Designer Spotlight: Richy Swalberg

This week, we are highlighting mechanical engineer Richard “Richy” Swalberg. We met Richy at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC and saw some awesome, inspiring work we wanted to share with you.

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

Just recently I moved near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where I work as a Mechanical Engineering for an Engineering Consulting firm. Originally, I grew up near Salt Lake City, Utah. After college, I spent a couple of years in Daytona Beach, Florida.


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

When I was younger, I often went to Moab, Utah to go off-roading on the extreme trails and huge rocks with my brother, who was heavily involved with the sport. I got to hang out with him and his friends in their garages as they would design and build their own extreme off-road vehicles, which was really cool. So when I started printing with Shapeways, I thought it’d be new and exciting to bring that culture to the 3D printing community. I also loved the challenge of trying to print it completely assembled, which I think adds to the appeal. I first started printing rings until I felt comfortable printing my designs the way I wanted, then I started planning how to print a small, movable off-road vehicle.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways? 

I knew a classmate in college that built his own small 3D printer and would occasionally show me some of the things he printed. That was my introduction to 3D printing technology, and I thought that building a printer would be a fun project. But while researching online, I found Shapeways instead, which was more appealing to me as a designer. I was impressed with all the materials and possibilities that Shapeways has to offer for designers.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

My first formal experience was in college about six years ago when I learned SolidWorks. It came so easily and I loved it from the first day. This is probably because I always loved design since I was a kid, and always enjoyed video games that required some type of design or building platform.
How do you promote your work? 

Apart from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, volunteering for the Shapeways booth at the Science and Engineering Festival in Washington D.C. was probably the best thing I’ve done for my shop so far! I’m also trying to start a YouTube channel to demonstrate printed models with moving parts. I think it’d be fun to occasionally post a video to showcase my work and answer some of the repeated questions I get from people about designing 3D printed models.


Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you? 

I like the Erstax MKII Action Figures by Mr_props because I always thought it would be cool to have my own line of toys; I’ve always wanted to create an entire franchise of my own. His concept of printing posable figures seems so cool. I’m also amazed at the detail and precision of Southernnscale parts for his train sets. I loved model trains when I was really young.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?

Multiple materials in a single printed object. How cool would it be to print silver rims on an all-terrain buggy with strong and flexible plastic for the suspension? I could probably get carried away with some serious bling if that were possible.

Anything else you want to share? 

Something that Shapeways has to offer, which is so cool, is the amount of resources available to help designers improve their skills, and learn how to create and manage an online shop. I watched a few videos on Shapeways Youtube channel multiple times when I was trying to determine how to design the springs on the Rock Crawler, for example. And I think the Shop Owner Challenge is a great idea to get tips from various disciplines apart from 3D design, such as management, marketing, finance and photography.


  • Experimenting with materials 
  • Great banner and shop photography
  • Nice overall branding

Keep up the great work, Richy! We loved meeting you in Washington DC – check out the interview with Community Manager Natalia about how he made his vehicle! Check out all of his designs here

If you’d like to be featured, please email aimee @ shapeways.com.

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