The Top 3D Printed Stories of 2012 on Shapeways: The Tip of the 3D Printed Iceberg

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 using 3D printing to make their ideas for real.


Shapeways 3D Printing 2011 Growth

We started off 2012 with an interesting project called MineWays by Eric Haines that made it possible for anyone to export geometry from Minecraft to 3D print into real life.  This is the first time a game could be used to 3D model for 3D printing, we saw everything from game avatars to jewelry, amazing buildings including a scale model of an entire university campus. Time.com featured members of the Shapeways community’s Entrepreneurial Insights, how they use Shapeways 3D printing to run their businesses.  We looked back at 2011 to see the number of items 3D printed, the growth of the community and how much Shapeways shop owners earned from their designs.  We shared a video of a 3D printed rubber like material and made our 3D printed black nylon even blacker. We finished off January with the first 3D printed record playing the theme from Portal.


3D printed Siri

In February we introduced the Material Status Page so that we could keep you up to date on any delays we are experiencing with any of our 3D printed materials or post processing and we also added Black Gloss Ceramics to our 3D printed material options. We shared the magical mathematical formula that explains why it is possible to (theoretically) 3D print any object then exhibited some of your amazing objects at Material Connexion in New York City.  The Shapeways community was featured in USA Today and we saw a beautiful pendant designed by a 5 year old girl, 3D printed in silver and given to her mother for her birthday, sweet.  Finally we hosted contest to see what you thought Siri looked like and we 3D printed the winners.  The internet was ablaze with images of the winner, a Siri iPhone case by Saga Design.


3D Printed customizable iPhone Case

In March we saw the first Raspberry Pi cases emerge from our 3D printers and shipped around the world.  We launched The Vibe, 3D printed customizable iPhone case with Soundcloud at SXSW and made the cover of USA Today wearing very cool 3D printed sunglasses. We gave you all a chance to meet the Superheroes of Customer Service then we started shipping your 3D prints from New York City.


3D printed wedding ring silver shapeways

In April we said a sad goodbye to our first 3D printed meme, the Nyan Cat then hello to some bright new colors in our 3D printed Nylon range. Over 1.7 million people watched the video of the 3D printed Twin Rail Mobius pendant then more of Shapeways on the Brian Lehrer show.  We launched a contest to test the much anticipated Elasto-Plastic and launched Polished Alumide to give you smooth, futuristic 3D prints. A mother’s idea was made real and 3D printed in sterling Silver by her son and there was a romantic story of a Shapeways 3D printed wedding ring. Shapeways was featured alongside Quirky as part of a special in the Economist on the Third Industrial Revolution along with a video of their visit to Shapeways HQ.  Shapeways also started helping people tp learn about 3D printing with the Shapeways School of 3D Printing via Skillshare.


We started May introducing Natalia as the Shapeways Community manager then sent her to Makerfaire to meet thousands of the maker community in person. At the same time we represented some of your designs at Model Citizens as part of New York Design Week and Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen presented the future of digital at Mashable Connect. We launched a whole ne palette of 3D printed glazed ceramic colors AND experimented with a trial run of Black Elasto Plastic that did not quite meet our standards in the end.  Shapeways 3D Printed the world’s smallest Rubix cube and helped to make an amazing model of Atlas from Portal 2.  We closed the month by 3D printing parts of a nuclear fusion reactor, seriously.


Shapeways voted the most popular 3d printing service

June started out with my personal story of the joys of 3D printing and fatherhood and another father 3D printing his child’s plasticine sculpture using 123D Catch.  We introduced some new automated wall thickness checks on your uploads as well as Shapeways shop inventory management then followed up with some experimental tools in Shapeways Labs.  Shapeways was ranked as the world’s most popular 3D printing service and we announced another round of investment with Lux Capital joining Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures to help us grow.  We told the short history of a 3D printed product with Gyro the Cube and saw Opresco’s Futuristic Sports & Physical Therapy SPRINGBALL (VIDEO).


Wow, half way through the year and so much has already happened but things are not slowing down.  We 3D printed plane parts and architectural models including this amazingly detailed miniature then the first in a wave of 3D printed shoes. The Rocket Espresso Cup went viral thanks to Tumblr and every caffeine fueled blogger on the internet, we installed out first 3D printer in NYC, gave the Shapeways website a much needed overhaul and celebrated our 4th birthday.


In August we learned how to cook and open beers with an iPhone with the help of 3D printing then how to be like MacGyver and use your lighter as a soldering iron. Flying drones delivered 3D printed human clones at Burning Man and a 3D printed twisty puzzle started to make it’s way around the world.  We took the Shapeways 3D printed travelling roadshow to SIGGRAPH and Bloomberg Businesweek featured Shapeways in a video interview series.  We completely overhauled our entire base architecture of the Shapeways web site and all of our behind the scene tools then one of our designers tested his 3D printed iPhone case on the NYC subway tracks, and the iPhone survived…


September 3D printing started fast, in a Porsche, then we released our video showcasing some Shapeways community members and their use of 3D printing. We saw a bald eagle get a 3D printed beak, Mario run on to infinity in a Mobius Strip and Teenage Engineering became the first manufacturer to release their 3D files so that anyone could 3D print parts for their synthesizers.  With the launch of the launch of the iPhone 5 we launched an accessory contest, then how to customize an iPhone case with Tinkercad.  We took a really close look at 3D printed nylon and installed our first EOS Nylon laser sintering 3D printer in New York.


3D Printed material sample kit Shapeways

Disney showed some innovative use of multimaterial 3D printing and optics while we saw the first in a new wave of 3D printed memes hit the Shapeways shops. We launched the new Shapeways 3D printed material sample kits along with new smooth colored Nylon 3D printing.  Mayor Bloomberg cut the ribbon to open our 3D printing facility in New York City with a pair of scissors hot from the 3D printer then we braced ourselves for a massive storm that was heading towards our newly opened factory and HQ in NYC.


3D printed Bacon on Shapeways

Sandy the super storm hit New York and took us offline for a week, everyone was safe and no 3D printers were hurt but it took us some time to get the whole operation back to full speed. Once back online we announced the winner of the iPhone 5 design contest, had a taste of infinite 3D printed bacon and saw reality being repaired with 3D printing.  Autodesk launched 123D Design on every platform known to man, Peter Weijmarshausen presented at Techonomy we helped launch Next Top Makers with NYCEDC, saw the limits of 3D printing get pushed a little too far and Joshua Harker launched a Kickstarter project to celebrate the third industrial revolution.  Then we braced ourselves for the next storm to hit Shapeways, the holidays.  We prepared our selves with the launch of our gift guides then followed up the Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales that saw sales in the Shapeways shops go through the roof. We ended November with the opening of the 3DEA 3D printing pop up shop in midtown Manhattan.


3d printed gift of love on Shapeways

In early December we ramped up production to cover the holiday sales and melted our brains with Henry Segerman’s 3D printed triple gear video. We took a look at some of the machines behind the scenes, shared the first Shapeways community journal then saw some very weird flying machines and incredible hand painted miniatures.  Shapeways was featured as the Amazon of 3D printing in an article and video on Forbes and we took a look at some numbers for Shapeways in 2012.  We asked you what 3D printed materials you would like to see on Shapeways next, shared the romantic story of a custom made 3D printed gift and reflected on the value of making an object for someone you love then ended the year with some 3D printed, 70’s style, slot car swagger.

Woah, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.  If 2013 continues this momentum (and it will) we are going to have trouble covering a fraction of what is happening with Shapeways 3D printing so we need your help.  If you see a story you would like to submit to the Shapeways blog.  Send it to duann at shapeways dot com with images and links and your story may be featured here in the 2013 round up.

About me
Shapeways Designer Evangelist
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