Category Archives: Shapeways

Love in 3D: From Wedding Contest Winners to Newlyweds

Just in time for Valentine’s Day we caught up with Bastiaan and Alicia Ekeler, the winners of our Love in 3D wedding contest from earlier this year. They 3D printed their wedding bands and gifts for the wedding party and we wanted to catch up with them to hear about their special day and what they have been making since!

3D printed wedding rings

How did you design your 3D printed wedding rings? What inspired you to put your finger prints on the inside of the bands?

I designed the rings using Photoshop and Rhinoceros 3D. I have a background in industrial design so I am very familiar with these software packages. Rhino has been my favorite 3D modeling tool for a long time and was the perfect candidate for this project. The rings started with an ink pad, an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, a lot of fingerprints and a scanner. The scanned image was prepared in Photoshop and converted into a 3D surface in Rhino. I modelled the rest of the ring around the fingerprint relief and exported the whole thing to STL. There was a lot of experimentation to get all the variables right but the whole process worked pretty well.

The idea of using fingerprints stems from the inherent capability for 3D printing to customize any product. Even without having won the contest, it was clear to me that our wedding rings would have to be unique and personal. No off-the-shelf design would do. Fingerprints seemed pretty unique and personal and the finger has an innate connection with the ring to begin with. They were an ideal match to be brought to life using additive manufacturing. So, the idea was born to have my left ring finger’s print embedded in my wife’s ring and vice-versa.

You might be interested to know that we have actually decided to start offering custom designed rings on Shapeways! We like ours so much that we feel we should share the design with the world and opened out first Shapeways store.

Did you 3D print any special favors for the bridesmaids and groomsmen?

Yes, we actually did design gifts for the members of our wedding party. For the bridesmaids, we created a tiny little infinity symbol, loosely modeled after a precisely curved twig. It is a little hard to see from the picture but the pendant has some knots and imperfections on it, making it a little more organic than mathematical. I even went into Zbrush and textured the outside to mimic tree bark, although this detail got polished out in the finishing process. It is always hard to resist the temptation of getting lost in modeling details when zoomed in 1000% on a 1cm wide model. The infinity symbol was chosen for it’s obvious marriage / friendship related symbolism and the branch element was based on the outside, farmhouse wedding location.

3D printed wedding favors neckalce

For the groomsmen, all high school friends of mine, I designed a pair of cufflinks with the logo we’ve been using since college to symbolize our group. I will leave the interpretation of the abbreviation as a exercise to the reader.

3D printed wedding favors cufflinks groomsmet

Now that you are married, have you designed anything together to commemorate your wedding or your time together since?

We haven’t done any 3D modeling together since the wedding but I would like to share one last Shapeways item we had made: a cake topper. We went through a lot of designs for this but in the end decided to keep it pretty simple and elegant, matching those same qualities of the cake itself. Yet another use for the white, strong an flexible nylon!

3D printed wedding cake topper

Can you share one piece of advice for newlyweds or couples who are about to get married?
I don’t know if we’re really in a position to be giving out advice as fresh newlyweds. From our short experience, I’m afraid I can only talk in clichés, so here we go: Never take each other for granted, pick your battles and always keep communicating.

Thank you again for allowing us to have the best wedding we could have had through the power of 3D printing!

wedding 3D printed

Bastiaan + Alicia Ekeler

Congratulations again, Bastiaan and Alicia! For our lovebirds out there, what do you plan on 3D printing for your sweetheart?  

 


 

Share your Shapeways products anywhere with our new Product Widget

Have you ever wanted to embed your products on another site but struggled with writing your own HTML? Have you wished there was an easy embed feature like there is on sites like YouTube? We’re excited to announce that now there is!

The Shapeways widget is an easy way to share your Shop and favorite products outside of Shapeways. We are excited to add a brand new embeddable widget to showcase a single product, as well as an update to our existing Shop Section & Favorites Widget.

Embeddable widgets are a tool for sharing products outside of Shapeways and are a great way to grow your shop’s presence online and drive more traffic to your shop on Shapeways. You can use them to showcase your shop and designs on your own website, or to share products that you love on forums or other sites that you are involved in. Pretty much any site that allows you to add your own custom html is ripe for sharing your Shapeways products!

New: Product Embeddable Widget

We have a new embeddable widget showcasing a single product. It is simple to find the link to embed a product: a link has been added on the product page for each product.

The embed code for your product underneath the Buy Now button on each product.

 

You can also find it on the Product Details page for each product that you have.

We have made it easy for you to update the dimensions and remove the Buy Now button to make the widget fit perfectly wherever you want to use it, you can learn more about customizing the new widget in this tutorial.

Updated: Shops & Favorites Widget

We’ve also updated our existing Shop and Favorites Widget to keep it up to date and resolve some issues it had in the past.  If you are new to the shop widget, you can use it to embed a widget of your whole shop or a specific shop section, or your favorites or wishlist. You can learn more about how to set up and use the Shop, Shop Section and Favorites Widgets here.

We are excited to see how you use these new and updated widgets, but we are also eager to add more customization options based on your feedback! Feel free to give us suggestions for future versions in our feedback form here and please share your examples with us in the comments or on Twitter.


 

Have a 3D printer? Join Shapeways Global Partner Network

Posted by in Shapeways

global 3D printer network shapeways partners

Today we’re excited to announce that we are exploring ways to expand our Global Partner Network so that we can continue to improve upon what’s most important to you: quality of products, speed of delivery, breadth of material choices, and affordable prices. In addition to our 3D printing factories in New York and Eindhoven, we also work with our Global Partner Network, a group of dozens of production partners across the world who help us give our community access to the best and most affordable 3D printing options in the market.

Our goal has always been to be the place for people to make their ideas come to life, and we’re excited to give our community more choice. 3D printing is changing rapidly, with new materials being tested and introduced (including our own!), and we always want to give our community first access.

With that in mind, we’d love to learn more about what 3D printers you own, whether it’s a desktop printer that you use personally or a host of 3D printers you run as part of a business, fab lab, or service. If you have a 3D printer and want to make parts and products for other people, we want to hear from you!

With customers in over 130 countries, over 2M products printed and hundreds of thousands of designers on our platform, Shapeways supports a huge, global community. Give us a shout if you would be interested in joining our Global Partner Network and we’ll reach out in the future if there are opportunities to collaborate.


 

Shapeways Crew: a dynamic, worldwide 3D printing community

Posted by in Community, Shapeways

Shapeways Crew is a group of Shapeways community members who exemplify all that we stand for: they are creative, inspiring, helpful to others, and a lot of fun! We launched this initiative mid- 2014 and I’m excited to share more about what we have accomplished so far!

Shapeways Crew members share skills, ideas and inspiration through regular online hangouts, at in-person events and in a private Facebook group. They also showcase their knowledge and products through writing blog posts, tutorials and hosting and attending events on behalf of Shapeways and get the inside track on all that’s new here. Here’s a look at this talented group of people accomplished in 2014: 

Shapeways Community 3D printing Crew

Are you someone who is excited and inspired by the possibilities of 3D printing? Do you want to share what you have made and learned with others around the world and attend events on behalf of Shapeways? Sign up for Crew here – we’d love to have you aboard! 


 

Call for Shapeways 3D Printing Stories: Share Yours!

Do you have a Shapeways story to tell? Has something you made an impact on someone else? Have you learned something you think others would benefit from? Now is the time to let us know. Consider this your official invitation to share your #SWStories for a chance to be featured on the website and win Shapeways credit. Have a story you’d like to share with us but don’t want the world to know? That’s okay too, just check the anonymous box :) .

Share your Shapeways Story!

Every year you never cease to amaze us, and this past Saturday was no exception. In an effort to keep the positive holiday spirit up despite our site downtime, we asked you to share your #SWPaws. I’ll be recapping the experience in full later this week, but here’s a story I cannot wait to share with you any longer.

Meet Kai, a Reindeer in the The Netherlands. He’s here with the “boss,” who has a 3D printed Kai inspired belt buckle and hat broach. Yes, this is real, and more importantly it is a story we never would have heard about if we hadn’t asked you to share.

swcontestant16reindeer

So please, tell us what we don’t know :) .

(If you’re just dying to see some more #SWPaws, you can take a peak here)


 

US Ambassador visits our Eindhoven Factory of the Future

After we opened the doors of our new Factory of the Future in Eindhoven last October, we keep on receiving requests of people who want to visit our new location. From students to business representatives, from shopowners to press. Last week, however, we had the pleasure of hosting Timothy M. Broas, Ambassador of the United States of America.

The ambassador was accompanied by Economic Officer Blake A. Johnston and a delegation of the Province of Noord-Brabant. Together with my colleagues Ralph and David I had the honor to talk with them about the ins and outs of our company and our community, and show 3D Printing in practice.

EHV team together with US Ambassador

From left to right: Blake A. Johnston, Ralph van den Borst (Customer Service Manager), Timothy M. Broas (Ambassador), Ruud van den Muijzenberg (Event Coordinator Europe), David Gillispie (Vice President of Manufacturing).

Do you want to see our Factories in Eindhoven (NL) or Long Island City (USA) yourself? Keep an eye on our Meetup.com page as we’ll soon be announcing Factory Tour dates for the next year!


 

Our biggest sale ever! Happy Cyber Monday!

Happy Cyber Monday! To celebrate the season we are offering you our biggest sale ever – today only get 20% off 3D printed products site wide when you enter the code CYBER20 at checkout! Cyber Monday 3D printed sale

The fine print:

This promotion is non-transferable and valid once per customer with a maximum discount of $100. 20% discount applies only to 3D printed products, not gift cards, sample kits, shipping, wrapping, or other services. If you order a design during the promotion period that cannot be printed, we cannot apply discounts to future orders (even if these designs are repaired). If you return your purchase, you will be refunded the amount paid. Offer expires December 1 at 11:59pm PST.


 

Black Friday Holiday Deals at Shapeways

Happy Holidays! To kick off the holiday season this weekend we are offering 20% off when you order your own models or a $10 credit when you buy products in our marketplace!

3D printing black friday deals shapeways

The fine print:  Orders shipped to the United States are eligible for free shipping (USPS First Class).

20% discount applies only to 3D prints of your own designs, not products from the Shapeways marketplace, when you enter promo code DESIGN20. It is non-transferable and valid once per customer with a maximum discount of $100. If you order a model during the promotion period that cannot be printed, we cannot apply discounts to future orders (even if these models are repaired). If you return your purchase, you will be refunded the amount paid.

$10 store credit will be granted for ordering a product from a Shapeways shop other than your own between 8:00pm on November 26 and 11:59pm on November 30 (PST). Credits are limited to one per customer and will be distributed via email December 2-5, 2014.

All offers expire Sunday November 30 at 11:59pm PST.


 

Shapeways Holiday Shipping Dates

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been thinking about your holiday shopping for weeks now. If you’re still getting your list ready or are having trouble deciding what to get your loved ones, we wanted to share the dates orders need to be placed by to arrive in time for Christmas. Since all of our products are made to order, we recommend you plan ahead. Below you’ll find specific cutoff dates for our various materials, but you can find all this information plus notes on other specifics to be aware of on our Holiday Shipping Page.

For US:

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 12.08.05 PM

For Europe (some exceptions):

Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 12.08.23 PM

 

For other countries:Screen Shot 2014-11-26 at 12.08.42 PM

 

Remember, the earlier you get your shopping done the more time you have to truly enjoy the holidays!


 

Introducing 3D Printed Porcelain & Saying Goodbye to Our Current Ceramics Offering

We’re really excited to share a new, exclusive material at Shapeways: 3D printed porcelain.

vase-all-colors

 

3D Printed Porcelain R&D

For the past year and a half, we’ve been exploring new options for ceramics based on the feedback we’ve heard loud and clear from our community. You told us that you want ceramics that are faster, more durable, more functional, and more colorful. This material didn’t exist, but that didn’t stop us. We created an R&D taskforce who have been working hard in our secret lab to develop a new way of 3D printing beautiful, durable porcelain. This is our first major investment in end to end material R&D.

The new 3D printed porcelain is groundbreaking, with quality and detail that mirrors traditional ceramics processes and the design flexibility of 3D printing. Utilizing a castable porcelain body created by Dr. Stuart Uram of Core Cast Ceramics with the support of Albert Pfarr, we developed an innovative process for producing 3D printed porcelain products. By combining the SLS printers that produce our Strong and Flexible Plastic with an innovative porcelain casting process, we can create detailed and durable products that are fired and glazed just like conventional ceramics. Using the best of 3D printing and traditional ceramics, we’re able to create the sort of quality you could only find in high end, handmade porcelain.

Here’s what you can expect from 3D printed porcelain, only available at Shapeways:

  • Amazing Colors – From cobalt blue to matte black, 3D Printed Porcelain will be available in classic colors that call upon the porcelain tradition.
  • Durable & Functional – Porcelain is dishwasher, oven, and microwave safe. You can even make baking dishes and pizza stones!
  • Gorgeous Detail – Porcelain enables you to design with very high detail and thin, translucent glazes.
  • Big & Bold – The strength enables thick and larger products, so we’ll be able to help you scale to the whims of your imagination.

 

Community R&D and Pilot

To start, 3D printed porcelain will be available in a limited pilot with the goal of improving our process and design guidelines. When we are ready to deliver amazing results to the masses, we’ll open this up as a material available for sale to shoppers in our marketplace.

If you are an experienced designer and would like to be considered for the pilot, Sign up here. We’ll start with a small group and expand as we learn more.

vase-light-blue

 

What does this mean for the current 3D printed ceramics?

You have probably noticed that ceramics has been plagued with problems for a while. For the last several months, our production partner for ceramics has been operating with significant delays. In order to ensure we set the right expectations, we’ve had to increase lead times from 13 days to 18 days to 22 days over the course of the last year.

At 22 days, our production partner was only shipping at 30% on time, which is simply unacceptable. We increased lead time to 45 days in October to set more accurate expectations, but whether you’re creating products for your business or waiting for a gift, these delays are unacceptable.

Given the uncertainty and delays, we had to make a hard decision and, as of today, will stop offering the current ceramics materials for the foreseeable future. Designers selling in ceramics are in the loop and will be key partners for us in the pilot and future R&D. We’re incredibly disappointed to have to take this step, but you deserve better.

Still reading?
Our goal is to make 3D printing affordable and accessible so that you can make amazing products. Unfortunately, current 3D printed ceramics just didn’t cut it anymore. We’re excited to bring an entirely new material to the design community and more than anything else, we cannot wait to see what you make! Here’s a teaser of porcelain in action:


 

Best Gifts for White Elephant & Secret Santa

Finding gifts for White Elephant and Secret Santa is really fun. Within the Shapeways marketplace, you’re sure to find the perfect gift that will earn you the title of most popular Secret Santa around, and make every White Elephant gift pale in comparison (you could even gift an actual 3D printed white elephant!). Shapeways has a wide variety of products, from functional to fabulous, and we are never lacking in fun products. Desk toys, memes and original designs will make you the best gift giver at your next holiday function.

elephant

Elephant by MarkWheadon

Memes

Let’s start with memes. Who doesn’t want to hold a meme in their hand instead of laughing at it on a screen? Grumpy Catdoge, and Creepy Horse Head are some of our favorites at a favorable price point. Find more memes in our Gift Guide.

memes

Fun & Games

Whether you need a break at work or something to entertain family and friends, our community has come up with games and entertainment for every day. Practice your aim/annoy your coworkers with the catapult. Thanks to 3D printing, the day has come where we can hold emojis in our hands! Show someone you love them emoji-style (because you do that every day anyways) with 3D Emoji Love. Keep your travels entertaining with the Credit Card Chess Set. And finally, who wouldn’t want a viking hat for your finger!?

fungames

Conversation Starters 

If you really have no idea what to get, check out our Conversation Starters section of the gift guide. With original pieces, much like the ones above, you can give a gift you’ve likely never given (or seen!) before! Like Bacon mobius strips, Blowfish Valve Caps, Viking Finger Hats (again), XS Gyro the Cubes, and an amazing Stereographic Projection structure.

convstarters

Shapeways is full of amazing products and these are just a few to get your imagination flowing. Check out the Gift Guide for more, and don’t forget to file an unboxing video to capture the gift-revealing moment!


 

Shapeways is an early customer of the new HP 3D printer

Posted by in Shapeways

Today I’m excited to share that Shapeways is an early customer of the 3D printer HP announced today!

Shapeways is a part of HP’s Open Customer Engagement Program, which means we are working closely with HP, giving them feedback on features, quality, reliability and operational functionality of its new 3D printing technology. We expect to begin piloting the new printers next year, with commercial availability defined by HP’s roll-out plan. During the pilot period we will work with you, our community, to collect feedback to make the machine even better.

image001

The new 3D printers from HP are not available yet, but we have seen the specs and the products it can produce. From what we have seen and know, it promises to be a real game changer. The new technology is up to 10x faster than any 3D printer currently on the market, can produce incredibly detailed products, will be able to print in full color (CMYK), and it is capable of printing more accurate and functional parts, even potentially with electrical parts in the future.

The speed improvement by itself is enough to be happy about, since it will enable us to really start turning around your orders much faster. Using existing technology we typically are printing 20-40 hours per tray. With this new technology, the print time could be as low as 4-5 hours per tray.

The much higher speed also means that the cost of printing will be reduced. As you can read in my posts about Strong and Flexible plastic, the time the machine spends printing is a substantial amount of the cost of a part. As this machine is much faster than existing technology, that part of the cost will be less. The higher speed and the initial prices of the machines we’ve seen lead us to believe that we could bring prices down substantially.

In addition to the above, the HP 3D printer will be able to produce true four-channel full color plastic going forward. This is what everyone has been asking for! Not brittle parts, no super glue needed. Real full color plastic with the strength you’d want, so you can create even more useful, full color products.

Terry_Wohlers_007_JB.00_02_10_17.Still012

It’s really awesome that HP has asked Shapeways to be an early customer for this new 3D printer as it reflects on you, our community, for being incredibly innovative. We have built a platform enabling designers to bring amazing products to life, and as a result, HP decided our community should be among the very first to get access to the technology. They realized that in working with us, they can learn how they should further improve their machines. The new HP 3D printer has a lot of promise, so we can’t wait to get our hands on the machine so we can start testing it and give you full access to it.

Today marks a really big moment for 3D printing. A very big global technology company is entering the 3D printing market with quite an amazing machine and technology. Surely this will trigger a response from the existing 3D printing companies to accelerate their development of their technology, which in the end benefits you! Can’t wait to see what the future will bring.

Pete / CEO Shapeways


 

The future of 3D printing is now: A new factory for Shapeways Eindhoven

Posted by in Shapeways
3Dprinting factory opening

Pete Weijmarshausen cutting the ribbon with Katja Lucas from Dutch Design Week, the Royal Commissioner Wim van de Donk, and the Mayor of Eindhoven, Rob van Gijzel

The future of 3D printing is looking brighter and brighter, as more people design custom that are exactly what they want. As excitement about 3D printing has grown, so has Shapeways and on Monday, October 20 we opened the our new 3D printing factory in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. This is our third location in Eindhoven and the largest so far! We’re so excited because we will not only be able to produce 3D printed products more efficiently at this new facility, but it has plenty of room to grow for the future. It’s a milestone in Shapeways history and we’re excited to be growing in the city where we began.

3D printing factory opening

Pete Weijmarshausen welcomes guests and the Shapeways team to the new Shapeways Eindhoven factory

At the opening Shapeways co-founder and CEO Petere Weijmarshausen kicked off the evening and talked about how Shapeways grew from one office with one chair and desk to a company of 150 with factories on both sides of the Atlantic. We were also joined by very special guests Katja Lucas from Dutch Design Week, the Royal Commissioner Wim Van De Donk, and the Mayor of Eindhoven, Rob van Gijzel who spoke about the significance of Shapeways and 3D printing for Dutch design, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

The entry hallway at our new Eindhoven factory

The entry hallway at our new Eindhoven factory

With Dutch Design Week in full swing we were honored that Katja Lucas made time in her busy schedule to talk about how 3D printing and companies like Shapeways are empowering designers to push their imaginations and their designs. The Rob van Gijzel, Mayor of Eindhoven, spoke about the city’s tradition of nurturing technological visionaries and the entrepreurial spirit that Shapeways exemplifies. The Royal Commissioner, Wim van de Donk, said he felt like, “A part of history,” and drew connections to Einstein’s time in Eindhoven and how 3D printing is not only driving our imaginations, but the next industrial revolution.

We also wanted to thank you, our community, for enabling us to bring your designs to life over the past six years. We’re all learning and growing together in this new industrial revolution and are curious to know, what do you think will be the next big thing in 3D printing? What are you looking forward to?

Shapeways Eindhoven 3D printing team

Three cheers for our community and thank you from the Shapeways Eindhoven team!

Want to see more of our Eindhoven factory? Join us on this minute-long, Hyperlapse tour!



 

Shapeways Community at Dutch Design Week

Posted by in Shapeways
Shapeways Dutch Design Week 3D printing

Shapeways staff members David Gillespie and Ruud van Muijzenberg discuss 3D printing with Dutch Design Week visitors

For the fifth year in a row Shapeways is proud to participate in Dutch Design Week, a week long showcase of all that’s new and innovative in Design in the Netherlands held in our European hometown of Eindhoven. Shapeways designers and shop owners also are a big presence at Dutch Design week and had a chance to show off their 3D printed designs, jewelry and accessories. It’s my first time attending Dutch Design Week and I’ve been really excited about the innovation and energy on display, as well as the engagement of visitors, who are all enthusiastic about learning about innovative design possibilities.

3D printed Dutch Design Week products

Daphne Lameris explains the process of 3D printing with Selective Laser Sintering

The Shapeways booth features a wide selection of products that show off the possibilities of our different materials, including Strong Flexible Plastic, Full Color Sandstone, Ceramics and our many different metals, including 3D printed steel and precious metals like silver and gold. An eye catching addition to our booth this year are three clocks by Plokk, which are 3D printed in strong flexible nylon plastic. Created by Henk Hulshof and Gertjan Westerbeke these clocks bring Christiaan Huygens’ pendulum clock, as designed at his drawing board in 1656, to the 21st century. At Plokk’s Shapeways shop you can download a 3D file to adjust and customize the clock face.

3D printed clocks Dutch Design Week Plokk

Henk Hulshof shows off the Caliber 1 Plokk, a fully 3D printed clock

It’s been great to talk with visitors about how 3D printed products are made and many were amazed at the fact you could print complex objects with interlocking, moving parts at one go. They were especially taken with the Double 8 fabric squares created by Vincent Greco and the garment based on the biometrics of shark skin that was made during our Computational Fashion Masterclass.

Daphne Lameris 3D printed jewelry Dutch Design Week

Daphne Lameris displays her 3D printed jewelry

On opening weekend we were joined by Shapeways Crew member Daphne Lameris, an industrial design and engineering student who creates 3D printed jewelry and accessories. Daphne is also an expert on the 3D printing process and jumped right in to answer visitors questions about how 3D printing works. Dario Scapitta also joined us to show off his beautiful 3D printed jewelry. We were also happy to see that Shapeways shop owner Ina Sufeleers had her own exhibit  for Ola, her line of 3D printed jewelry, right near the Shapeways booth.

3D printed jewelry Dutch Design Week

Jewelers and Shapeways shop owners Ina Suffeleers and Daria Scapitta meet at Dutch Design Week

Ola jewelry 3D printed Dutch Design Week

Ina Suffeleers displays off her Ola 3D printed jewelry at Dutch Design Week

We also love meeting community members and seeing what they make with Shapeways. When Felix Mollinga came to our booth and showed us the ring he created from a scan of his face and 3D printed with Shapeways of course I had to snap a picture!

3D printing jewelry Shapeways ring Dutch Design Week

Designer Felix Mollinga shows off the ring he made from a scan of his face that he 3D printed with Shapeways

Our exhibition at Dutch Design Week is open until October 26th and we will also be joined by community members FabMe Jewelry, Somersault 18:24 and Virtox, who has joined us for 5 years at Dutch Design Week! If you are visiting Dutch Design Week this year we’d love to see you!

 


 

Introducing kids and families to 3D printing: Shapeways at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Posted by in Shapeways
3D printed products children's museum exhibition

Shapeways show and tell table at the exhibition opening

Shapeways is proud to be working with the Brooklyn Children’s Museum to introduce the next generation of 3D designers, engineers, scientists and inventors to 3D printing. The exhibition “More than meets the ‘I’” opens today and runs through January 19, 2015. It explores the future of biology, health, robotics and technology and features a display of 3D printed products created by our talented designers and 3D printed by Shapeways, as well as the Ultimaker 2 desktop printer.

3D printing children's museum exhibition

A view of our exhibition case and show and tell table

I worked with Sandra Vanderwarf, Curator and Collections Manager, and Marcos Stafne, Vice President of Programs and Visitor Experience, at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum as a guest curator to select models from Shapeways that illustrate the possibilities of 3D printing and would be fun and engaging for a young audience.

3D printed children's museum exhibition

Preparing the exhibition at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The exhibition explores how 3D printed products are made and highlights how 3D printing is used to make complex, custom objects like jewelry, figurines and toys, as well as scientific models like crystals and cells, and practical objects like glasses and prosthetic limbs.

3D printing children's museum exhibition

Showing off 3D printed designs at the exhibition opening

It was a fun challenge to write the text and choose the final objects for this exhibition because 3D printing can be difficult for adults to understand. Sandra and I struggled to describe how selective laser sintering works and other 3D printing processes work. Here’s a sneak peek of what we came up with, “Instead of printing a design in ink, 3D printers use melted wax and powdered plastic, or minerals mixed with glue. The printer stacks tiny layers of these materials on top of each other to build a model of your design from the bottom up.”

3D printer children's museum exhibition ultimaker desktop printer

The Ultimaker 2 with a Full Color Sandstone grumpy cat figurine with full color sandstone powder and an example gypsum, one of the minerals that goes into making full color sandstone

I am really proud to have the opportunity to work on this exhibition, as I started my career as a museum educator and I love museums as spaces to learn and explore. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is a great partner for Shapeways because they innovated the idea of creating a museum focused on children when they were founded in 1899 and have inspired children’s museums around the country and the world!

I’m excited because the kids and families that come to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum today are the innovators and inventors that will push technologies like 3D printing forward tomorrow. What do you think is next for 3D printing? How can kids help? And finally, how would you describe 3D printing to the next generation?

Are you a kid or a parent that wants to learn more about 3D printing? Try out our Introduction to 3D design & printing for kids tutorial. And for design inspiration, check out the work of Zach Tsiakalis-Brown, one of the youngest Shapeways shop owners!