Designer Spotlight: Erwin Bonsma

This week, we’re highlighting Erwin Bonsma who hails from Eindhoven, just like Shapeways! Erwin has a passion for puzzles and inventing, and Shapeways was a place for him to realize all of his wonderful ideas.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I am from the Netherlands, lived abroad for a few years, but am back again. I am now living in the Eindhoven “brainport” region, which is actually where Shapeways originated.

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
I enjoy creating fun, ingenious, and puzzling objects. Things with a twist that just make you think, wonder or smile. I also enjoy breaking new ground, even if it’s just stamp-sized. My creations typically are a bit inventive, one way or another.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
Two years ago, I was reminded of an old puzzle idea of mine. It’s a tile swapping puzzle with the restriction that you can only swap pairs of neighboring tiles when their sum is divisible by three or five. It only existed as an online puzzle, but after giving it some thought, I discovered that it might in fact be possible to realize it as a physical puzzle. Working this out required the ability to easily and cheaply prototype, which is where Shapeways came in.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?
I just learned by doing, using online tutorials mostly. I started creating ray-traced scenes via POV-Ray’s text-based scene description language about twenty years ago and I am still using that. More recently I also started using other tools such as Google Sketchup, which even feature a graphical user interface!

How do you promote your work?
In lots of different ways. For example, I have created mesmerizing 3D animations (see here, and here) on YouTube to attract attention. I have also written an article about the Tile Swap Puzzle in the CFF, an international (printed) puzzle magazine. I am founder of a 3D Illusions group on DeviantArt, where I also share some of my designs. I even recently joined Facebook, which came as a bit of a shock to some of my friends.

Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
I really like Oskar van Deventer’s work. He is a very prolific puzzle designer, and has created a lot of interesting puzzles.

Check out all of Erwin’s work here, as well as on Facebook, YouTube, his own site, Flickr, and Pinterest! If you’d like to be featured, please email aimee@shapeways.com.

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