Category Archives: Design Apps

Easy Custom Holiday Gifts for Everyone You Love

Custom holiday gifts from independent designers were once expensive and hard to create. But this holiday season at Shapeways, we have thousands of fun and affordable ways for you to Say You Made It. Enabling you to craft one-of-a-kind personalized gifts that hold special meaning for your loved ones. From our Easy Creator apps to the thousands of customizable objects offered by our community — including personalized ceramics pieces — making extraordinary gifts for all your friends and family has never been this easy.

Screenshot 2016-11-03 15.23.28

Create a Christmas heirloom with the easy Ornament Creator

Does your mom still save the macaroni art you made for her in fourth grade? That’s because even a simple custom gift can have a huge impact. Thankfully, it could not be simpler to use one of our Easy Creator apps to design your own personalized pieces. Use the Ornament Creator to make a holiday heirloom, the adorable Cookie Caster to design cookie cutters for loved ones who love to bake, or Crayon Creatures to magically bring your kids’ 2D art to life.

Crayon Creatures turn kids' crayon art into 3D creatures

Crayon Creatures turn kids’ crayon art into 3D creatures

If you don’t want to make an entire custom object, you can use the Customizable option in our SHOP section, or marketplace. Here, you’ll find products that allow you to add your own messages to pieces already for sale. You can find customizable products by clicking the “Customizable” box on the left-hand side of any page in our marketplace. Underneath the box, you can also select the type of material you would like to customize.

Sometimes, the best gifts are the ones that help preserve a precious photo memory. Your mom’s favorite snapshot of you. Or the double selfie from that amazing day you spent at the ball game with your dad. What if you could turn these images into durable 3D mementos? Luckily, one of the most amazing things that you can do with Shapeways — that you cannot do anywhere else — is to create Celadon Selfies. In this store, you can select any number of lovely tiles, mugs, or ornaments to which you can apply your own image (or one of your sister, mom, dad, or pets!).

Celadon Selfies help preserve special photo memories forever

Celadon Selfies help preserve special photo memories forever

Time spent with family and friends is the most important part of our lives. What could be better than using Shapeways to create mementos of your favorite moments, and custom gifts that hold special meaning for you and your loved ones? We’re happy to offer so many unique ways to show your love this holiday season. What’s your best custom gift of all time? Let us know in the comments, and make sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide for gifting inspiration for all the beloved people on your list.

CAD vs. Modeling: Which 3D Software to Choose?

One of the most common questions we get from those who are new to digital manufacturing is “If I want to design something, which software should I learn?”

The answer to that is a little complex, but it hinges on one simple idea: What are you trying to make? There are lots of great software packages for 3D design out there, each tailored to a different type of product design. Knowing what you are trying to make will dictate the type of software you will use.

Overall, design software falls into two camps: CAD and 3D Modeling. CAD software is used when creating industrial, mechanical objects. Alternatively, 3D modeling packages more commonly used for making organic elements used for film special effects and video games.

Depending on the goals of your design, you may use both types of software at different stages of the design process to make the final 3D-printable design.

Below, we’ll go over how they are different and provide a few examples of each software type.

 

CAD (Computer Aided Design/Drafting)

CAD programs ask the user to “draw” a 2D shape and then turn those drawings into 3D forms, as either solids or surfaces. Drafting software comes from a long lineage of product designers, architects and engineers who would draw 2D plans, complete with measurements, which would be handed over to technicians or craftspeople who would interpret the designs and make the said object. This could be done manually or with a successive process of machining. Nowadays we have tools like 3D printing so that the design can be interpreted by other software (CAM or Computer-Aided Manufacturing) to create the tool path or slicing for 3D printing.

CAD programs take these 2D drawings and digitally translate them into 3D rendered “objects.” In some cases these are just “shells” or surfaces, while other programs treat the object as mathematically solid material. Simple shapes can then be added or subtracted to create more complex forms.

Because CAD software takes its roots in 2D drafting it is mainly for functional, measured 3D objects. Any functional object around you (your phone or computer that you’re reading this blog on) was designed in CAD software.

Examples of CAD:

Solidworks: Industry standard CAD software

 

Fusion 360: Free for students, startups, and makers!

 

Tinkercad: great for beginners

 

Onshape: Cloud-based with free option

 

3D Modeling

CAD software is great for functional objects, things that need to work mechanically or fit to a real world device. That said they may not give direct enough control over a design to allow for freeform, artistic work. This is where 3D modeling software comes in. Long used by the film and video game industry to make animation and special effects, you can also use these programs to create printable 3D models.

Modeling softwares are based around surfaces created from 3D geometry. This may be based around a system called NURBS, or may be simple polygons composed of vertices, edges, and faces. In many cases, programs will let you switch between these systems with ease, depending on your workflow. These points and surfaces come together to form the edges of a 3D object.

The advantage of modeling over CAD is that modeling software gives users direct input into each vertex or surface individually or as groups. This always for different ways to manipulate the shapes, often in ways that look more organic.

Some programs are even designed to treat 3D models as if they were lumps of clay so that designers can take a more sculptural approach. Using tools that emulate traditional artistic techniques, artists can get the most out of the geometry of a digital object.

Examples of 3D modeling software:

Sketchup: Free and popular

 

Maya: Industry standard for film and animation

 

Blender: Free, open source, and runs some of Shapeways’ backend tools

 

ZBrush: Professional digital sculpting software

 

Sculptris: Simpler, free version of ZBrush for beginners

Overall, knowing what you want to achieve with your design is vital to choosing the right tool for you. If a design needs to be functional, fit to other real-world objects, or have specific measurements, starting with CAD is the way to go. If a design needs to emulate a real-world or imaginary object or showcase your artistic vision, modeling could be a solution. If a design wants to do both, try mixing and matching software within your process.

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!

 

From Ugly Sweaters To Pretty Pendants: A Maker Story

Having recently joined the Shapeways team as PR Lead I was extremely excited to be delving into a world of digital design and manufacturing. While my DIY background was limited to making Halloween costumes and very, very ugly Christmas sweaters (actual creations below)– the possibility of taking more complex ideas and printing them was something I couldn’t wait to tackle.

The problem was that I was a little apprehensive of where to start with tackling the world of 3D design, because it’s kind of a huge departure from my familiarity with hot glue and felt. Fortunately Shapeways has some pretty cool tools to help ease beginners into the world of digital manufacturing. My colleagues suggested that I start with the easy Custom Pendant Creator– a tool that would allow me to create a pendant either from a drawing or using one of their existing templates. Being in the market for a new signature necklace, I immediately was intrigued by the possibility of being able to create something that was undeniably something “me”. The inspiration stemmed from a PR pun I’d made, that while by no means the first, was something that became a bit of a cheeky mantra, “Pitch, please.”

While I’d been wanting to create something with this pun for years, I never had the tools or capabilities to create something quality-enough that I’d feel comfortable wearing. The pendant creator and digital manufacturing seemed like it would do just the trick here. Because I’m not particularly proud of my handwriting, I recruited my boss to write out “pitch, please” in Sharpie on a blank piece of white paper. She also added two little loops, one on the first “p” and the other on the last “e” so that I’d be able to turn it into a necklace.

I snapped a photo of the design and used Afterlight to crop the image and improve contrast between the paper and ink, ensuring the pendant creator would have an easy time identifying the outline I wanted printed.

After uploading it to the pendant creator, the automatic system check identified a few issues with my design– namely that the walls were too thin for printing in most materials. Fortunately the creator also makes it effortless to fix, giving me the option to automatically “Fix Thin Walls” at the click of a button.

Once my design was fixed and passed an initial check for printing in polished brass (my choice for this one), all I had left to do was order it and wait for my package. Two weeks later…

Yahoo! I got to hold my sassy, classy little pendant in my hand! I’m extremely excited to find the perfect chain to turn this into a necklace and proudly tell everyone, “I made this”– because it’s a huge upgrade from my DIY ugly Christmas sweaters.

Spin It to Win It! Contest

As you know we’re big fans of Gravity Sketch, the new app putting the power of 3D design at your fingertips. It’s so fun and easy in fact that today we’re celebrating it by launching a contest to win some Shapeways printing credit! Simply use the Gravity Sketch app to design and upload your original model of a spinning top to Shapeways by June 23, 2016. For the first round the top eight top designs will be 3D printed. For the second round the top three top designs will win the prizes. Details about the contest and prizes can be found here.

top

Our panel of judges, Shapeways community manager Andrew, Seyi from Gravity Sketch and top specialist Designs by Dalton, will be looking for:

  • Originality and creativity
  • Perceived physics
  • Design aesthetics
  • Best use of the Gravity Sketch app

Download the Gravity Sketch app today, upload your models to Shapeways and tag the model with ‘GravitySketchTop2016‘ to enter the contest by June 23, 2016. We can’t wait to see what spins out of your brains!

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.

hf-gnomestew

Photo courtesy of Gnome Stew

Continue reading

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 Mixeelabs.com. It’s a Fantasy Football Trophy Creator app!

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 10.17.57 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 10.18.16 PM

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 https://www.mixeelabs.com/creator/fantasy-football-trophy

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

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 10.18.44 PM

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.

svx_large

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 Archipelis.com