Author Archives: Andrew Simon Thomas

Going to AdeptiCon this week? Come say Hi!

Shapeways may be an online platform, but we love to go out and meet our Community in person. For those of you who are into wargaming and scale miniatures, Shapeways will be in Schaumburg, Illinois (just outside Chicago) for AdeptiCon from March 23 to 26. AdeptiCon is an annual tabletop gaming convention with tournaments, workshops, and cosplay, all around popular games. If you’re lucky enough to attend, come check out 3D printed products by Pop Goes the Monkey, and create your own Hero Forge minis.

We’ve been busy crafting and getting ready all weekend. Check out the terrain and cosplay armor we made, below:


Can you guess what our cosplay is? Leave your guesses below, and keep up with our Instagram this weekend to find out!

Project Spotlight: H.E.A.D Hunters

PAX East is a great place to go and see up-and-coming game designers creating innovative products, and it’s no surprise that they’re using Shapeways to prototype their creations. We caught up with James Campbell of Gut Shot Games to talk about his new designer-toy/wargaming combo. Make sure to keep an eye out for his Kickstarter, launching May 23rd.

H.E.A.D Hunters at PAX East

Where did the concept for H.E.A.D Hunters come from?

I had the original concept for what would become H.E.A.D. Hunters way back in 2007. Inspired by a recent boom in connected plush toys and the growing popularity of designer toys, I challenged myself to think of new ways to get people playing with their toys instead of watching them collect dust.

In 2007, rapid prototyping was not as accessible as it is today, so the slightest changes to a design had significant costs in both time and money. Because of this and the accurate feedback from major toy companies that the initial game I designed was not very good, the idea was put on the shelf until the spring of 2015. At the time, I was living in China with my family and with limited TV viewing options, we often turned to tabletop games for entertainment. This newfound love for tabletop games inspired me to pull the project off the shelf and partner with game-design veterans Ben Cichoski and Danny Mandel to get H.E.A.D. Hunters where we are today, just a few weeks away from launching our Kickstarter campaign.

How did you create your (awesome) toys and game components?

When I originally had the idea to create a toy that would hold tabletop game components in its head, I had zero experience with 3D software.  At the time, I was lucky enough to find a patient CAD engineer who was able to help me turn my rough sketches into the initial toy designs (image below), and even get me started on learning 3D software on my own.

Since then, my ZBrush skills have certainly improved, but I still felt more comfortable working with a more seasoned toy designer on what would be two major revisions before landing on our current design. Each revision would output an STL file that was the result of dozens of hours of Skype calls and email exchanges. Shapeways allowed us to turn that STL file into something physical we would use in our playtesting.

Once we landed on a final toy platform, we were able to take the prototype with us as we met with toy manufacturers to discuss our manufacturing needs. Once we narrowed down our search, we commissioned them to do painted prototypes to ensure they could match the style we were looking for.


How does 3D printing help indie game designers like Gut Shot Games move through iterations to a final product?

How components work together with game mechanics is crucial to the game design process and ultimately the end product. What would seem to be a simple element, like the battle platforms our toys stand on, would actually take four different rounds of prototypes before we had something that would meet all our needs. This process of iteration can raise issues you may have overlooked, such as stability in our initial platform design, and provide potential hidden benefits, such as improved transparency into our current design.

Current H.E.A.D. Hunters with prototype weapons in Shapeways white Strong & Flexible nylon plastic

What do you plan to 3D print next?

Tools of the trade are important in any profession, especially for hunters! As such, we are currently finishing up designs for weapons for all 10 of our H.E.A.D. Hunters. To ensure each weapon complements its owner’s style and personality, we will be turning to Shapeways as we model, print and continue to fine-tune these designs over the coming weeks.

Shapeways Takes Genericon 30 by Storm

Over the weekend, we attended Genericon XXX, hosted by students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, for 48 hours straight of cosplay, anime, sci-fi and gaming. It was an amazing weekend. Just a few of the highlights were:

Our crew!

Left to right, me, Dhemerae and Sarah of TheLaserGirls (decked out in 3D printed cosplay), and Ian of Nvenom8 Designs.

Genericon, Cosplay

The vender area of the con — so much cool merch and swag!

Our panel discussion on 3D printing was on the Main Events Stage, so exciting!

Sarah tells the audience why she likes ZBrush during our panel on 3D printing:

Over the weekend, TheLaserGirls also took over the Shapeways Instagram account and took  #Genericon by storm:

Admins by day, superheroes by night🔥💪🤜👊☄️🏋️🖖🤘@shapeways #3dprinting #cosplay #genericon #golaser

A post shared by Sarah C Awad and Dhemerae Ford (@thelasergirls) on


Taking a break to do some old-school roleplaying with Pathfinders. Here, our party is about to get ambushed by a Giant Scorpion.

We had a great time playing games, checking out the cosplay, and talking about 3D printing!

Congratulations, Winners of the Sketchfab #3DSculptTabletopWars Challenge!

At Shapeways, we love working with fellow design communities, so we were delighted when we got the opportunity to sponsor Sketchfab’s monthly 3D sculpting challenge. We asked their community to come up with the coolest tabletop wargaming miniatures they could. They didn’t disappoint — the quality of each submission was phenomenal.

Judging with a combination of Sketchfab and Shapeways Community members and staff, including Shapeways Shop owner mz4250 of the The DM Workshop, we chose from the entries here:


…And the winners were:



Honorable Mentions:


We loved seeing these designs take form in the Sketchfab forums, and we can’t wait to see how they’ll turn out 3D printed! Until then, share your latest designs in the comments below for a chance to be featured on the blog.

Now This Is Geek Love

Geeks in love often get ignored by jewelers and the rest of the romance-industrial complex. We think that’s unfair. Thankfully, Shapeways’ community of designers has a ton of incredible gift options for your geeky valentine. Here are a few of our favorites, just right for every type of geek in your life.

For the gamer who loves nature — Botanical Dice Set

When they’re not out in the field communing with nature, they’re rolling D20 with the druid RPG character, so why not give them the artisan set of dice that connects their two favorite worlds?


Botanical Dice Set by Made by Wombat

For the history buff valentine — Valentine Tank Archer

Even the most veteran, grizzled wargamer will love this historically accurate miniature of the UK’s iconic WWII tank, appropriately named for the day — Valentine’s Day, 1940 — when the design was first submitted to the British War Office.


Vehicle – Valentine Tank Archer by Sandman Artistry

For the biochemist who loves bling — The Ring Of Life DNA Molecule Ring

This DNA-shaped ring brings out the inherent romance in the double helix. Plus, it will keep them looking sharp while working under the microscope.

The Ring Of Life DNA Molecule Ring  MADE BY Universe Becoming

The Ring Of Life DNA Molecule Ring by Universe Becoming

For the trendy paleontologist — Trilobite Pendant

Give them the gift of their favorite prehistoric anthropod, brought back from extinction in incredible detail. You know they’ll love you for it.

Trilobite pendant  MADE BY Elytra

Trilobite pendant by Elytra

For the geek that wants to save lives — Mana Potion Pendant

Not only is this Mana Potion pendant by Lumecluster a super cool accessory that any gamer would know, all profits go towards a great cause: helping cancer victims and their families.

Mana Potion Pendant (designed by Lumecluster) by ElaineHyojinKim

Mana Potion Pendant (designed by Lumecluster) by ElaineHyojinKim

Looking for more geeky, amazing gifts for your valentine? Explore the Shapeways marketplace here. Let us know in the comments if we missed any of your favorite geeky gifts.

We Just Got Faster, Again — FUD Lead Times Cut in Half!

Attention wargamers, model railroaders, and miniaturists! Last week, we shared that we were shortening production turnaround times on a dozen materials, but we’re not done yet. This week, we’re cutting the lead time for one of our most popular materials, Frosted Ultra Detail plastic, in half — from six business days to three. That means you can get your planes, trains, and figurines in record-breaking time!


We were able to shave this much time off the process by adding new machines to increase manufacturing capacity while making our planning and post-processing systems more efficient.

Now is a great time to print your favorite model railroad car, sci-fi miniatures, or wargaming products — and enjoy them faster than ever!

For a chance to be featured on the blog, let us know in the comments how you’re using Frosted Ultra Detail plastic in your designs.

This 3D Printed High Elf Miniature Is Downright Incredible

Late last year, we made our Black High Definition Acrylate (BHDA) available for sale by our Shop Owners, enabling them to market incredibly detailed models. Since then, we’ve been watching with a ton of excitement as miniature makers prototype and iterate their concepts to prepare them for sale. Shapeways Shop Owner Gareth Nicholas, the multitalented 3D designer and award-winning miniature painter, shared his thoughts and process around designing for and finishing BHDA on his blog, and we were so blown away that we had to share.

SEO Miniature painting, toy models, figurine, heroforge, Dnd miniatures, how to paint miniatures, dungeons and dragons, reaper miniatures, dungeons and dragons character generator, sheet, mini figures, fantasy miniatures. GAMES WORKSHOP, gameworkshop, citadel paints, war games, games, boardgames, high elve, shapeways

Nicholas took his already expert-level experience in painting Warhammer and Reaper miniature figurines to the next level by creating his own figures with 3D printing. On his blog he explains:

“Concept-wise there’s nothing particularly original here. Games Workshop have been starving me of High Elves recently (at the moment it’s starting to look doubtful they’ll ever return, but I live in hope) so I decided to make my own. As I usually do when I sculpt something, I spent a while with a pencil and paper sketching various designs for armour and so on. I rejected a few designs that I thought looked cool on the grounds that they probably wouldn’t print very well or look good when painted.”

SEO Miniature painting, toy models, figurine, heroforge, Dnd miniatures, how to paint miniatures, dungeons and dragons, reaper miniatures, dungeons and dragons character generator, sheet, mini figures, fantasy miniatures. GAMES WORKSHOP, gameworkshop, citadel paints, war games, games, boardgames, high elve,

To start the design, Nicholas blocked out the character with simple shapes in (free software) Blender. We strongly recommend emulating his process here because he kept the overall model at the same level of finish throughout his process. This allows him to make good judgements as he improves the model through iterations, working from the most general forms to the most finely detailed.

“I roughed out the proportions in Blender and spent a fair bit of time viewing the model from every angle until I was happy that the anatomy wasn’t too awful. I then went back and refined each element, and made decisions about how the hair and the cloak would flow.”

Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways Hereforge, Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden

Afterwards, Nicholas describes how he took the smooth finish of BHDA and made it glow with simple paints (check out his blog for more awesome expert painting tips).

“I elected to go with non-metallic metal when painting as there are some interesting shapes and I wanted to explore the reflections. For the steel parts I used my tried and tested method of highlighting with cyan and shading with red added to the mix.

“Overall I am quite pleased with how the miniature has turned out for a first effort at this scale and I’ve learnt a lot that will hopefully lead to better results in the future.”

Finally, check out the finished product below, and find more of Nicholas’s original miniatures in his Shapeways Shop here. This High Elf would be an impressive addition to your next Warhammer battle or Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden

Looking for more custom-made miniatures? Check out Gareth Nicholas’ shop here, Tabletop & Wargaming accessories here, and the Miniatures marketplace here. And, let us know in the comments what figurines you’d like to see in the marketplace in the future!

Making a 3D Printed Meeple Is Easy — Here’s How

Last week, I showed our community on Facebook how they can create their own meeples for game pieces. If you missed the demonstration, you can find the video and a breakdown of the steps below.


Step 1: Find a 2D image


I went to the Noun Project and used this because it has a Creative Commons license.

Once I download the knight image, I headed over to the Shapeways keychain creator.


2: Upload to the pendant or keychain creator and choose your image file



3: Adjust the size on the left:



Then, give it some more thickness:


Once I’m happy with the  size and thickness, I click “Create Now,” choose my material, and order away.

That’s it!

Give it a try and let us know in the comments if you have any questions (or hit any snags).

D-School or Self-Taught: How did you learn to 3D design?

One question we get all the time is: What’s the best way to learn how to 3D design? Did you learn the tools and processes in an academic setting like school? Did you teach yourself though experimenting? Did you watch tutorials or take online classes?

Experiments with MagicaVoxel software

Experiments with MagicaVoxel software

We posed these questions to our community on the Shapeways forums and got some amazing responses. Here are some of these learnings that could serve as a great guide for others interested in starting their journey in digital manufacturing.

“I have always loved to draw with pencil and paper as a hobby. But I am a Mechanical Engineer and I started my professional career as a CATIA application engineer at IBM in 1992, and did that for more than 15 years. I had taken several CATIA training classes and spent many hours studying by myself. ” – Shapeways Shop owner Glehn

In the forums, our community has a range of backgrounds, from fine arts to science to engineering. Most reported learning the design software themselves from online tutorials and YouTube. They were creative prior to learning 3D design, and had begun their journey earlier with other hobbies like drawing and model building.

Many started learning before academic classes in 3D design were available. Personal digital manufacturing is still in its infancy and the educational infrastructure around it is still forming. Those who taught themselves are leading the charge to start educating the next generation of designers.

Most importantly, community members have learned to come to design with a creative, can-do mentality. By working on specific problems, like wanting to create a necklace or a robot, they’ve experimented with the tools at hand — and found solutions. Design always requires a combination of patience, problem-solving, and elbow grease. They’ve learned to value hard work, and that making something yourself pays off.

“My parents instilled in me the belief that it’s better if possible to craft something on your own than to buy it pre-built. 3d printing just gives me better construction tools” – Shapeways shop owner Stony Smith

How did you learn to 3D design? Did you learn in school or pick it up yourself? Let us know in the comments below.

This January, Make 100 With Kickstarter

Screenshot 2017-01-03 12.29.51

Ready to start making your 3D printing New Year’s resolutions come true? Shapeways is all about making your ideas a reality, and we’ve got the perfect opportunity to jumpstart your newest project.

Our friends at Kickstarter are inviting people to launch a new series of new mini-campaigns called Make 100. Throughout January, they’ll be featuring artists and creators running quick projects that offer backers an edition of exactly 100 items. This is the perfect way to reach out to your friends and fans and offer them a small run of special, 3D printed gifts. And, it’s a great way to share and develop a new idea — while providing friends and fans with a unique, limited-edition design.

And, after your Kickstarter ends, bringing your vision to life through Shapeways means:

  • Iterations go directly to market

  • Low barrier to entry — just design it and print

  • No setup costs compared with traditional manufacturing

  • Unlimited unique, custom items

  • Over 50 high-quality, consumer-ready materials (and if you have a home printer, Shapeways can take your prototypes to final version quality)

  • Direct shipping and fulfillment

  • Prints ready to post-process (where applicable)

  • Strong community support and inspiration

Whether you’re making miniatures or jewelry, art or practical tools, if you have an idea for a Make 100 campaign, sign up here.

Learn more about making with Shapeways here.

Our Community in 2016

The year ends tonight, and what a year it was. While the world got a little crazy in 2016, the Shapeways community grew and thrived. Here’s a look back on some of the ways you, our community, made 2016 our best year yet.

We made amazing projects!

Lumecluster created the Dreamer Regalia Armor for Felicia Day and showed what it takes to use Blender to create custom-fitting cosplay gear.

Our community grew closer, and through members who love 3D printing scale models, we made new friends around the world. The Kogashima Streetcar is a testament to how 3D printing can bring people together across borders.


Winter finally came, and along the way we got to see some incredible props printed by Shapeways for (my personal favorite) HBO series Game of Thrones!


We launched new materials and tools!

We introduced the strongest and lightest ever material at Shapeways, DMLS Aluminum! We saw it used to create working mountain bike prototypes and an amazing FPV drone!

For those who are prototyping and iterating on their designs, Shapeways started offering PLA to provide a quick turnaround.  Shop Owner Bhold showed us how she uses her own printer to iterate on her concepts and come up with the final product she sells on Shapeways.


One of the best parts of printing with Shapeways is being able to create products that couldn’t be made without 3D printing. Building on these remarkable products, we launched innovative Interlocking Metals. For the first time ever, we can print complex geometries in precious and semi-precious materials.

At Shapeways we’re all about being responsive to our community. One feature designers have asked for was the ability to determine the orientation of of how the machine prints their model. So, we released the print orientation tool so makers can better control aesthetics and accuracy when printing with Selective Laser Sintering.

Above all, we had fun together

The best part of Shapeways is being part of an amazing community. This year we got to meet so many of our designers and Shop Owners in their own element.

We talked to Model Railroad enthusiasts about the best way to design a 3D printed N Scale train.


We played games together at Gen Con using the amazingly artistic dice created by Shapeways designers.


We teamed up with DJI to challenge the Shapeways community to help first responders save lives with augmented drones.

We saw old friends and enjoyed great math puns like the Klein Bottle opener created by Bathsheba.


Finally, we joined forces with Fat Cat Fab Lab to sell designers’ unique jewelry and home decor as last-minute gifts for the holidays.


We had an incredible time in 2016, and we’re looking forward to seeing you all in 2017!

Maker-Made Gifting at the Fat Cat Holiday Market

Last Sunday, Shapeways teamed up with one of our favorite Maker spaces, Fat Cat Fab Lab, to host the 2nd Annual Holiday Market. Twenty-five Makers from the New York City area set up shop for the afternoon to show off unique handcrafted and 3D printed products. Among them were a few of our favorite Shapeways designers, including The Laser Girls and Bless This Mess NYC. Folks who stopped into the West Village Maker hub got to browse, chat with independent designers, and go home with cool holiday gifts.

Here are a few of our favorite moments from the market:

Shapeways designers Bless This Mess NYC show off their beautiful jewelry and home decor


Oak Digital Craft’s trendy 3D printed bowties and necklaces



The Laser Girls 3D printed nails and cosplay swords overlook Christopher Square in Manhattan



Nirvager’s incredible collection of hand-painted Lego mods and accessories


Shapeways designer and sculptor Paul Liaw showcased his jewelry designs

Shapeways designer and sculptor Paul Liaw showcased his jewelry designs


Holiday Market organizers Deren Güler (Fat Cat Fab Lab Co-Founder) and Andrew Thomas (Community Manager at Shapeways)


Come Meet Our Makers at the Fat Cat Fab Lab Holiday Market!

Looking for a unique, last-minute holiday gift from the most creative community in New York City? This Sunday, Shapeways is sponsoring the 2nd Annual Fat Cat Fab Lab Holiday Market and some of our favorite shop owners will be selling their unique products in person!

You can join for snacks, music and merriment on Sunday, December 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at  224 West 4th street, 2nd Floor, right off the Christopher Sheridan 1 & 2 MTA train stop.

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We’ll see you there!


Holiday Gift Card Holder Challenge Roundup

This fall, we hosted the Gift Card Holder Challenge, and you came through with some amazing submissions! Just in time for holiday stocking stuffers, we’ve picked some of our favorites. Discover a better way to give a gift card, below:

Top picks:

We love this gift card holder because it’s a great way to make that piece of plastic cash feel special and festive.

Gift Card Holder by Carl's Puzzles

Gift Card Holder by Carl’s Puzzles

This gift card holder can fit all your loot from the holidays, or double as a business card holder. It can even be personalized with CustomMaker to make the perfect present.

Card Holder Box (Part 1 of 2) by Cady Carlson Designs boss gift business business cards cady carlson designs card card holder employer function gift gift cards gift idea networking organization organizer

Card Holder Box (Part 1 of 2) by Cady Carlson Designs

Honorable Mention:

An innovative screw-in design makes this gift card holder into an ornament that’s ready to hang on the tree.

gift card screw in ornament with holes by Nibbles & Bits

gift card screw in ornament with holes by Nibbles & Bits

Are you looking for a gift card to share 3D printing this holiday? You can order yours here.

Hacking Arts Conference 2016

Last week, Shapeways sponsored the Hacking Arts Conference at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hosted by the MIT Media Lab, the three-day conference brings together students and professionals from technology and the arts to discuss interdisciplinary creativity.

Shapeways’ Community team was there to greet panel goers and give them a chance to get their hands on some of the 3D printed materials and products available in the marketplace.


The conference also included a hackathon and some amazing performances. Below is a moment from audio/visual artists the Holladay Brothers during the opening ceremonies.


A video posted by Andrew Thomas (@andrew.s.thomas) on


The Hacking Arts Conference was also a great opportunity to see old friends. Artist and Shapeways Shop Owner Bathsheba Grossman came by to play with some of her math-inspired Klein Bottle openers, printed in a variety of materials.


We had a great time talking to hackers, artists, and lifelong learners at the Hacking Arts Conference. Are you a student combining design and technology? You can sign up for our education program here.