Category Archives: 3D Printing

Scanning Stories: 3D Selfies Are All Around You… and They’re Amazing


In our new Scanning Stories series, Shapeways’ 3D Scan Engineers Brigitte and Astrid will share tips and tricks to help you make the most of 3D scanning.

Selfies are as old as photography itself. But lately, miniature clone-like 3D printed figurines — better known as 3D Selfies — are taking the world by storm. People are always amazed to see themselves or their loved ones appear in miniature for the first time. But, actually making one of these figurines can be tricky, so we (Brigitte and Astrid, Shapeways 3D Scan Engineers) are here to show you around the world of 3D scanning and 3D Selfies, and share our knowledge about this new industry.

First, let’s get back to basics. Think about where you want to start. Would you like to be 3D scanned or would you like to start your own 3D scanning business?


If you want to be 3D scanned, you can visit one of our certified 3D scanning retail partners, all listed at this link. Get it touch with one of them and make an appointment.

Make sure to wear a colorful, fun outfit that you’ll feel great immortalizing yourself in. You can also bring an object that represents your hobby. This enables a 3D Selfie to capture your personality, making it truly a miniature you.

Once the file is created, your scan will be sent to Shapeways, and you’ll get an email prompting you to choose a material, then purchase your own miniature 3D Selfie.


As members of the scanning team, we will focus more on the scanning itself in the Scanning Stories series. To help you get comfortable with 3D scanning, we’ll be posting blogs in the coming months to provide inspiration for your own scanning business.

Over the course of scanning hundreds of people, we came across a few recurring hurdles. Here are some of the things we will go over in this series:

  • The best software to use for scanning and/or editing

  • Do I buy expensive software, or use freeware?

  • How to create the highest-quality selfies and edit colors, shapes, etc.

  • How to share selfies with my customers

  • Materials

  • Scanning events we participate in

  • The future of 3D scanning

  • And lots more!

When you want to start your own 3D scanning business, it only takes a few small investments. Buy a handheld 3D scanner and software, research the market, and go!

Tips for using handheld scanners:

At the moment, we use the occipital handheld scanner. This device is very easy to set up and quite user-friendly. We also use software (Skanect) that works well with the occipital sensor. It has an upload link to the Shapeways site, so your scan can immediately go from scan to product. Both the software and the scanner are accessibly priced.

Visit this link for more information about the handheld scanners we use.

We’ve made a workflow for you with all the settings and best practices while scanning with the occipital sensor and the skanect software. You can find this workflow here.

If you’d like a more guided approach, here is a series of video tutorials you can follow:

Skanect Tutorials

In our next installment, we’ll talk more about how to improve your scans after scanning. And if you have a subject in mind that we should address in a future Scanning Stories post, please get in touch.

In the meantime, enjoy the amazing world of 3D Selfies!

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.


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.


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.


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.


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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.


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.



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


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.



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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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


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.


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!

Symbols + Science = Jewelry Styles for All

Looking to revamp your jewelry collection?  Symbols are one way to make a statement without going overboard.  They also lend as great conversation pieces for history buffs, trendsetters, and Biochem masters alike.  Our community across the globe has designing symbols down to an art and we’re showing you the creations you don’t want to miss. 

As the masterminds behind Shapeways shop somersault1824, Belgium designers Idoya and Luk make science look sleek. Their minimalist necklaces are perfect for channeling your inner lab geek and make for surprising, sweet gifts.


Phi pendant from somersault1824

There is more than meets the eye with Phi! This letter is the basis for the Golden Ratio, a principle frequently found math and science which can be dated back to sacred architecture and art.  Another important fact to know: Products from somersault1824  support science education. For every pendant sold, the designers invest $5 of the profit in educational resources for scientists, students and teachers with the aim to make these resources available to everyone. Read more about the cause here.

astrocyte pendant

Neuron pendant from somersault1824


DNA pendant from somersault1824

If you like this double helix, you may want to experiment with spirals from other Shapeways shops.  Just don’t get it twisted!  Instead, wear the Twisted Pendant by Jaacov Molcho, one of our featured designers in Sparks Across the Globe.

We also love the pendants Antonios Bliss of Athens, Greece created. His designs reflect a modern adaptation of symbols rooted in native New Mexico.


Native America Zia Sun Symbol Jewelry Pendant from Symbolica.

Any idea what the four parts of this pendant might represent?  Here’s a hint: up to twenty different meanings can be found in total. Read more about the multifaceted design here and discover other fascinating symbols in Symbolica.

Be sure to check out other jewelry designers on Shapeways to find the symbol that suits you and explore all the beautiful options for everyday wear.

Sparks Across the Globe

Sparks Across the Globe Main

“Creating things local for a global village is fascinating.”

- FWPompe, Amsterdam, Netherlands


This August we leave the shores of America to celebrate creativity around the globe. Here at Shapeways, you have personal access to thousands of local artists from every corner of the world who fuel creativity on our platform through sharing their unique experiences and products.

Our inventors, designers, artists, mathematicians, and engineers share their passions for technology and new materials as they bring their “abstract minds” (as one community member said) to the physical world to make their friends smile. We are proud of our commitment to providing you with a comprehensive platform offering that not only enables making and distribution of products globally, but also gives our community permission to become their own global brands.

The “sparks” of inspiration shared this month will continue to show the immense passion and breadth of creativity made tangible by digital manufacturing as we share stories, puzzles, jewelry, and miniatures like you have never seen before.  We are equally enthused by the way our global community has elevated Shapeways to be a truly universal platform by inviting others to join their causes. Kjeld Pedersen Junior from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil creates playful products with purpose: “I’m inspired to create cute lively animals which are endangered species from the Amazon jungle so that the new generation and ours know about them and therefore value them, so they remain roaming the jungle for centuries to come!”

Kjeld Pedersen

Globally accessible creation allows us to open our minds, take a walk in someone else’s shoes, and come home (metaphorically or physically) even more inspired than we were before. There has never been a better time to adventure beyond your usual stomping grounds and set your sights on Sweden, Brazil, India, Australia and beyond.


Find a local designer in a country you have always dreamed of visiting or want to return to someday in our Sparks Across the Globe map.  Follow your favorites on Shapeways so you will always know when they have added more creations or start making wish lists for the holidays. Personal and thoughtful gifts from local artists and inventors are meaningful in two ways – to the gift recipient and to the artist you personally supported.

We hope you enjoy the global journey this month! Happy Making!

Mastering 3D printing : Why Orientation of Parts Matters

Shapeways is committed to making this process easy, but we also want to make sure you get you have control over quality. Last week we launched a new feature to help with this: the ability to set 3D printing orientation for SLS materials.

Orientation Fail

orientation fail, this stepping could be avoided by laying the phone case flat in the printer

But why does this matter? How the file is built up in the printer can affect the dimensional accuracy and legibility of details of any given part. Parts printed in the Z axis, or “up” dimension tend to be slightly less accurate in the X and Y. That said, parts angled sideways may show less stepping depending on the geometry. Check out the video below to learn more.


Is 3D Printing the Next Industrial Revolution?

“Is 3D printing the next industrial revolution, or just hype?”

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We get asked this question a lot. The answer, as Peter Weijmarshausen, Shapeways Founder and CEO, has been sharing this past month in talks at SxSW and Inside 3D Printing NYC, and in interviews with Xconomy and, is a resounding yes—digital manufacturing will be the third industrial revolution and will change the who, what, where and when of how goods are made.

Until now, several factors have been holding this manufacturing revolution in check: 3D printing needs to be less expensive, have faster turnaround, offer more materials, produce better quality, and print in full color. The very things we hear regularly from you! 3D printing technology has not innovated fast enough to keep up with demand and not at the rate we’ve grown to expect from software. The same 3D printing machines Shapeways started printing on eight years ago still run today, and run as well as new machines on the market.

But that’s about to change.

“The fact [that] we see huge corporations with huge budgets and resources starting to take industrial 3D printing very seriously means that the qualities and capabilities of those machines will start to rapidly evolve, which is exactly what the industry needs,” Pete told Xconomy.

“We also see a lot of money pouring into new startups, which is something I also asked the investment community to do, into companies like Carbon3D, Desktop Metal, and Formlabs. We see big companies and small companies starting to tackle the technology challenges the industry faces. As a result, the end user will get much better products exactly as they want them.”

HP, and possibly Canon, is coming out with new 3D printing technology this year that will be 10-100x faster than current machines. It will print more materials, print them at a fraction of the current cost, and the quality will be significantly higher. Not to mention, they’ll also print in full color.

Combine these innovations with three major trends—the rise of megacities, globalization and digital disruption—and the grounds for an industrial revolution have been set.

Who produces products will shift from major brands that mass manufacture goods based on market research to individuals who will design what they want when they want it or who will work with designers to create what they want.

It will change what gets produced. With the ability to produce goods on demand, the huge investment to mass manufacture disappears and more experimentation can occur. A variety of new products will come into existence—with digital files sent from around the world to be printed locally.

Factories will no longer need to be enormous and located where labor is cheap with products shipped worldwide from these central locations, putting a strain on environmental resources like the crude oil used to fuel container ships. Instead, small factories can be housed in or right outside of major cities, with products customized to suit that city’s needs and culture.

And time to market will be drastically reduced—shrinking from months or years of lead time to research, test and market products to mere days.

We already see this revolution happening at Shapeways, but it’s not real for most people yet. They may be aware of 3D printing, but they haven’t tried it because they don’t see why they should. There are two killer apps evolving this year that, added to the innovations in 3D printing technology, will make 3D printing mainstream.

  • 3D scanning—The reaction we’ve seen to being able to create scans of people at parties or of loved ones to send to family members has been overwhelming. There is an instant emotional connection, as well as an intellectual understanding of how a digital file can be turned into a tangible, physical object. With the next generation of phones being equipped with scanners, wide spread adoption is close at hand.

  • Customization—The time and expense needed to make customizing mass produced goods, like sneakers, a good experience has been enormous. We’ve been developing tools, like CustomMaker, that enable people to customize designs on Shapeways, such as adding your name or picture to a product. Since CustomMaker’s launch, over 2,000 customizable products have been added to the site with more being created every day. By opening up product customization on this level, more and more people will expect to be able to put their personal stamp on the items they buy and will seek out 3D printed goods.

And there is so much more to come. What we make is defined by how it can be assembled, but with the evolution of 3D printing technology and of new materials, how materials and shapes merge will change completely. Even 4D printing could become a reality—where items assemble themselves out of the box due to a reaction with light, or heat, or a chemical being added to it.

As Pete shared with, “People have been led to believe that 3D printers as they are today are close to what is possible — I think the opposite is true. We are at early days in this technology. So many things will become possible that people haven’t thought possible, it’s going to revolutionize how we make products.”

To read more about Pete’s keynote at Inside 3D Printing NYC, check out his interviews with and Xconomy.

Tell us what you think about the next industrial revolution in the comments, or share your thoughts with Pete on Twitter: @Weijmarshausen.


Shapeways on Capitol Hill: 3D/DC 2016

It’s easy to think that great technology advances are inevitable, that they will flourish and provide the best possible world for the people making them. But in reality paradigm shifts like 3D printing are aided by a host of people working to make a future they think will be an improvement. This week Shapeways got to participate in discussions with hard working people who see the potential for 3D printing to improve our lives in miraculous ways. In a series of 5 panels, 3D/DC took place on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. By providing a platform for discussion in front of Congressional policy makers, myself and the other participating in the panels got to have a voice in the discussion about where 3D printing will go next.

Led by Public Knowledge, a group that promotes freedom of expression, an open Internet, and access to affordable communications tools and creative works, hosted the fifth 3D/DC at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C. on April 13-14, 2016. My panel was all about discussing the best ways that students and teachers can promote STEAM education. My fellow panelists were high school educator Joseph Williams, 3D education software developer Sophia Georgieu of Morphi App, and student makers Becky and John Button.

In short, 3D printing will only be effective in education if students like Becky and John have unfettered access and qualified help from educators to pursue their inventions. Children are already taking to technology learning tools like Minecraft and littleBits to augment their understanding of concepts. During this panel all of us stressed that the community around makerspaces, that having access to other interested people, is equally important as getting your hands on some 3D modeling software. As you can see, kids like John will make the most of anything you put in from of them, but they need our help to use it in the right learning environment.


Thx to @publicknowledge for letting me join my panel-mates @einsteinunicorn @MorphiApp @jswilliams at #3DDC2016 - via  @laurenlacey April 14, 2016

3D Printing for Fashion: Interview with Alexis Walsh

Fashion Week may be wrapping up here in New York City, but that doesn’t mean that we’re finished exploring all the great work our fashion-driven community members are producing here at Shapeways. Today, we’ll be exploring the work of Alexis Walsh, a fashion designer turned 3D modeler who designed the LYSIS collection and the Spire Dress, recently featured in the Nire - Hopscotch music video.

Spire Dress, Designed by Alexis Walsh and Ross Leonardy

Alexis Walsh is a New York tri-state native that studied at Parsons the New School for Design until 2014. During her time at Parson’s, Walsh took a combination of fashion and product design courses. As her primary focus was in fashion, she became interested in exploring ideas about wearable sculptures, and utilizing non-traditional materials and techniques to create fashion items.

“Throughout my academic career, I’ve been interested in the idea of wearable sculpture. I’ve explored using materials like metal and plastic to create garments, even welding a dress out of steel rods and making a corset out of aluminum paneling. All of this was very rooted in the notion of handcraft. After doing some research and discovering that 3D printing allowed for the creation of incredibly complex forms, I decided to pursue it for fashion design. With additive manufacturing, you are enabled to create structures that would be impossible to produce through any other medium, and this seemed like the perfect vehicle to experiment with fashion design.” – Alexis Walsh, 2016

It was around this time that Walsh began to conceptualize The Spire Dress, which was one of the first 3D printed projects that Alexis worked on. The dress was printed at Shapeways in our White Strong and Flexible material, constructed out of 400+ individual tiles that were assembled by hand using metal ring connectors. While this is quite an ambitious project for anyone just getting started in 3D modeling, we asked Alexis about her experience teaching herself the tools of the trade.

“The idea of learning CAD modeling from scratch was definitely intimidating. There are so many programs, and there’s a pretty steep learning curve when first attempting to 3D model. It took countless hours of YouTube video tutorials, trial and error, and reading online troubleshooting forums before feeling comfortable with Rhino and Grasshopper. But once you get a handle on it, you can begin to learn everything fairly quick. You need to simultaneously be concerned with creating a model and with how the model will function as a physical printed object. 3D printing generally involves plastic, which takes some creativity to work into a wearable piece.” – Alexis Walsh, 2016

Realizing the tactile limitations of using only 3D printed plastic, Walsh set out to create her next fashion line, the LYSIS collection. The LYSIS collection features handmade garments that are combined with 3D printed components to give structure to each of the pieces. These works were able to come to life after she received the Shapeways Education Grant in Fall 2014.

Piece from the LYSIS Collection, 2016

Alexis is certainly not afraid of pushing the limits when it comes to combining materials and techniques to create fashion items. The LYSIS collection was created using a combination of software and hand-touch techniques to apply the fabric and leather. Alexis even went to far as to use the 3Doodler 3D printing pen to apply details to her smaller accessories, such as belts and chokers.

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LYSIS Collection, Alexis Walsh

Alexis is one of the few designers that we’ve seen successfully created an entire collection of fashion items using 3D Printing, and we wanted to hear about her projections for the future of this budding industry are. How will this technology evolve, and what are her hopes for the future?

“3D printing for fashion is undeniably in its early stages. There has already been so much innovation happening within the past couple of years, and this will only further continue into the future. I’m very excited to see how the capabilities of printing textiles will progress, specifically softer and elasticized textiles that behave like fabric. There are enormous possibilities for 3D printing within the performance and athletic-wear industries. It’s been great to see iconic brands like CHANEL embracing 3D printing in their runway shows, and I’m looking forward to seeing more 3D printing in high fashion.” – Alexis Walsh, 2016

And finally, as we mentioned in last week’s blog post, we posed the question to Alexis about her thoughts on the viability for 3D printing as form for fashion manufacturing.

“There’s potential for 3D printing to be a viable method of fashion manufacturing, but I don’t think that the current technology is there yet. There’s a huge market for 3D printed jewelry and accessories right now, and in that regard additive manufacturing is a great method of production. With the way the industry is evolving, fashion is sure to follow suit, as soon as more advanced printing capabilities can be developed.” Alexis Walsh, 2016

On that note, within our conversations with Alexis she teased a few of her upcoming projects that specifically focus on jewelry and accessories. We’re so excited to see what she comes up with next!

Stay tuned for our continuing series of blog posts as we continue to talk with designers about the future of Fashion, Tech + 3D Printing.


3D Design & Printing for the Fashion Industry: Interview with Chester Dols

Today we’ll be interviewing  Chester Dols, the 3D modeling mastermind behind Ohne Titel’s 3D printed dress that debuted yesterday at New York Fashion Week.

Chester Dols, a graduate of the Shapeways & Eyebeam Computational Fashion Master Class, is a talented 3D modeler and designer that combines in Rhino, Grasshopper, Maya & python scripts to generate interwoven garments.

unspecifiedChester Dols with his piece at Re-Making Patterns, 2015

Earlier this year, when Shapeways was approached by Ohne Titel + Microsoft with a pitch to create 3D printed garments for their AU16 runway show, we thought to ourselves; who would be a great 3D designer fit for this project? After looking at the initial sketches, we saw stylistic and aesthetic similarities to Chester’s work, and realized he would be perfect fit for the project.

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Final 3D Printed Knit Dress, Photos Courtesy of Ohne Titel 

Within this blog post, we’ll learn about Chet’s journey from architecture to fashion, and what inspired him to take traditional architectural parametric design applications and re-conceptualize those approaches to design for the human body.

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Close up render of Ohne Titel Dress, Photos Courtesy of Ohne Titel

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? What’s your background? Where/when did you get started 3D modeling?

I am an interdisciplinary designer currently based in Brooklyn, NY.  My background and education is in architecture where I used 3D modeling to sketch and communicate my ideas.

What inspired you to begin 3D modeling?

I’m not sure which came first, the practice or the inspiration to practice, but I know that 3d modeling has become a natural part of how I think, sketch, and formulate ideas.

At what point did you learn about computational fashion? How did you find out about it, and what did you find appealing about it?

While studying architecture in college, I had a strong interest in parametric, computational design.  Studio mainly focused on how computation applied to the scale of the building and the building envelop, but I was given the chance through an independent study to think about computation as it applied to the body.  I ended up creating a simple algorithm over a semester which allowed me to create “tailored” clothing based on a series of measured inputs.  The project, I realized later, was an exploration into the basic idea of graded patternmaking, a process used within the fashion industry to streamline sizing and clothing fit.

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 8.59.58 PMParametric textile patterns made by Chet for our Computational Fashion Class

Now that you’ve worked in the “3D Printed Fashion” space for a bit, what are your opinions about field? E.g – What do you think are some of the biggest obstacles for fashion designers moving into the digital space and vice versa?

The process and methodology of fashion is so different to fields which rely heavily on 3d modeling to create and materialize their ideas.  In fashion, you work with fabric, paper, pencil, scissors, and draping tape to design and produce.  Furthermore, fabric isn’t like a nurb surface or polymesh, it has many physical and structural characteristics that affect its performance (ie. knits, wovens, jacquards, cotton, silk, polyester, polyblends, etc.).  I’m not sure if fashion designers or the the additive manufacturing industry has more obstacles.  It may be hard for a fashion designer to jump into a modeling space and create something that is printable, but I think it will be more difficult for 3d printed materials to reach the sophistication of the many different types of textiles already out there.  That being said, there is so many exciting things happening right now and sooner or later I believe these industries and technologies will all converge and create really beautiful things.  For me, designers and engineers experimenting with this kind of technology are the thinkers leading us into tomorrow.

How do you see this field growing in the future? Is there anything you’re looking forward to?

3d printing is still in its infancy and so is the concept of 3d printed textiles.  Like I mentioned before, I’m waiting for industries, technologies, and science to converge.  When we can successfully and seamlessly print with multiple materials, that is when things will get interesting.  Right now, there are printers which print with two materials; take for instance Shapeways’ frosted detail plastic, which prints a wax support material and a polymer resin at the same time.  But what if the second or third material isn’t a support material?  If we can get 3d printers working like a loom, weaving together many materials at once to create a “polyblend” print with complex graded materiality, that’s when a new fashion will emerge.

Do you have any advice for designers looking to dive into this space?

Take inspiration from everything, and look to culture and things that already exist to make new and innovative designs.  My designs look to architectural joints, knits, wovens, and chainmail and I take inspiration from both the natural and synthetic.  Think beyond the form of the body, and really think like a textile designer; consider the touch, the texture, and the performance of your textile and garment.

What are some brands, designers or artists that inspire you?

 Faustine Steinmetz (textile and fashion designer), Jaime Hayon (product designer),  New Territories (architecture), David Altmejd (artist), Walter Van Beirendonck (fashion designer), C-Fabriek (product design), Neri Oxman (architect and thinker), Raf Simons (fashion designer), Vetements (fashion), SuperStudio (architecture), Moebius (illustrator)   …. I could go on and on….

If there were zero limitations for this technology, what would you make?

Ok, so there is this scene in the 5th Element, directed by Luc Besson, where they 3d print Leeloo (Milla Jovovich) from a strand of her DNA taken from the remnants of her hand.   If our technology reaches that point, where we aren’t only printing an object with one material, but objects and subjects with unlimited elements, compounds, and materials, I would totally print a puppy or puppy-cat hybrid or something.  Not sure if I stand by that ethically, but you’re asking a hypothetical.  Crazy thing is, researchers are already doing something similar by printing with stem cells to print functional organs.


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.


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.


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


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.


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).


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


For more with Whitaker:

You can find all of Whitaker’s work on her website,

To learn more about her history,

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 (


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

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

3D Printed Solar System: A Rotating Mini Planetarium

Another week is starting, and that means we’re that much closer to the holidays. For those of you who haven’t finished your gift shopping yet, be sure to check out some of the gift ideas we’ll be sharing this week focused on “fun and games.” From miniatures to your favorite game accessories, we’ve got something for everyone (including you!).

And speaking of miniatures, recently we had a chance to chat with Bo Jansen and Tim van Bentum, the minds behind the 3D printed Strandbeest (in collaboration with artist Theo Jansen). They’ve created a new, mesmerizing product that’s not only fun, but educational too; the 3D Printed Solar System! Taking advantage of 3D printing’s “no assembly required,” characteristic, it’s just as fascinating to hear about the process as it is to play and learn with this piece. Learn more about how the 3D Printed Solar System came to be from Bo and Tim below.

solar system 2 detailing

Continue reading

Onshape and Shapeways in a city near you

Starting today, Shapeways will be doing a series of meetups and presentations in New York, Boston and Chicago. Whether you’re looking to learn about the powerful browser based CAD software to develop your products or samples of professional materials to print them in, you should come and learn.

To join, you can follow the following links and RSVP:


Join us for evenings of learning, connecting, and idea sharing with fellow makers! We will provide snacks, booze, and of course, a showcase of our amazing 3D Printing materials.

We look forward to seeing you!

3D Printing + Veterans = A Better Life

3D printed rotary mount

Today the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is launching a challenge initiative to help improve prosthetics and assistive technologies.  As part of the Innovation Creation Series Challenge, the VA is pushing for rapid innovation around the development of personalized technologies to improve care and quality of life for Veterans.  Of course, when you hear personalization and innovation you know 3D printing can’t be far behind.

The goal of the initiative is to use 3D printing and distributed creation to contribute to an open ecosystem of prosthetics and other assistive technologies.  Think of an entire universe of e-nable type devices and prosthetics for people with disabilities and  you can begin to imagine why this is a big deal.

3D printed device

The VA has rolled out a list of specific challenges to kickstart the initiative:

  • Develop novel upper and lower extremity devices at the end of the prothesis for daily use.
  • Create a medication pill box that allows the flexibility to hold medications that need to be taken up to 8 times a day with a reminder system for each time medication needs to be taken.
  • Create a device that can dampen tremor when a Veteran is performing fine motor tasks.
  • Design a device to remotely change the speed and grip strength of a prosthetic device for our Veterans with upper extremity injuries.
  • Create a way to reassign motions and buttons on the Nintendo Wii controller to allow for alternative methods of access to games for Veterans with physical disabilities.

The entire challenge is running on an accelerated timeline designed to turn ideas into reality as quickly as possible.  After launching today, collaborators and participants will work together to create, refine, and improve designs through May, June, and July.  The challenge ends with a two-day makeathon on July 28th and 29th at the Hunter Holmes VA Medical Center in Richmond, VA.

These types of challenges help showcase the best of 3D printing’s potential to make the world a better place.  If you want to get involved, make sure to head over to the challenge website.  And if you do get involved, tweet at me to let me know how it goes!

Welcome Michael Weinberg: Shapeways General Counsel and IP Expert

Hi Shapeways!  I’m excited to be joining the team as the new IP and General Counsel around here.  3D printing is obviously amazing for all sorts of reasons, and one of those is how it gives people an opportunity to rethink their relationship to intellectual property law.  3D printed objects and files do not fit as neatly into intellectual property law as things like music and movies.  This gives the 3D printing community a chance to redefine the relationship between creativity, creation, and intellectual property law (among so many other things).  Law certainly has an important role, but a healthy community does not rely on law alone in order to thrive.

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 11.33.14 AM

For the past few years, I’ve been working on public interest technology policy at Public Knowledge.  While there, I wrote a few whitepapers on 3D printing and intellectual property law: : It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw It UpWhat’s The Deal with Copyright and 3D Printing3 Steps for Licensing Your 3D Printed Stuff.  I also helped to organize 3D/DC, an annual 3D printing policy conference in Washington, DC.

I’m excited to join Shapeways and to try and put some of the ideas I have been working on for the past few years into practice.  As the leading 3D printing service and marketplace, Shapeways is uniquely positioned to help establish and model the ways in which we interact with the 3D printed world.  Doing things right here at Shapeways means proving to the world that we can avoid some of the fights that have held back new technologies in the past.

white papers

Fortunately, Shapeways already has a track record of doing things right.  We have partnered with Hasbro to create SuperFanArt and pioneer a new model for collaboration between existing IP holders and their most devoted fans.    We have also taken a community-first approach to defining and implementing our content policy in order to make sure that Shapeways works for the Shapeways community.

I know that these great initiatives are just the beginning.  The best thing for Shapeways and the Shapeways community is to create a space that works for everyone.  That means respecting rights and creativity, and encouraging experimentation and new models.  It also means continuing to be strong advocates on behalf of 3D printing and the 3D printing community.  We’re still at the beginning of this process, and look forward to continuing to develop new methods of fueling creativity in the future.

Of course, part of trying new things is sometimes getting things wrong.  Fortunately, the best way to respond when you are getting something wrong is to make it right.  In that spirit, if you see us doing something wrong or you have ideas of ways that we could be doing more right, send me an email at or a tweet @mweinberg2D.  I can’t promise that I will be able to answer everything, but I’ll do my best.  Of course, you can also send me emails and tweets if we are doing something right.

Finally, I look forward to connecting with the Shapeways community through this blog and other channels.  Shapeways works because it works for you, and I know that sometimes changes (especially changes that involve legal aspects, and even if they are good changes) can be disruptive.  I will strive to be as transparent as possible about what we are up to.

Until then, keep making great things!