Category Archives: Inspiration

Shapeways at National Maker Faire

Last week, the second-ever National Maker Faire was held at the White House in Washington DC.  Shapeways crew members, Vicky Somma and John Fitzpatrick, were live on the scene on behalf of the Shapeways team. Let’s hear what our team members had to say about the experience.

“The great thing about Maker Faires is that someone responds to almost every design on the table.  That said, my impression is moving/interlocking parts seemed to stand out (completely understandable—they are so interactive).  The cast metals are, of course, captivating (being shiny and all).  The porcelain provided a great wow factor because it bucks people’s perceptions of what can be done (“That opens a lot of doors”, one woman said).  And a sleeper favorite- the Escher Knot (by designer ShapeKays) got a lot of positive attention.”

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Of course, 3D printing isn’t just for adults. It can be an amazingly engaging tool to get kids excited, as our crew member experienced while in DC.

“ I underestimated the moving part Jack-O-Lantern and John’s moving part Decision Maker.  John also brought some home prints in a UV-sensitive filament. Kids enjoyed running those to the sunshine and watch them change colors.  Squeezing the elasto plastic seemed fun as well. Oh and the full color sandstone proved to be resilient.  I watched kids vigorously shake the Schrodinger’s Cat in his box (I could be calm about it because I’ve seen it survive my three year old).”

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We want to thank our Crew members helping us get set up and representing us at National Maker Faire.

Remember: You too can be a part of the Shapeways Crew! If you’ve got an idea for an event, or would like to contribute to the Shapeways community, shoot us an e-mail at Crew@Shapeways.com – we look forward to hearing from you!

Why I’m a Maker: Peter Heldal

Today we’ll be diving into the design inspiration of one of our incredibly talented community members: Peter Heldal. You can check out Peter’s store, SketchFox, which is filled with foxes, fishbones and hashtags – he’s clearly a man of many interests!

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Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a young guy from Denmark.  My love for designing and making comes from an introverted childhood where most of my time was spent fiddling with little inventions rather than hanging out with the other kids. As I’ve always been a deep thinker I really enjoy observing, pondering and solving problems. I haven’t found the path I want to walk in life so I’ve been a bit around many things: Electronics, Jewellery, digital illustration, 3D modelling, photography and videography as well as music production. I settled on Graphic Designer shortly before I found Shapeways. I am super excited about the opportunities that Shapeways gives in terms of designing things and not worrying about the sales, manufacturing, shipping and customer service. I’m now focusing on my Shapeways shop, hoping that it will flourish. I would love to settle my future here!

What inspires you to create?

I love to immerse myself in the creation of a design or gadget, because I’m creating something I like, can relate to and care for, as well as offer to others who may find it rewarding in any way. It’s a way to bring people together. You can discuss your design or creation and share ideas and techniques. When you make a design, there are no limitations to what you can do. You can create an illusion of another reality if you like through which you can express yourself. I feel that designing and creating is like giving the world something that it can benefit from, whether it’s just a smile on a person’s face, or a new invention. Everything matters.

What’s your favourite part of 3D printing?

As much as I love to design and make 3D models on the computer, I have sometimes thought “it would be so cool to see this as an actual physical product that I can share with others!” I love the process of making models on the computer. Making the curves nice and smooth or sculpting in virtual clay and seeing how a ball becomes a mountain, so to speak. So for me the fascinating part of 3D printing is when a virtual product becomes a physical product. It’s a whole different experience and you can proudly say: “I made this!” I am not very familiar with the actual 3D printing process, but I’m sure I would find that just as fascinating.

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What does being a maker mean to you?

Being a maker to me means that I can share all my ideas with others, and with that I carry a responsibility to make it interesting, expressive, useful, beautiful and cute. Anything that, in one way or another, can give other people value in their life. I feel that sharing my designs is also like sharing a part of me.

Tell us about your favourite design.

My favourite designs are the animal related jewelry. I carry a deep passion for canines in particular, but also all other animals, because they are not human. Animals have their own personalities and ways of being and I think it gives great variation to the world we live in. Animals can be beautiful, cute, funny, clumsy or even very intelligent and noble. A dog cares for his master giving him unconditional love and I really feel that we owe animals that in return.

Check out some of our favorite finds from Peter’s shop:

Why I’m a Maker: Ian Dwyer

In honor of National Week of Making, we will be featuring makers here from our community at Shapeways! First up, is designer Ian Dwyer (Nvenom8). Ian finds his inspiration from a number fantastical things: from Dungeons & Dragons to Lord of the Rings, and then makes them into beautiful 3D printed gaming accessories.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a Marine Science PhD student, but my 3D work has almost nothing to do with that. I started 3D modeling as part of a job I had in college, animating shows for a digital planetarium. I moved on to 3D printing just before I graduated. In all, I’ve been 3D modeling for about four years, but have only been working in the 3D printing industry for the last year or so.

What inspires you to create?
I mostly just make things that I would want, and then try to find people like me to buy them. Sometimes that goes well, and sometimes I realize that I’m the only one who would ever want the product.

What is your favorite part of 3D printing?
Only through 3D printing would a person in my position ever be able to bring products directly from imagination to reality. It’s made product design into a much more casual and accessible process.

What does being a maker mean to you?
Being a maker, to me, means that I don’t have to endure the torture of ideas bouncing around in my head forever. I can get them out and bring them to life. It’s borderline-cathartic.

Tell us about your favorite design (it could be yours, or someone elses). What about it really speaks to you?
My favorite design of my own is probably my Elvish D20, mainly because it’s just so elegant and organic in appearance. It really looks like something elves would make, and I’m proud of capturing that aesthetic.

My favorite design of someone else’s remains Ceramic Wombat Thorn Dice set. I received it as a gift a few years ago, and it was one of the big factors that made me look seriously into Shapeways and 3D printing. The dice in the set push the boundaries of dice design, and at the time there was nothing else like them out there. Wombat was also super helpful when I was starting out as a designer, and gave me some excellent advice regarding the limitations and abilities of the medium.

 

Help build Amsterdam (the Ittyblox way)

Many of you already know Shapeways is a Dutch company (with a factory in Eindhoven), so imagine our delight when we realized Ittyblox is working on a new complete Amsterdam set. The collection of Ittyblox cities is constantly growing, but we’re especially excited to see one so close to home!

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Just like with the Flatiron Building, a Kickstarter was created to help fund these designs. While the campaign has already surpassed its goal (!), it’s still worth checking out to see how you can get your hands on this new collection before the rest of the world.

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We’ve talked a lot about using crowdfunding for your 3D printing projects, and this is a great example of how they can be successful. It’s not just about funding the final design, they can also help with prototyping, photographing and promotion. It’s important for designers and shop owners to try new things and continue to elevate their business – crowdfunding is one way to help get you there.

We’re excited to get our hands on this new Amsterdam set. In the meantime, what cities or buildings would you love to see 3D printed?

3D printing beautifully disturbing masks for JiHAE’s “It Just Feels”…on a crazy deadline

About six months ago, actor Norman Reedus came to our offices to get scanned. We couldn’t say much at the time (which was incredibly hard) but now we’re pleased to be able to let you know that Shapeways had a part in the new JiHAE music video “It Just Feels.”

The music video was directed by film director Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo, with words and music by Leonard Cohen, Dave Stewart and JiHAE. Agnieszka came up with the amazing mask concept for the video and worked with designer and shop owner, Melissa Ng of Lumecluster,  to create five masks for the music video – one for the artist and four for Norman.

What an amazing opportunity, right? Well, the only catch was that they all needed to be designed and printed in just three weeks. Anyone familiar with 3D printing knows that the process can take a little time, so Melissa was definitely up against a crazy deadline. Being the pro she is, she tackled the challenge with grace and created amazing masks that are featured in the music video.

Below are a few excerpts from a piece Melissa wrote on her blog Lumecluster. Definitely check out the full piece to learn more about her process (and what she did when the deadline turned from three weeks to three days!).

“This was a new challenge I wasn’t sure I was ready for. I also still felt like a newbie since I only spent a few months learning how to 3D model in Blender and was active in the 3D printing world for a little over 10 months. All I kept thinking was, “This is impossible for me. I can’t do this.”

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(From left to right). Lumecluster style Dreamer Mask: Breakthrough in white, strong, flexible plastic. It Just Feels Demonic man mask in full color sandstone (not at all my usual style). Photo courtesy of Melissa Ng.

“One mask down, four more to go. We’ve got time, right? Wrong.

A few days after Thanksgiving, Agnieszka told me the bad news. It turned out we only had THREE DAYS to complete the four masks for Norman Reedus (not counting the days required for 3D printing).”

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3D printed full color sandstone JiHAE mask. Photo courtesy of Melissa Ng.

“The second day, after endless Skype conversations and iterations with Agnieszka, I finally pulled together some skin texture mockups for the four masks. While we were making good progress, there was one big problem…we still didn’t have Norman’s measurements.

On the third day, the four masks were only 50% complete and we needed Shapeways to start 3D printing them the next morning. We only had one shot.

There was no time to waste. Agnieszka knew what she needed and she was trusting me to help bring this vision to life.

JiHAE also miraculously managed to bring Norman into the Shapeways office (despite his crazy schedule). Soon enough, Savannah got me the 3D scans and photos I needed to ensure these masks would fit and match his skin tone. Again, the scan wasn’t super clean but it helped me correct my measurements on Norman’s masks.”

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(From left to right). My mask sculpt over Norman’s 3D scan and Savannah Peterson getting reference photos at Shapeways headquarters. Photo courtesy of Melissa Ng.

“Within about two weeks, I had grown immensely and learned more than I could have imagined when it came to building skill, trusting myself, and trusting others. Shapeways also really came through for me and I can’t thank them enough.

Learning to love (and overcome) the challenge comes down to whether or not you are willing to identify and strengthen your weak foundations. In the end, dreams thrive or crumble depending on how far you choose to venture out of your comfort zone.”

ItJustFeelsMasks

(Clockwise starting from the top left). Norman Reedus mask, JiHAE mask, Angry man mask, Demonic man mask, and Arrogant man mask. Photo courtesy of Melissa Ng.

Congratulations on such amazing designs, Melissa! We just love the concept that Agnieszka created and are so happy we were able to help you both with that vision. To read her full account on the process make sure to check out her site.

Japanese Designer Creates 3D printed Transforming ‘STINGRAY’ Toy Kit

Artist and Designer Tomoo Yamaji who was inspired by the Transformers cartoons from the 80′s and 90′s has designed a fully functional, detailed, 3D printed, assemble yourself transforming robot. Tomoo felt that there was a need for a grown up version of transforming robot toys and decided to use Shapeways 3D printing to bring this impressive design to life. The product comes in kit form and needs to be assembled by the customer. All parts already have the screw holes, so they can be easily assembled with screws. No adhesive is required.

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(The kit is printed in White, Strong & Flexible nylon plastic unpolished) 

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 (STINGRAY kit unassembled) 

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Tamoo’s robot kit and parts were designed using the 3D CAD software Rhinoceros

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Here is a video of his transforming sculpture

Tamoo Yamaji’s STINGRAY kit currently sells for $190 US on his Shapeways shop. You can find the instructions on how to assemble it on his website here. We have seen a growing number of talented digital artist designing custom 3D printed toys and figurines, especially designs that are aesthetically pleasing and challenges traditional manufacturing methods.

What are some custom toy ideas you’d love to see designed by our community members for the Shapeways marketplace? Let us know in a comment below.

3D Printing + Veterans = A Better Life

3D printed rotary mount

Today the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is launching a challenge initiative to help improve prosthetics and assistive technologies.  As part of the Innovation Creation Series Challenge, the VA is pushing for rapid innovation around the development of personalized technologies to improve care and quality of life for Veterans.  Of course, when you hear personalization and innovation you know 3D printing can’t be far behind.

The goal of the initiative is to use 3D printing and distributed creation to contribute to an open ecosystem of prosthetics and other assistive technologies.  Think of an entire universe of e-nable type devices and prosthetics for people with disabilities and  you can begin to imagine why this is a big deal.

3D printed device

The VA has rolled out a list of specific challenges to kickstart the initiative:

  • Develop novel upper and lower extremity devices at the end of the prothesis for daily use.
  • Create a medication pill box that allows the flexibility to hold medications that need to be taken up to 8 times a day with a reminder system for each time medication needs to be taken.
  • Create a device that can dampen tremor when a Veteran is performing fine motor tasks.
  • Design a device to remotely change the speed and grip strength of a prosthetic device for our Veterans with upper extremity injuries.
  • Create a way to reassign motions and buttons on the Nintendo Wii controller to allow for alternative methods of access to games for Veterans with physical disabilities.

The entire challenge is running on an accelerated timeline designed to turn ideas into reality as quickly as possible.  After launching today, collaborators and participants will work together to create, refine, and improve designs through May, June, and July.  The challenge ends with a two-day makeathon on July 28th and 29th at the Hunter Holmes VA Medical Center in Richmond, VA.

These types of challenges help showcase the best of 3D printing’s potential to make the world a better place.  If you want to get involved, make sure to head over to the challenge website.  And if you do get involved, tweet at me to let me know how it goes!

This 3D Printed Steel Sculpture Is Amazing!

San Francisco based Designer and Artist Tareq Mirza has a passion for exploring the possibilities in traditional metalwork and 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing for artistic and educational purposes. We recently came across his blog and instagram where we discovered his amazing 3D printed metal sculptures. This Shadow Self sculpture really caught our attention, the sculpture was designed in Zbrush. The sculpture itself was 3D printed in steel through a local metal 3D printing provider and the centerpiece was printed in brass with Shapeways.

 

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3D Printed Shadow Self Sculpture by Tareq Mirza

 

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 Brass center piece printed by Shapeways with garnet stones

Tareq is also the owner of the Shapeways shop Ektera where he sells this cool Vampire Head Bottle Opener.

We enjoy seeing community members that push the boundaries and create jaw dropping designs. We want to see more of your designs, especially on instagram where we discovered Tareq’s incredible work. Follow Shapeways on Instagram @Shapeways and tag us in your photos and your designs might get reposted on our page.

What is the largest design you’ve 3D printed and in which material? Let us know in a comment below!

Using 3D Printing to Recreate a Lost Sculpture

We say this a lot, but we are always in awe of our community and excited to see the projects you are working on. One we’re really excited about is from UK-based designer, Matt Smith, who has launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds to recreate a sculpture by Umberto Boccioni that was destroyed nearly 100 years ago. Shown in 1913, all that is left of the sculpture is a collection of original photographs and sketches.

Using those sketches, Matt will recreate the original piece using digital sculpting techniques and 3D technology to exhibit the work at various galleries, with the first showing in London.

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For background: Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) was a prominent Italian artist of the Futurist movement, who rejected traditional materials and embraced technological advances. Several of his plaster sculptures were destroyed, leaving an important gap in his artistic legacy. It seems appropriate that the contemporary technologies of digital sculpture and 3D printing, which Boccioni would have probably embraced, are now being used to recreate his lost work. Replacing his missing work will be an invaluable contribution to the art world; benefiting scholars, researchers, artists and the public .

Matt discovered Boccioni’s work as an art student and was immediately inspired. During a trip to Italy, Matt discovered Boccioni’s own photographs of the lost sculptures and began an exhaustive investigation of the remaining records of the missing artwork. As he states in his press release:

“I wanted to understand more about this unique sculpture, to study the work. As it no longer existed, that was going to be a challenge. The photographs taken by Boccioni over 100 years ago are an invaluable guide. I saw the possibility of piecing the fragments together and sharing what I learned with others. I believe I have found enough evidence, photo references, drawings and research to help me recreate the work in 3D as the artist intended.”

Matt became an avid 3D designer thanks to constant inspiration from 3D in all its forms; at Art School it was clay, then 3D computer graphics. Having worked in the virtual 3D world of games, using Maya, Lightwave and ZBrush, 3D printing allowed him to use his experience to make virtual objects physically real. His first 3D printed object actually  was Umberto Boccioni’s ‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.’ This was before 3D scanning was feasible, so he took reference photographs and sculpted it in ZBrush.

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He believes the “all or nothing” funding approach of Kickstarter makes the most sense for his project, and is sure backers will make a significant different (he’s already raised almost half his goal!). If the target goal is reached Matt is offering some great rewards to those who make pledges. Be sure to check it out and support a fellow 3D designer!

 

3DPrintingDog Creates 3D Printed Kinetic sculptures

Some of the best designs we come across on Shapeways are the ones that take advantage of the printers we use to create incredible unique products we’ve never seen before. A Digital design studio called 3DPrintingDog based out of Philadelphia, PA uses the power of Shapeways SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) printing to make 3D printed Kinetic sculptures that come out of the printer with no assembly required. Here are a few examples of the designs that they’re making designed with Solidworks.

Deconstructed Bicycle Freewheel

 

Deconstructed Bicycle Freewheel

What are some of your favorite fully articulated designs you’ve come across on Shapeways? Let us know in a comment below or tweet us @Shapeways.

Happy National Beer Day!

Today is National Beer Day in the US, so we figured it was about time to revisit some of the fun bottle openers available in our marketplace. Whether or not you choose to celebrate this “holiday,” there is never a shortage of unique tools designed to help you open bottles of any kind.

Last year Shapeways Crew member, John Fitzpatrick, put together a list of his favorite 3D printed bottle openers. Check out a few more below!

Vampire Head Bottle Opener

Skull Bottle Opener

Ethanol Molecule Bottle Opener

Poop Emoji Bottle Opener

Beerhead Bottle Opener

There you have it! Do you have a favorite 3D printed bottle opener? Share it in the comments below!

Gadget accessories that never go out of style

Tech is always evolving, but there are certain gadgets that don’t seem to be going anywhere. Phones and fitness gadgets seem to be here to stay, and with the new Apple Watch coming soon we might even see watches make a comeback (not that watches really went anywhere). Even better, we might see an onslaught of new watch accessories to make these wearables just a little more stylish.

We love when new gadgets are introduced, because it always spurs amazing creativity from our community. From new iPhone cases that extend the use of your phone to accessories for your fitness gadgets, 3D printing allows anyone to design their own custom accessories they can’t find anywhere else.

Gadget accessories continue to be popular on Shapeways. We love seeing what designers come up with, and what customers are drawn to. Below are some of the current popular items in this category, but we’re excited to see what you’ll come up with next!

BMW iPhone 5 6 Adapter Halter Dock (DE)

Pocket Clip for Fitbit Flex

Microsoft Band Charging Stand

What gadget accessory do you want to see next? Let us know in the comments!

3D Racetracks lands licensing deal with major European motorsports complex

As we’ve talked about in recent weeks, we think it’s becoming more important and relevant for larger organizations and brands to open up their Intellectual Property and allow their fans to create products based on some of their favorite characters, and the like. As Hasbro has done with SuperFanArt, we’re always happy to see our designers working with companies to expand creativity and innovation. It continues to be a topic of discussion, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the conversation.

Today, we’re excited to talk about one of our amazing shop owners, Jeremy Burnich, who recently struck up a licensing agreement with motorsports complex, Nürburgring, to produce four Nordschleife track sculptures – including the unique topographic models, a design only available through 3D Racetracks.

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We caught up with Jeremy to talk a little more about his designs and how this deal came to be:

Can you tell us a little more about the inspiration behind these tracks?

I started making these track models because I am pretty obsessed with MotoGP – Grand Prix motorcycle racing. There’s a few places where you can get track sculptures in wood but they are close to $300+. Since I was designing jewelry and other items for Joy Complex I decided to try making models to be 3D printed. When I came up with the idea of making these tracks, all I really wanted to do were the circuits on the current MotoGP calendar. That’s how it started. It got a little more serious after I showed them to my local MotoGP friends. They really dug them. I printed a few more and shared the photos on Reddit and the response was very positive.

After that I decided I wanted to make something REALLY different and it just so happened that when I did I was glancing at an article on the new (at the time) Circuit of the Americas in Texas. I was admiring the elevation changes and that’s when it hit me – no one had ever done topographic models before, only outlines. Topographic models would be sort of hard to make traditionally, but 3D printing is kind of perfect for making them. That’s when I started hunting for elevation data and experimenting with designs!

What is your favorite part of designing these tracks?

As a MotoGP fan, I suppose my favorite part is that I get sort of more acquainted with the circuits my favorite riders compete on. Being sort of hands on with the topography really makes me appreciate the sport even more. Also, I guess it’s the same reason anyone builds a model airplane, train or spaceship – to be transported somewhere else. To feel closer to a place or maybe even a time. In the end, I thought it would be neat to hold my favorite tracks in the palm of my hand. You really feel connected to the particular track when you’re holding it. It’s strange. Really, it makes you want to see a race even more, so I guess it feeds the obsession. My other favorite thing is when they sell! Each track I sell goes into my MotoGP fund for my trip to COTA or Indy. If I sell a lot, maybe even a race in Europe!

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How did you connect with Nürburgring?

I posted a picture of the track model on their Facebook page and tweeted about it, but because I used their logo without permission they kindly asked me to stop. However, they also asked me if I was receptive to working with them and perhaps officially license the track model so that I could use their logo. After that, we were emailing back and forth until we hammered out a contract we were both happy with. 

What’s next for you? Any fun new designs coming up?

I’m in negotiations with another big European racing facility, and I’m always adding new tracks or refining the designs on old ones. I am also working on a collaboration with my friend Alex Alexander who runs the shop Mini F1 Drivers. We should have something pretty soon! He’s doing amazing work and has a few official products of his own. He’s big into Formula 1 and with me being in MotoGP, maybe we can corner the 3D printed motorsports market! 

Great stuff! The Nürburgring North Loop models will be available at the Online Nürburgring Store and in their paddock shop. They are also available to purchase directly from 3D Racetracks on Shapeways.

Modern Miniature Inspiration: Carol Mitcheson of Mitchy Moo Miniatures

This week we are pleased to feature Carol Mitcheson, of the blog Mitchy Moo Miniatures, and some of her inspired displays that use 3D printed miniature furniture and accessories. Carol is one of the judges for our Mini House Contest, where you have until April 10 to share photos your mini house or display with 3D printed details for a chance to win Shapeways printing credit and a feature on our blog.

3D printed miniature house dollhouse modern miniatures

Introduce yourself and tell us how did you get interested in mini houses and what inspired you to launch your blog?

My name is Carol Mitcheson, but my friends call me Pepper and my interest in miniatures started after a rather tongue-in-cheek comment about my husband’s action figure collection. A friend suggested I make a pub for them so they would have somewhere to hang out. I hated dusting them every week so I thought “why not.” It wasn’t until I started furnishing the pub that I realized modern miniatures where hard to come by and I ended up making many of them from scratch. I started the blog to record my progress and share anything I’d learnt with other miniaturists.

3D printed custom dollhouse miniature house

What inspires you to create your houses and rooms?

I probably do this the wrong way around but I collect miniatures, find I have nowhere to display them and then design a home for them. I get inspiration from everywhere – other miniaturists, interior design magazines and real-life buildings.

How did you discover Shapeways and 3D printed miniature accessories and furniture?

Another blogger, Megan from ModernMiniHouses, opened a shop on Shapeways and did a post about it. I was just fascinated by the technology. I realized then, that at last, there was a way to create complicated, scalable items that didn’t cost the earth.

3D printed miniature dollhouse minihouse

You’ve collaborated with designers using Shapeways to design accessories like a toolbox. Can you talk about how these collaborations came about and your process for creating them?

There are certain things in real-life that a very hard to replicate in miniature. I was building a miniature shed at the time and keen to fill it with as many realistic items as I could. I wanted to create an opening toolbox and some stacking boxes. Every miniature shed needs a miniature tool box, right? I read through the Shapeways forum to find a designer for hire and settled on a design team that had good feedback. Over two months I emailed my ideas, measurements of the life-size objects and received a work-in-progress report as the project developed. I received the designs in a file format that I could upload to Shapeways. The items were printed and received within a week.

Once you receive a 3D printed item, how do you work it into a display? Do you do any additional painting or finishing?

The first items I received were already painted and good to go. I bought another tool box later that I wanted to look like the ones sold by a well known DIY store in the UK. I painted it in the stores colours and added decals to make it look as realistic as possible. The addition of miniature tools and painting techniques to age the items make them look at home in the scene.

3D printed miniature dollhouse minihouses

Carol’s display featuring a miniature stag head by Dotsan

If miniature enthusiasts wanted to get started with 3D printing, what advice would you give them?

There is a lot of information on the Shapeways forum to get you started with 3D printing. If you don’t feel confident enough to design it yourself, there are many sellers and designers happy to help. It’s an exciting time for miniaturists – I feel the only restriction to our hobby now is our own imagination!

Check out the 3D printed mini houses contest for more information about sharing your mini house designs and displays with us!  

Shapeways helps Coca-Cola celebrate 100th anniversary of iconic design with 3D printed bottles

Today, we are thrilled to announce our work with Coca-Cola as part of their 100th anniversary celebration of the iconic Coca-Cola bottle. On February 28th, a new exhibit will open to the public at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta featuring more than 500 3D printed bottles suspended from the ceiling, all 3D by Shapeways.

The 3D printed bottles at the High Museum before being hung up.

The 3D printed bottles at the High Museum before being hung up.

The iconic Coca-Cola bottle was originally designed by the Root Glass Company in 1915 as a result of a competition that challenged manufacturers to develop a design that would be recognizable even if broken or being grabbed in the dark. The winning design ultimately had a huge impact on visual art and culture, and is one of the defining shapes that represents the global company.

The only thing we love more than hearing stories about product iteration is actually being a part of the process. 3D printing is becoming more of a staple in the iteration process, and has helped countless designers perfect their products. As the original designers surely went through various iterations on their way to the perfect bottle, we worked with Conran and Partners on various designs before finding the right one.

The final version of the bottle next to an earlier iteration.

The final version of the bottle next to an earlier iteration.

Initially the bottle silhouette was printed in the fully expanded shape of the bottle. However,  we quickly discovered in testing that once hung the bottle ornaments would stretch and distort. Shapeways, Coca-Cola and Conran and Partners worked closely over the next three days producing four new iterations of the bottle to perfect the design, ensuring that once it was hung, it would perfectly retain the iconic Coca Cola bottle shape without any color or branding. In the final design, the bottle is actually printed in a compressed shape to both compensate for stretching and increase packing efficiency in our printers.

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In order to ensure the bottles printed and processed without fail, we designed a cage that would enclose the actual bottle as it printed so that each bottle could be “opened” and revealed individually after being processed. Check out the video below to see how the bottles looks when they come out of the printer!

Shapeways is so proud to be a part of this celebration with one of the most iconic brands in the world. Their bottle really set the bar for efficient product design, and we are thrilled to be able to use modern 3D printing technology to celebrate this traditional design.

For any community members in Atlanta (or planning a trip there), the exhibit will be open from February 28 through October 4th and will showcase original design illustrations, historical artifacts and experimentation with the iconic Coca-Cola bottle.

What do you think about the design of the Coca-Cola bottle? What other iconic designs would you love to see 3D printed?