Designer Spotlight: Ivo Laros

This week’s Designer Spotlight focuses on Ivo Laros, a scientist using 3D printing to visualize molecules, especially everybody’s favorite, DNA. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?

I am a senior assistant researcher in molecular ecology at Wageningen UR, The Netherlands. Molecular ecology is the science that studies the DNA of nature. I got into contact with 3D modeling through my focus of research, which is chemistry.

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?

In one word my inspiration is Science. During my studies in chemistry I was fascinated by the structure of molecules and atoms. It is so nice to be able to use that knowledge now in 3D printing. Now the challenge is to think of designs that can actually be used by people, as plain molecule models may not be very interesting for a broad audience. Jewelry is a nice application, the new silver materials opens up a new field of application for me. This is the caffeine molecule below.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
I played around with software to display molecules in 3D at engineering school in the 90’s. When I first read about 3D printing (and Shapeways) 3-4 years ago I immediately wondered if it would be possible to use those 3D models for 3D printing. I still think that it is pretty amazing that something from the computer can be turned in something that you can actually hold in your hands.
How did you learn how to design in 3D?
I am 100% autodidact. 
How do you promote your work?

Only through the Shapeways website at this point. Here, I’ve turned the methane molecule into a pendant.

Who are your favorite designers or artists?
My inspiration comes from science. I only visualize what is already present in real life. Besides that I really like all the organic designs at Shapeways, but I don’t use these as an inspiration for my own designs.
If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
In designing models, I stick to my core business. I am not a graphic designer or 3D modeller, I am a scientist. It would be very nice if I could assist scientists by creating 3D models of newly discovered molecules and I hope to inspire and interest people in science using my designs.

Anything else you want to share?

My most popular design is the personalized DNA molecule model. The nice thing about 3D printing is that everybody can order a product that is personalized and unique in the world, and that is exactly what I am selling in this product, a strand of DNA:

Check out Ivo’s designs for other popular molecules you may recognize on his Shapeways Shop and if you’d like to be the next featured designer, email


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