Category Archives: Apps

2D to 3D Refresher

As we talked about last week, the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to learn a new skill. Motivation tends to be high, and it’s nice to distract yourself from the realization that the holidays are officially an entire year away.

While now is a great time to start learning more about the various 3D modeling software programs out there, we know it can feel like too much information to start with. However, one of the best ways to start learning is to…just start modeling!

Luckily for beginners, 3D printing is now accessible to everyone through easy-to-use 3D modeling tools and creator apps. If you are just beginning and haven’t started playing around with any 3D software, try using an image you already love or a drawing you’ve created and convert it to a 3D model using 2D to 3D. Using an app like this is a great way to learn some of the basics of 3D printing, before really diving into the specifics.

Check out the video below to see how 2D to 3D works!

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • What images work best when using 2D to 3D
  • How to upload your image
  • How to scale your design
  • How to pick the perfect material for your model
  • How to order your product

Let’s get started!

Pick an image:

There are a couple of images you can upload to 2D to 3D. If you want to create a doodle-style design, draw it yourself on white paper or a white dry erase board. You can also use an image that has already been created, including fonts, shapes, patterns, “pop art” inspired original photos and more. For best results you’ll want to use a simple black and white drawing. Either way, make sure your image follows the following criteria:

  • Simple black and white: The black portions will “pop” and be thickened into your 3D product, while the white represents empty space
  • Cropped to the edges: The viewer measures the width of the image you upload, not the design itself, so make sure to crop your image before uploading

Here’s an example of a drawing that won’t work. Notice how the letters aren’t connected? If you tried to upload this version, you would receive your part in pieces as opposed to one solid product:

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Another one that will be hard to make work because the grey pencil does not stand out enough against the white background:

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(Note: It is possible to make pencil work, but you’ll need to make sure you press firmly and don’t have any gaps in your design.)

Below is the image we used for this post:

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Upload your design:

Once you’ve picked your image, you’re ready to upload! To start, go to Shapeways.com and click “Make” in the top navigation bar. You’ll see “Easy Creator Apps” in the drop down menu – click into it and then find 2D to 3D under “Easy 3D Model Editors.”

When you’re in the app, click “Choose File.”

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You’ll quickly see your image come up on the viewer and you’ll be able to play around with the thickness and width of the product.

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As you change the thickness and width of your design, be sure to hit “Update View” so that you can preview your final product. When you’re happy with the design, hit the “Buy Now” button to go to your Model page.

Scale your design and pick your material:

To scale your design, click “Scale”

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Put in your desired measurements when the new box pops up. Scaling your design will impact the size of your design, as well as the cost depending on the material you choose.

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At this point, you’ll also learn which materials your product can be printed in. The entire Shapeways material portfolio will be listed, and each will be indicated if it can be printed or not.

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With 54 materials to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming to decide what you want your product to be printed in. If you want to test your product and get a basic idea of what your design will look like in 3D, we’d suggest sticking with our White Strong & Flexible Plastic. For something a little more fun, choose any one of our dyed plastics or even Metallic Plastic.

If you’re planning on creating a pendant or other type of jewelry, we have plenty of metals to choose from. Try Steel, Plated Brass or even Gold! For this design, we chose to go with Polished Brass.

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Order your product:

When you’ve made a decision, just hit “Add to Cart” next to your desired material.

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Your product will then be in your cart and available to purchase!

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2D to 3D is a great way to get started in the 3D printing world. Once you receive your very own 3D printed product that you created yourself, we’re sure you’ll be hooked. Be sure to share you designs with us using the hashtag #shapedbyme on Twitter and Instagram.

Now tell us below – what will you be making with 2D to 3D this month?

Introducing Pendant and Keychain Creators

Although 3D printing technology has come a long way, the learning curve for 3D modeling and 3D software is still a little steep. We hear from a lot of people that one of the barriers they’ve faced with 3D printing starts with the design process. They want to have something 3D printed, but the idea of using 3D modeling software is too overwhelming. Today we’re excited to announce the launch of our Keychain Creator and Pendant Creator, two new apps that aim to break down those barriers and enable more people to create amazing things! Now we’ve made it easier than ever for anybody, even those who little to no design experience, to create beautiful, unique 3D printed products.

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Making your pendant or keychain is simple. If you’re familiar with our 2D to 3D Creator, these are both very similar. With just a few steps, you can create a keychain or pendant customized to your liking.

  1. Upload a 2D design or use one of our templates
  2. Customize your design by choosing your desired size, thickness, backing, etc.
  3. If you want, add a loop for a necklace chain or key ring
  4. Click “Create Pendant” or “Create Keychain”
  5. Pick your material and order!

To get started, check out our pendant tutorial, keychain tutorial, and for advanced users, our grayscale tutorial.

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.

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Photo courtesy of Gnome Stew

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Paint and Print Easter Eggs with Shapeways and Sketchfab!

Posted by in Apps, Contests, Partner News

It’s almost Easter, which means people are getting ready to paint some eggs. Last year we partnered with Sketchfab for a fun contest, and we’re doing the same this year!

You don’t need to be an experienced designer to join in on the fun. Just visit Sketchfab’s Egg Painter app, paint on the egg with your mouse and save the model to your Sketchfab account. From there you just need to share it with the world! Get as many views/likes/comments/etc. as you can.

How the Egg Painter works:

  • Visit the Egg Painter app. Use your left mouse button to paint on the egg, and click and hold your right mouse button to look around your egg and reach other parts.
  • While painting, you can select different brush sizes and colors with the Radius, Intensity and Color options.
  • When your egg is ready, click the ‘Publish to Sketchfab’ button and log in to your Sketchfab account. It will automatically be tagged with #Easter2015

 

Contest rules:

  • Paint your egg with the Egg Painter. No external tools are allowed.
  • After saving, share it on Facebook and Twitter to get more views (more views and likes = better chance of winning a 3D print!).
  • Enter as many times as you’d like!
  • Contest ends on Wednesday, April 8th at 12 p.m. EST.
  • Winners will be announced on Thursday, April 9th.

 

Happy “painting!”

Customized Pet Gifts for Animal Lovers

How many times have you heard “I want a pony!”? Well now, you can give one! Whether you’re a dog or cat (or bunny, pony, or hamster) person, we can all agree: pets are family members. We adore their companionship and love. Each and every pet is unique in their own way, so it’s no surprise to hear that some awesome people have come up with some apps to help customize a figurine of your pet, or products for your furry friend! Check out some of our favorites below.

Cuddle Clones
Cuddle Clones is a great site that lets you create your very own customized versions of your pets! Simply send in a photo of your favorite pet(s) and Cuddle Clones will make a full-colored figurine with a personlized base! Such a wonderful way to honor your favorite furry family members.

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Pupworkshop
Pupworkshop is a fun app that lets you customize your pup in a different way. Choose from colors, ears, eyes, snouts, tails, and even spots! The final product is a cute little animated pup who requires no puppy training!

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If you’re an animal lover in general, we’ve got plenty of 3D printed animals. Jewelry, home decor, accessories and more!

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Top row: NODE – Tiger Pendant by jbfontes, Dragonfly Pendant with Honeycomb Wings by markbenson, Hunting Cat by RobTorres. Middle row: Wired Life Stag by Dotsan, Mini Tiger Head by SimonStrauss. Bottom row: Morton the Elephant by HiLobster, Goldfish Pendant by alaswadi, Owl Pendant by echuckjackson.

Check out our apps page for more fun creations, and browse shops from the designers above more more great products! Happy shopping!

 

 

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.

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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 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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

HERO FORGE ORIGIN STORY

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.

WHY IS CUSTOMIZATION IMPORTANT?

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.

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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.

HOW IS 3D PRINTING FACILITATING THIS?

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.

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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.

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–Joshua Bennett, Co-Founder of Hero Forge

Photo Credit: MDK Photography (MartinDK108@gmail.com)

 

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

3D Printing Custom Headphones is Normal

3D printed custom headphones are now available through the Normal app by former Quirky insider Nikki Kaufmann thanks to $5 million in venture backing.

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The super simple app guides you through a photo based ear and face scanning process to configure the headphones to exactly meet your ear shape.  This is possibly the first 3D printing apps designed to make functional products, not a figurine or toy, a major step towards the ubiquity of 3D printing to power customized products.

There are already over 10 million 3D printed hearing aids in the world, now with apps such as Normal, we can expect to see more customized consumer products hit the market.

Speaking of Quirky, check out the video below and download the app to customize your earphones now.

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

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How I Made video: #icant Personalized Necklace

#icant personalized 3D printed pendant

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

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

Bring Monsters To Life With The Monstermatic App

Posted by in Apps

Last Fall we wrote a blog post about a awesome Kickstarter project called Monstermatic, a cute mobile game that allows users to create and 3D print custom designed monsters. Players are given tools to invent, interact, share, and ultimately unleash their monsters into the world through 3D printing.

We’re happy to announce that Monstermatic have met their Kickstarter goals and recently launched their Monstermatic app on itunes. Monstermatic inspires kids of all ages to engage in creative play. It provides a quick, fun and easy way to design monsters and unleash them into the world through 3D printing technology. This is all done with Shapeways printing services. You can download the App here.

Congrats Clayton! So what are you waiting for? Try out the Monstermatic app and get started on unleashing your 3D printed monsters into the world!

Also on behalf of the Winter Olympics we’re having a #Monsterlympics contest. Download the Monstermatic app on itunes, tweet us @Shapeways your design on Twitter with the hashtag #Monsterlympics and you will be entered for a chance to have your monster design 3D Printed for free by Shapeways.

You can also submit your designs to us on Facebook to our Facebook fan page here

Give Monstermatic a try and enter our #monsterlympics contest. We’ll be awarding gold, silver, and bronze medals (of course), as long as you enter by the end of the Sochi closing ceremonies on February 23. READY. SET. UNLEASH YOUR BEAST!