Category Archives: Gadgets

What is this insane new mecha-like gamepad contraption?

Gamers have long debated the superior performance of the keyboard/mouse found on a PC versus the more “casual” gamepad of consoles for competitive gaming purposes. The use of WASD keyboard configuration and a mouse has long been victor, and thus shaped the current focus of competitive First Person Shooters (FPS) and Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs) on the PC, while casual or arcade based games typically go to gamepads.

 

One Shapeways designer is working to close the technology gap. Looking like a futuristic contraption straight out of a Neill Blomkamp film like Elysium, the Immortal Mechanical Gamepad Paddles is a cool solution to turn a gamepad from casual to hardcore.

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What’s been holding back gamepads is that you can only use your thumbs for movement and your index finger for the rest of your buttons. The designer Solodus solves this by 3D printing mechanical triggers you can use to push the buttons on the tops of the controller. He explains via a forum thread:

“The main problem with first-party gamepads is the difficulty to perform two actions at the same time. For example, you can’t activate a bomb, and defend yourself at the same time. Your thumb is busy pressing the activation button, and you can’t aim. (You could use the claw technique, which is using your index finger to press the face buttons, but this is very uncomfortable for most, and could result in injuries).

With this accessory, you will never have to take your thumbs off the joysticks, allowing you to perform more than one action at the same time, and comfortably.

Another added benefit of this accessory, is the reduced reaction time. Because, the distance from your fingers to the paddles is less than the distance of your thumbs to the buttons, it takes less time to press a button. This is great for First Person Shooter games, where reaction time is critical. “

Check out the video below to see the results for yourself. This looks like the perfect accessory to gain a little bit of an edge in Trials of Osiris and other highly competitive FPS’. You can check out Solodus’ shop and follow them here.


How a Simple Mod Made an Entire Community Happy

Every few years automakers change up the entire design of an automobile. Frame, sheetmetal bodywork, engine, transmission and more to help give a vehicle a refresh and push buyers to want the newest model.

With the redesign of their Cooper line, Mini changed a lot about the third generation model. It was elongated, given a new engine and transmission, along with smaller details like this alien-like spaceship keyfob design.

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User jwhdevries wasn’t fond of this odd component and after a little research and seeing other Mini drivers fix the issue with Sugru moldable rubber or electrical tape, decided there was a better way to fix the issue at hand. The fob was unnecessarily large, and odd-shaped, and they found that the extra plastic was entirely unnecessary. With his 3D design knowledge, he designed this product in Strong & Flexible Polished plastic.

MiniFob

After posting it on North America Motoring, a Mini- focused forum community with a massive positive response, it was reviewed on Motoring Fun, further pushing it up the ranks.

Through a bit of frustration, a lot of motivation and some serious creation, this product has been one of our top sellers in April; starting as a shared issue within a tight-knight community..

Have you created an amazing lifehack that helps fix a simple issue? We want to hear about it! Tell us about it in the comments below, and share it with us on social media by using #Shap3dByMe!

Follow Seth on Shapeways here

Keep Your Lightning Cables Unfrayed With This Lifehack | Shapeways Reviews

Your iPhone’s low on battery, and you’re digging through your pack looking for a lightning cable to juice up your phone, but the only one you can find looks like this:  

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Yep, a completely frayed, non-working cable.

BUT! There’s a way to keep this from happening. This nifty little piece of plastic by TheKre8Group lets you quickly and easily wrap your cables to keep them tidy and safe from undesirable bending and fraying.

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Wrapping a cable is super simple.

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Insert the USB end into the larger slot.

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Wrap the cord around, starting in the beveled channel and wrapping upwards, making sure not to double-layer any part.

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Once you’ve wrapped the cord, insert the lightning end into the smaller hole to hold it secure.

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Now, you have a simple, affordable, compact solution to help prevent expensive cables from fraying and breaking.

Check out our video review here:

Do you have a neat way of keeping your cords organized? We’d love to hear it! Leave it in the comments below, and let us know what you want to see next. Follow TheKre8Group on Shapeways here , and be sure to check out their shop here.

Follow Seth on Shapeways here

A SuperHERO Case for Your GoPro HERO | Shapeways Reviews

You’re an action sports HERO, or at least you want to be. So, you went out and bought a GoPro to record those CRAZY things you planned to do. Skydiving, scuba diving into the depths of the ocean, and evading NYC taxicabs on your bicycle. But you really just use it to document your family vacations, finding you want better sound quality and don’t ALWAYS need that waterproof case.

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This simple GoPro case by whitenoise_customs frees up your GoPro. By being completely non-restricting, this case allows amazing access to the microphone, and all the buttons, while still allowing you to attach the stock mounting base. Tether this onto the selfie-stick or gorillapod of your choice, and be ready to capture some footage to remember. (As long as you’re not going swimming!)

Getting this case on is super simple.

Take the GoPro out of its waterproof housing.

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Slip the GoPro into the frame case.

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Screw the mounting base on, and there you go. A super simple case with a sunshade. Or without. The case comes in a few different variations, all with the same awesome fit, so pick the one that best fits your needs.

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Check out whitenoise_customs’ shop here to get your case, and check out our full video review of this great accessory.

We want to see your favorite 3D printed GoPro accessories. Tag us on social media with #Shap3dByMe, and send us your Shapeways GoPro lists! Let us know what you want to see next in the comments below, and never stop creating.

Follow whitenoise_customs here

Follow Seth here

Making a Case for The Apple Watch | Shapeways Reviews

You open a door in a hurry and simultaneously smash your wrist on the doorframe. Sure it hurts, but you also hear a slight crunch. You look down, and sure enough, your brand new Apple Watch’s screen is smashed to bits.

Which is where today’s review comes into play. We’re taking a look at two Apple Watch cases with slightly different form factors.

Now, you may be thinking, “why do I need a case for my watch? I wouldn’t put one on my Rolex, or Omega” But that’s where the Apple Watch separates itself from traditional watches whose screens “take a beating”. The iWatch will get damaged far before a nice traditional watch will. So cover up!

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The first case we’re checking out is Dungstar’s 14k rose gold plated cover. This attractive yet functional cover looks great, feels great and gives the device a cool, unique look.

Getting the cover on is simple and anchors it to the watch.

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Pull the bands off your watch Snap the cover right on top, aligning the buttons.

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Slide the bands back to lock into place.

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Taking a look at this case you can see it offers pretty solid coverage around the entire case, while leaving the screen somewhat exposed. This makes sure you’re never blocked while using the watch, allowing full-motion access to all of the screen, without eliminating the sleek and minimalistic form factor.

The second protector we’re looking at is a 18k gold plated cover by Mstyle183. Assembly is the exact same as with the previous case, using the bands to lock the cover in place.

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At first glance, the case looks almost the exact same too, but once you look closer, and start using the watch, you notice that it covers the screen quite a bit more. It helps to protect a bit more of the front of the watch, which makes it a little bulkier.

If you’re looking for a sleek, minimalistic case for your Apple Watch, Dungstar’s design is a great option. But if you want something that provides a bit more protection, definitely check out Mstyle183’s option. Check out our full video review here:

Do you have one of these cases? Let us know what you think about it. Leave your comments below, and let us know what you want to get out of these reviews.

Follow Dungstar on Shapeways here

Follow Mstyle183 on Shapeways here

Follow Seth on Shapeways here

Get Your Phone Off The Ground: Shapeways Review of ClipIt iPhone Dock

To show off some of the incredible products our community creates, we’re starting a brand new column; Shapeways Reviews.

So you travel a lot. Or maybe you attend lots of events, where there’s never anywhere to charge your phone except an outlet way up high, which means You’ve left your phone on the ground, next to an outlet charging, only to have it stepped on; or worse, figured “ah… this is fine, it’ll work” when leaving it swinging like a pendulum, where it inevitably falls or rockets off in a random direction.

One designer recognized that burden, and took to fixing it.

We checked out the ClipIt by Remi van Oers, an awesome little device that clips onto the stock Apple charging brick and lightning cable, holding up your phone as it’s plugged into a socket.

Assembly is simple:

Line up the hole on the ClipIt with the USB hole on the charging brick, and press fit it on.

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Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 2.42.26 PMNext, plug in the lightning cable to the brick, securing the ClipIt.

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Route the lightning end into the small holder, and press fit in.

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Then just plug in, and slip your phone right on top. There’s a small extrusion to help hold the phone up while it’s charging.

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And there it is! Simple as that.

Want one of your own? Of course you do.  And be sure to follow Remi Van Oers on Shapeways for some more awesome products.

What do you think of the ClipIt? Leave us your comments below, and don’t forget to tag us @Shapeways with your products you want us to review, and show us what you’re making with #Shap3dByMe!

 

Mysterious Jedi used 3D printing to make his Star Wars TIE fighter toy into a Drone

A user on imgur who goes by Woodpiece (via Gizmodo) recently took his new Hasbro TIE fighter and, using some elbow grease and 3D printing, turned it into a remote controlled drone. The results are remarkable, from the gif you can almost hear the sound it would make as it tries futilely to defend a backyard Death Star trench.

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Woodpiece disassembled his non-flying toy, removed its innards and replaced them with 3D printed motor mounts. Overall the process looks like it took some work but would be repeatable through his instructions found here.

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Woodpiece isn’t the only one modifying and building cool drones, shopowners on Shapeways have been doing the same for years. Below are a few great examples of what you can do to customize your drone with Shapeways.

Behind the product: Pocket Clip for Fitbit Flex

We love to hear all about the amazing products we see here at Shapeways. What was the inspiration? How many times was it printed before it was perfect? This series is about exploring the stories behind the creative and unique products that go through our printers.

The Pocket Clip for Fitbit Flex has been a popular product since it was introduced. It’s the perfect example of a product that fulfilled a market need – something that really can’t be found anywhere else. We caught up with the designer, Tom Felker,  to find out more about how the idea came about and how he works with customers to create various versions and improve upon the model.

Where did the idea for this product come from? 

I think this fell into the “necessity is the mother of invention” category. My job’s health insurance program gave everyone Fitbits as part of a fitness incentive, but I already wore a watch and didn’t want two bands. My friend and I were talking about it, and we thought maybe we could 3D print something. The way it snaps in was sort of inspired by how the Fitbit USB charger works, though that snaps in a little differently and uses a spring.

I think I just got sort of lucky in that the problem I solved is shared by lots of Fitbit users, and there are quite a few of them out there.

Walk us through the iteration process? How many designs did you go through?

I iterated the design on paper a little bit before even making a model. At first I didn’t have a great idea for how you’d take the Fitbit out, and I was thinking about having a bendable tab you’d push or something. I decided to figure that out later, make a model and sent it to Shapeways to be printed.

When I got it, I put the Fitbit in and it snapped in perfectly – but I forgot that I had no way to get it out so prying it out was quite a project. Around then I had the obvious-in-retrospect idea to add a hole in the back so you could just push it out with your finger. First I just used a rasp to add the hole into the model I had, and then I changed the 3D model and ordered version 2. I think I made one more version with some minor changes to the geometry to make it snap harder.

Somewhere along the way, I also tried different materials. I found that alumide was too stiff, and I knew the UV resin materials would be a little too brittle but WSF worked great. I had tried rubber and realized I would need a very different design to make that work. Much later, I tried a different design to work with metal but I haven’t gotten too far with that yet. I also tried a version my friend printed out on his hobbyist FDM printer in ABS, but it wasn’t dimensionally accurate enough and was way too stiff – and didn’t look too good.

How important has customer feedback been to you?

When making the first proof-of-concept model I wasn’t talking to customers yet, but later I was. There was a customer who wanted to put it on a pendant, so I made that variant for her and have sold a few of those. Another wanted the pendant loop to go the other way, and so I modeled that, then added a ring to it so you’d have a choice, and at that point you might as well add a chain, and the keychain version was born. Somebody was asking about a version you could use to make a paracord bracelet, so I did that as a beta model. I also ended up strengthening the clip on the pocket clip version due to customer feedback.

What have you learned about the 3D printing process through this product?

I think a lot of what I’ve learned has been more about selling things. The power that exposure can give you. The need to be very clear when communicating to customers.

Do you think gadget accessories will continue to be a popular category for 3D printing?

I think gadget accessories will always be a pretty big part of 3D printing. I come from an engineering side of things, and I probably don’t have a good understanding or appreciation for art (or a lot of budget or space to spend on purely artistic objects), but when you have a dealy-bob and you really need a widget holding bracket for it, 3D printing is perfect for that.

Thanks for the insight into this popular product, Tom. We’re excited to see what else you come up with in the future!

 

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!

Shapeways+littleBits 3D+IoT Gadgets Contest

We are so excited to partner with littleBits for a unique design challenge: How can you make your home smarter using the Internet of Things and 3D Printing?

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DESIGN CHALLENGE

Find something in your house that you consider mundane. A coffee mug, a pair of old gloves a floppy disk. Now ask yourself, how can you make it smarter? With littleBits and 3D printing, of course! Upcycle that object into something smarter and cloud-connected. Start doodling ideas and check the rules below.

HACK-A-THON

What better way to get your creative juices flowing than a hackathon? Join us at littleBits beautiful offices this Saturday for the 3D + IoT: Make Smarter Gadgets Make-a-thon with Shapeways & LittleBits. Hear from inspiring speakers, tinker with materials and meet like-minded folks to get your projects started.

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RULES

The contest takes place in 2 phases: Ideas and Finalists.

Ideas Phase: Deadline to submit is March 28th.
Submit concepts for your creation including a rough 3D model and a layout of how you would incorporate littleBits. Upload your projects to the littleBits project page using the hashtag #shapebits.

Make sure in your upload, you include:
- The inspiration and impetus behind your concept
- Reflect on what you did 1st, 2nd and 3rd
- List the resources you consulted to help others in the future

*Remember we are a community who loves sharing work in progress. Don’t be shy to share your piece even if it is not finished yet and ask in the Project Buzz category in the littleBits forum for help.

Finalists Phase: Deadline to submit is April 30th.

After the final deadline, our expert panel of super star judges will be invited to review the entries and select 5 contestants for the “Finalists” phase.
During this phase contestants will receive free bits to create their projects and a coupon from Shapeways to print them out. Final projects will need to be uploaded by April 30th on the Shapeways & littleBits sites both using the hashtag #shapebits.

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PRIZES

The maker behind the smartest, most awesome project submitted will get a Workshop Set, which includes 100 Modules ($1,547 value) and $500 in 3D printing credit from Shapeways.

In addition, the top three entries will be showcased in our MakerFaire booth in San Francisco this May and featured in our newsletters and the littleBits Community Hall of Fame.

JUDGES

We have a fantastic lineup of judges who will rank entries across these measurements of awesomeness:

  1. Creativity — how inspired is your creation, how close to the theme is it.

  2. Technological achievement – how well does this project incorporate the potential of littleBits + 3D Printing

  3. Aesthetics- how well designed and polishes is your final object

  4. Surprise- how original and unexpected is your final project

Here they are:

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Heidi Farrell, Design Engineer at Smart Design, NY

Heidi Farrell is an engineer who designs mass-produced, everyday products. She has worked on things like kitchen tools for OXO and camera gear for Joby x Lowepro. Based in Brooklyn, Heidi studied product design at Stanford, has worked in SF and Stockholm, and is currently a design engineer in Smart Design’s New York studio.

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Ron Rosenmann, Senior Design Technologist, Frog NY

Ron focuses on interaction prototyping and building UX simulations as part of the design process at Frog. A nice sampling of his awesome work can be found here.

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Andrew Mager, Developer Evangelist, Smart Things, SF

A developer evangelist at SmartThings in the Bay Area, helping developers all over the world integrate their devices and code into their home automation schemes.

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Oscar Salguero, Senior Designer at Kid O Toys, NY

Industrial designer by training, Oscar has worked on products ranging from high end furniture in Tokyo to energy generating soccer balls for developing communities in Nigeria and Brazil. He’s currently leading a new line of sensory oriented & developmental toys for kids under 6 years of age.

That’s all folks! Have questions? Ask away here or on twitter using #shapeBits. Happy making!

Five Predictions: The Future of Drones, Quadcopters and 3D Printing

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The new DJI Inspire 1, a convergence of consumer and commercial Drone technology

Every December we like to look back at the trends we’ve seen since January and assess what learnings should be applied to the year ahead. If there is on product category on Shapeways that has withstood the test of 2014 it is Drone Accessories. Battery pack hacks, propeller guards, landing gear, GoPro mounts and levers are just a few examples of the great 3D printed parts the Shapeways community is making for their quadcopters and multirotors. They’ve signaled to us that the Drone market is healthy and growing rapidly. Here are my thoughts looking forward.

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Five Predictions for Drones in 2015:

The “Drone” vs UAV vs Multirotor Debate will Fizzle

When multirotors went consumer, early adopters and advocates were weary of the term “Drone,” and rightfully so, most people associate drones with the military. That said, I think as the market gains awareness across the general public, we’ll be able to effectively differentiate from unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV – the scary kind) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV – the commercial and consumer kind).  I know hard core mutirotor fans out there may be skeptical, but I believe this will happen for a few simple reasons: 1) More and more people are flying and seeing consumer aircrafts, visually comprehending the difference 2) Drone is just easier. In the same way a table can have 2, 3, 4, 6 or however many legs, and UAVs have varying numbers of rotors. While multirotor is inclusive, it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue the way drone does. 3) It’s already happening. 150% more products on Shapeways are tagged “Drone” over “multirotor.”

Drone Activity Debates will Heat Up

While I believe the word “Drone” will become less controversial, the activity of Drones will only fall under more intense scrutiny. The air above us is considerably less regulated than the ground below us and with that ambiguity comes fear. “Drone Surveillance” is considerably more ominous sounding than “non-invasive aerial video” despite the activities (taking video from the sky) being exactly the same. Drone lovers will need to be sure to assure their clients and networks that they’re flying for good.


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Photo taken by Stephen Greenwood and I using the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+

The Drone Laws are Coming

The FAA and their international counterparts have yet define the naughty and nice list for Drone pilots. While there are some guidelines, compared to other activities, playing with your consumer drone is relatively unregulated. Not only serving as oversight for the safety and privacy of citizens, Drone regulations will bring big bucks to emerging industries. The wild west will only stay wild for a little longer.

Drones will Show Us the Money

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) predicts that “The economic impact of the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS) will total more than $13.6 billion in the first three years.” This $$ means jobs, too; “Integration into the NAS will create more than 34,000 manufacturing jobs and more than 70,000 new jobs” overall in those same three years.  AUVSI predicts that between 2015 and 2025 those jobs will grow to over 100,000 and the market to $82.1 Billion.

Shapeways will Continue to Provide the Best (and Fastest) Drone Accessories

Yes, I’m biased for obvious reasons, but this is also data based. We have more accessories available faster than the companies that manufacture the drones because inventory is unnecessary in 3D Printing. Drone part designers test on their vehicles, iterating quicker than anyone else can. There are already over 1,000 unique Drone parts for sale on Shapeways, I predict that number grows to 2500 over the next year.

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Drones are not only a part of my day job, but they’re a part of my nights and weekends too. My boyfriend is a video producer and has fallen in love with the perspective now provided by these small unmanned aircrafts. I act as DP when I can, controlling the camera mounted to his DJI Phantom I. Occasionally, Martini (my dog) and I have an “encounter” with his training Hubsan quadcopter. If you still love something after it’s tried to nest itself in your hair, you know it’s a hobby that’s here to stay. That’s how I feel about Drones. There’s a lot to learn, and much room to grow.

What Drone do you have or want to get? Here’s an overview of the current consumer Drones if you’re just getting started.

Unique gifts for every cyclist in your life

We all know someone mad about bikes, ever eager to get out and ride even when its cold, wet or uphill. To help you celebrate their passion with them, here’s our spin on gifts for every type of bike snob, from the fixie fan to Fred.

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No garmin, no rules? They can decide with this Garmin-mount compatible iPhone case because sometimes no Garmin, no idea where you are. This mount also keeps the camera handy for all the cycle photography that happens on long road rides. They’ll love that they can get all the #lightbro shots.

Do they enjoy getting covered in mud every weekend? It’s likely cross ruins everything around them, so here’s a replaceable chain guide/ front derailleur for their next cyclocross race. You can also find replacement cable guides and more bike parts.

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On the other end of the spectrum, for the Sunday riders who dote on their vintage steel, you could get them this decorative tiny Italian for their collection.

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For the single speed commuter, help them maintain the Zen with this multipurpose tool, good to fix just about every mechanical issue.

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CitiBiker’s know sharing is caring, but letting them keep both hands on the bars with this cup holder attachment is truly the gift that keeps on giving.

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Lastly, some say that life’s too short to ride boring* bikes…so choose from fancy accessories like this stylish crane cable guide, handlebar bike planter, novelty blow-fish valve caps or commission a custom head badge.

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Whatever you gift your cyclist friend, remind them to ride safe, and stay rubber side down.

 

Gifts for the Fitness Buff

Friends who have very specific interests are generally pretty easy to shop for, right? If they love to cook, you can never go wrong with a fun new kitchen gadget. Have an artistic friend? Get them something that will really showcase their creativity. And for those friends who rarely miss a workout, we’ve got unique gifts for them right here on Shapeways!

Help them accessorize their fitness tech, without missing a step. Below are some of our picks for the fitness buffs in your life.

Pendant or Keychain Holder for Fitbit Flex

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Pebble Watch Bike Mount625x465_1051070_1011461_1411576427

 

 

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Headbuddy

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Don’t forget to check out our Gift Guide for other gift ideas!

Video: iPhone 6 Case Semi-Finalists Reviewed, Finalists Announced!

Remember that iPhone 6 3D Printed Case Contest we hosted a few weeks ago? We waited to print the cases until the backlog of repricing orders had been cleared, and finally have them in-hand! I took the time to review the top 10 semi-finalists, and am proud to announce the final four. Everyone who participated did a great job, but like all initial prototypes, some need a few design adjustments to be ready for the main stage.

Curious as to which cases are making their way to Ethan Imboden at Frog Design in California for final review? You’ll have to watch the video to find out:

Now that you’ve seen them, which case would you like for your phone?