an artist. My inspiration to create 3D printed “Empire Peaks” models was merely the marketing potential. As a full time visual artist, I’m the only one in charge of my career and I’m forced to consider these possibilities. I’ve passionately searched for ways to create affordable editions of my sculptures for years. It’s not as easy as it seems. Making quality prints of 2D paintings and canvases can be a challenge. Mass producing toys is a monumental task. Tons of quality control and capital investments are required. I learned of Shapeways somewhere during the process of 3D scanning my “Empire Peaks” figures. My first goal of 3D modelling and printing became crystal clear. Having the specific target really galvanized the learning process.


As a classically trained sculptor, what was your process like learning 3D modeling software?

ML: My learning curve with 3D modeling has been massively steep to say the least. First I have to learn to sit at the computer all day when I’d rather put my hands on something other than a keyboard and mouse. Next I have to learn a new language. Even ZBrush, my primary tool, is very intuitive but there’s a lot of lingo to absorb. I watched a ton of YouTube tutorials. I took copious notes. I could’ve gotten a full quarter’s worth of college credit for the time I logged. I almost had to chain myself to the computer. I guess the process was like training a free-roaming dog to stay in a small crate.

How is the process of preparing a piece for 3D printing similar to and different from your process of sculpting a one-of-a-kind piece?

ML: There are few similarities between preparing a piece for 3D printing and sculpting my originals. So far there are only small, brief moments when I feel like I’m actually “sculpting” on the computer. Maybe it’s just a matter of my learning curve. Once I get more comfortable it might feel more natural. A major difference between the two is that I really have to work hard to hold long, linear thoughts in my head while 3D modelling. Too often I want to do one simple, little thing- make this one knob a little smaller or something- and it requires several linear steps to execute. Whereas, in physical sculpting, it all comes naturally. I can just instinctively alter things without having to perform a prescribed series of actions. One might say physical sculpting requires it’s own tedious, methodical process. I don’t discount it. I’ve just been at it so much more of my life. Another major difference: the undo command. Wow. I still have to wrap my brain around it. It’s bizarre how easy it is to experiment while 3D sculpting. That one will keep on giving to me.


How does having a Shapeways shop and 3D printed versions of one-of-a-kind sculptures available open up new opportunities for you as an artist?

ML: For one thing, having the Shapeways prints allows me to more directly connect my work with people’s hands. My originals can be fragile or sensitive to hand oils over time. So we limit direct contact during exhibits. Ironically, I engineer moving body parts that can only be experienced with physical interaction. My original sculptures are also quite valuable and only rarely displayed in public. I do a show in New York about every two years. It’s only on display for about a month. I try as hard as I possibly can to tell everyone I can about the show. I promote like crazy. I really try to drive traffic to the gallery. Still only a small handful get to either own or experience the work in person. Having an on-demand 3D printing service accessible by the entire planet is nearly a dream come true.

photo 2 (1)

Do you have any advice for other artists who might be interested in incorporating 3D design and printing into their practice?

ML: I’m still struggling with how to define the line between my fine art and 3D prints. I think it’s extremely important for artists to clearly communicate their intentions and definitions in this respect. Especially for an artist such as myself who is “established” to a certain degree. I have many long-time, loyal and heavily-invested collectors of my original works who deserve a clear delineation between the original, hand-crafted works for which they invested and the replicated editions available on a larger scale. My advice to other fine artists is to be careful, sensitive, and clear when incorporating 3D printing with their practice. I sincerely hope I’m following my own advice on this point.

Please 3D Scan the Art: Design Student Creates a How-To Manual for Metropolitan Museum Visitors


The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has a very friendly policy with 3D scanning. The museum not only allows 3D scanning but they had design graduate student Decho Pituckcharoen create a guide book to help you learn how to do it properly. As a collaboration with the  Met Media Lab, Decho created this friendly guide to help visitors do exactly that. Not only did he set about to create an accessible manual for visitors interested in digitizing the art but he also had to learn how to use the technology himself. It is this type of enabling research and sharing that we’d like to see more of.

Below we asked Decho a few questions about his process of designing for and explaining this new technology to beginners.

What is it about the 3D scanning process that made you want to make this guide book?

As a designer who has worked with print medium for a long time, I’m interested in 3D printing technology. Right away Don, the manager of media lab, introduced me to the 3D scanning software 123D catch, which isn’t exactly a scanning program but photogrametry, which is really easy to use. What I really need is just a digital camera or phone camera to take pictures of art piece and the software converts them to 3D models.

So, I did some research to find tutorials or how to use this technology to produce your own projects. Mostly the tutorials that I found were serious looking or had lots of text to read. That was when I had an idea that why don’t I make it friendlier than a usual one.

I got my inspiration from a simple IKEA instruction that lets pictures describe step by step of assembly. I think it would be a easier if users can understand how to use 3D scanning for their projects with user friendly information graphic that might be practical for non-tech savvy users to use. By combining simple 3D scanning software + user friendly instruction, I believe that my guide book will have a potential for anyone who is interested in 3D printing area.


Did you learn anything unexpected about working in 3D?

After scanning objects, 3D scanning software algorithm will calculate and simulate over all shapes for a 3D model. I was amazed that it actually filled and completed a part that I couldn’t scan. For example, on the very top past of a big and tall sculpture.

I also learned about digital 3D community while I was researching about my project. There are a tons of open source objects and projects that they share to us. For example, If I need a business card stand, I will just download it and print it out from my 3D printer. That is like a magic place to me to see many makers who want to contribute useful resources for us.

Do you think that being able to 3D scan will add value to a museum visitor’s experience?

I personally think that it will definitely add more benefits about educational purpose to visitors. They can scan objects form the museum and keep them into digital formats in order to study at home or everywhere else. Moreover, visitors can see art in different angles from 3D files that they can’t do in the museum. Therefore, they can observe more details about each art piece to use for their research.

After scanning, art piece from the museum can be presented to different formats. For example, story telling animation, interactive websites or kinetic figures that will be attractive to young audiences.

It’s true that seeing an actual art piece you can feel more authenticity, but for some audiences they don’t have a chance to go to have their own experience at the museum; for example, people who live abroad or disabilities. With 3D scanning technology, they can take advantage by seeing art pieces through virtual 3D world from everywhere or on the internet instead. More over, it will add more value to disabilities especially blind people since they can experience by touching shape and texture of each replica art piece that is scanned from the museum.

How do you imagine this scanning and printing technology will be used in the near future? say, in 10 years?

I imagine scanning and printing technology will be used to produce more and more objects with verity of new materials. Importantly, for medical profession filed that human organs can be reproduce with very fine details and quality. Maybe, It will be awesome that we can use 3D scanning to keep our identity instead of taking pictures on our ID cards. I predict that 3D printers and scanners will also be apart of household objects. they’ll be very portable. If you break something in your house, you can reproduce it again and again. I hope that 3D printing industry and community  will grow bigger to wider audiences and people will think that it’s not a complicated things to learn and use.


For more info on digital happenings are the Met check out their Digital Underground Blog.

The 3D Printshow Global Awards – Vote for Shapeways

The 3D Printshow Global Awards acknowledge inspirational work that has helped develop and elevate the art of additive manufacture, as well as those businesses that have risen to the challenges of the marketplace, flourishing in what is a highly competitive industry.

This year, we at Shapeways are thrilled to be nominated for two categories for the 3D Printshow Global Awards: Brand of the Year and Best Online/App Based Service.

London 3DPrintshow


To vote, all you need is your name and your email – just click on the awards:



Thank you for all your support and stay tuned for our London Meetup and events in September!

For those of you who will be in London, we look forward to seeing you at the party on Thursday 4th September, you can get tickets here.