Author Archives: Virginia Gordon

Brand Spotlight: ALEPHba Jewelry

Structured, minimal, and personalized are just a few words that describe ALEPHba jewelry. ALEPHba was created by an architect and a scientist who both needed to find a perfect present for a mutual friend. The initial ring transformed into an entire collection and with that, the team grew twofold. ALEPHAba now includes Morteza, Kylee, Tommaso, and Efthymia. We were lucky to get a chance to speak with Morteza and the team this week about their experience opening ALEPHba and where they see the brand heading.

The ALEPHba team includes Morteza, Kylee, Tommaso, and Efthymia. How did you all come together to create ALEPHba?

I think it started about a year ago when Efthymia and I wanted to get a gift for a common friend and I remember I just had heard of Shapeways at the time and I really wanted to try it out. I work as an architectural designer in New York and because of that I’m fairly familiar with 3D printing and 3D software in general. So we quickly modeled what we could now call ALEPHba’s first prototype ring, and that was about it. It was only after that first prototype was very well-received in the design community that we thought of making ALEPHba jewelry a thing.

Render of the collection by ALEPHba

I was very lucky to have such talented friends like Kylee and Tomasso who offered their help to make ALEPHba become a reality. Both of them bring a lot of new ideas to the table and helping us grow as a brand. It’s a new experience for all of us, and what’s important is that each of us learns something new along the way.

M prototype in strong & flexible

Your ring designs are elegantly minimal and personalized. Where did the inspiration for the core design come from?

What really inspired us in the first place was the alphabet itself, the fact that so many words with so much meaning come from putting a limited number of letters in a specific order.

We wanted to make a collection that is not just about the jewelry piece itself, but rather about the person who’s wearing it. We designed each letter of the alphabet elegantly to both stand on its own as a unique piece and complement others when paired in endless combinations.

Our work is an expression of alphabet in a three dimensional form, similar to the art of calligraphy that is the expression of alphabet in two dimensions.

 Your shop is beautiful, complete with custom renders and photos. What is your process for creating these designs and the overall brand? Does each member focus on a different feature?

One of the main goals we had launching the new collection of ALEPHba jewelry and the new website was to focus on building a brand identity, and all of us contributed to envisioning what that is. Beautiful renderings and accurate photos are an essential part of this effort. Another option we wanted to make sure we give our customers was sizing.

We knew the combination of different sizes and different letters of alphabet would be plenty. So we took advantage of parametric design tools to expedite production of different options and sizes.

The sizing chart you have created is not only beautiful but functional. Could you tell us a bit why you found a need to create it?

ALEPHba size guide

Our size guide is part of a bigger effort we made in making the online shopping experience for jewelry a bit easier.

We knew that the fit is extremely important for a person buying a ring or bracelet, but unfortunately there’s a gap between the customer and the physical product in online shopping experience. We wanted to help bridge that gap with our size guide.

Business cards double as ring sizers

We designed it to be beautiful and serve a purpose. It is made in the form of a bracelet so it can be worn like one. On the surface, there are ten circular holes, each representing a ring size. You can find your ring size by trying each of the holes around your finger until one fits perfectly. That would be your ring size.

Our collection currently only includes rings, but we are already working on bracelets and other items. The size guide can also help finding your bracelet size. Just wear the piece around your wrist as you would with any cuff bracelets. If it’s a good fit, then your bracelet size is Medium. If you find it very loose around your wrist, you’re probably a Small. But if the fit is too tight, you should probably go with the Large.

Shapeways’ inexpensive option for plastic prints and quick turnaround was a key factor for us deciding to make something like this. We’re hoping the turnaround time is even shorter in the future.

Looking forward, where is ALEPHba headed?

We’re very excited to launch our new website that’s integrated with Shapeways and see what the reaction is from the community.

3D printing has a lot of potential in jewelry design, and we’re happy to be part of this movement. We are already working on adding new products to our collection and have a lot of cool ideas that our fans should expect to hear about on our Instagram and Twitter.

We would really love to get more engaged with our customers and hear what they think and how we can improve our products.

We are working on setting up a small pop-up store in Brooklyn with samples of our products to engage with more people and give them a chance to see and try the products for themselves.

If you would like to learn more about ALEPHba or pick up your very own ring, check out their Shapeways shopInstagram, or website.

BHDA Finishing Tips and Techniques: Support and Nub Removal

BHDA — or black high definition acrylate — is the most recent material added to our roster. Starting as a maker material, BHDA was released this fall to all shoppers because of its amazing detail, finish, durability, and color. However, this material does have one aspect that’s somewhat unusual for Shapeways: models are printed with support structures. Until today, we removed the supports from all models during post-processing in our factory. But, this went beyond what many of our makers wanted. So, starting today, to give you more flexibility around the way your models look, you now have the option to receive your BHDA models with supports still attached. Below, we’ll show you how to remove supports and, if you’ve chosen to receive your model with the supports removed, how to remove the tiny support nubs that will remain on a portion of the surface.

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The USS Arkansas 1/1800 model by C.O.B. Constructs and Miniatures with supports and after support removal

 

Why does this material have supports and nubs?

These support and nubs exist due to the production process. Before printing the model, the 3D printing engineers will check the model in order to ensure that the design meets printing guidelines and can make it through the production process. Next, support structures are added to the design file using a variety of preset supports which are selected based on your model’s geometry. If your design is particularly intricate, individual supports are added to delicate areas. These support structures hold the model to the build plate while they are printing, while offering strength to the product as it is being printed.

Once the models have had the supports added and are oriented in the build, the production team will load the models to the printer. The printers use direct light projection technology, which includes a liquid resin, and light to cure the material. Each build is created layer by layer using light voxels to cure the resin to the previous layer.

Once the build is completed and cured, the supports can be removed in the factory. If you opt to order your model with supports, this will be the first step after receiving your model. This removal process uses a metal spatula, snippers, tweezers, and mineral oil. After the supports have been removed, small nubs will remain on the part. However, it is possible to finish the surface to a smooth, clean finish with minimal effort.

 

How to hand-finish your products:

Initial Finishing Tools

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  1. Snippers: Cut off supports

  2. Craft Spatula: Scrape off supports

  3. Tweezers: Pull off supports and scraping off nubs

 

Final Finishing Tools

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  1. ≥ 600 grit sandpaper: sand off nubs

  2. Paint brush: apply finishing lotion or mineral oil

  3. Mineral oil or lotion: moisturize material to remove scratches

 

TECHNIQUES

Large Support Removal

Starting today, designers can choose to receive their models complete with supports. These designers are interested in removing the supports at home.

TIP: Check the 3D file of the model while removing these supports to avoid removing crucial parts of the model.  

If your model has many wiry parts or fragile overhangs, it is best to use snippers to remove these supports. This will help to protect the model. When you have a wall that meets many supports, tweezers or metal spatulas may be used to remove multiple supports at one time. You can angle the tweezers or the spatula flush against the wall of the model and pull downward. This will “unzip” the supports from the actual structure. Ensure you are careful with the spatula as this can cause unintentional gashes.

 

Nub Removal  

Once the large supports have been removed, small nubs will remain. These can be easily removed with tweezers, ≥ 600 grit sandpaper, and mineral oil. The tweezers are used to scrape off the larger nubs.

CAUTION: Be careful not to add excess pressure as this material can easily scratch. Cosmetic scratches can be removed, but deep scratches will need additional buffing.

≥ 600 grit sandpaper should gently rub off the remaining nubs. This should take just a few swipes back and forth to notice the nubs disappearing. This material, although strong, does polish quickly. Double check while you are polishing you are not rounding sharp edges or losing details while sanding.

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USS Arkansas 1/1800 model by C.O.B. Constructs and Miniatures

Left side before polishing / right side after sanding for 1 minute with mineral oil

 

Final Finishing Step

Once you have sanded off those final nubs and are left with a smooth surface, a few small white marks from the tools may remain. This is where the mineral oil or lotion comes in. These can be gently painted on the material to moisturize and remove the superficial scratches and scrapes.

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With all supports removed

BHDA is durable due to its strength and elongation properties, yet it is very easy to polish. This makes this material perfect for those that are looking to create miniatures. The surface is smooth and high-detail where no supports have been laid. Where the supports have been placed, these nubs can be smoothed to a soft clean surface with brief sanding. This allows for paint and other finishing treatments to be added precisely and with little post processing.

If you are looking for more information on this material, I recommend referencing the materials page — or testing one out for yourself.

A figurine with and without supports

Ill Gotten Games’ Elf Ranger shown with supports and after support removal

Post-Processing Tips: Hand-Dyeing Strong & Flexible Plastics

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Though a lot of people know how easy it is to use Shapeways to create simple designs or 3D print their own existing designs, fewer people realize how easy it can be to customize jewelry, miniatures, and other pieces after you receive your prints. In today’s post, we’ll explore an easy custom jewelry finishing technique for Strong & Flexible plastic.

Strong & Flexible plastic is an incredibly versatile material. When this material is designed thin, it’s flexible enough for catapults or springs. When designed thick, it’s strong enough for a variety of tools or structural components.

Strong & Flexible is printed using SLS, or selective laser sintering. This process uses two lasers to sinter together nylon powder, layer by layer, until an entire printer build is complete.

The nylon powder that is used always begins as white. If a color is selected during the checkout process, we will hand-dye the material to your choice.

If you decide you would like to create custom colors at home, here’s how to get started:

Materials Required:

  • Pick Tool Set

  • Small Brush

  • Metal Pot & Water

  • Nylon or Synthetic Fabric Dye

  • Drying Rack & Paper Towels

CLEANING PROCESS

The cleaning process is required to remove the excess support material (in this case, nylon powder) from the 3D printed products. This will allow for a clean and smooth surface to finish the designs. If all of the powder is not removed you may be left with areas that do not receive dye.

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Pick Tool Set: gently scrape away any excess support material (nylon powder) caught in crevasses or holes.

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Small Brush: Using a small brush, wipe away the remaining powder.

 

DYEING PROCESS

The dyeing process requires just a few materials: synthetic fabric dye, a metal pot, and water.

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1. Create Dye Mixture

Measure out the appropriate dye and water for the material you will be dyeing. The instructions on the packaging should list out the appropriate amount.

Allow water and dye to come to a simmer and stir until dye is completely dissolved. If dye floats to the top, just scoop off the excess material.

2. Dye Products

Using a sample piece of material, test the dye and the timing for desired results. The amount of time the model remains in the pot will vary depending on your design and desired results. This can range from 3 – 10 minutes.

Submerge products fully within the hot liquid mixture. Follow your test results for perfect timing.

3. Air Dry

Air dry until the material is no longer wet to the touch. You may pat dry the products using paper towels to remove any excess water or dye.The dye should have saturated the top layer of the product. If not, replace the model in the pot for further dyeing.

Dyed Strong & Flexible pieces

Dyed Strong & Flexible pieces

Strong & Flexible nylon plastic is an extremely versatile material in its potential uses and finishes. We would love to hear how you customize this material at home. If you have your own post-processing techniques, please share in the comments or on our post-processing forum here.

Shapeways Goes to India: Maker Fest Ahmedabad

Perched on the western side of India sits Ahmedabad University, the site of the fourth annual Maker Fest Ahmedabad. This past weekend Shapeways attended the three-day event which welcomed over 30,000 attendees from Gujarat and around the world.

Maker Fest was founded by Asha Jadeja, an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and philanthropist. Jadeja’s vision for the festival is “to catalyze innovation and entrepreneurship in India at the grassroots level.” Maker Fest is fulfilling this vision through the incredible artisans, makers, and hobbyists who showcased. These included everyone from ceramicists with wheel-throwing tutorials to local drone startups. The diverse group of regional and international makers offered over 45 workshops throughout the three-day event.

The author at Maker Fest

The author at Maker Fest

Lauren Slowik (Shapeways Design Evangelist) and I represented the Shapeways community at the event. We featured a bevy of Shapeways designers and offered a variety of workshops from 3D scanning to hand-dyeing 3D printed products. The visitors, of all ages and expertise, were introduced to the different 3D printing methods and the possibilities of the technology.

Lauren Slowik demonstrates 3D modeling

Lauren Slowik demonstrates 3D scanning

The Maker Fest included over 15 speakers with a keynote by Jan Jannink, Stanford professor and entrepreneur. The lecture covered the importance of A.I. to modern society and what the future may hold.

india 4 

To learn more about this continuously growing event, click here. Let us know in the comments what local maker events you love, and where you’d like to see Shapeways go next.

 

How to Make It a Model (Train) Holiday

CNSM 741 – 776 Silverliner Series Coach by Box Car Models

The holidays always evoke nostalgia for family traditions. For my family, one of these traditions was to put a model train set around the base of the Christmas tree. It was that finishing touch that said the holidays were really here. This week, we’re offering gift ideas from all the Tiny Worlds our designers create, and I hope you’ll be inspired to make model trains a part of your family’s holiday traditions.

Shapeways offers an enormous variety of model trains that are as detailed as those you’d see on tracks around the world. But, 3D printed models do require a few finishing touches. Model trains are printed in a number of scales and sizes, and generally produced in Frosted Detail Plastic. The post-processing of these trains in Frosted Detail requires a few tools:

  • Acetone or Simple Green

  • Primer

  • Synthetic Paint Brush Set or Airbrush Kit

  • Acrylic or Enamel Paint

  • Matte or Satin Varnish

Once the tools are assembled, you are well on your way to getting your perfect model train ready.

1. Model Prep

If there is any residual oil or wax support material left over from the production process, this can easily be removed using acetone or Simple Green solvent. You can simply dip and air dry the model. Or, using a paint brush, you can lightly spread the solvent on the train and air dry.

**TIP** If you notice an excess amount of residual support material or details are distorted, this may call for a reprint. Please send an image and order number to service@shapeways.com.

2. First Coat – Prime

Primer is added as a first coat in order to provide a uniform surface and offer a stronger hold for your paints. Recommended primer colors include black, grey, or white. Your primer color selection will depend on the colors you decide for your top coat.

In order to keep the finest details visible, it is best to use a thin primer. For example, Krylon Color Master Primer will do the job.

3. Paint

Models can be painted in a variety of ways. The most common methods for painting a high-detail finish include airbrushing and hand-painting.

Airbrush painting is a great method for coating large areas of your design more quickly. This will require a fine-tip sprayer kit and masking to cover the areas that are not intended to be painted.

Hand-painting might be a bit more accessible to those who don’t want to invest in an airbrush kit. For this method, a range of small-sized synthetic brushes are recommended. The synthetic hairs do not fray, have a longer life span, and allow for finer points due to their stiffer structure.

With hand-painting, we suggest using acrylic or enamel model paints. First, add your larger base details using a larger brush. Then, with a smaller brush, use the lighter colors to make your details pop. Once painted, let the material dry completely before moving on to the next step.

4. Clear Coat

The final step to finishing your model train is to add a varnish. This will seal the paints and offer the appropriate sheen. Choose a matte or satin finish depending on your glossiness preference.

The varnish should be thinly applied and set to dry. Once dried, the model is ready to be displayed.

HO scale 1:87 CSX SD40-3 Wabtec Cab by Boxcar Models

This year, we hope you’ll make model trains a part of your holiday tradition, whether you make and give them as gifts or set them up for all to see. Who knows? Maybe hand-finishing model trains can be your new favorite family holiday pastime.

And, for everyone on your list, make sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide. It’s also full of ways to bring all kinds of Tiny Worlds to life.

Do you have any tips or tricks to finishing your model trains? We would love to hear them, so please share them with the community on our forum or in the comments below.

The App That Tricks the Eye

As the holidays approach, that unique personalized gift you’re looking for may just be a 3DWordFlip by Sparenberg Designworks. This creative application allows you to take two individual words and morph them into one 3D optical illusion.

3d WordFlip Demonstration

3DWordFlip takes two different sets of characters and forms them into a single 3D design file. From one view, you can clearly see the first set of letters. Flip the model 90 degrees, and the next set of characters appears.

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3DWordFlip has font variations and specialty message types including birthdays, weddings, and special phrases. In order to begin, select the occasion that best fits your needs.

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To create the model, input your information for both fields and select “generate.” This will provide you with a render of your design as well as an estimated quote. Once you are satisfied with the design, you may save your design for later or upload directly to Shapeways.

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Once the model is uploaded to Shapeways, you are provided with a number of materials and colors to choose from.

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Shapeways provides a listing of a variety of easy creator applications including 3DWordFlip that you can use to design your individualized gifts. Your presents will be delightfully meaningful — and uniquely 3D printed.

Tips for Designing in Porcelain

Porcelain is an ancient technology that has been transformed by modern machinery and 3D printing. Designs once impossible to create by hand are now possible using 3D printers. At Shapeways, we launched our very own porcelain process in 2014 that uses your 3D design file to print a mold and cast using our own porcelain material.

As expected with all new technologies, there are limitations. To understand how to optimally design for 3D printed porcelain, it is important to understand the production process as well as the caveats of the material. Read on to learn about each stage of production and find tips on how to design in porcelain to make your finished objects just right.

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How is 3D printed porcelain created?

1.  3D printing engineers check your design

Once you place your order, your model file is sent over to our 3D printing engineers who specialize in porcelain. They inspect the model to ensure that the mold of the design can be printed and continue through the production process.

2.  The mold is generated and printed

We have developed software that generates a mold of your 3D file. You can imagine the mold as a shell or the negative space of your design. We will also generate a small funnel that will be used to cast your product.

3.  The mold is cut and cleaned

Once the model is taken out of the printer, it must be cleaned of all residual support material. In order to completely clear out all of the material, the mold must be cut to reach the interior. Imagine the mold as the “skin” of your model or the negative space. The mold and overall design must be able to hold together in order to eventually cast in porcelain.

4.  The mold is reassembled

After the mold has been cleaned out, it must be glued back together in order to cast. This creates a seam where the model has been cut and glued. However, this will later be sanded and repaired by hand.

The exterior funnel will be glued to the mold for the next step in the process, casting.

5.  Porcelain is cast in the mold

The porcelain material is poured into the mold through the exterior funnel. The porcelain material within the mold will settle and harden.

6.  The mold is removed

Once the porcelain is fully hardened, the mold will be removed and the porcelain model will remain.

7.  Model goes into first firing

Immediately after the mold has been removed, the design goes into the kiln for its first firing. This hardens the design so that the model may be repaired and glazed.

8.  Model is repaired and hand finished

With the first firing complete, the model is strong enough to repair. There are a few types of repairs that may be performed. First, the porcelain team uses a variety of tools to carefully remove the seam lines left by the mold. Second, if the porcelain has not reached all ends of the mold or has generated any air pockets, these minor imperfections will be patched and repaired by hand.

9.  Model goes into second firing

If your model needed to be patched, the product will go in for a second firing. This cycle of repairs and firings can happen a few times in order to get your design just right.

10.  Product is glazed

Your design will be hand dipped in a liquid glaze. Any excess glaze on the base of the design will be wiped away in order to avoid the glaze from sticking to the kiln.

11.  Glaze firing

Once the base has been wiped clean, the model enters the kiln for the glaze firing. This will solidify the food-safe coating of glaze on the design. In some cases, the model may need to be re-glazed and fired due to unpredictable surface issues, such as small pin holes or patches that were not glazed fully. A re-glaze may cause pooling of glaze on the model.

12.  Finished model

The model is then packaged carefully and sent to the distribution center to be shipped off to you.

What do you need to consider before designing in porcelain?

There are two aspects of porcelain to consider before you begin to design your product. First, the glaze that will coat your design. Second, the properties of the production process.

GLAZE

During the glazing process, your model is dipped in the thick glaze liquid. Excess glaze drips off and the base is cleaned so that it may rest on the kiln shelf without fusing to the bottom. While the model is in the kiln the glaze becomes molten. After cooling, the result is a stronger, hardened layer of colored food-safe glass.

FIT AND HOLE CLEARANCE

Our glazes run a thickness of 1 to 2 mm. This means that if precise fit and unobstructed holes are important to your model, ensure you have left at least 2 millimeters of clearance on EVERY wall.

In the image below you can see two differently sized holes. The hole on the left is larger than 5 mm wide. This will allow the glaze to coat the inside without closing the hole. The hole on the right displays a 4 mm hole, the glaze will completely obstruct this hole eliminating the ability for clearance.

UNOBSTRUCTED HOLE                          OBSTRUCTED HOLE

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The same logic applies for lids that fit onto containers. The lid should account for the glaze that will be applied as well as the container itself. Meaning, your design should have at least 4 mm of space between the lid and the container.

DESIGN DETAILS

Details of a design can get lost under a layer of glaze. It is necessary to consider the depth, height, and width of the detail of before submitting your design. On our porcelain material page, we recommend a minimum of 1 mm height and width of detail. If you are aiming for sharp details, consider making them greater than this minimum.

We have published a previous post depicting examples of details after being glazed in each of our color options. As mentioned, each color has a slight variation of thickness. For the clearest text or imagery, please ensure you accommodate for the glaze.

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SUPPORTIVE STRUCTURES

Adding feet to your standing designs are useful for avoiding fully unglazed bases. While designing these decorative and useful features, there are couple aspects to keep in mind:

  • The height of the feet should be greater than the thickness of the glaze. Otherwise, the base will be required to go unglazed.

  • Long spindly feet can break during casting. Please ensure that the height and thickness of the feet are comparable or that the thickness can allow for the feet to fully cast

ROUND vs. SHARP EDGES

Sharp edges and rounded edges will affect how the glaze rests on the model after firing. In the images below, you can see how a sharp edge will split the glaze whereas a rounded edge will allow the glaze to roll over the edge. One is not better than the other; they are merely aesthetically different.

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ORIENTATION

All models must be able to stand on their own, as they will be fired with other models in a single kiln. At this time stilts and supports are not included in the production process. This means that the model must have a base or feet to rest on. With designer-selected orientation, you have the power to determine which side of the model goes unglazed and rests on the kiln during the firing process.

During the upload process, a render is provided to select the top and bottom of your design. Arrows may be selected to rotate the design in the proper orientation. Top and bottom indicators are located on the render image. NOTE: The orientation in the render will be the orientation in production.

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PRODUCTION PROPERTIES:

BOUNDING BOX

The bounding box for porcelain states the limits of how large or small your design can be. These limits are important to consider before taking the time to completely design your item.

Minimum: 40 × 40 × 10 mm

Maximum: 125 × 125 × 200 mm

WALL AND WIRE THICKNESS

In order for a model to cast completely and reach the very edges of the design, walls and wires must be thick enough for the comparable length.

The smaller the model or shorter the wire, the thinner it may be. This is demonstrated in the image below. If the model is 2 mm thin and very short, it is easier for the porcelain to make it to the end of the mold. Otherwise, if the design is long and thin, it is nearly impossible for the porcelain to fill the mold completely.

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With extremely thin wires, holes, and walls, cleaning out the mold by hand can cause breaks with insufficient thickness. So it is especially important to consider making these features larger than 3 mm for the best result. This does not increase pricing greatly as porcelain is priced by surface area. Adding thickness does not increase price as it does with other materials.

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Elevate your porcelain ideas by using these tips and techniques. Let those details shine through and make sure your design glides through the production process. Once you’ve printed your design, you can begin selling on the Shapeways marketplace!

Jewelry Prototyping Tips

An idea emerges and you hop to the drawing board itching to see what comes to life. In most scenarios this first iteration is probably not what you had in mind. Rather, the design will be modified for any number of reasons. This can be especially true when designing jewelry. A ring, bracelet, necklace or any accessory must fit, hold an appropriate scale, meet your personal aesthetic, and retain important details. All of these facets of the design can be perfected when brought to life with prototyping.

Ring Set

The cycle of designing has no beginning or end because your process may start at any given point and continue any number of times. Prototyping is one step within this iterative process, and it allows you to take a step back and consider how you can improve your design.

The Iterative Design Process

When should you prototype?

Consider it necessary to prototype when you are looking to create jewelry with custom sizes or settings, such as stone settings. By prototyping these products you can ensure that the piece of jewelry or stone will fit correctly for your final iteration.

In the early stages, it is best to prototype your jewelry design before selling to the public. Printing in a more low cost material to start gives you the opportunity to evaluate the scale and fit of your product, and will save you from returns and excess spending. Once you’ve approved your prototype, you can move onto some of our precious metal materials.

The difference between a render and a physical object is greater than one may anticipate. Although measuring your model will provide you with concrete dimensions, there is nothing like holding a design in your hand. In my experience the scale of certain design features or even the entire product are always larger or smaller than I prefer. With this intermediary step, I get the opportunity to correct and improve upon this.

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What material should you prototype in?

While your final design will most likely be printed in a cast metal or steel, your initial prototypes will not require one of these materials with a longer lead time and higher price point. Instead, initial prototyping can be printed with frosted ultra detail or strong and flexible. These materials are great for quick turn around and a fair understanding of the overall look and fit of your final product.

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Frosted Ultra Detail:

This material is great for a clean and high detail finish, particularly if you are looking to print your final model in a cast metal.

Strong and Flexible:

For a lower price point prototype, you can print in strong and flexible. This material is also offered in rush production, for those who need to move quickly.

TIP: Please do keep in mind that different materials have similar but different guidelines. Make sure that while you are prototyping you are following the guidelines of the material you will ultimately be printing in.

Now after the initial prototypes are completed and you have made another cycle through the Iterative Design Process, a final prototype can be created in a beautifully polished or unpolished cast metal such as brass or bronze. These are particularly beneficial when looking to print your final model in silver, platinum, gold, or a precious plated metals.

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Brass or Bronze:

Brass  and bronze are significantly less expensive and go through a similar production process as the other cast metals. These cast metal prototypes will demonstrate the extent of polishing you can expect and which tiny details will be able to make it through the production process.

three ring set

A prototype can be the stepping stone to a finalized design or even an inspiration for your next project. Skipping this step can be a missed opportunity to creating that perfect piece of jewelry.

If you are looking to learn more about the design process and the materials at Shapeways, take a look at the Back to the Basics for designers.

Behind the Product with Corinne Whitaker

Today we are showcasing, Corinne Whitaker, a pioneer in the digital arts. Whitaker got her start in the digital arts in the early 80’s processing irrational equations through various programs to see what forms would appear. After more than 3 decades, her work has grown to include massive 3D printed sculptures, catalogs of digital designs, and paintings. Whitaker has exhibited her work at galleries and museums around the world.

corinnewhitaker

Could you tell us a little about yourself? 

I am based in Foster City, CA., in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the
epicenter of the “Can Do” ethos, surrounded by innovation and optimism. I
started working/playing with computers in 1981, when I became fascinated
with the patterns and colors they offered, realizing that they could see
millions more colors than the human eye. I was also intrigued by the idea
that I was entering unknown territory, where few had ventured before me.
There were lots of questions, few answers, and no rules (my kind of
place). That’s why my recent solo show at the Peninsula Museum of Art in
Burlingame, CA was titled “NoRules”! This meant that I didn’t have the
ghosts of Ansel Adams on one shoulder and of Picasso on the other. It was
both exhilarating and scary.

gr_blackpearl

Where does your experience in 3D modeling originate?

Initially there were almost no art programs, let alone 3D, so I began by
entering irrational equations into science programs to see what would
happen. I love accidents, and I still work that way. At the start, desktop
computers had neither parallel processing nor multi-tasking, so creating
in 3D was more than challenging. (ie, 48 hours of down time, ending in a
frozen screen and no image!). Eventually I worked with a Canadian company
(Alias Sketch) whose software offered organic possibilities combined with
excellent customer support; unfortunately they were bought out and
discontinued.

gr_alienincoming2

What is your preference in modeling software and why?

Computers at that time were essentially edge-based and geometric, whereas
I have always been drawn to the organic. This continues to influence my
choice of programs today.

gr_wynkenred

What are your designs inspired by? Could you please share the story behind your sculptures?

My designs are influenced by my conviction that the human species is due to expire, either by self-destruction, exhaustion of natural resources, or cosmic intervention (are we the dinosaurs, after all?) so I create as though I were out in the cosmos somewhere, free of gravity, and speculating on what the next creatures might look like.I am also convinced that a new visual language is necessary to reflect the change in viewpoint that NASA gave to us with its explorations in space. Basically they freed us from Renaissance perspective and introduced a cosmically-based view of living matter. The next group of creatures will almost certainly be based on something other than carbon: what happens if they view us with dismay, if they do not want to acknowledge us as their forebears, if they cannot even figure out what humans were used for? Being unseen in history is a terrifying thought (although one familiar to women artists, but that’s another story).

gr_blynken

What was your first interaction with 3D printing & Shapeways?

Shapeways has played a large role in my success. It is a leader and
ground-breaker in the industry, enabling me to experiment with life-sized
3D printed figures where other were afraid to try. Its professionalism is
admirable and its customer service a joy. 3D printing allows me to bring
to life the swirl of designs that populate my visual realm. As an industry
it will definitely revolutionize many fields of endeavor.

gr_jive2    gr_finian

Could you describe your process for creating your sculptures?

My thought process is one of letting go and traveling through ideas. It
involves the challenge of putting your ego aside and letting yourself go
crazy to some degree. As artists we have the luxury of knowing that
although we share the wild territory of the insane, we have a round-trip
ticket back to what is commonly called sanity. I like to say that we are
willing to touch the thorn barehanded in order to know the rose.

gr_blackswans              gr_dervishgold

At the moment, the biggest difficulty in creating 3D printed sculpture
remains the software. It presents a steep uphill learning curve.
Familiarity with standard 2D software does not translate easily into 3D,
and each 3D program tends to have its own vocabulary. Eventually we will
do away with the software entirely.

But if you love challenge, if you love exploring the new and unfamiliar,
if you love experimenting and want to taste tomorrow, this is the place to
be!

gr_3Dblobs

For more with Whitaker:

You can find all of Whitaker’s work on her website, www.giraffe.com

To learn more about her history, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corinne_Whitaker

Current Exhibitions:

On view at Vargas Gallery, Mission College 3000 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95054 December 1st – December 19th

“Virtually Solid: Digital Fabrication as Sculpture” at Wilson Center of the Arts, Florida State College 11901 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, FL January 2016

On view at Paul Mahder Gallery 222 Healdsburg Avenue Healdsburg, CA 95448 (http://www.paulmahdergallery.com/artists/whitaker/corinne_whitaker.htm)

Publications:

Four catalogs of CAD models and poetry, all titled “If We Are Erased”

www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=corinne+whitaker         www.giraffe.com/gr_catalogs.html

“It’s like putting a microscope inside my brain to illuminate the origins of my new species.”

Behind the Product: Andrea van Hintum Designs

In this feature of Behind the Product, we focus on the designs of Andrea van Hintum. Hintum was awarded the Shapeways Education Grant in Spring 2015 for her senior thesis collection at the Savannah College of Art and Design. This collection was unique in that Hintum incorporated hand sewn garments paired with her own 3D printed accessories. Since graduation, Hintum has moved to New York and worked with a number of designers on 3D printed textiles and accessories.

Poseidon

Could you describe the story of your designs and what inspired them?
The ideas and inspiration for my thesis came through my late father’s profession as an electrical engineer. I have always been so inspired by his work, creativity, and the person that he was.  I moved forward and created a collection that would carry the representational meaning and aesthetic of both electrical and mechanical engineering. Structure, shapes, and materials for my designs were reflected from a variety of mechanical and electrical machinery. The textiles used within the collection are all industrial and conductive fabrics with contents of stainless steel and blends of nickel, sliver, and copper coatings. With the incredible techniques I had learned in my short three years at SCAD and the 2012 Computational Fashion Master Class held by Eyebeam, I could finally make my dream of 3D printing fashion a reality. With techniques and knowledge in 3D modeling and printing, I incorporated 3D printed nylon into my senior collection. I am the first designer in 36 years at SCAD to incorporate, design, and put 3D printing down the runway. It is an achievement I am so proud of because the amount of hours put into it was unbearable.

Please describe the process you used to create your final product.
I was inspired by machinery of all kinds. The shapes and structures are so innovative and bold and that inspired me to 3D model accessories with the same aesthetic. Machines with sharp structured blades were my absolute favorite. I began fabricating with paper to get an idea of what maybe could be a bladed corset or even a neck piece. That strong and structured shape just gave me endless ideas of what I could create for each look.

Once I had my idea down, I needed a body to 3D model from in order to get the right shapes and curves. I 3D scanned a dress form with 123D catch. I then imported the form into Meshmixer. This is where I would sculpt my sloppers to make sure the contours would reflect to the body. Once I had my ideal shape, I imported the surfaces into Rhino and began 3D modeling. I would 3D print half scale prototypes to make sure the design and thickness were meeting my standards. From there after several more hours, long nights, and computer screen scans, I submitted my work to Shapeways and the magic happened.

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The combination of engineering and fashion is intriguing. What was your experience bringing these two worlds together?
I really believe the aesthetics of fashion and engineering are quite similar. Material and function are very important in both subjects. An engineer has the responsibility to come up with how to make an object do its functions. A technical designer is handed a design and it is our job to figure out how to make it and bring it to life being both wearable and working. Engineering and fashion are both very important because we use these subjects every single day in our lives. It takes so much concentration, work, and determination to pursue these careers that both an engineer and designer have grown to live with eyes for details.

I really enjoyed using engineering as my muse for this collection. It made me look and think in different ways. Taking this inspiration really gave me the opportunity to try nontraditional textiles and incorporate 3D printing. I do see myself exploring more type of engineering aspects and I am sure they will continue to inspire me.

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How did you learn to design in 3D?
I’ve always loved to work with my hands and I knew that when I decided to make Sculpture my minor back at SCAD, it was going to benefit me in my fashion career. You see, the most successful way for me to come up with designs or to get inspired would always start by working in 3D. Once I knew what direction I wanted to take, I would translate the design to a more descriptive 2D work, then end up with a physical 3D object and/or design. The great thing is that that process works similar in sculpture. It was very exciting to know that I was going to get the chance to learn 3D modeling because of my minor. I was determined to learn 3D modeling and incorporate it into my first collection as a designer. I wanted to be that bold designer who would add something completely unique and different into their designs. However I really did not know a thing about Rhino or any 3D sculpting program. I had taken the beginner 3D modeling class and learned the basics of Rhino. At first Rhino intimidated me, but with practice I became way more comfortable and confident with the program. I got so use to modeling in Rhino that every little thing I saw, I would tell myself that I could easily 3D model it. It was a really cool feeling, because most fashion designers really don’t go through that.

Do you have a preferred modeling software?
I love Rhino. You can always learn something new whenever you 3D model something. So many techniques to learn, and the fact that you can design whatever you want is pretty awesome. I’m all about details. I have learned Grasshopper, but I would much rather spend the time on and hand-build the details with Rhino. It can be tedious, and it really works your eye for detail, but there is no greater feeling to know that you have created something that does not exist anywhere else.

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Who are some of your favorite designers and artists? Shapeways designers?
Iris van Herpen really was my attention starter to create such innovative and interesting designs. She never has a collection that is like the other in any other way. She is the type of designer to constantly show something new and give people something to talk about. Her works are walking pieces of art and the materials and concept behind them are always what makes me appreciate her designs even more. I admire many other designers for a variety of reasons. Maxime Simoens, Krikor Jabotian, Ralph Lauren, Addy van den Krommenacker – just to name a few.

I really admire Auguste Rodin and his attention to detail and emotion in his works of art. He tells stories and encourages his viewer to physically relate to his works of art. Vladimir Tatlin is another artist and designer I have really grown to appreciate. He is a painter and architect with an interesting background and story. I really admire his architecture and how he made such an influence in art and design.

Lauren Slowik has been pretty awesome. I met her at the Computational Fashion Master class last summer and she was just so cool to be around and learn from her. She has stayed in contact with me throughout this year and has advised me with terms of how I should print in Shapeways. I am really grateful that I got to meet Lauren….thanks so much again Lauren!!!

Screenshot_2015-05-28-16-34-29-1

What opportunities do you believe 3D printing brings to art and fashion?
3D modeling and printing can benefit anyone. Artists, designers, doctors, teachers, even kids can benefit by learning this skill. With 3D modeling you are ALWAYS learning new things such as: new ways of problem solving, creative thinking, and general knowledge overall. It gives a clear 360 view on anything. Not just physically but also functionally to. Fashion is going to continue to benefit from this because it is building up way more creative ideas and designs in the industry.  I am serious when I tell people that I really see 3D modeling and printing changing the world and I am excited to actually be a part of that.

Is 3D printing being used in the fashion industry?
I believe it is getting to a point that most designers today are considering incorporating 3D printing, especially now that you can even 3D print in gold, titanium, and other unique materials. The creativity is endless! However, I think the new up and coming designers are really taking action with fashion technology. As 3D printers become more affordable and accessible, I think every designer should have a 3D printer in the work room.

I was so proud to see Karl Lagerfield bring 3D printing down the runway in Chanel’s fashion show this summer. He understands the beauty and elegance in 3D printing fashion and it was all executed just right. As fashion week comes up, I can’t wait to see who is next to use 3D printing. The cool thing is that each designer who will 3D print is going to make it different from the other and that is the best part about this technology.

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What were some of the most important steps during the design process?
The Computational Fashion Master class was the best decision I made in this whole experience. I got to learn from designers and instructors in the industry of 3D design. I met so many people who made a mark in the 3D design world that became very inspiring to me. I learned the whole process of what it is like to really 3D print fashion. I got to interact with other artists, designers and leaders at Shapeways. I always recommend that workshop to those who want to start learning 3D fashion. At the end of the class each team presented a 3D printed garment in an exhibition during fashion week last fall. I was even more thrilled to find out that my teams design was later shown in Dutch Design week in October 2014!

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Were you met with any difficulties during the production process?
I honestly could write an entire book from my whole experience of senior collection. To design, pattern make, drape, and sew a collection by yourself is already the most overwhelming thing to do. Aside from constantly working in the sewing lab, I had to 3D model my pieces and accessories. It really took drive and passion for me to do everything. To 3D model such complex pieces is not easy and it requires extreme hours to get things done right. I would have all these amazing ideas but in the end it’s about figuring out how you are going to make it happen. It’s not fun to 3D model something so beautiful just to find out in the end you have an odd number of naked edges. Not fun at all! It happens of course, but again you learn as you go and begin to learn steps on how to rebuild surfaces and make a clear more definition of your solids.

Production for me was all about deadlines. Senior collection at SCAD is insanely tough with it only being a quarter system. I was so committed to my collection, because the inspiration and work put into my designs meant the world to me. It was the most challenging year of my life, but the experience was something I will cherish forever. That second I would put my 3D prints on my models I knew I was capable to be whoever I wanted to be and at that moment I knew I had accomplished way more than I ever thought I could. Till this day I can still remember that very moment I saw my gown walk with my 3D prints down the runway at SCAD. It is a memory that will never get old for me to replay again and again.

Can we expect more 3D printed garments from you?
Oh yes! My senior thesis collection was only the beginning. I continue to design 3D printed fashion outside my day job. I love it so much and I am already planning what to 3D model in both garments and accessories. I have more ideas up my sleeve so just stay tuned!

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For more with Hintum:

If you are in the New York area, you can find her work and the work of other 3D modelers displayed at the eyebeam exhibition, Making Patterns. This exhibition is open until the 17th of September and is located at 117 Beekman Street, Manhattan, NY.
For more information: http://eyebeam.org/events/making-patterns.

To take a look inside the artist’s vision and process, you can follow her on Instagram @andreavanhintum or on her website at https://www.behance.net/AndreavanHintum.

In the near future, you will be able to purchase Hintum’s designs through Shapeways. Many of her designs will focus on handbags and other accessories.

Photographer/ Wes Graham
Photo Editor/ Jose Gallo

Behind the Product: Glass Vase Mold

Today we’re showcasing Tim Belliveau, a glassblower, digital artist, illustrator, teacher, and business owner. Tim’s creativity and capacity to bring together 3D printing and glassblowing has proven to be a success and this can be seen in his newest work of 3D printed steel molds used to create hand blown glass vases.  We asked him a few questions about the story behind his work, the creation process, and what he sees for the future.

Who are you? Where are you located?

My name is Tim Belliveau, my current home is Montreal.

TimBelliveau

What is the inspiration and story behind your designs?

Well, the glass piece is a graduate research project in material research from Hexagram at Concordia so I’ll try not to be too wordy. About 2,000 years ago, Roman glassblowers started figuring out how to blow glass into molds and we still use a lot of the same techniques in glass today. I’ve been a glassblower for about 10 years and have been trying to figure out a way to form hot glass with 3D printing and I thought of making molds like the Roman ones. I went to see an exhibition on ancient Roman glass at the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York this spring. That exhibit really highlighted the technology of the first century and how the glass is a record of the innovations at the time. I wanted to do something like that with the technologies of today and have tool marks from the mold on the glass too. You can even kind of see the deposition layers on the glass from the 3D printed bronze if you’re nerdy enough to look for them. Since my vase was born from a computer basically, I thought it made sense to have it faceted and kind of low-res-looking but about the same scale as the old Roman ones.

What was the process you used to create your final pieces?

I made the mold in 3D software and tried to get it as thin as possible. I sent that file to Shapeways to be 3D-printed in bronze. Once I got the mold in the mail, I hired another glass artist, Armel Desrues to assist me at Espace Verre studio in Montréal; he held the mold in place while I would gather hot glass, make a small bubble and then inflate it in the mold. The whole process is pretty finicky; I broke a bunch of glass trying to get it right, but eventually it started working and we finished a small batch of glass pieces. Most glasswork requires assistance and teamwork so its great to have that in the studio since 3D modeling can be so solitary.

Was it necessary to post process your mold before use?

I didn’t have to do anything else to the mold which is great because I’m trying to keep this practice minimal by doing it all from my laptop. There’s something surreal about getting a 3D printed glass mold in the mail and then just walking down the street to make glass pieces from it.

TimProcess

Are others in the glass community using 3D printing?

There are lots of interesting projects popping up in the glass community and some that have been around for a while. I’m going to assist with a class led by Fred Metz and team at the Pilchuck Glass School this summer; its focused on interactions between 3D printing and glass. Sometimes 3D printed positives in plastic/wax are used to make a negative mold that fills with glass later in a kiln but there are lots of techniques.

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How are molds for glass blowing typically created? Was 3d printing beneficial to this process?

For this kind of glass blow-mold the ancient way to do it is to make it by hand out of clay/ ceramic. The industrial revolution way was to cast metals (usually very thick) into molds. You can also use carved wood that has been soaked in water for a few days but those degrade faster and don’t have great detail, same with plaster molds- they’ll give you a few good glass pieces but nothing like the consistency of a metal mold. What impressed me with this process was how I could do everything from my laptop and the mailed pieces were ready to use. Its still very strange to me when I finally get to hold a 3D print that I sculpted but never touched until its done. I also have a lot of control over mold thickness and detail so I was able to get away with using very little material for this mold.

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Looking back on modeling your mold and creating your glass-blown vase, what were some integral steps?

You have to be careful about having undercuts as with any mold-then it just gets stuck and won’t open when the glass goes in. Obviously you have to know the 3D software pretty well to do this kind of thing too. in the glass shop, a good assistant is pretty important too, so again, working with Armel was great.

For the next mold, what would you do differently? The same?

I’m hoping to use ceramic/ porcelain for the next piece; which is nice because it leaves a smoother surface on the glass than bronze does. I learned in this project that the glass can get a lot of detail out of the mold so there are lots of possibilities. I want to work a lot bigger of course but I’m not sure the next thing will look like this. I have a short attention span and change my ideas often.

What were your greatest feats throughout each of the production steps?

I took a risk printing as thin as I did, the glass heat can warp metal sometimes or stick, but I did something right, there. Blender wasn’t originally designed for 3D printing as far as I know so getting accurate dimensions are difficult in parts of the modeling. Glassblowing is a skill that takes years to acquire so combining that with all of these recent developments in 3D printing presented a big enough feat to keep me interested.

TimVaseLineUp

Who are some of your favorite designers or artists? Who on Shapeways has inspired you?

I saw an excellent talk by Del Harrow last year. I’ve also been following the 3D printed work of Caspar Berger and Sophie Kahn (I don’t yet know many artists who work with Shapeways). In a bit of a different direction, I’ve been really interested in some of the work and theory Hito Steyerl is doing with digital media too.

How did you first hear of 3D printing?

A friend of mine told me about Shapeways at a party a few years ago; it sounded like the future and I like the future.

How did you learn to design in 3D?

I taught myself from online tutorials. The tutorials are mostly made by kids half my age and way smarter than me. Its humbling!

Do you have a preference in modeling software?

I mostly use Blender for a few reasons. One, is that its free and I work in the arts so I can share it more easily and download or teach it anywhere. The other great thing about Blender is that I can use it for modelling, printing and animation; the extra features needed are usually free plug-ins and the standard render (cycles) engine is kinda nice. Blender does have its limits though, so I have to come up with work-arounds for some of the ideas I want to do in the program. I started in Truespace years ago which isn’t around anymore and then got into Sketchup when it came out; I’ve also dabbled in Cinema 4D, Rhino and 3DS Max and currently I’m playing with some of Autodesk’s mesh repair and layer-cutting software.

What opportunities do you believe 3D printing brings to artists? How is that demonstrated in your work?

My work goes back and forth between objects that I make physically and art work that exist visually instead, which is sometimes hard to decide on. 3D printing is in a phase where it is expanding into all kinds of art and craft practices; its pretty novel now but in time I think it will fall into place with all kinds of other tools we’ve adopted over the years. I hope my work lands uncomfortably between looking handmade and digital – then it would be demonstrating the opportunities in 3D print. A lot of the things I build in 3D are full-scale large sculptures but I can work on them anywhere and store them for free. I think that’s also a big opportunity with this medium.

Do you have other 3D printing projects in mind?

Yes but I have an intense superstition about talking about new work until its done so I have to be secretive! A lot of the other work I’ve been experimenting with though is laser-cut as 2D layers and assembled into 3D sculptures after. Some of my upcoming work is using that process as well.

For more work by Tim:

You can check out his site here: http://futureforest3d.blogspot.ca

Or through his collaborative art studio, Bee Kingdom Glass, alongside Phillip Bandura and Ryan Fairweather. http://www.beekingdomglass.com

If you are in the Calgary area you can find Tim’s work showing in the ‘Magical Thinking’ exhibition at the Ruberto Ostberg Gallery this fall. http://www.ruberto-ostberg.com/index.html