A Portal into the Future: 2011 in Review, and What’s to Come

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Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen dozens of journalists and bloggers dub 3D printing and personalized production “the next big thing,” including David Rowan of Wired, Daniel Teridman of CNET, and Robert Cyran of Reuters. Similarly, at CES, our peers have been announcing impressive strides toward improving 3D printing devices and making the technology more accessible.

The excitement is palpable, and taking a look at our growth over the last year proves that it’s not just hype. The rapidly growing Shapeways community – comprised of designers, makers, hackers, enthusiasts and shoppers – demonstrates that “creative commerce” and the widespread demand for personalized products are rapidly on the rise. 

2011 was a massive year at Shapeways. We saw a huge growth in the number of community members, models uploaded, products 3D printed, shops opened and income earned by Shapeways shop owners.

A quick scan of the numbers:

  • In 2011, Shapeways 3D printed over 750,000 individual products and delivered them to people around the world
  • Over 238,000 3D models were uploaded to Shapeways in 2011 by our community of over 100,000 members
  • Shapeways shop owners earned over $270,000 in revenue in 2011 alone, compared to $100,000 from our launch in 2008 through April 2011
  • Over 2,500 shops opened in 2011 alone

Check out our Prezi (i.e., infographic on steroids) below of just a few of the cool things that happened in and around Shapeways in 2011.


To our incredible community, thank you for making this possible! You’ve
been visionaries and pioneers. Now let’s make 2012 even better.

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  1. John Gomm

    Being a math teacher I am hyper sensitive to inaccurate graph scales. I notice that your infographic does not start at zero on the vertical axis so that growth from the start to the finish is inflated. I roughly calculate that your scale makes it look like an increase from the labeled $100k to $400k, instead of the 270k labeled. I expect better from tech minded people.

    1. Tiax

      I totally agree, I’m happy to see that your company is doing well (3D-printing is a matter of great excitement to me), but it shouldn’t resort to such a blatant attempt to artificially make things look (even?) better.

    2. Duann

      John and Tiax,

      There was no attempt made to be deceptive about the information.

      The infographic has no values attributed but is an accurate representation of the output from our data.
      The numbers in the graph are rounded down a little in all instances.
      The graph lines were not started at zero as the numbers started at from those at the end of 2010.

      Apologies for any confusion if I have strayed from conventions in developing the infographic.

    3. Anonymous

      Hmmm! more attention to how the beginning of the graph has been partially covered over at its beginning portion of little value with respect to the presentation.

    1. Duann

      Thank you,

      Your ceramic cups were part of what made 2011 such a great year.

  2. GWMT

    What are the January-December 2010 totals for the four items shown in the graph? It would be more informative to say for example ‘the number of 3D items uploaded to Shapeways increased tenfold to 238,000 in 2011 compared to 24,000 in 2010’.

    Would you mind if I used the graph in a presentation on 3D printing I’m going to do in March?

    1. Duann

      You are welcome to use the graph, I will not go back and re-edit the graph and Prezi but I will keep it mind for future presentations.


  3. GWMT

    Thanks, Duann.

    You don’t need to edit the graph; just give us the four 2010 totals here in the comments.

  4. Glenn

    Proud to say I have been here from the start of it all (almost!).

  5. Shapeways Blog

    The Shapeways marketplace has been growing fast over the past few months with shop owners earning more profit then ever before. We love it when we see tweets by successful Shapeways shop owners such as Michiel Cornellisen and Paul Robinson as they hi

  6. Thomas Delacruz

    It’s definitively the next big thing. And what I like to think about as the new industrial revolution:)

  7. Shapeways Blog

    The Gartner Hype Cycle graphic has been used since 1995 to highlight the common pattern of overenthusiasm, disillusionment and eventual realism that accompanies each new technology and innovation. The Hype Cycle Special Report is released annual

  8. Shapeways Blog

    Thank You for Sharing Your Creativity Over the past year we have seen more people start 3D printing with Shapeways then ever

  9. Shapeways Blog

    We have shared the most popular 3D printed products on Shapeways but we also want to have a look back at some of the most interesting stories from the Shapeways blog. It has been a big year with some amazing projects from the Shapeways community usi

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