I’ve been coding since I was 13 years old. I’d spend hours taking apart computers, putting them back together, and creating worlds of my own. Technology has not only impacted the way I solve problems, it’s framed the way I view the world. First with coding, and later with 3D printing, I found that my imagination was my only limitation.

Today, I’m thrilled to share that Shapeways is collaborating with Google on Made with Code to inspire girls to code. Our goal has always been to give everyone access to the best technology in 3D printing, and we’re now investing in that access for girls — a group that has historically been underrepresented in science and technology.

Made with Code offers fun and simple projects aimed at helping girls take the first step in learning how to code. The premier project of the initiative is a coding project based on Blockly, Google’s visual programming editor, in which girls can create a custom bracelet that we will 3D print in our New York City factory using EOS printers.

Made with Code and Shapeways

What excites us about Made with Code?

We need more people from all backgrounds to become interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Our society is increasingly powered by science and tech, and diverse thinking will help us solve the hard problems. At Shapeways, we experience this challenge every day. While we do have a diverse team, it remains difficult to find talented engineers for our software and 3D printing teams.

Just as we’re committed to STEM, we’re incredibly passionate about 3D printing and love to share our passion with others. We’ve found that the first time someone creates their own product and holds it in their hands, the excitement is palpable. Made with Code will enable countless girls to experience that exact feeling.

Code & Create

We see that coding and 3D modeling are becoming intertwined. Some of the most sophisticated and amazing products made with Shapeways 3D printing were generated with code, including the N12 3D printed bikini and the Victoria’s Secret and Swarovski Snow Queen. The Made with Code 3D printing coding project is built on top of the Shapeways API, which enables developers to make apps that make products. We also have a tool called ShapeJS that generates printable 3D models from JavaScript code. Hundreds of 3D printing apps have been built on top of the Shapeways API, generating more than 20,000 product uploads to Shapeways each month. These tools are easy to use and help people create their own products, from custom figurines to beautiful gold jewelry.

3D Printing Innovations

One of the biggest challenges with manufacturing finished products using 3D printing is that historically, the printers were designed for making one-off prototypes, not creating finished custom goods at scale. We’re continuously working to improve our 3D printers and processes to create higher quality products and enable true mass customization. The sheer scale of this project has pushed us to innovate even faster, and we’ve invested in breakthrough innovations in 3D printing that will directly benefit our community on a daily basis. These include improvements to how we optimize each 3D printing run, new methods to break out individual products from a 3D print build of up to 1,000 parts, and enhancements in our dyeing processes. Combined, these innovations will enable us to bring down the cost of 3D printing while setting a higher bar for quality, consistency, and speed.

We’ve also grown our team and capacity to meet the increasing needs of our community and this project. We have several new (and massive!) EOS P7 printers that are capable of making up to 1,000 products in each print run. We dub these “the beasts.” And we’re bringing on new team members in NYC to ensure we are truly operational 24/7. Within the first few months, we will be able to 3D print hundreds of thousands of products on top of the normal high volumes of orders.

We’re thrilled to support the mission of inspiring girls to learn how to code and create, and we’re doubly excited that we can invest in game-changing innovations along the way that will benefit our growing community.

We look forward to continuing to shape the future with you.

– Pete Weijmarshausen
Co-Founder & CEO, Shapeways

P.S. To see how the bracelets come to life, watch this video with YouTube star iJustine!