Category Archives: Apps

The Hiking App You Never Knew You Needed

It’s the best part of fall. When the weather is perfectly sunny, with a nice chilly breeze … and we get some of the most amazing colors out of nature to boot! It seems that everyone finds their way to the nearest park, or even goes so far as to find the highest peaks with the best views of every red, yellow, and orange leaf you can imagine. We know you’re snapping plenty of Instagram-worthy pictures the whole time, but how do you commemorate the journey itself?

Enter Nicetrails! Nicetrails creates unique personal trophies for hikers and mountaineers, automatically generated from GPS track data. The result is a custom 3D printed terrain map with each user’s unique trail. This is one of the most unique apps we’ve seen, allowing you to choose from a gallery of world-famous trails like Mount Fuji, Everest Base Camp, the Grand Canyon — or upload your own trail. Nicetrails connects directly to Strava, which makes the whole process practically effortless.


Take a look at some examples, but most important, play around with your own maps! And when it comes to gifting, Nicetrails are perfect for the hiker, runner, snowboarder … and every adventurer in your life.

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!


Love & Robots: Truly Unique, Customizable Jewelry (Hint: Perfect for Gifting)

It seems early, but we promise it’s not too early to start thinking about your holiday gifts. And as if 3D printing weren’t amazing enough, there are lots of designers who are taking their ideas to the next level; they make an amazing product, and then let you customize it just for yourself or the lucky receiver. We’ve highlighted our Pendant Creator and Mymo so far, and today we are featuring the lovely Love & Robots who have some amazing personalizable products available. Between earrings, pendants, bow ties, wall art and more, they’ve created an easy, fun process of creating a truly unique piece. Our favorite is the jewelry, which has so many fun options.

Screen Shot 2016-10-03 at 1.14.56 PM

The most unique piece we came across was the Windswept Collection (pendant or earrings). An animated render of the product sits on the left waiting for you to personalize. On the right you have different options to fill in; location, date and material. “Choose any location in the world and watch as the wind in that location changes the movement of the cloth. Pause it to create a uniquely draped windswept pendant.” What! So good! The results are seriously stunning and I found myself racking my brain for every important date I could think of just to play with it more!


Don’t forget to check out their whole range of products, as well as all apps you can play with. Share your designs with us @Shapeways, we’d love to see what you make next (from scratch, or with a little help!)

Learn ShapeJS: Volume Pattern Ring

For this week’s post we’ll create a ring based on volumetric patterns. In the process we’ll learn about blending in boolean operations and how to make wearable 3D jewelry. So first up, a photo to get you inspired!

The basic idea of this script is to cut a ring out of a volume containing an interesting 3D pattern. We learned about VolumePatterns in our ToothBrush Holder posting. These patterns fill the design space with a controllable pattern generator. We can then use some simple boolean operations to make a ring. We’ll cut the space with two cylinders. The first cylinder is the outer edge of the ring. The second will be the inner edge of the ring. Using a Gyroid pattern we get the following starting pattern:

Here is the code, the cylinder ocutter cuts the space for the outer ring, the icutter cuts it for the inner ring. The sides are then cut using 2 cutting planes.

  var ocutter = new Cylinder(new Vector3d(0,-10*CM,0), 
                             new Vector3d(0,10*CM,0),size+pattern_thick);  
  var icutter = new Cylinder(new Vector3d(0,-10*CM,0), 
                             new Vector3d(0,10*CM,0),size);
  var cutter = new Subtraction(ocutter,icutter);
  var body = Intersection(gyroid, cutter);    
  result = body;
  var fplane = new Plane(new Vector3d(0,-1,0),new Vector3d(0,width/2,0));
  var bplane = new Plane(new Vector3d(0,1,0),new Vector3d(0,-width/2,0));

  result = new Subtraction(result,fplane);
  result = new Subtraction(result,bplane);

  s = ringSizeToRadius(16) + 6*MM; 
  var scene = Scene(result, new Bounds(-s,s,-s,s,-s,s));
  return scene;


One thing you might notice is the pattern has some sharp edges. An issue with jewelry and rings in particular is they need to wear well. No-one is going to like wearing a metal ring with sharp edges. In this example we use two techniques to make the rings more comfortable. The first is to provide a liner in the ring that separates the potentially sharp pattern edges from your finger. By using a cylinder as a liner we a get a known pleasing shape that is easy to match with the requested ring size. This code shows the addition of the liner by adding another cylinder inside. The thickness of the band is specified in the band_thick variable.

  var ocutter = new Cylinder(new Vector3d(0,-10*CM,0), 
                             new Vector3d(0,10*CM,0),size+pattern_thick+band_thick);  
  var icutter = new Cylinder(new Vector3d(0,-10*CM,0), 
                             new Vector3d(0,10*CM,0),size+band_thick);
  var cutter = new Subtraction(ocutter,icutter);
  var body = Intersection(gyroid, cutter);    
  result = body;
  if (band_thick > 0) {
    var oliner = new Cylinder(new Vector3d(0,-10*CM,0), 
                              new Vector3d(0,10*CM,0),size+band_thick);
    var iliner = new Cylinder(new Vector3d(0,-10*CM,0), 
                              new Vector3d(0,10*CM,0),size);
    var liner = new Subtraction(oliner,iliner);
    result = new Union(result,liner);
  var fplane = new Plane(new Vector3d(0,-1,0),new Vector3d(0,width/2,0));
  var bplane = new Plane(new Vector3d(0,1,0),new Vector3d(0,-width/2,0));

  result = new Subtraction(result,fplane);
  result = new Subtraction(result,bplane);

  s = ringSizeToRadius(16) + 6*MM;  // Hardcode to show sizes changes better
  var scene = Scene(result, new Bounds(-s,s,-s,s,-s,s));
  return scene;


The result looks like this:

This is better, but it still contains some sharp edges around the pattern. The second technique is to use a blend on the boolean combination operations. The default operation of booleans such as a Union, Intersection or Subtraction to combine datasources typically create hard edges. Notice how the liner and pattern seem very distinct. A blend allows you to smooth out these transitions. All booleans have a setBlend method you can use to blend the results together. The parameter is in physical units which represents the distance to smooth over. The larger the distance the more smoothing. Here is our ring now with some blending applied.

High Search Space Scripts

I classify these scripts as high search space scripts. There are a lot of non printable and non interesting rings,but buried inside are some real gems. This can be fun but it does make it challenging if you want to expose this type of creator to novice users. ShapeJS will have more tools soon that will help with the printability aspects. For the aesthetics, perhaps we can use some of the new deep learning algorithms to help us understand what looks good. I’m thinking of a user interface that shows you a bunch of random rings, you swipe Tinder style to rate them. It then uses these to train a recognizer of your style. Then it presents you news rings that are more likely to your tastes. Likely a pipe dream currently but could be something in the future. For now we’ll have to assume the user is interested enough to play with the script and find interesting patterns on their own.

Take a look at the Pattern tab on the final creator here:

This tab has several parameters available to travel through the design space. The Period,Thickness and Height parameters control the overall pattern. The Location and Rotation params move the ring geometry to different areas in the pattern. Consider this like driving the pattern around to find the right parking space. The last parameter, Blend let’s you change the amount of blending that’s used. This changes the overall look a fair bit and can also be used to get around some wallthickness issues to remove or thicken small pieces.

A few more pictures to wet your appetite. This is a close up of a printed piece:

And this is a montage of a few different parameter settings. I really like the range of different patterns you can get from this script.

I added this creator to the ShapeJS Examples page, you can find the completed script here: VolumePattern Example.

Learn ShapeJS: Light Switch Cover

This post you’ll learn about how to load triangle meshes into ShapeJS and a method to protect functional areas in your design. Our goal this week is to design a lightswich cover that is customized with a user image. I started this process by finding common measurements of light switches and thinking about how to 3D model it. I quickly got into wanting a script that could handle n toggles, different hole types, phone and audio connectors, it got complicated fast! Then I found some already 3D modeled versions in different model repositories and became lazy. The final form of this script takes a 3D triangle model as its base object and then overlays the user image. Let’s start with a photo of the final object to get us inspired:

To understand how we load 3D models into ShapeJS it helps to understand the internal representation we use. All datasources in ShapeJS calculate a signed distance function. This is zero on the surface of the object, negative inside and positive outside. The function for loading a 3D model from your code is called loadModelDistance. It takes the file name, a voxelSize and the maximum distance to calculate. The voxel size controls the resolution we load the model and how fast it loads. For small models I use 0.1mm, but for something larger like this model I use 0.2mm. For the distance, you want to use a distance out to the maximum place your edit the model. For our light switch cover we’ll be embossing our image up about 1mm so I calculate the distance function to 1.2mm. Think of a cloud surrounding your model, you need this cloud to intersect anything you’ll doing to the model such as adding or subtracting material. You don’t need to be super accurate about this, but the farther out you calculate it, the longer the calculation takes.

Let’s start by just loading the model itself.

var params = [
name: "model",
label: "Model",
desc: "3D Model of light switch",
type: "uri",

function main(args) {
var base = loadModelDistance(args.model, 0.1 * MM, 1.2 * MM);
var bounds = base.getBounds();

return new Scene(base, bounds);

For the basic light switch cover it looks like this:

Currently we support loading STL and X3D files. The X3D files currently ignore the color information and just load the geometry. When you load the model it will return an object with a bounds property. You can use that bounds property to set your scene bounds.

From there we can start adding in the user images. The way I thought about this was to reuse the Image3D datasource. This loads an image and makes 3D geometry out of it. In this case we are going to extrude it up by 1mm. One problem with this concept is it will block the functional areas of our model. In this case we need to protect the two screw holes and the square light switch rocker area. To do this we are going to model the protected areas and then subtract those from the pattern. The makeImage method takes our user image and the makePattern method subtracts out a box and two holes to protect the design.

function makeImage(path, w, h, d) {

var img = new Image3D(path, w, h, d);

img.setBlurWidth(0.2 * MM);
img.setCenter(0, 0, 3.5 * MM);

return img;

function makePattern(path) {
var box = new Box(12.5 * MM, 25.5 * MM, 15 * MM);
var hole1 = new Cylinder(new Vector3d(0, -30.674 * MM, 0), new Vector3d(0, -30.674 * MM, 25 * MM), 5.5 * MM);
var hole2 = new Cylinder(new Vector3d(0, 29.805 * MM, 0), new Vector3d(0, 29.805 * MM, 25 * MM), 5.5 * MM);

var img = makeImage(path, 64.16 * MM, 106.185 * MM, 1 * MM);

var holes = new Union();

return new Subtraction(img, holes);

You can run the full example here: Light Switch Cover Example

I think this design came nice. I also tried it in our Blue material:

One variant I tried was to cut the pattern completely through the original model instead of embossing it. Looking at the 3D model itself I really like this better, plus is was much cheaper. That said I found out quickly that looking inside an electrical box is not the prettiest of things. Seems the original designers had the right idea of covering that stuff up!

Couple of notes about this project. This current script embossed 1mm of material on top of an existing model. The model itself is pretty darn strong printed in plastic, so I feel like adding more material is not necessary. Perhaps engraving the design would work well and cost less. The second note is about costs. I looked around on Etsy and Amazon to get an idea of whether this concept would work. Typically 3D printed items are more expensive then their mass produced cousins. On Amazon I found single light switch covers ranging from 0.25 for a very basic model to $20 for a fancy model. On Etsy they range from $5 to $32. This design costs around $18 currently. I’d say that puts this in the ball park of a good concept that could compete on price and allow the user to create whatever design they want. This method is also applicable to other objects you’d like to put designs on such as a phone case. Take a base 3D model of the case, model the functional areas in the case you want to protect such as the camera and controls and there you go. Instant phone case creator!

Learn ShapeJS: Toothbrush Holder

For this weeks project we’re going to learn a new modeling technique, have some fun with volumetric patterns and then apply these to make a toothbrush holder.

Last week we talked about using 2D imagery as way to create 3D data. We’re going to reuse that technique here but in a different way. In traditional 3D modeling one of the first modeling technique you learn is called a surface of revolution. If you’ve ever played on a pottery wheel or lathe then you’ve seen this technique. Basically you take a profile and turn it around a circle to make a solid. Here we’ll reuse the Image3D datasource to read in a user provided profile. We’ll then use the RingWrap transformation to revolve that profile around a circle.

Let’s take a look at an example. This is the profile we’ll use for the toothbrush holder. For my design I wanted a solid bottom with curved in sides. The profile you see here is basically one half of the object we want. In your mind just reflect the image to the left to imagine what the finished model will look like.

Here is the solid created from that profile:

One important concept in 3D printing is wall thickness. Depending on the strength of the material you may need thicker walls. The thickness of your lines(StrokeWidth in some software) determines how much material your walls will contain. For now we won’t go too deeply into wall thickness but I wanted you to realize that you could change this based on how thick you make your lines.

The ShapeJS code to create this profile looks like this:

function makeShell(profilePath, width, height, voxelSize, blend){
var radius = width/2;
var boxDepth = 2*Math.PI*radius + blend / 2 + 2 * voxelSize;
var boxWidth = radius;
var boxHeight = height;

var image = loadImage(profilePath);
var grid = image.getGrid();
var expandOp = new ExpandOp(0,3,3,3);
grid = expandOp.execute(grid);

var image = new Image3D(grid, boxWidth, boxHeight, boxDepth, voxelSize);

var ct = new CompositeTransform();
ct.add(new Rotation(0,1,0, -Math.PI/2));
// align side of the image box with xy plane
ct.add(new Translation(0, 0, -radius/2));
ct.add(new RingWrap(radius));
return image;

This technique is good for making a bunch of different objects such as vases, candlesticks, and wine glasses. If you pair this with a simple sketching interface that exports an image, you could make a quick authoring tool for making some nice objects. We’ll return to this idea in some later postings.

The next concept to cover is a volume filling pattern. These are regular patterns that fill space infinitely in all directions. They have many uses, not the least of which is the ability to
turn something rather plain into something really interesting. Let’s look at what these patterns look like:

Volume Patterns

The top two patterns are called a Gyroid. The specific features of a Gyroid are interesting but too much detail for here. Wikipedia’s entry has more details if your interested: Gyroid. The two specific examples you see here are the same pattern but with the Period changed. The period parameter determines in what distance the pattern will repeat. So for a gyroid you roughly think of it as how large the holes are. The other parameter is the thickness. Most of these patterns are in theory thin sheets. By adding a thickness parameter we make it possible to give them volume and give you control over how much material is used. The second row of pictures contains the SchwarzP and SchwarzD patterns. Over time we’ll likely add some more interesting patterns.

It’s now time to combine both of these techniques to create a 3D printed object. We first take a user profile to make the basic shape of our object and then we intersect it with a Gyroid to make
the surface more interesting. I added parameters to help you control the volume pattern and move the object through the volume space. Another useful control is the Blend parameter. This affects
how round or flat things look like and really changes the feel of the object.

Here are some examples using different volume patterns and parameters:


Now that we have some good models being created from our script its time to start printing them. A common practice if you have a 3D printer is to prototype the print in the cheapest material you have available. I have a small FDM printer at home so I choose to print it out using that. Since i only have one printer extruder I had to use the same material for supports and the main item. After a long session of removing supports I got to hold my first version. Success! Sadly, the supports left some tool marks but all in all, I was happy with my first version.

FDM Print

In an ideal world, I would of designed my object to not require support material. But that can be a tough problem. Instead of doing that I decided to switch materials to the SLS Nylon material offered at Shapeways. The built object sits on a bed of powder while printing so it doesn’t require any support material. The second version of my print looks like this:

SLS Print

A few design notes from this project. After trying it out a bit as a real toothbrush holder I’ve decided that having a top lip would be a nice feature. Depending on how the pattern intersects at the top you can get some pretty big crevices which the brushes like to fall into. For the final script I added a top and bottom rim option which you can use to line the shapes. I decided not to use the bottom rim as I wanted the water from the brushes to flow out.

Top Rim

The last note is I would recommend sealing these prints with something to keep them clean. If the material you use is somewhat porous(most are) then eventually you’ll get toothpaste stuck too it. I applied a coating of Krylon Crystal Clear which is an acrylic coating to seal the material. I’m hoping this makes my holder last a long time and makes it easier to clean when needed.

That wraps this week’s Learn ShapeJS posting. We covered a lot of ground today, you learned a new modeling technique and delved into the fun world of volume patterns. If you make something cool with this script please share your experiences in the ShapeJS forums. I almost forgot! Here is the example script for you play with: ToothBrush Holder

Learn ShapeJS: Image Poppers

For our first foray into learning ShapeJS, we’re going to start by using 2D Images. Millions of people already know how to use 2D image tools, so if we can leverage those skills for 3D modeling we’re in business.

The advantages I see in using 2D source material are:

  • Millions of 2D capable artists compared to much fewer 3D artists
  • Easy to source free material on the internet
  • Easy to purchase high-quality assets
  • Sketching interfaces are fun and intuitive for many


Image Popping

The basic concept is to use a 2D image as the source to create 3D data. You specify the physical dimensions of the base and the 2D image is extruded into the Z direction. The image of the letter R on the left creates the 3D object on the right. This is the basics of what I call Image Popping. You pop the image up into the third dimension.

Image to 3D

The complete docs for the Image3D datasource are available here: See Image3D.

So now that you can use imagery in ShapeJS let’s think about what can be made with it. The first object that came to mind for me was a pendant. By simply adding a loop or a bail/connector to the top of a 2D image, you have a quick and easy 3D jewelry project. This is the basis for the Pendant Creator, one of our 2D-friendly design apps, which is a popular first creator for those new to 3D printing. You can use our pendant creator here: Pendant Creator

My First Pendant


That project went well, so I decided to try my hand at something dear to my heart: books! This time I conned a friend into sketching some crystal-like patterns and used that as the source material to pop up a bookmark.



That was fun, but my friends rightly pointed out that I could have done that project with a laser cutter. Now I’m sad. Looks like I need to up my making game. The next level of image popping is to transform the image in some way. All ShapeJS datasources can take a Transform via the setTransform() method. A transform is a function which maps an object to a new version of itself and can significantly change a datasource. A simple transform, called a Translation, is used to move and object around in space, i.e. to move an object one unit to the right, you say new Translation (1,0,0). Other transforms can rotate and scale (change size of) an object. A more advanced transform that I commonly use is the RingWrap transform which wraps the image around a cylinder. This allows us to easily use an image to create a ring or bracelet. We used this in our Ring Popper Creator. Here are some printed examples we’ve done using that technique. The top is the printed object and the bottom is the source image used.


It’s pretty simple to make. You just load an image and then use the RingWrap transformation to bend it around a cylinder the size of your finger. This technique is good for making rings. If you want to make a bracelet out of it then you might want to use another transform called Scale. A scale transform changes the dimensions of an object in any direction. For your wrist you’ll notice that it’s really a squashed shape not an exact cylinder. This example takes the ring example and resizes it for your wrist with a slight scale to make it fit better: Bracelet Popper

Tiling and Symmetry

Our final example for image popping will takes us into some interesting places. Perhaps you’ve seen the cool art done by Arabic artists. Think of Alhambra, or more modern, the work of Escher. These all use tiling and symmetry patterns to make complex and pleasing patterns. Personally I’m not a great 2D artist so I find it difficult to fill an entire canvas with interesting designs. One way to get around this is to take a simple element and then transform it around your space. ShapeJS has an extensive set of support for tiling and symmetry. A later blog post will go into much greater depth but I wanted to end this post with an example that I hope inspires you. Using a single image we can tile that around a sphere. This is called an Icosahedral Symmetry and it looks like this:

Icosahedral Reflections
By Tomruen at en.wikipedia


The lower corner of your image is reflected around the sphere. You get 120 copies of your image rotated into different orientations. This makes for some really cool patterns from simple images. Here is an example I made into a tea light:


You can try out this example here: Tealight.js

Using this same technique we can also make something like a candy dish. The dish is made by keeping the lower quarter of the sphere and then a base is added to make it stable.

Soap Dish

You can try out the Candy Dish example here: Candy Dish Example

2D Images make a powerful starting point for creating 3D models. ShapeJS makes it easy to use images as the source material for some fun projects. Hopefully this blog post has inspired you to create your own objects using the Image3D datasource and some simple transformations. If you have questions about ShapeJS please join us in the forums: ShapeJS Forum

ShapeJS 2.0 Real Time Development Just Got Easier

Posted by in Apps

Shapeways releases version 2.0 of the ShapeJS language and development environment. ShapeJS is a language designed to make creating and sharing 3D printable objects easy. Based on Javascript, it provides a rich set of solid modeling primitives built on a powerful voxel engine. The combination enables control of 3D printed objects down to printer resolution levels and makes it easy to create web deployable creators.

This release adds many new features to the language and environment. Most important is the use of GPU’s to enable faster evaluation of scripts. Typical scripts are 100X faster than ShapeJS 1.0, and can be rendered in real time. The new renderer is server-based to protect the author’s content from being borrowed and reduce the client side requirements.

ShapeJS script

New Features

  • Real time evaluation using OpenCL
  • Image-based rendering
  • Lower client compute requirements
  • Protects author’s 3D content
  • Zip transmittal format for sharing objects and parameters
  • 2D operations for image manipulation
  • Revamped IDE
  • Better argument passing and description
  • Fast and accurate distance functions
  • Improved Automatic User Interface Creation
  • Blending of boolean operations for rounded edges
  • User provided font support


So what is ShapeJS and who in the Shapeways community will enjoy using this?

ShapeJS script

ShapeJS is targeted at the maker and designer communities that want to create 3D printable objects using code here at Shapeways. Based on voxels it can provide printer-level accuracy for amazingly complex designs. Using traditional triangle graphics requires a staggering number of triangles to gain that much control. By using voxels instead of triangle graphics, designers can leverage 2D images much easier in their designing process, which opens object creation to a much wider audience of 2D capable artists.  With a rich interface definition, ShapeJS scripts make it easy to share parametric objects with others. This allows your work to be widely reused and makes it easy for others to customize your object for their own situation.

ShapeJS design collage

Learning ShapeJS

In order to help teach ShapeJS 2.0 we’ve put together an extensive set of tutorials and example content.  These cover the major capabilities of ShapeJS and provide some ready to print examples to get you inspired.



We will also be producing a weekly blog post, starting next week, showcasing a new object or technique using ShapeJS every Tuesday for the next 12 weeks. Come back each week for the next installment of tutorials and inspiration!


ShapeJS 2.0 is not completely backwards compatible to 1.0: minor changes are necessary for most scripts. One significant feature, custom data sources, has been removed.

ShapeJS 1.0 servers will be decommissioned June 15, 2016.

We hope you are as excited as we are about the new release of ShapeJS. Try out the new site and check out the new examples and tutorials content weekly.  We welcome comments on the language mechanics, specifically around how it can be improved to speed development and any features you think it’s missing.

For more, watch my Shapeways Live conversation with Rebecca and Hunter.



2D to 3D Refresher

Posted by in 3D Modeling, Apps

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:


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


(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:

IMG_3741 (1)

Upload your design:

Once you’ve picked your image, you’re ready to upload! To start, go to 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.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 3.38.02 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 3.38.51 PM

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”

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 3.42.42 PM

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!


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.


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.


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.




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!


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


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!