Category Archives: Apps

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.

meshmixer

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.

Hero Forge - Closeup 1

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.

Hero Forge - Group Shot

–Joshua Bennett, Co-Founder of Hero Forge

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


 

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.

normal 3D print headphone

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

Posted by in Apps, Design 101, DIY, Education, Video

#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!

 


 

DYO not DIY: Personalized Products with 3D Printing

Posted by in 3D Printing, Apps, Design

DIY is so 2010, why do everything yourself when all you really need to do is Design Your Own and the 3D printers will do the rest.

DYO not DIY

DYO is the latest customizable jewelry project from the good people at Matter Labs, behind Matter.IO.

Starting with five simple yet beautiful templates by entering  you can customize the designs  by entering text, a location, or a date to create a unique piece of jewelry for yourself or a loved one to be 3D printed on demand.

Buying gifts, especially for people you care about, is such a personal thing,” says co-founder and CEO Dylan Reid “but for the most part you’re stuck choosing between pretty generic, mass produced things.” You can buy handmade jewelry and crafts on sites like Etsy, “but what you really want to do is play a role in the design, even it’s small — like leaving a little bit of yourself in the object.” says Reid. 

 

So if you are looking to give a unique gift this Valentine’s Day (or any day) but don’t have the 3D modeling skills (yet) to make something truly awesome DYO may be the perfect way to win hearts this year.

And like all good things 3D printed DYO is powered by the Shapeways API


 

 

inkimals: Color, Scan & 3D Print Your Own Custom Designer Toys

Just launched on Kickstarter is inkimals, a simple tool to help you color, scan and 3D print your own customized designer toys based on four playful templates by AMINIMAL Studio.

As well as the color and scan templates, AMINIMAL are seeking funding on Kickstarter to develop an interactive app so that you can tweak your character in 3D to perfect the awesomeness.

Your backing will help the to develop the software to make this app real and backers of $30 or more will get their inkimal in their hands, 3D printed by Shapeways in full color.

Monsters 3D Print Shapeways

AMINIMAL Studio is a Brooklyn-based company focused on researching complex systems and emerging technologies as an approach to designing 21st century products. 

Svetlana Blum Briscella and John Briscella are the creative minds behind AMINIMAL. 

As designers and innovators, Svetlana and John have demonstrated 3D printing as a method for manufacturing high quality products for companies such as MakerBot, the MoMA Store and Shapeways. Their compilations of designs include the field test jewelry collection, the Makerbot Mixtape, the Makerbot Watch, overall design of the Makerbot store and the Shapeways sake set creator.


 

Create your own holiday gifts: Part 1

With the holidays approaching, now’s a better time than ever to design your very own 3D Printed gifts. Never designed anything before? Not to worry. We’re here to help. This is the first of our three-part series on our easy-to-use apps that’ll have you creating in no time. No tricky modeling skills required!

We’ve all gotten dad a mug, bought a tea set for grandma, or perhaps a vase for a friend. But have you actually designed a gift for them? With the Sake Set Creator app you can do just that. Your creation will be 3D Printed in Ceramics, our only food-safe material. Did we mention you won’t even have to get your hands dirty?!

The tool enables you to select a base design, then adjust shape, smoothness, and twist intensity. You can design everything from cups and saucers to tumblers and vases. Then choose from 5 different colored glazes to personalize even further.

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Passive Income and 3D Printing with Nancy Liang from Mixee Me

Posted by in Apps

Generating passive income has been the perennial daydream for developers, hobbyists, and Honeymooners alike. After all, who doesn’t want to lean back and watch their coffers grow? The promise of autonomous cash flows helped to propel Tim Ferris’s Four-Hour Work Week to cult-like status, and there is a whole spectrum of proponents ranging from those who use it to make some extra scratch to those who subsist on it entirely. If the dearth of pop business books is any indication, trying to nail down the mercurial recipe of low effort to high reward is anything but easy. 3D Printing services like Shapeways extend that promise to product designers by providing a marketplace and made-to-order fulfillment, but it begs the question: what are the implications of passive income in the design sphere? To help us navigate the changing landscape, I reached out to Mixee Labs Co-Founder and Shapeways Alum Nancy Liang. Mixee Labs is a web platform that allows developers to create their own applications that generate customizable 3D models using Javascript. Liang’s work includes a full stack of products starting from generating models (like the death-proof Sad Keanu), making creators to generate those models (Mixee Me), and now creating creator creators.  French cuff enthusiasts have reason to rejoice: Mixee Labs’ newest product allows the user to generate their own cufflinks directly from images. 

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