Shapeways, The Community

Shapeways community manager Joris says goodbye

Dear community members, I will be leaving Shapeways as per tomorrow. I’ll continue to do some Shapeways blog posts but will no longer be your Community Manager. I’m leaving Shapeways in order to pursue other opportunities.

The past two years have been the most invigorating & exciting of my life. To be able to let Shapeways grow from a group of beta testers to a large and vibrant community with tens of thousands of members, tens of thousands of designs and more than 8000 models ordered a month was an incredible experience.

Those first few months were rather chaotic. It started with a bang with articles on TechCrunch and Boing Boing. We were inundated by email, questions & problems (and in one fell swoop thousands of members). Materials had to be introduced Black Detail, White, Strong & Flexible; Transparent Detail, Full Color, Stainless Steel, Glass, High Gloss Glass and above all else we were impatient.

Impatient to show you what you could do using 3D printing technology. We were getting to grips with letting you “upload and print” but already working on the Creators, the Co-Creator platform and all the other features you’ve seen. The learning curve was steep, not only for our growing community but also for us. Nonmanifold, open edges and coming to grips with software packages we’d never even heard of meant we were learning all the time. Bugs were popping up everywhere, as if we were gallivanting around the jungle tossing sugar cubes every which way. At the same time we had to organize and visit events such as SIGGRAPH, Dutch Design Week and Makerfaire. As a net result I’ve explained 3D printing to more people than I’d ever think I’d meet in a life time. Somewhere along the line I managed to write 347 blog posts: some of dubious quality, many in dire need of editing but hopefully some good ones in there somewhere.

I also got to dive into model trains, 3D puzzles, space ships, design schools, jewelry designers, Fablabs and many other communities we engaged. So not only has Shapeways let me meet a large number of people and these people have been very diverse. I’ve also gotten to learn about 3D printing and: graduation ceremony deadlines, N & H0, sculptural intent, live action role playing, remote control helicopters, replica steam boats, racing teams, 3d scans of clavicles, jet engines, fashion accessories, dinner wear, knives & forks, Snoopy, the Virgin de Guadalupe, LEGO swords, fractals, elves, chocolate molds, brass knuckles, Facebook games, UAVs, action figures, Second Life, insects, proteins, DNA, photography, stamps, RFID tags, augmented reality, watches, chess sets, manga, robot arms, fighting robots, board games, desktop wargaming and many other things. Opening up your eyes every day to new communities, new designs and new challenges was wonderful. Thank you all for letting me learn about your community!

We’ve spent the time since trying to encourage and marshal the incredible skill and energy level of the Shapeways community by holding contests and reaching out through You Tube, this blog and our lively forum. Whereas initially we were focused on just letting people upload to Shapeways, later on it became a question of inspiring people in creating more and more diverse things. The quality of work in the gallery and on It arrived (Ralph’s idea!) has continually improved remarkably as people have mastered designing for 3D printing. The sheer variety of the designs on Shapeways right now is mind blowing. While I’d like to think I played a small part in this I know that it is really the community that made this happen.

Fairly quickly the first heroes started to emerge in our community. Whether by tirelessly submitting bug reports or suggestions, spending hours helping on the forum, writing tutorials or by spreading the word it was these community heroes that really have made Shapeways what it is today. Shapeways is a very high engagement community and it is these people’s pioneering work that has made this possible. We’ve had members spend 10-12 hours fixing someone else’s complex design and others have spent over a 1000 hours on Shapeways. We’ve seen hundreds of blog post and tweets by community members spreading the word.

These heroes were brought to us by sites linking to us and writing to us (over ten thousand!). I’d like to especially thank Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing, the Wired Blogs, the guys at Makezine, Gizmodo and Engaget for bringing us talented creative people that have helped shape Shapeways. I’m intensely proud of Shapeways and the Shapeways community. Not only am I proud of what we’ve all achieved together so far but I know I will be proud of what you’ll achieve after I’ve left. I would like to thank each and every community member from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for your friendship, ideas & encouragement. I am indebted to you for inspiring me with your creativity and hard work for this community.

Should you wish to keep in touch with me you can follow me on twitter here or email me at joris (dot) peels (at) gmail. (dot) com. 


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