Category Archives: API

Gravity Sketch Launches a Kickstarter Campaign

We’ve been huge fans of what the Gravity Sketch team has done to make 3D design more accessible to everyone through their iPad app, Gravity Sketch iOS, which is being used by thousands of creators across the world.

As a result of all the user feedback from the app, the Gravity Sketch team embarked on developing a more advanced tool to even further lower the barriers to 3D literacy by creating a desktop and virtual reality version and have just launched a Kickstarter to fund the project.

The new experience offers users a “what you see is what you get” interface where users can interact with 3D creations in real time, in a truly three dimensional space. The team was inspired to extend this fully immersive creation experience, allowing you to tap (literally) into simple tools that enable you to create complicated shapes in seconds– all of which are sketched the exact size as you see it.

Ready to take 3D modeling into your own hands? Gravity Sketch is ready to make this possible with this VR experience. As a fun bonus, for a limited time, backers that support the Kickstarter campaign for about $19 (£15), you’ll be able to pick and receive a Shapeways 3D printed ornaments that was designed by a Gravity Sketch artist, right in time for the holidays! Check out the gorgeous options below, they’re printed out of strong and flexible plastic, with some nifty little interlocking parts!


Make That Monogram Gift: Personal Monograms In 3D

You don’t have to know how to 3D model to print something really cool and special as a gift. If you’re in the hunt for that special someone check out, the monogram gift creator for the 21st century. The creators of this app developed the site from scratch and even the font was designed to be 3D printed, possibly the first font of it’s kind!

Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 12.52.04 PM

Available in silver or steel, in keychain, mini monogram necklace or statement necklace Mymo is a great way to commemorate a memorable event with simple, elegant design.

Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 12.53.29 PM

So head to their app page and get started making a one-of-a-kind 3D printed gift today:

Designers and coders: interested in getting your easy creator app featured on our site? Connect with our API team to show us what you’ve made or e:mail Dan directly at

Learn ShapeJS: Signet Ring

I’m really excited about this weeks post. Not only did the test prints come out well but as a creator concept I really think this idea has legs. We published the ring creator a few years ago and the response and sales have been very favorable. Looking through the designs people make it’s clear that signet ring type usage is desired. ShapeJS has had a signet ring example for awhile, but for this posting I improved it with side images and engraved text. In terms of new ShapeJS concepts we’ll go over Text,Embossing,Mul and Mask.

Let’s start with a photo of the first test rings. These are with the text engraving but not the side images. The user gets to choose the top imagery, the engraved text plus the typical ring size and width.

Originally I had the image go completely through the ring. For this revision I changed to having the image engraved. We are working up to having shopper friendly creators available and we found that explaining when pieces would fall out was difficult. Engraving the top allows you to ignore that problem and there’s never a question whether it will be structurally sound. Here is a picture of the original style:

How would you go about modeling this ring style? The primary area of interest is the top image area. We want a flat area that blends nicely into a band. Let’s start with a Cylinder slice as the top area. This gives us a circular landing area. Here is a diagram showing the setup we’ll use.

We made the height of our image area(called a bezel) 1.5mm. This gives a nice feeling weight to the ring and insures that we have enough space to engrave at least 0.35mm deep as required by the guidelines for polished metals. The next part we’ll do is cut the cylinder with two planes at an angle. This gives us something more interesting then just a straight sided cylinder. Here is the code for this portion:

  // bezel is cone truncated by 2 parallel planes
  var bezel = new Intersection();
  bezel.add(new Cone(new Vector3d(0,Ay, 0), new Vector3d(0,-1,0), bezelAngle));
  bezel.add(new Plane(new Vector3d(0,1,0), bezelTop));
  bezel.add(new Plane(new Vector3d(0,-1,0), -bezelBase));

Now let’s turn towards getting the band correct. For this we’ll start with a Sphere(ringBase) which will be a radius of ring size + the ring thickness. From this sphere we’ll cut out a cylinder for our finger(thru). Then we’ll use the combination of a cylinder and box to create the arch like shape on the sides(cutoff). The final band will be the base sphere plus the bezel that we then subtract the finger thru hole and the side cutoffs.

  var ringBase = new Sphere(outRad);

  var ring = new Union();

  var cutoff = new Union();

  var gw = gridWidth;
  var gw2 = gridWidth/2;
  var thru = new Cylinder(new Vector3d(0, 0, -gw2),new Vector3d(0,0,gw2),inRad);

  cutoff.add(new Cylinder(new Vector3d(-gw2, Ey, Ex), new Vector3d(gw2, Ey, Ex), cutR));
  cutoff.add(new Cylinder(new Vector3d(-gw2, Ey, -Ex), new Vector3d(gw2, Ey, -Ex), cutR));
  cutoff.add(new Box(0,-inRad,  Ex,  gw, 2*(inRad+Ey), 2*cutR));
  cutoff.add(new Box(0,-inRad, -Ex,  gw, 2*(inRad+Ey), 2*cutR));

  var partialRing = new Subtraction(ring,thru);

  var fullRing = new Subtraction(partialRing, cutoff);

Now that we have the ring modeled its time to turn to making it more customized. Using user imagery is a great way to add customization. For our signet ring we’ll provide 4 customizations points. We’ll have an image on top, an image on each side and text on the inside of the ring. In the past we’ve learned about the Image3D datasource. These easily turns images into 3D geometry. This is great for when we have flat areas to place things or a simple curve like a cylinder. Things become more tricky when we want to apply imagery to complex or unknown shapes. When dealing with these you’ll want to use the Embossing datasource. An Embossing let’s you change the surface of an object with another object. If your familiar with displacement maps in traditional modeling packages it’s a similar idea.

An Embossing takes a base shape and then an embossing shape. It also takes a minimum and maximum range value to limit the embossing distance. In general an embossing is only really good close to the surface, usually you wouldn’t extend further then 2*MM from the surface with this. This example also uses another new datasource called a Mask. A mask is used to select portions of a datasource you want to use for an operation. By default an embossing affects all sides of an object within its volume. For our ring this would mean the side images would emboss both the inside and outside. Since we want text inside we need to mask out the inside. We can do this by taking the band as the mask and shifting it to right or left. This creates a masked area on the outside to limit the application of the embossing to that region. Here is the code for left side imagery:

  if (args.leftImage !== undefined) {
    var edepth = ringThickness/4;
    var mask = new Mask(result,0,edepth);
    var maskShift = new Vector3d(1,0,0);
    mask.setTransform(new Translation(maskShift));

    var lbump = makeImage(args.leftImage, 0.84*2*Cx, By+inRad,12*MM,false);
    var trans = new CompositeTransform();
    trans.add(new Rotation(0,1,0,Math.PI/2));
    trans.add(new Translation(inRad,0,0));

    var maskedBump = new Mul(lbump, mask);

    var lsideImage = new Embossing(result,maskedBump);
    result = lsideImage;

Since we are looking to engrave the ring we set the minimum value of the embossing to our desired depth and then maximum value to 0. Now that we have the imagery on the sides we are ready to tackle the engraved text. Text in ShapeJS is basically just like the Image3D node. Internally your specified text string, font and font styles are converted to a raster image. To do this you use the Text2D datasource. You then specify the font name and style you want to use. In a later tutorial we’ll cover how to use custom fonts. Text2D has alignment and centering options for the horizontal and vertical directions. Checking the online docs I can see we need put more detail there, so look for that soon. Here is the final ring:

One note about the image sizes. The side images are mapped to cover the whole side of the potentially largest ring. I used images of 400×667 resolution. Anything following that aspect ratio will work. If you adjust ring width you’ll reveal more of the image on the sides.

This wraps up our signet ring post. We’ve introduced a bunch of new concepts this week that we’ll reuse in later postings. Adding text and imagery to base objects gives your users plenty of options to make things their own. Using 3D printing we can make each object unique and this gives you the power to easily get it done. Here is the full code for your enjoyment:

Signet Ring

Learn ShapeJS: Symmetry and Reflections Part 1

For this week we’ll start into the powerful world of symmetry and reflections. ShapeJS allows arbitrary transformations of objects and as we’ll see in this post this has great power and some sharp edges to avoid. Guest writing this week is Vladimir Bulatov, he’s the math whiz behind the curtains of ShapeJS.

PeriodicWrap is a ShapeJS transformation which is most useful for creating repeated shapes and patterns. However if used incorrectly it can produce unexpected results. The purpose of this tutorial is to provide basic info and examples with correct use of PeriodicWrap, highlight potential problems and suggest possible solutions.

PeriodicWrap generates a fill of the three dimensional space (tiling) with copies of a single tile – the fundamental domain. PeriodicWrap is defined by linearly independent basis vectors and an origin. All parameters have type Vector3d. Basis vectors define the shape and orientation of the fundamental domain and the origin defines the place of the fundamental domain in space. There are 3 variants of PeriodicWrap one-, two- and three-periodic. This week we’ll examine the one periodic version, and in a later post we’ll cover the more complex versions.

One-periodic wrap
We start with the simplest variant – one-periodic. It is defined by one basis vector and origin. The origin has default value (0,0,0) which means the PeriodicWrap is located at the origin of the coordinate axes.

var a = 5*MM;
var pw = new PeriodicWrap(new Vector3d(a,0,0));

This creates a one dimensional PeriodicWrap with basis vector (a,0,0).

The one-periodic tiling can be imagined as cutting a space into set of identical slices. The fundamental domain (yellow) is a single slice. Slices are orthogonal to the basis vector (in this case (a,0,0). The thickness of the slice equals the length of the basis vector (5mm in this case) and the left side of the slice passes through the origin of the PeriodicWrap (in this case default value (0,0,0)). Let’s place a simple shape inside of the fundamental domain.

  var sphere = new Sphere(a/2,a/2,0, a/3); // sphere radius a/3 centered at (a/2,a/2, 0) 

And apply PeriodicWrap to the shape.

  sphere.setTransform(pw); // tiled sphere 

Here is the diagram of the result:

Shapes are replicated in both directions indefinitely. Below is the screenshot of the ShapeJS rendering:

Let’s place a different shape in a different spot

  var redSphere = new Sphere(0,a/3,0,a/2); // sphere radius a/2 centered at (0,a/3,0)

PeriodicWrap works by filling the whole space by identical copies of single tile – the fundamental domain.The interior of the fundamental domain is replicated. Parts of the shape outside of fundamental domain are cropped. It means, that the half of sphere sitting outside of fundamental domain abruptly disappears.

The rendering looks even worse, the cropping induces severe rendering artifacts

There is a simple solution to the problem. We can shift the origin of the tiling to make a shape enclosed by the fundamental domain

  pw.setOrigin(new Vector3d(-a/2,0,0));

And here is the tiling

The rendering now looks correct as well

But it is not always possible to select a good location for the tilings origin. In example below we have a union of two shapes.

The union doesn’t fit inside of fundamental domain. Therefore the shape always will be partially cropped:

The solution to the problem is to build a shape inside of the fundamental domain in a way which will compensate for unavoidable cropping: the opposite sides of fundamental domain have to pair seamlessly to each other. In this case we can place copy of another red sphere translated by the tiling basis vector (a,0,0)

Here are the drawing and rendering of the resulting tiling:

Complete ShapeJS script of the example with two shapes:

function main(args) {	
  var w = 30*MM; // scene size
  var a = 5*MM; // period of wrap 
  var s1 = new Sphere(a/2, a/2, 0, a/3);  // shape 1
  var s2 = new Sphere(0, 0.7*a, 0, a/2);  // shape 2
  var s2t = new Sphere(a, 0.7*a, 0, a/2); // translated shape 2
  var pw = new PeriodicWrap(new Vector3d(a,0,0));  
  var shape = new Union(s1, s2);
  return new Scene(shape,new Bounds(-w,w,-w,w,-w,w));

After a PeriodicWrap transform is applied to a shape inside of the fundamental domain we normally obtain an unbounded shape. That shape intersects the scene bounds and as result has an open interior, which results in manifold problems in the generated mesh as is shown below with red.

In order to obtain a finite shape of specific size, we may intersect unbounded shape with some shape of specific size, for example a box:

shape = new Intersection(shape, new Box(55*MM, 20*MM, 20*MM));

PeriodWraps are a powerful method for creating many copies of your geometry. It’s also a much more efficient way to create lots of shapes instead of copying the datasources. In our next posting on symmetry and reflections we’ll explore the two and three periodic wrappings. These allow you to create some interesting patterns, similar to what you might find in nature. As a taste here are some two and three periodic wrappings:

Learn ShapeJS: Coins

On tap for this week we’ll print our own coinage. Don’t tell me you haven’t secretly wanted your own currency! When we first introduced cast metals it was one of the first projects I thought of. Here are the first tests I’d did:

These came out well, better then I really expected. The detail was amazing, nice weight to them and they sounded right when you flipped them. If your latin is not so good, it says “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” Well, maybe it says that, been a long time since latin class.

In terms of what went wrong. I overestimated the height needed so the text it a bit too raised from the base. It doesn’t feel completely right in the hand, more like braille then coinage. Looking more at real coinage they have some edges(called reeds). Adding those cleaned up the sides nicely. Here is the second attempt:

This time I also printed them out in stainless steel as well as the polished metals. Steel has a minimum height of 3mm. The detail is better then I expected and the pricing is certainly nicer. It does however feel a bit heavy for a coin. I also did a test with White Strong & Flexible coins, but I can’t say I really liked them.

You can create your own coins here: Coin Example

This script uses concepts we have mostly already covered, but there are a few more details of the Image3D datasource to cover. The first is the useGrayscale method. The default operation is to assume your image is black and white. Under the covers we process this into a distance transform. We do this so that lower resolution images looks better. For greyscale imagery we can’t do the same operation, we just take your image and use it to define the height. Black represents the highest points and white the lowest. Think of this like your drawing with a black pin, your ink creates 3D geometry, the darker it is the more of it.

The second concept is the image placement options. When we create the geometry from an image it has a few modes. These are based off the setImageType and setImagePlace. The image type says whether we creating an embossed or engraved image. An embossed image has the darkest points going upwards whereas an engraving has the darkest points going downward into the object. The placement options say how the image is placed in the image box. Top placement puts the image in the upper area of the box, bottom does opposite. Both mode has the image in the top and bottom of the box. The following diagram gives a visual reference of the different modes:

Coins are fun way to start into the 3D printed metals. If you create your own coins or improve my script post into the forums and show it off.

Shapeways and V-MODA partner to bring customized headphones to music fans around the world

Posted by in API, Partner News


Today, we’re excited to tell you about a project we’ve been working on for the better part of a year. V-MODA headphones has taken a step into the 3D printing world and are allowing users to customize their headphones with 3D shields. We are proud to be one of their partners in bringing this industrial revolution to reality. This is a new leap forward in merging 3D printed parts with consumer electronics, and a new way to enable consumers to get the product they want, not just what is available.

V-MODA is an award-winning headphone company changing the way people think about style and headphones (and the style of headphones). The company has sold over 4 million headphones around the world and is the preferred brand for many high-profile DJs.

The creativity V-MODA fans show through music can now spill over into design as they customize their own 3D printed shields to fit on the headphones of their choice! You can see the customized version in action here:

Makers and designers of all kinds already turn to 3D printing when they want customized products, but partnerships like ours with V-MODA allow us to reach a whole new audience of creatives. By picking the base design to add custom monograms, logos, etc. and choosing from a range of materials, V-MODA customers are enabled with the ability to create their own customized produce they can proudly wear everywhere.

Check out the V-MODA website to customize your own pair!

Software for Artists Day Sunday November 16th

Shapeways is proud to sponsor Pioneer Works first Software for Artists Day on Sunday November 16th. The day-long event in Red Hook, New York will bring together artists and developers to illustrate the many new software and hardware tools available to contemporary art practice.  It will involve lectures, demonstrations, and conversations which will demystify the most sought-after technology in use today.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 9.34.30 AM

Participants will be able to attend four 45-minute lectures over the course of the day and will also be able to participate in “soapbox sessions” in which they will have 3 minutes to present a project in order to attract interest and/or advice from other artists and technicians.

Shapeways will be on site with some products to show and tips and tricks about using the free software on our site.

Pioneer Works, Red Hook, New York

Sunday November 16th

10am – 7pm

Register here - hope to see you on Sunday!

If you can’t attend, here’s a brief preview of the software available on Shapeways now:

Shapeways API - The Shapeways Upload API enables web and desktop applications to submit 3D models and harness the power of the Shapeways marketplace. You can control pricing, available materials, and add markup to models that are for sale to our community. Read more about the Shapeways API  or join us in our developer forum.

ShapeJS - This tool makes parametric 3D modeling accessible for programmers. If you know Java Script, you can use this tool to generate 3D printable geometry, ias simple as a few lines of code. Read more about the power of ShapeJS here, or jump into the discussion on our developer forum.

Need more inspiration? Check out these amazing 3D creator apps that have been made so far. Got a cool app you’re working on? Tell us about it in the comments!


Shapeways is Committed to Supporting Education–there’s a discount and so much more!

Hello there! My name is Lauren and I’ve been lurking around the Shapeways world as Designer Evangelist for the last year. Today, I want to let the world and the Shapie community know about the commitments we’re making in education and 3D printing.

Shapeways Education Program Benefits include:

10% Discount – We always offer students and educators a 10% discount on their own model prints. Students & educators can register a school email address with Shapeways and save 10% all orders in any of our 40+ materials. Students, head to Teachers, check out

Campus Battle – We’re serious about supporting student work. University students who register on between now and November 15, 2014 will receive $25 in printing credit towards their own designs. Students at the school with the most signups will receive an additional $75 in Shapeways credit.

Education Grant – Everyday we hear about how Shapeways is helping students create awesome work such as product development, architecture, and engineering projects. Now we want to help you make those projects really come to life by announcing the Shapeways Education Grant. Each semester we will make up to $5,000 available in Shapeways printing credit awarded to student projects. The application process is detailed on

Shapeways Crew Student Representative Program – Become part of the Shapeways community (and get free stuff)! We love for students to represent us on their campus, and by joining our Shapeways Campus Crew Representative program, You’ll get exclusive offers from Shapeways. Whether you’re printing maquettes for your architecture studio, sculpture materials for Fine Arts, custom arduino enclosures – you name it we can 3D print it!

3D Printing Tutorials – In an effort to help everyone learn 3D design, we’ve assembled one of the largest collections of 3D printing tutorials out there, covering everything from design tools to selling on Shapeways. Whether you’re still in school or a lifelong learner, there are tips for all levels from our team and community of experts.

API and Shape.js – CS Majors are facing a world of competition in apps and services. Today, Shapeways opens entirely new vertical markets for physical products via our Shapeways API and ShapeJS. ShapeJS let’s you create interactive and customizable digital blueprints of physical products and the Shapeways API let’s you price and sell those products to customers around the world.

Shapeways supports education

So I’d like to welcome students, teachers to Shapeways where we’re committed to educating everyone on the ins and outs of 3D printing and giving you all the skills to print your very own ideas. Scope out the education information page and register for your discount and perks. Happy printing!

Autodesk Meshmixer Updated to Make 3D Printing Easier (and Funner) Than Ever

The latest version of Meshmixer is now ready to download for free from the Autodesk 123D App site.

MeshMixer started as a super fun and intuitive way to mash-up multiple STL or OBJ files so you could make mutant models to 3D print.  With time and investment by Autodesk, MeshMixer has evolved to become an incredibly powerful tool to create, modify, color and prepare a 3D model to 3D print, and, it is still free.


With MeshMixer, you import base geometry, whether it be a simple sphere or a more complex 3D mesh such as a 3D scan you can then choose from a series of tools to sculpt the form by pushing and pulling the geometry around like virtual clay, in an organic matter in a similar way to software such as Sculptris and ZBrush. Because of this organic, sculptural surface modeling process, Meshmixer is not really suitable for 3D modeling an engineered product such as an iPhone case, a camera mount or anything the connects to another thing from scratch.  You can however import an STL file of an engineered product, and add some sculptural, organic components. Or mash it up with another 3D mesh. Like so.


Meshmixer is useful way beyond making odd cups with your face scan and a monkeys leg, the post processing tools to boolean, make solid, shell, scale, pattern and paint make it a really valuable tool in your 3D arsenal.

Meshmixer integrates with Shapeways 3D printing service so you can get an instant estimate on the cost of 3D printing your model within Meshmixer, you can then upload your 3D model from within Meshmixer to your Shapeways account or save the 3D file to your computer and upload it to Shapeways to 3D print.

Version 2.5 of MeshMixer is now available to download for both PC and OSX.

Print 3D for Me: An app that turns your favorite photograph into a 3D print

Posted by in 3D Printed, API, Apps

Zach Kauble is the co-founder of 3D Print for Me, which uses the Shapeways API to create a unique keychain from your favorite photograph. Below Zach discusses how he was inspired to create this application and how 3D printing can impact the future of custom product design.


Please introduce yourself – what is your background? Are you a developer? Designer? 3D modeler?

The product and web site were designed by myself and my partner, Tyler Watson. We are both software engineers by day. I started experimenting with 3D printing as a consequence of learning 3D modeling and sculpting software such as ZBrush and 3DS Max. I quickly realized that my models could be made real via 3D printing. It wasn’t long before I came across Shapeways.

What inspired you to start Print 3D for me?

I got the idea after I ordered a few prints of my Zbrush sculptures from Shapeways. I think a transformation occurred for me that probably happens to most “Shapies” because I become somewhat obsessed with designing a unique product. A single question was repeated daily in my head no matter where I was or what I was doing? How does 3D printing change this?

I had been experimenting with 3D printed lithophanes on Shapeways for some time before we decided to create Print 3D For Me. What most inspired us was the reaction of my coworkers at seeing some of my early prototypes. They were amazed by them, which surprised me.
I thought they were somewhat interesting, but not nearly as cool as others did. I suppose after so many iterations of a product, the appeal to the designer starts to wear away.

So, based on this enthusiastic response, we decided to create Print 3D For Me and sell the lithophanes as key chains.


What is your hope for growing the business?

Of course we hope to grow the business and several more products are in development. However, our primary goal in this endeavor is learn and have fun, and we’ve already done both quite a bit. There is definitely a lot to learn…3D modeling tools, Search Engine Optimization, Internet Advertising and configuration, the Shapeways API, and much, much more.

How is 3D printing helping creative businesses and consumers develop products they want?

My theory is that it removes the barrier to entry in developing and manufacturing physical product. It’s not specifically the additive manufacturing method that I’m excited about. It’s the idea that I can focus all of my time on designing a product while outsourcing the rest of the mundane details including manufacturing, distribution, and fulfillment. My sincere hope is that two things continue to happen as the technology improves: prices continue to drop, and the manufacturing options continue to increase…such as the inclusion of multiple materials and integrated electronics. Creating interactive 3D printed jewelry

Posted by in API, Interview, 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.

Hero Forge, Making Custom 3D Printed Miniatures Easy

Posted by in 3D Printing, API, Apps, Design, DIY, Geek, Toys

Making custom 3D Printed tabletop gaming miniatures is about to get easier with Hero Forge App, and the Shapeways 3D Printing API.  The team at Hero Forge have raised support with a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign to create an app to make custom 3D printed figurines for table top gaming.

Following is the story of how the project came about, why they chose to use Shapeways 3D printing, and how this is a perfect case study, for helping people get exactly what they want with a customization app, and on demand 3D printing at Shapeways.


About seven months ago, with bated breath and well-bitten nails, we at Hero Forge launched an ambitious Kickstarter campaign  proposing a new application of 3D printing: customizable tabletop miniatures. The idea was simple: using a WebGL-based app akin to a videogame character creator, users would be able to build a character from a library of parts, poses, and features, then get it 3D printed.

Hero Forge - Grid

The idea for Hero Forge actually came about when we went looking for a service like it, hoping to use it as customers. We’d seen slick WebGL-based apps and had seen all kinds of cool Maker Apps using Shapeways Developer API. We assumed something like Hero Forge would already exist. As it turned out, all the pieces were there but the service itself wasn’t. We decided to make it ourselves.

Going to Kickstarter for funding was a no-brainer. Kickstarter has an incredibly passionate gaming community that’s been jumpstarting role-playing and miniatures projects for years. We really couldn’t have predicted just how amazingly supportive our backers would be, though. We ended up hitting our initial goal within the first three days of our campaign then went on to unlock nine stretch goals. It was exciting to say the least.


There miniatures can mean a lot to tabletop gamers. A player might spend years playing as a single character, and having a mini that really matches their vision is a powerful thing. Unfortunately, finding a miniature that really captures one’s character can be difficult. Nearly all tabletop fans know the frustration of combing through poorly-stocked shelves or browsing low-resolution image galleries looking for just the right combination of features and equipment.

Hero Forge - Closeup 1

We have absolutely amazing team working on the tech, UI, and building a library of weapons, armor, poses, faces, and more. They’re making the building blocks that users will be able to play with, combine, and rearrange until they get something that is legitimately theirs. We want to offer a whole new level of parity between the character in their imagination and the miniature in front of them.


It’s great to have reached a point where 3D printing can do more than prototyping. We’ve gotten to a place where it can produce polished, finished products. There’s no doubt that 3D printing is an integral component of our service. No other manufacturing method would allow for us to produce one-off figures in a cost effective way. Using the Shapeways API provides other huge advantages, too. As a start-up, being able to let an established, proven name handle both manufacturing and shipping is a godsend. It lets us focus on what we really want to be focused on: building an amazing service and designing cool great arms, armor, and characters.

There’s a lot of freedom and flexibility of material offerings, too. We’re taking advantage of that flexibility, offering larger-scale statuettes in stronger, cheaper materials and higher detail, smoother materials for users who want more fidelity in their miniature prints. And in the future, if new materials hit the scenes, adding them to our offerings will be easy.


At the moment, we’re focused on building an incredible service, and the Shapeways API and manufacturing team are proving to be amazing folks to have on our side. We’ve still got our sights set on launching before the year is out. We really can’t wait to see what people create with what we’re building.

Hero Forge - Group Shot

–Joshua Bennett, Co-Founder of Hero Forge

Photo Credit: MDK Photography (


Update: Hero Forge’s website is up and running! Check them out.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Creators: Announcing Our Collaboration with Google on Made with Code to Inspire Millions of Girls to Code & Create

I’ve been coding since I was 13 years old. I’d spend hours taking apart computers, putting them back together, and creating worlds of my own. Technology has not only impacted the way I solve problems, it’s framed the way I view the world. First with coding, and later with 3D printing, I found that my imagination was my only limitation.

Today, I’m thrilled to share that Shapeways is collaborating with Google on Made with Code to inspire girls to code. Our goal has always been to give everyone access to the best technology in 3D printing, and we’re now investing in that access for girls — a group that has historically been underrepresented in science and technology.

Made with Code offers fun and simple projects aimed at helping girls take the first step in learning how to code. The premier project of the initiative is a coding project based on Blockly, Google’s visual programming editor, in which girls can create a custom bracelet that we will 3D print in our New York City factory using EOS printers.

Made with Code and Shapeways

Continue reading

Geo Nerd Alert: Norwegian 3D Printed Terrain Maps

Posted by in API

Thanks to Even Westvang of the BENGLER Project, you can now 3D Print any part of Norway’s epic terrain. He built an app using the Shapeways API, that lets you simply click on the interactive map, explore the landscape, find the fiord that makes your heart sing and print it! Further proof the benefits of open source communities and data, Westvang points out that “Terrafab is made possible by the open data policies of the Norwegian Mapping Authorities.” It’s no wonder, since “Norway has one of the top five most incredible terrains in the known universe,” according to Westvang, that it’s the first nation we’ve seen 3D Printed this way. You can see what I mean in the beautifully executed video below:

What other maps are open source? Where else would you like a 3D Printed Map of? What other geodata needs to be liberated? Share your thoughts in the comments.