10 Trends to Design for this Spring and Summer

Welcome to the very first Trend Report from Shapeways!

3D printing enables endless possibilities, and so it’s no surprise that your creative juices are always flowing. As inspiration for your next design, we wanted to share some insights into what’s trending on Shapeways and in design more broadly. AKA, what’s hot? We’ve got trending categories, styles, and inspiring products to give you a better idea of what’s happening on and off the site, and how you can get your shop to the next level.

From the top three purchased categories, here are the 10 trends to design for this Spring and Summer. Right here, right now.

Clockwise from top: GracilisParvus, and Larva Strandbeests, Balloon Doggy DoggBeekeeper Chess Collection: QueenDJI Phantom Mark-1 Landing GearLayer Ring(s), Norma*01Nail Jewellery.


Trend 1: Minimalist Necklaces

Pendants are perfect pieces to start creating to bump up your shop & wardrobe. Minimalist pendants are definitely doing well on and off Shapeways right now. What’s best about them is that no matter what your level of design skills, you can make a simple but elegant pendant. Best news? The less material, the less expensive! Everyone wins. Experienced designer? Go for small details and try out some new metals you’ve never tried. Less experienced? The 2D to 3D App can help take your idea from paper to model in seconds! (Really, it’s pretty amazing.)

Clockwise from top: Cat Claw, Asteroid Pendant, iLiCube Pendant, Brass Neck Anchor, Layer Ring(s), Norma*01, Nail Jewellery, Dark Amethyst Nails

Trend 2: Stacking Rings & Nail Bling

Rings are also one of best things to create on Shapeways. Whether you want simple, chunky, or knuckle “midi” rings, the options are endless. We particularly like the stacking options… because why have one ring when you can have five? Especially with the Ring Creator App! That, my friends, is for designers of all levels.

Another trend we’ve seen rise straight from Shapeways? Nails! Think of nail art, nail rings, or straight up nails* and any kind of fun details to make your statement and not feel bad to tell people to talk to the hand… because they will.

*Tip: Laser Girls got picked up by press for jumping on this trend so quickly!


Trend 3: Scale Vehicles 

Vehicles” may sound like a broad range, but think of the endless possibilities 3D printing brings to the miniatures world. Not only can scales be adjusted quickly and easily, but designers can customize any part of any vehicle. Beyond this (yes, there’s more!), customers can paint and design to their liking, too. Our materials allow for the smallest of details and moving parts, and you can order anywhere from 1 to 1,000, which is an option unique to 3D printing.

Clockwise from top: HOn30 PBR 25 Ton ClimaxEnergiewagen NS in N 1:160, Opel Olympia SET, USS West PointSalmson-Moineau S.M.1 1:144th Scale.

Trend 4: SciFi

When all ideas can turn into physical products, a whole new world can come to life. Enter, SciFi. Make monsters, space stations, creatures that don’t exist (yet), and get crazy. Because from what we can tell, others will likely love your imagination as much as you do.

Clockwise from left: Momo The Bird Cage, ALTER EGO 1/12 scale doll kit, BFG Heresy Marine Cruiser.


Trend 5: Camera Accessories

Everyone’s a photographer these days, right? With smart phones and every photograph app you could dream of, we’re all getting in touch with our photo skills. Some of the more popular “modifications” on Shapeways have been customizations, alterations, or add-ons to your memory-making friend. Designers are starting to experiment with all the different ways to carry, customize, fix, and modify this photo/video companion. GoPro, for example, gives you a different view of the world, and can be attached to all kinds of objects to capture your experience. Other designers have cleverly come up with ways to adapt their camera to suit different needs, like steady cams for cinematography. Old art meets new, and that’s a trend we can get behind.

Trend 6: Drones

Clockwise from top: Nifty Fifty Follow Focus AdapterGoPro Hero3 Frame, BIG Battery Door Upgrade, DJI Phantom Hero3 adapter, DJI Phantom Mark-1 Landing Gear.

Drone accessories have been a top selling group on Shapeways for quite some time now. Because there are so many models and uses for drones, the accessorizing game is just beginning. Equip your flying friend with stabilizers, camera mounts*, quick fixes of worn parts, or just trick it out with useful kits. As drones become more popular for aerial photography, think about accessories that may be good for different versions of drones. Good design for this category will depend on your ability to iterate and find those perfect fits. And because you want materials to be as light as possible, this makes designing and shopping for drones parts relatively inexpensive, so you can fly high without being worried about wear and tear on your wallet or your drone.


Trend 7 & 8: Memes (The Internet) & Political Figurines

If there were one trend of this generation, it would likely be memes. What would the Internet be without memes? We can’t even fathom. And now, thanks to incredibly talented Shop Owners, we can hold memes in our hands. Doge, Sad Keanu, and “hot topic” political figurines have been making waves on Shapeways. Yes, having desk companions outside of the computer screen is as awesome as you’d think. The trick is to find your favorite meme, make it the right price point, and share it on… the Internet. See what we did there?

From left: Chris Christie directing traffic, doge

Trend 9: Really Amazing Art

Beekeeper Chess Collection: Queen.

One of the best things about Shapeways is seeing the variety of products that designers come up with. Designers can make something very simple, or incredibly complicated and intricate. Well-designed products take time, love, sweat, probably tears, and energy. Luckily, the praise received in return is well worth the effort. There are a few keys to success in this realm; form meets function, price point is right, and no corners are cut. Products that have are intricately designed get a lot of attention because they are just artistically beautiful. When customers can actually use the product, that’s just a bonus. Make sure to price your work according to material as well as value – how much time you spent and how much the design means to you can help up the “value.” Finally, the beauty of 3D printing means that you can iterate as many times as possible to get your product to where you want it to be. Your passion and energy will be transferred into your work, which will spark interest. This trend is called “artistic freedom,” and it comes with a price, but is definitely appreciated and rewarded.

Gracilis, Parvus, and Larva Strandbeests.

Trend 10: Make Your House a Home

At the end of the day, we all go home. There’s nothing like plopping down on the couch, beverage in hand. So why not customize our home as much as we want? Home decor is slowly becoming as important as fashion and clothing; our space shows who we are. 3D printing is enabling us to make objects as we’ve never seen or made before. Experiment with materials, shapes, and structures. As we say at Shapeways, there’s no cost for innovation, and you’ll likely spend way less on your own design than you would on an item from a fancy design house.

Trending home items: Succulents/plants (for Spring, or year-round), so give them a good home. Planters can be so many shapes and sizes, so make yourself a fun one. A more obvious, long-lasting home trend is details that pop. So make a crazy sculpture, or try the new Photoshop tools and play with colors. Have fun with and make a piece that maybe doesn’t “fit” the rest of your home, but will instead be a conversation starter.

Clockwise from top: The White-tailed Deer Mini Faux Taxidermy, Rock Planter, Succulent Planter, Mini wall planter, Ruba Rombic Cube Planter, Balloon Doggy Dogg.

And there you have it. The top trends we are seeing on and off Shapeways for this Spring and Summer. Think of these tips as you design your next products, and please share them – ALL OF THEM – on Feature This! We’ll keep you updated for each season and cannot wait to see what you come up with. Happy Shaping!  

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