Today marks a milestone for Shapeways. On behalf of the
Shapeways team, we are truly excited to announce a new round of financing of $30 million led by
Andreessen Horowitz, with Chris Dixon joining our executive board. Our existing investors – Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, and Lux Capital – also participated in this round.
All of our investors believe, like us, that 3D printing has the potential to completely change the world. With this funding, we will grow our team (we’re hiring!), build more factories around the world, and solve challenging technology problems. Though many people have heard about 3D printing, we have a ways to come. We will make our service much easier to use. We will explore the frontiers of 3D printing materials, enabling YOU to make and purchase any product imaginable.
As we embark on this next phase in our company’s journey, we wanted to take this opportunity to look back at how far we’ve come.
3D Printing is Changing the World
When we started in 2007, very few people had even heard of 3D printing outside of the engineering and design communities. It was mainly used for prototyping. Today, 3D printing has taken the manufacturing industry by storm and everyone is talking about this groundbreaking technology. President Obama even recently called out 3D printing as one of the important technologies that can bring manufacturing back to the USA.
We believe that 3D printing is fundamentally changing the manufacturing ecosystem in its entirety – how and where products are made and by whom. For the last century, big companies were in charge: they determined what consumers wanted and made those products in large quantities using mass manufacturing. Now, thanks to 3D printing, those days are over. This technology enables everyone to create unique products on demand, putting the customer in control and localizing the manufacturing process.
How Shapeways Fits In
We founded Shapeways in 2007, but weren’t a typical startup: we made things. And we built our business around four key elements:
We want to enable everyone to turn their ideas into reality. We pioneered the first customization software called Creators, or 3D printing apps, and we’ve now made this technology accessible through our API. Over 1 million designs have been uploaded to Shapeways.com to-date. And not only can you work with a designer to customize a product, you can also create a product from scratch with easy-to-use templates.
Back in 2007, 3D printing was expensive. We knew that if we wanted to make the technology affordable for everyone, the price needed to drop. We’re proud that we have already succeeded in lowering prices significantly, but we‘re not stopping there. Remember, the cost of an iPhone case was about $70 in 2008. Today, it’s below $20. We believe we can lower the cost much further and this will result in lower prices for everyone using Shapeways.
In the early days, in addition to higher costs, the variety of materials was limited and the quality of the products made was quite low. Today, we offer over 30 materials and finishes, including high-quality sterling silver and food-safe ceramics. We plan on adding many more.
Shapeways Shops enable anyone to launch a business and sell products worldwide. Today, the Shapeways marketplace is comprised of over 10,000 shop owners. They are the future of small business: they don’t have inventory, they rapidly iterate on products, and they have direct access to customer feedback. We will continue to invest in tools and resources to ensure they become even more successful.
Our community is a very important part of Shapeways. You share the belief that 3D Printing is incredible and are as passionate as we are about making products. In the forums and during meetups, you continually surprise us with the ideas that you bring to life. We are thankful for your passion and inspiration.
Looking back, we are encouraged by how far we have come. But we are even more excited for the incredible journey ahead. We hope you will join us for it!