Category Archives: Design 101

5 Things You Already Do That Mean You Can 3D Print

by Corinne Iozzio

When you look at some of the intricate custom designs 3D modelers are printing these days, it might seem like getting into rapid prototyping is too complicated for any beginner to tackle. Not so. Even with only the most basic set of art and graphic design skills, you’ll be able to create your first 3D model in no time. Don’t believe us? Read on for some extra convincing. 

You Doodle

The simplest 3D designs start on paper. You might set out to jot down an idea for a pair of earrings or a bottle opener, but if you’re prone to doodling, you probably have dozens—even hundreds—of designs dotted throughout your notebooks and sketchbooks. Each one of those is a kernel of an idea for a 3D design. Use our tool to convert any doodle to 3D, or watch our Skillshare class ($9) to learn how to tweak and improve doodles digitally.

A simple Sharpie drawing became this loopy pendant. Corinne Iozzio

You Work in Photoshop

Photoshop isn’t just about touching up flat images anymore. You can use all your favorite (and familiar) image-editing tools, such as brushes and gradients, to tweak the color and texture of existing 3D designs. (If you’re feeling adventurous you can even start a new model by “extruding” a 3D design from a 2D picture.) Bonus: New 3D printing tools in the latest version of Photoshop Creative Cloud includes an option to print directly to Shapeways.

Continue reading


How I Made video: #icant Personalized Necklace

#icant personalized 3D printed pendant

Follow along with our merchandizer Aimee in this 2 minute tutorial. Aimee shows you her process for designing a custom pendant using nothing more than a pen, a piece of paper, a camera phone and our 2D to 3D creator app.

Try for yourself with the 2D to 3D creator app here and a tutorial: How to use the 2D to 3D converter app. We’ll be seeking more entries to the series How I Made so if you’ve got an idea for a short video add it in the comments or contact education [at] shapeways [dot] com. Happy making!


Welcome to the Golden Age of 3D Printing: Introducing 14 Carat Gold to Shapeways

Update: As of May 22nd, Gold is now available worldwide and can be set as the default material for the products in your shop. 
Featured models from left to right: Hibiscus Ring by alaswadi, Cousin Gabriel Ring by cousingabriel, Rock Ring by thefuturefuture, and Arrow Ring by courtneyetc

Today, we’re proud to welcome the most precious of metals to the Shapeways family - 14k Gold. We’ve been inspired by the accessories and jewelry you’ve made with our Silver, Brass, Bronze, and Steel; and we have heard your requests for more premium metal options. 

Droplet Pendant by LIFIC

Our solid, hand-polished 14k Gold is simply stunning. It’s meticulously polished to a beautiful, smooth sheen. With a high-shine look that’s perfect for rings, cufflinks, pendants, earrings, charms, or whatever you decide to create. Not to mention, wedding season is right around the corner, ladies and gents!
Greek mythology deemed the people of the Golden Age the “golden race” of humans who came first. You’re all part of the Shapeways Golden Age, so which one of you fearless designers will try our Gold first?

Continue reading


Design for 3D Printing 101: Intro to Design for 3D Printing

Welcome to Design for 3D Printing 101: Intro to Design for 3D Printing.

Design for 3D printing 101 Shapeways

When you are designing for 3D printing there are two main factors that you really need to take into account before you start.

  1. What application to design with
  2. What material you are designing for

In this first introductory session, we are going to look at choosing the right type 3D modeling software.

There are now many 3D modeling applications you can use to 3D model your designs to 3D Print, ranging from very expensive professional engineering software to free online tools to get you started. Choosing the right software is an important first step in ensuring you can realize your ideas with 3D printing.

If you want to create organic, sculptural forms and characters to 3d Print, you may want to start with freeform surface modeling software.  This modeling process represents the surface of the object, not its volume. With this method you will manipulate the surface of the model to create the form with points and curves. This gives you the freedom to do flowing forms, but can sometimes make it harder to achieve tight tolerances if your design is made to integrate an external object. 

Test Sculptris "mostro"

Above is a screenshot from Sculptris, free surface modeling software. Image via Flickr

If you are looking to engineer a product (or robot) for 3D Printing, you are better off using Solid Modeling Software. This process defines the volume of the object you wish to model, by creating solid geometry, which you then modify by extruding or cutting away mass. The “Design for 3D Printing 101″ image above was modeled using TinkerCad, a browser based 3D modeling application with drag and drop functionality to make it very easy to get started.

Autodesk 123D to 3D Print wit Shapeways

Above is Autodesk’s 123D App, a solid modeler with which you can 3D Print direct to Shapeways. 

You can of course experiment with each to to find what works best for you, but often the tools within the application are designed for a specific kind of geometry.  There is a relatively steep learning curve when you start to learn to 3D model, but once you hold your first design in your hand, it makes those challenges a pleasure.

There are a number of free applications in each type that you may want to download and play around with to get a feel, watch tutorial on YouTube and ask questions in the Shapeways forums as there is a wealth of knowledge within the Shapeways community. 

In the next Design for 3D Printing 101, we will look a little closer at some of the 3D modeling software options available to get you started 3D printing.