Category Archives: Design Apps

Hero Forge: Where Are They Now?

We are amazed with all the products that continue to come from designers’ imaginations and out of the printers. While 3D modeling takes some skill, we’ve seen a number of people take that mastery to the next level by creating apps that make 3D printing truly available to everyone. One of our favorite (and successful) examples we’ve seen is Hero Forge, a web-based app that lets you customize tabletop miniatures and statuettes.


Photo courtesy of Gnome Stew

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Create Your Own 3D Printed Fantasy Football Trophy

We are excited to introduce a new 3D printing creator app to the community designed by our own Andrew Thomas as a collaboration with It’s a Fantasy Football Trophy Creator app!

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With this product, you can give a football (American Football) enthusiast or the champion of your Fantasy league something customized this season, or just a friend who loves football something customized this season.

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Andrew Thomas designed this product to bring 3D Printing to the world of sports and Fantasy Football. You can choose from different logos (designed by Sue Kwong) or even upload your own graphic or logo. Create a personally branded mini-Football Helmet.

This product is made with 3D Printed Full Color Sandstone which feels like unglazed ceramics. The surface texture is slightly sandy, like fine dry coral or sandstone.

To check it out:

Head to

Pick from present logos or upload your own add your own text to the side and on the face guard.

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This product is 3.5 x 3.5 x 4 inches (89 x 89 x 102 mm)

What type of future creators apps would you like to see in the future that utilizes Shapeways 3D printing? Let us know in a comment below!

Shapeways Launches SVX, a Voxel Based File Format for 3D Printing

Shapeways has created a new SVX format for transmitting voxel data for 3D printing. After much research we found no existing format that satisfied our requirements. Our primary design priorities are simple definition, ease of implementation, and extensibility. There are plenty of things you could dislike about the STL format, but it’s brevity and simple implementation are not one of them.


A voxel is a 3D dimensional pixel. Most 3D printers work internally with voxel like representations. Your 3D model is sliced into 2D image slices, each pixel represents a dot of material that the printer builds your object with. Voxel formats allow direct control over those dots. One promise of 3D printing is that complexity is free. Sadly with STL files we’ve had the disconnect that more complexity equals more triangles equals larger files. Above a certain limit you just can’t use triangles to specify the details you want in a 3D printed model. Whether that information be material allocation, density, RGB color both internal and external or a custom id that could be used for another variable, not yet available in the 3D printers on the market.

Another area that is interesting for voxel usage is in making printable objects. A mesh for 3D printing needs to meet certain mathematical properties. It is easier to write voxel software that meets these demands. This makes the barrier to entry much lower for writing creators and its especially easy to include 2D imagery into your designs. See ShapeJS for some examples. One area that is typically tricky is turning voxels into triangles. We’ve worked hard to provide some nice routines for much high quality conversion to triangles when necessary. When you upload a voxel model to Shapeways you’ll be leveraging that work, just concentrate on making the voxels right and we’ll handle the triangles if needed.

You can view the new format specification at: SVX Format. We’ve added support for voxel uploads at Shapeways so you can start sending full resolution voxel files now!

Autodesk MeshMixer: Updated with Tools for 3D Printing

Posted by in Design Apps

Autodesk MeshMixer is a fantastic free tool for importing, editing, modifying and painting  organic models.

This video showcases just how much fun it can be to use Meshmixer for 3D modeling



MeshMixer has been updated with an all-in-one suite for 3D printing, making it one heck of an app. For example, with this update, you can:

  • Generate an integrated 3D Print Preview with model analysis.
  • Automatically “make solid,” converting multiple shells into a single solid.
  • Automatically repair or hollow out models to prep it for 3D printing.

Experienced users can still manually use re-meshing, sculpting, and healing tools.

By clicking “Print,” an arsenal of simple analysis and layout tools that help visualize strength, stability and slicing loads automatically. The mesh can be sent to a desktop printer or exported to .stl.

Learn more about this user-friendly app here.

Show Yourself Some Love With A Selfie 3D printed Bobblehead

Posted by in Design Apps

What happens when you combine two things your love, namely 3D printing and yourself? You get a 3D printed selfie bobblehead. Yes, they exist.

Launched yesterday by our talented friends at Mixee Labs, these selfie bobbleheads are the world’s first fully printed in 3D—even the spring is 3D printed.


Printed in Full Color Sandstone and Strong & Flexible Plastic, they stand at a height of 2.5 inches. And the price is just $25.00, which is a lot cheaper than most.

What’s really cool is that you don’t have to wait until it arrives in the mail to see what it will look like. You can make changes as you go and you’re able to preview them right away. It’s easy to get started, and no design experience is needed! Just pick from a variety of hairstyles, facial expressions, and shirt graphics. Or even upload your own if you want to be wearing your favorite t-shirt.

Make Narcissus proud and get one for yourself. If you do, take a photo and upload mini you to Twitter or Facebook with hashtag #3Dselfies so we can check it out.

Introducing MeCube: Easy 3D Modeling for iPhone and iPad

Mecube is an easy (and addictive) app to 3D design and 3D print direct from your iOS device.  The intuitive interface is a simple ‘voxel modeler’ where you add cubes together to make a 3D form like assembling single blocks of Lego together. You can use the same process to cut away or even ‘skew’ cubes for some slightly more complex variations.  Each voxel can be assembled as a solid color or you can go back and paint each surface, by touching a surface multiple times you increase the saturation of the color, this allows for quite a large variation of colors from such a simple interface.

meCube App to 3D print with Shapeways

When your design is complete you can upload your design to Shapeways to be 3D printed in any of our 3D Printing material options including full color.

Keep an eye out for the MeCube Game that will take the same principles into (an even more addictive) puzzle game that will also connect to the Shapeways API to 3D print prizes. 

Check out the tutorial below. 

We Bid a Sad Farewell to Tinkercad

[UPDATE: Autodesk Saves Tinkercad from Extinction]

Today we bid a sad farewell to Tinkercad, one of the easiest 3D modeling apps plugging into the Shapeways 3D Printing API.

When Tinkercad launched in early 2011 as a simple browser based, drag and drop interface for 3D modeling, it made it easy for anyone to create a 3D form.  In August 2012 when Tinkercad plugged into the Shapeways 3D Printing API it also became one of the easiest ways for people to learn how to 3D print their own designs which is why we used it to teach everyone from 2nd graders to senior citizens how to design for 3D printing.  With the introduction of the ability to import existing designs Tinkercad also became one of the easiest ways to modify and customize an existing design.

Luckily we are seeing more and more 3D printing apps plugging into the Shapeways 3D Printing API to make it easier for people to access 3D printing but Tinkercad will be missed.

For Tinkercad users they are rolling out the closure in stages:

  • Effective immediately they have closed sign-ups for new users    
  • April 30 2013 – All free accounts will be changed to read only    
  • August 31 2013 – All academic accounts will be changed to read only    
  • December 31 2013 – All paid accounts will be changed to read only    
  • June 31 2014 – Read only access for all users will be discontinued 

This means if you currently have files stored on Tinkercad, you will have until June 31 2014 to download them from their storage and/or upload them to another repository such as Shapeways, Sketchfab or Thingiverse.  If you have unfinished models in Tinkercad you have a limited time to make the modifications to export and/or 3D print them.

There is also an FAQ with additional details.

We wish Kai, Mikko and the Tinkercad team the best of luck as they move away from the
development of the Tinkercad user interface and onto Airstone Labs.

Learn to 3D Model to 3D Print with 123D Design in NYC

We are hosting another class to Design for 3D Print with 123D Design and Shapeways.

This beginners class is an intro to 3D modeling with Autodesk 123D Design and 3D Printing with Shapeways.  

We will work step by step through some of the basic tools used to 3D model, how to construct basic forms using sketches, solid modelling, and basic patterns.  We will then upload our designs to Shapeways to get a taste of how to export your 3D model to 3D print.  

You do not need to have any experience with 3D printing or 3D modeling to participate in this class.  Bring your Mac or PC laptop your charger, and an external mouse and create an account on Shapeways prior to the event and download 123D Design we will be using in the class..  If you are interested in a broader overview of the materials, processes and some 3D printed case studies, take a look at the intro to design for 3D printing. 

Thu, Mar 28th, 2013 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm EDT at Shapeways HQ in NYC 

Sign up via Skillshare

Paint and 3D Print an Easter Egg with the Magic 3D Easter Egg Painter App

Another app plugging into the Shapeways 3D Printing API is the Magic 3D Easter Egg Painter By Vishal Srivastava that uses the accelerometer in iOS devices to navigate around and decorate an Easter egg that can then be 3D printed in full color by Shapeways.

3D Printing easter egg app

easter App

Imagine your Easter Egg as an object floating in the Real World.  Your iPhone becomes a Movable Window that allows you to see and paint all sides of your Egg from every possible point of view. STAND UP, hold up your iPhone, and spin around your Egg (seriously!) to see and paint all different sides!  Done painting the front of the Egg? TURN ALL THE WAY AROUND the Egg while holding up your iPhone, and you can paint the back!  Need to paint the top? Make your iPhone flat, look down at the Egg below you, and you can.  Don’t forget to paint the bottom! Turn your iPhone up, so you’re facing the ceiling, and you can paint under the Egg!  When you’ve finished creating your Egg, you have the option of ordering a “3D printed” figurine of your creation from inside the app! They make great keepsakes or can be hidden in Easter Egg hunts!

With Easter fast approaching on March 31st 2013 you will need to get your orders in VERY soon to ensure you get your 3D printed easter egg in time for Easter.  Download the app now from the App Store and start decorating now.

iOS Stand App Makes it Easy to Customize and 3D Print Your Own iPhone Stand

Connecting to the Shapeways 3D Printing API the iOS Stand Creator is an app that makes it easy for anyone to customize a stand for their iPhone and 3D print it with Shapeways.

iPhone App

Usually when we think of iPhone apps we think of applications within the iPhone but this application makes it easy for anyone without 3D modeling skills to create a customized stand in just a few mouse clicks.  

What makes this app really interesting is that it uses 3D printing to make functional, not decorative items.  Most of the apps so far plugging into the Shapeways 3D Printing API on the Create page are making sculptural, cosmetic products or jewelry while there is a huge potential in making 3D Printing apps that connect things to things. 

If you want to 3D print a custom product but do not know how to 3D model the iOS Stand Creator App is a great way to get started, if you are a designer and/or developer interested in getting into the 3D printing app market this is a great example of how to make a customizable, functional product.  Take a look at some of the stands made so far that are now ready to 3D print.

Congrats to Kioròdesign and