Category Archives: How To

Scanning Stories: Fine-Tuning Your 3D Scans

A group of 3D Selfies

In the last edition of the Scanning Stories series, we discussed the gold standard: a 3D scanning booth. Most of us don’t have the money, time, or space to set up a scanning booth, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all get in on the action. Below, Shapeways’ 3D Scan Engineers Brigitte and Astrid tell us how to make the most of easy-to-use 3D scanning software Skanect to edit scans captured with the Structure Sensor.

While scanbooths are amazing, most of the time, we use a tablet-mounted Structure Sensor with Skanect software. Today, we won’t get into exactly how to take those scans (for a full rundown, click here), but we’ll go ahead and skip to the tricky part: editing the 3D models created by your scans.

3D models created using Skanect usually need some editing to become printable. Most of the time, the texture is too dark to print and has small flaws that need to be fixed. Thankfully, these fixes can be fairly easy.

There are multiple ways to edit your file:

After editing your scan in the Skanect software (most common steps are “Fill Holes”, “Move & Crop”, “Remove Parts” and “Colorize”), you can either choose “External Edit” in the Process tab or “Export Model” in the Share tab.

skanect 1

Let’s start with “External Edit,” which you can find on the Process tab:

Clicking this button will allow you to export a file named editme.ply. You can import this file into different editing software that can handle .ply files, like MeshLab and Meshmixer. Both of these programs are Freeware.

MeshLab is a free and open-source software you can download here. There are lots of easy-to-follow videos tutorials available. See MeshLab tutorials.

Meshmixer is a tool with several functions for manipulating 3D meshes. It’s great for tidying up a 3D model. You can remove unwanted areas, fill holes, sculpt the shape, and correct its orientation prior to 3D printing. You can download it here. For video how-tos on this software, see Meshmixer tutorials.

In our experience, MeshLab works best for adjusting texture. It has a bunch of filters you can use to adjust the texture’s appearance, like contrast, brightness, and hue. You can also add supporting platforms to your 3D selfies with MeshLab. Meshmixer also has the ability to adjust the texture, but doesn’t have too many options for doing so. It’s better for adjusting the mesh.

Once you’re satisfied with the result, you can export the model with the same name (editme.ply). This will overwrite the previous file.

Then, go back to Skanect and reload the edited file.

skanect 2

Then, if you go to the next tab, you can upload and save your model.

We have tested both MeshLab and Meshmixer, and now we also work with ZBrush.

One of the advantages of ZBrush is that you can export scans as .obj files, which creates separate mesh and texture files. With the texture file, it’s possible to adjust the colors and brightness of the texture in programs like Photoshop, Lightroom, etc. In our next post, we will import the mesh and texture from ZBrush to further adjust it. Orientation, hollowing, and platforms will be done in Netfabb.

If you have a subject in mind that we should address in a future Scanning Stories post, please get in touch.

Let us know what you think of this story, stay focused, and enjoy the world of 3Dscanning!

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

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

 

Step 1: Find a 2D image

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

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

 

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

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3: Adjust the size on the left:

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Then, give it some more thickness:

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

That’s it!

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

1 Gift = 6 Brilliant Ways to Unleash Their Creativity

If you’re like me, you still have a few people on your list who are proving literally impossible to shop for. Your little niece who gets every toy she desires. Your crafter mom who, if she wants it, she makes it. Even your gearhead uncle, who would rather start a project in his garage than ever buy a new vehicle. Good news: Shapeways Gift Cards are perfect for all of them. They open the door to limitless creativity, whether your giftees have never heard of 3D printing or are advanced 3D modelers. Below, discover six easy ways that everyone on your list can start making on Shapeways, thanks to Shapeways Gift Cards for every budget.

1. Fund their first jewelry designs, from pendants…

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The Pendant Creator easily turns their 2D designs into pendants. They can customize details, add a bail for chains, and print in their favorite material.

2. …to gorgeous rings inspired by their favorite shapes

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Custom Ring lets them design their own custom, 3D printed rings. They can choose from beautiful preset patterns, or create their own.

3. Equip them to make a keychain they’ll never lose

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The Keychain Creator lets them easily turn 2D designs into keychains. Customize details, add a loop for key rings, and print in your favorite material.

4. Help bring their snapshots to life in 3D

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The Full Color Photoshaper takes any photo and turns it into a 3D memory.

5. Let them create their own intricate, personalized ornaments

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The Ornament Creator will help them make custom holiday ornaments by experimenting with template patterns or uploading their own 2D design.

6. Get them started in 3D modeling

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2D to 3D lets them easily turn 2D designs into 3D prints, whether they want to make jewelry, art, decorative objects — or just let their imaginations run wild.

Discover even more ways that Shapeways Gift Cards can help them start making on Shapeways here. And while you’re at it, give one of our Easy Creators a try yourself. You never know where your creative journey will lead!

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.

Five Easy Ways to Supercharge Your SEO

To help our shop owners get ready for the busiest sales weeks of the year, we’re re-sharing this post from our Shop Owner bootcamp series. All insights courtesy our performance marketing pro, Jeanne, who shows us how to make your SEO airtight — and drive shoppers to your store.

eggbot-mygadgetlife-shapeways

Scottish Shapie Shop Owner MyGadgetLife has some of the best product descriptions on Shapeways. Check out his eggbot (above) and his moon mobius to get inspired for your shop!

5 Easy Ways (Under 5 Minutes) to Get Your Products Picked Up by Google

We’ve already talked about various ways to get customers to your shop, but today we’re going to dive even deeper and talk about the importance of search engine results (SEO). Currently, organic search results are one of the top drivers to Shapeways. The more you can get your products in search engine results, the more likely a potential customer will visit your product page and make a purchase. Below are five tips to get your products search engine optimized in minutes.

#1 Use Specific Keywords in Your Product Titles & Descriptions

Your model titles and descriptions are used not only on your model page on Shapeways, but in search engine search results – a two for one! So, titles and descriptions with specific, relevant keywords will help your products appear in and get people to click (which helps it to surface even more frequently).

Action: You can spend a lot of time on keyword optimization, but here are two easy ways to get started:

  • If you were to search for your product, what would you type in a search engine? Make sure those keywords are in both your title and description

  • Be as specific as possible with your description, including all the peripheral search terms that might be relevant (synonyms, the category that your product belongs in, types of customization or personalization, etc.)

For example, if I title my product “Holiday Ornament,” the likelihood that my product will show up on the first few pages of Google is very low (there are a total of 22.8m search results). Sucks, I know. But if I title it “Custom holiday ornament with initial,” I’m competing against 8.7m search results. And in my description, I’ll write “Christmas or holiday ornament can be customized with initials, monograms, names, images, and is a great unique gift for your loved ones.” Sounds wordy, but it works.

#2 Update Titles & Descriptions to a Certain Length

Anything too long or too short is suspected by search engines to be of low quality. There is a min and approximate max, and you are penalized with less opportunity to turn up in search results for it.

Action: Titles should be about 6 to 8 words (55 characters), with the most important words in the beginning. Descriptions should be at least 15 words (160 characters) with keywords described above in it, as that’s the snippet that gets viewed in search results so you want it to be enticing! Use natural language (the way you would normally talk or write) in your descriptions, including facts and statements to help viewers see the value of your product immediately.

Description

#3 Give Your Images Captions with Keywords

A picture is worth a thousand words. Your product photos should be clear, product-focused, well-lit, show materials variety, and be in as high a resolution as possible. More and more people are finding Shapeways products through image searches on search engines (i.e. Google, Bing, etc). Including a clear photo and a description with keywords will increase the likelihood it will get picked up in image searches (known as an “Alt text”).

Action: In the Details tab of your model, fill in the image caption with keywords, starting with the ones most relevant to your product. For example, for this ornament I created with Shapeways ornament creator, my caption is “Custom Christmas holiday ornament with organic design”

Image caption

#4 Every Product is Unique, so its Title and Description Should Be Too!

Every model should have a unique title and description. Duplications are penalized by search engines because it assumes the viewer won’t have a good experience if there’s a lot of too-similar content.  Unique titles and descriptions will help your products get shown by search engines.

Action: Give your product titles and descriptions. Your products are unique and their titles and descriptions should be too.  little bit different is better than no difference at all.

#5 Your Shop Description is Prime for SEO Opportunity

Your shop page is full of opportunities for search engines to pick up, with your product and their titles, image alt text, and the robust area to write in a shop description.

Action: Update your Shop Description in your Shapeways Shop Settings with examples of your products types, your background and your expertise designing them. Feel free to elaborate on your designs and products, as the more relevant keywords on the page compared to non-relevant keywords, the better.

Bonus: Also add an extended description for your shop page.

Shop Description

Search engine optimization is a time-intensive and ever-evolving process, but the key tenets are consistent: quality content, natural descriptions, and following basic guidelines will go a long way.

What keyword search do you wish you were the #1 result for?

 

This post has been updated by Angela Linneman.

From Ugly Sweaters To Pretty Pendants: A Maker Story

Having recently joined the Shapeways team as PR Lead I was extremely excited to be delving into a world of digital design and manufacturing. While my DIY background was limited to making Halloween costumes and very, very ugly Christmas sweaters (actual creations below)– the possibility of taking more complex ideas and printing them was something I couldn’t wait to tackle.

The problem was that I was a little apprehensive of where to start with tackling the world of 3D design, because it’s kind of a huge departure from my familiarity with hot glue and felt. Fortunately Shapeways has some pretty cool tools to help ease beginners into the world of digital manufacturing. My colleagues suggested that I start with the easy Custom Pendant Creator– a tool that would allow me to create a pendant either from a drawing or using one of their existing templates. Being in the market for a new signature necklace, I immediately was intrigued by the possibility of being able to create something that was undeniably something “me”. The inspiration stemmed from a PR pun I’d made, that while by no means the first, was something that became a bit of a cheeky mantra, “Pitch, please.”

While I’d been wanting to create something with this pun for years, I never had the tools or capabilities to create something quality-enough that I’d feel comfortable wearing. The pendant creator and digital manufacturing seemed like it would do just the trick here. Because I’m not particularly proud of my handwriting, I recruited my boss to write out “pitch, please” in Sharpie on a blank piece of white paper. She also added two little loops, one on the first “p” and the other on the last “e” so that I’d be able to turn it into a necklace.

I snapped a photo of the design and used Afterlight to crop the image and improve contrast between the paper and ink, ensuring the pendant creator would have an easy time identifying the outline I wanted printed.

After uploading it to the pendant creator, the automatic system check identified a few issues with my design– namely that the walls were too thin for printing in most materials. Fortunately the creator also makes it effortless to fix, giving me the option to automatically “Fix Thin Walls” at the click of a button.

Once my design was fixed and passed an initial check for printing in polished brass (my choice for this one), all I had left to do was order it and wait for my package. Two weeks later…

Yahoo! I got to hold my sassy, classy little pendant in my hand! I’m extremely excited to find the perfect chain to turn this into a necklace and proudly tell everyone, “I made this”– because it’s a huge upgrade from my DIY ugly Christmas sweaters.

Unique Gift Ideas for the Perfect Mother’s Day

We know finding the perfect gift for mom isn’t always easy, so we’ve curated a list of unique gift ideas for you! Because every mom deserves a gift as special as she is.

Personalized Pendants

MOMPENDANT

If your mom has been hanging your drawings on the fridge since you could pick up a crayon, we bet she’ll love a personalized pendant created by you. You can make one using our pendant creator app. Check out the video below to see how.

Portraits in Porcelain

Have a photo you’re looking to memorialize in a special way? You can upload the photo and have it 3D printed in our Porcelain Ceramic with our celadon-selfie creator. These make for perfect, long-lasting and unique gifts for Mom.

Prefer to get her something one-of-a-kind designed by our creative community based around the world? Take a look at our Mothers Day Gift Guide or check outa few of our favorite unique gifts for mom.

Have you made something special that you’d like to share with us? Show us your work by tagging us on Instagram or Twitter with #3DMothersDay or post it to our Facebook page.

How I got a license to turn Sophie Corrigan’s Pugtato into a 3D print

Posted by in Community, How To

One of the most fun ways to choose your next design idea is through collaborations. This could be either through partnering with another designer on an idea or doing outreach and partnering with an artist with existing artwork. As a shop owner on Shapeways I recently partnered with UK based illustrator Sophie Corrigan to turn her Pugtato illustration into a 3D printed figurine. The 3D printed Pugtato is now currently available for sale on my Shapeways shop.

The way the 3D printed Pugtato came about began with me browsing Twitter for art inspiration and I came across an photo of a cute, adorable, pudgy hybrid between a pug and potato; a Pugtato. The original illustration and artwork was owned by Sophie Corrigan. The image resonated with me and I wanted to turn it into a 3D printed figurine so I reached out through email to see if she would be interested in licensing her Pugtato design to let me turn it into a 3D printed figurine. Upon reaching out, Sophie was very receptive to this collaboration. We discussed terms and conditions and agreed upon a licensing payment structure for the partnership. Once the licensing agreement was finalized and signed between both parties, I had the green light to make Pugtato into a 3D printed figurine. The 3D printed Pugtato figurine was modeled by designer Kostika Spaho based off Sophie’s pugtato illustration. Pugtato was printed in full color sandstone.

pugtato

What made Pugtato particularly attractive as a potential collaborative partnership design was that the owner of the artwork was not a A-list celebrity or corporation which made her easy to get in touch with. It was also a super silly design that fit the theme of my Shapeways shop. Pugtato has already proved to be a favorable seller on various other sites such as Etsy, Redbubble, DesignByHumans, and TeePublic. From a marketing prospective, the product has already proven that there is selling potential which would make promoting Pugtato receptive among previous customers from Sophie’s online shops. The best way to grow your customer base is to acquire a fanbase, which is why collaborations is great at bringing multiple fan ecosystems together.

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Is there an original piece of artwork that you would love to turn into a 3D print but don’t own the intellectual property? A collaborative licensing agreement might be the best course of action. Here are some best practices for going about it.

Approach your potential partner collaboratively.  There are several ways to get in touch with an IP owner, my preferred way is through email but there is also Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, or contact form on the person’s website. Here was my email script to Sophie Corrigan which got the conversation started. My recommendation for outreach is to have a friendly tone of voice and try to resonate with the IP owner. Explain clearly who you are, what you are offering, and why this would be of interest to them.

“Hi Sophie,

My name is Eric Ho and I am the shop owner of the Shapeways shop Raw Legend Collaborations. Shapeways is the world’s largest 3D printing service and marketplace where anyone can make, buy, sell products. You can learn more about Shapeways here. I make cute 3D printed figurines and animals and your illustration of Pugtato on DesignsByHumans really caught my eye, I am a big fan. I wanted to reach out to see if you might be interested in collaborating with me on turning your Pugtato into a 3D print and make it for sale on Shapeways. I think a 3D printed Pugtato would go well with your audience. Would you be interested in licensing your design?”

Get the agreement in writing.  It is always a good idea to get a license in writing, and that is exactly what this is.  A written license helps make sure that both of you are on the same page going into the partnership.  It can also serve as an important reference if there is an unexpected dispute in the future.  What that written agreement needs to include can vary (and it can be helpful to talk to a lawyer about specific cases you have in mind, especially in an area as new as licenses for 3D printing).  Generally speaking you want to make sure that the agreement makes clear that your partner owns things like the copyright in the original image, that they are giving you permission to make and sell a 3D model, and how you will handle things like payment.  

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Interested in learning more about  different types of rights that may be involved with models and files here at Shapeways? Michael Weinberg, the head of general counsel here at Shapeways has written several blog post covering topics from IP, fair-use, and copyright.

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Five Tactics To Use On Instagram To Promote Your Shapeways Products

My favorite social media platform that I’ve been using in 2015 has been Instagram. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, the attention graph and organic reach of Instagram is the highest amongst all of the social media platforms out there. There are very few Ads, no ridiculous newsfeed algorithm, and it’s completely mobile.

Instagram has emerged as a leading platform for small businesses and niche communities to promote their products and generate visual awareness around their content. Instagram posts receive over 50% more engagement per follower (likes, comments) than Facebook and Twitter.  The engagement rate on average for brands is 4-5% on Instagram, much higher than the <1% we see on Facebook and Twitter per post.

In this post I want to highlight five specific tactics that I use on Instagram to promote my Shapeways shop and that you should be using as well.

1. Search Key hashtags and Engage

When promoting my products on Instagram I choose not to play defense and expect users to discover my Instagram account and content, instead I play offense and actively search potential customers and consumers who are sharing relevant posts. I do this by searching the specific hashtags that my product targets and begin liking, and commenting on their content making them aware I have a product that they might be interested in. For example I’ll search all the photos that have the hashtag #Tardigrade, filter through relevant photos of Tardigrades, read their photo descriptions and identify if they express interest in Tardigrades with keywords in their photos that say “I want one”, or “I love Tardigrades”. Then I’ll follow up with comments on their photo saying “You love Tardigrades? I have a 3D printed one on my page”.

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2. Link to your website on the location section of your post

Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links on post, no problem. Just add the link to your website on the location section by creating a “custom location” and just type the link to your website instead of an actual location. This will add visibility to your website for consumers. You can also direct users to the link on your bio which is clickable as an alternative. Either method works.

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3. Utilize Repost and Regram apps

Once I began selling a large quantity of my 3D printed products I began reusing customer photos that were shared on Instagram to promote them again with the Respost app. It essentially allows me to repost their photo, thank them for being a customer, and promote that product again. The respost app is essentially Instagram’s way for “retweeting” and “sharing” another users content on Instagram.

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4. Instagram Direct Messaging

Instagram launched photo direct messaging to users back in 2013. It’s a useful way to send direct photos to individual users and start a conversation. This feature has been very useful for getting in touch with influencers and other users who have a larger audience and reach than you. You can get in touch with them and ask them if they can cross promote your content. I would recommend the best course of action is to not go after big celebrities but instead go after relevant accounts. I first found success of this by DMing photos of my Thorgi figurine to niche Instagram users in the Corgi community. The reception was welcoming and I got quiet a few accounts to post and link back to my account and promote my product the lead to a increase in sales.

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5. Share Creative Video Content 

These are several content creation techniques and applications you can use to get creative with your content creation instead of just sharing static photos. Videos and short form micro content like slow-motion action videos, stop motion, slideshows, and Hyperlapse videos are a great way to get your audience hooked and wanting more.

 

Incorporate these tactics into your Instagram strategy and you’ll begin seeing better conversation and engagement. Are you currently promoting your Shapeways products on Instagram? If so be sure to incorporate #Shapeways in your photos so we can help discover and surface your work.

How To Make A 3D-Print Of Your Brain

A few weeks ago, I made a 3D model of my brain and sent it to Shapeways to get 3D printed. My little brain arrived a few days ago and I’m blown away by how good it turned out. I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but I think this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. The whole process was relatively straight forward once I figured out the best program to use. I wrote a step-by-step tutorial of what I did below in case you want to print your brain too.

And if you want a brain on your desk and you don’t care whose it is, you can order a 3D model of my brain here.

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INSPIRATION

I have a deep fascination of the human brain and I’ve wanted a 3D model of my brain for quite some time. I considered using a modeling software (like Blender) to create my own 3D brain model based on my MRI scans, but I quickly abandoned that idea when I imagined manually outlining the cortex one slice at a time.

A few months ago, one of my friends posted a link to a company that sells custom brain models that range from $165.00 (for half scale models) to $342.00 (for full scale models). I was tempted to order a model, but I finally decided that it was too expensive. I love brains, but not quite that much.

Then, a few weeks ago, I came across this blog post that included do-it-yourself instructions for creating a 3D model of your brain for 3D printing. The neuroscientist and cheapskate in me rejoiced. My computer was being serviced so I bookmarked the page and waited until I got my laptop back.

When I finally sat down to follow the tutorial, I found that it left out some crucial steps and required a lot of manual editing. I spent a few hours looking at other tutorials, downloading software packages, and trying to create a halfway decent 3D model, but none of the models I created had anywhere near the level of detail I wanted.

Finally, I found this tutorial which describes how to create a 3D model using Freesurfer. I had been wanting to learn how to use Freesurfer for awhile, so it was a win/win. The tutorial is pretty thorough, but it didn’t explain the installation of Freesurfer, which ended up being somewhat complicated. In case you’re like me and haven’t used Freesurfer before, I added detailed information about how to download and install Freesurfer below. If you already use Freesurfer, you are in luck! You are only a few steps away to creating your own 3D brain model (you can skip to the “Create the 3D brain model” section).

GET YOUR BRAIN SCANNED

    1. First, you need to get a T1 anatomical scan of your brain with MRI. I understand that that’s easier said than done, but there’s no way around it.
    2. Add all of your DICOM files from the T1 anatomical scan into one folder. My folder is named “t1_mprage_DICOM.”

DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL FREESURFER
If you already have Freesurfer installed, skip to the next section. 

    1. Download Freesurfer here. I downloaded the freesurfer-Darwin-lion-stable-pub-v5.3.0.dmg file.
    2. If you don’t already have XQuartz installed, you’ll have to download and install it in order to use Freesurfer. Download the latest release here.
    3. Install Freesurfer by following the detailed instructions here. You should come to a screen that looks like this:

 

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In order to get everything set up correctly, you have to modify two files (the first time I tried to install Freesurfer I didn’t read this this page (oops), and I ran into trouble later on). Your computer may be set up differently, so these steps may not apply to you.

4. Create a .cshrc file in your root directory by typing the following commands into the terminal window:
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A new text file should pop up.  Copy the first two commands from the READ ME section of the install window, paste the text in the new text file, and save. Your file should look like this:
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5. Modify your .profile file by typing the following commands in the terminal window (I already have a .profile file that is named .bash_profile so I opened that file):
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Copy the second set of command lines from the install window and paste it at the bottom of the file that pops up. My file looks like this:
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6. Get an installation key by filling out the form here. You will receive an email containing information about your license. Copy the text in between the –CUT HERE– lines and paste them into a new TextEdit file. Convert the file into a plain text file by clicking Format –> Make plain text. Name the file ‘license.txt’ and save it in the Freesurfer folder.

CREATE THE 3D BRAIN MODEL

1. In your terminal window, type the following command to set up Freesurfer:

 

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2. We will use the function called recon-all to create the 3D brain model. Detailed information about the recon function is available here.
The function uses the following format:
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Replace the <DICOM file> part with the path to any one of your DICOM files (and not the folder that holds all the files). Replace <folder name> with the name you want to call the folder that will contain all of the output files. The folder will be added to the same directory that your DICOM folder is in. My function looked like this:
Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.01.06 AM
Enter the command into terminal and press enter to start the analysis. The analysis takes a long time. The reconstruction took 8 hours on my computer, but others estimate that it can take between 10 and 20 hours. Make sure that you turn off your computer’s sleep mode so that it won’t go to sleep while the analysis running.
3. After the analysis is completed, all of the output files should be located in the folder you named. In the folder, you should have another folder called “surf” which contains the surface reconstructions. We need to transform these file formats into  a format that is used in 3D printing. To do so, navigate to the surf folder in the terminal and enter the following commands:
Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.07.48 AM

3D PRINT YOUR MODEL

If you don’t have access to a 3D printer, you can get your brain 3D printed by a 3D printing service. I used Shapeways so I’ll show you how to order from them.

  1. Go to the Shapeways website.
2. Click “Design” in the top navigation menu. Then click the blue “upload” button underneath the Shapeways logo.

3. Sign in to your account or create a new one and click “UPLOAD” again. A box should appear that looks like this:

 

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.09.06 AM

 

4. Click “Select file” and load the “lh.pial.stl” file that you just made. The model units are in millimeters so keep that radio button checked. Click “UPLOAD.” The model should take a few minutes to upload. Once the model finishes uploading, you should see a screen like this:

 

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.55.22 AM

 

5. If you scroll down, you can see the prices for creating a 3D printed model in different materials. A full size brain replica costs about $250.00 per hemisphere. If you want to scale your brain down (and save a lot of money), click the “SCALE” button and change the SCALE % from 100 to 50. This will create a 3D printed replica of you brain that is 1/8 of the actual size.

6. At this point, you can decide what material you want to use to print your brain. I went with the strong & flexible material in polished white.

7. Click the “View 3D tools” link under the name of the material you want to use.

 

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.57.09 AM

 

8. Shapeways 3D tools will analyze your model and identify potential problems with printing. For one of my models, I had a wall that was too thin. To fix thin walls, click on the “Wall Thickness” menu item on the left of the page, then click the red button that says “FIX THIN WALLS.” Shapeways will automatically adjust your model for you.
9. Go back to the model editing page and add your desired model to your shopping cart. Now repeat these steps for your right hemisphere model. Check out when you’re ready and your little brain will be on its way! I got my brain in less than two weeks.
Here’s what my model looks like in Shapeways:
Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.58.40 AM
And here are more images of my final 3D printed brain:
Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.59.47 AM
Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 11.59.56 AM
Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 12.00.11 PM

 

Learn 3D CAD the easy way with this Kickstarter: 20+ Hours of Meshmixer online training by HoneyPoint3D

Kickstarter Postcard v2 -FRONT

We’re always looking for new ways to educate people about 3D printing and CAD modeling. From the basics of how it’s done to how anyone can create amazing designs themselves, we want to educate as many as possible on how to get started in the 3D printing process. Whether it’s through tutorials, online videos, free apps, etc., we know there are a lot of channels through which people can learn.

We’ve been telling you a lot about various Kickstarter campaigns happening right now that Shapeways has some involvement with. In the spirit of education, today we want to tell you about a new campaign from HoneyPoint3D that is offering to help more people learn 3D CAD modeling through their online courses.

HoneyPoint3D is a company that aims to innovate in the 3D printing market by offering easy-to-follow online classes at a variety of skill levels. They have already taught 5,000 students and are writing MAKE magazine’s next “Getting Started on 3D Printing” book, releasing January 2016. All in an effort to help people with their 3D models from concept to finished product.

Kickstarter Postcard v2 -BACK

Their Kickstarter is raising money for a full online course that will teach beginners how to create and advanced modelers how to enhance and fix 3D CAD files. HoneyPoint3D has partnered with our friends over at Autodesk to teach the course using their free 3D Sculpting software, Meshmixer. Taking the course will save designers time and money. If the Kickstarter reaches its goal of $8,118, the course will be launched starting at just $20 (compared to $149)!

Make sure to check out this campaign for more information, and stay tuned for more educational content from us!

New Solution for Shop Owners to Manage Images

Yesterday we made an improvement to how you can manage an important aspect of your Shapeways Shop: Images! We are aware that there have been some discrepancies with product images for the past few months, and this fix should address some of those issues. For the last few months, we’ve been getting feedback from the community that you’d like to be able to set the order of the images on your product page. We’ve listened to that feedback and are excited to share that today you’ll have full control over how images are prioritized on your product pages, product box and carousel.

Our new image management interface for Shop Owners to have greater control over how their images are displayed on the product page.
View from Model Edit page: Images prioritized as 1, 2 and 3.

product-pg

View from Product Page: Default image 1 is first image, and images labeled 2 and 3 are second and third in carousel. 

Currently, you have the ability to set a default image for your default material of your product.  With our new release, you can not only set the default image for your default material, but also order the photos in your carousel in the product page. Additionally, if you have multiple images for a product in a particular material whether or not it’s your default material, you can now prioritize which image we show when a customer is looking at that specific material. Here’s how:

The first thing to know about the new image table is that the order of the photos in this table will be the order of the photos in your product’s image carousel on your product page. To move an image up or down in priority, simply change the priority number to the desired rank, and your photo will move up or down in the table. This means your #1 priority image is going to be the first image in the image carousel on the product page. Your #2 priority image is going to be the second image shown in the image carousel and so on and so forth.

Second, you now have control over not only the default image of your default material, but also the default image for all other materials.

TBD
View from Model Edit page: Control the default image for your default material and non-default material alike while setting the order of the images displayed in the image carousel on your product page.

blue-product-pg-shot
View from Product Page: Image labeled 2 is Blue Strong & Flexible (non-default material) but is default photo when Blue Strong & Flexible material swatch is chosen (as opposed to image labeled 4 above).

The default image for your default material is the most important image of your product, as it is the photo shoppers will see while browsing the marketplace and when landing on your product page unless they have selected a specific material while browsing. So how do you set the default image for your default material? It will be the highest priority image in the image table tagged with your default material. So that you always know what your default material is when looking at your image table, we’ve labeled all images tagged with your default material with a ‘Default Material’ label. We’ve also labeled your highest priority image tagged with the default material as ‘Default Material – Default Image’ so it is always clear what your default image for your default material is.

So what happens when a customer searches for your product in a specific material or clicks on a material swatch on the product page? How do we know which image to show? You now additionally control the default image for all materials, not just the default material. The default image for a non-default material acts exactly the same way where it’s the highest priority image in the image table tagged with that material. For example, if the shopper selects your gold swatch on the product page (and silver is your default material), we will start at the top of your priority list, and go down the list until we find the first image that is tagged with the material ‘gold.’

This means if you have multiple pictures of your product in any material, make sure to prioritize your favorite photo of your product in that material above the other photos in that material so it will be the default image for that material.

While we’ve recently removed Not For Sale items from the marketplace, they do still remain available on your designer profile page. If you have a public product that is marked Not For Sale, the image shoppers will see on the product page will be your highest priority image in your image table. This is all to say that products marked Not For Sale appear the exact same way as products that are available for sale.

not-for-sale

View of Not For Sale: Image prioritization settings are saved

So in sum, you will now have control over: 1) the order in which your images are displayed in the image carousel on the product page, 2) the default image for your default material, 3) the default image for each non-default material, and 4) the image shown when your product is not for sale.

We appreciate your ongoing patience while we are working to fix open issues concerning images on the site. Because of the learned complexity of open image issues, we are releasing features that address open issues today. As always, thanks for all the feedback, and we hope this helps!

Easy tips to scale a model for 3D printing from Stony Smith

Posted by in How To, Tutorials
3D printed miniature trains tutorial scaling models

Z scale Fuel Tender by Stony Smith

Can you enlarge or shrink your model to another size? Yes! It takes only seconds to mathematically change the computer model from one size to another. But, to ensure you are happy with the results there’s a few factors to think about. In this tutorial Stony Smith explains what to consider when scaling a 3D model for 3D printing. You will learn how to scale your model considering polygons and price in this tutorial. Looking for more 3D printing tutorials? You can visit the Shapeways tutorial hub.

Copyright, 3D Printing and You: What does it all mean?

There’s a lot of speculation and guesswork circulating about Intellectual Property as it applies to 3D printing so here is a very general overview of what Copyright means for you, for Shapeways and 3D printing in general. While this is a fascinating topic, please keep in mind this blog should not be construed as legal advice and the author is not a lawyer (as much as she wishes she was!).

What is Shapeways Content Policy?

While we want to enable people to 3D print whatever they can imagine, this does unfortunately occasionally includes things that already exist and may be covered by copyright. In our Terms and Conditions, we ask that our community respects the rights of other designers and only upload their own original work or work that is freely available through a Creative Commons license. While we do what we can to ensure the content on Shapeways is appropriate, we cannot realistically review every model uploaded for a possible copyright infringement. We are also unable to determine whether the user has obtained a license for copyrighted content. As a service provider, our liability is protected by the Digital Millennium copyright Act under their Safe Harbor provision.

Shapeways is a safe harbor under the DMCA, and thus acts much like YouTube. In order to comply with the DMCA and protect intellectual-property-right owners, we follow a takedown process when we get a Takedown Notice. You can read all about it in our Content and Takedown Policy.

Ryan Kittleson’s success kid is a real life licensing success story

What are all these legal terms?

Very briefly, Intellectual Property covers a broad range of various legal terms:

  • Copyright: protects any expression that’s embodied in a tangible medium. Your child’s drawing is protected by copyright and STL’s are protected by copyright.
  • Trademark: protects symbols, words, designs, logos, and even trade dress of products and services when used in commerce, like Coke or Apple.
  • Patent: protects inventions that are novel and non-obvious.
  • Right of Likeness / Publicity: protects the right of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness, and to keep it from being commercially exploited without permission.

For a brilliant 5 minute explanation about how all these terms differ, I’ll let a fellow jeweler, and real life lawyer Sarah Feingold explain, using Ring Pops.

For this post, let’s focus on Copyright. What is a Copyright anyway?

In the US, copyright is a form of protection for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright protects, for example, literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as paintings, sculptures, poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.  You’ll be glad to know copyright also covers STL (and other 3D printable) files, much like it covers MP3′s and other digital creative media. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works. With exception, copyright protection exists from the moment of creation and lasts until 70 years after the death of the creator. Fascinated? Read Copyright Basics on the website of the United States Copyright Office to learn more.

What does this mean for you?

If you create and upload a 3D model on Shapeways or anywhere else on the internet, it is copyrighted. You don’t have to do anything, except choose how to enforce protection of your work. You may choose to do nothing, a celebrity may choose to hire a legal firm.

What about other people’s Copyright? How can I tell?

If you see something on the internet and want to create a 3D model of it, it’s best to ask permission first. On many sites like Thingiverse, TurboSquid or Sketchfab you can see if someone has put their work under Creative Commons – which may allow you either share it on other sites, to print it for yourself, or in some cases, sell it. The distinctions are clear, and worth checking. Designers may well be flattered you want to turn their artwork into a tangible format, others may not want you to profit from their ideas. Ask!  On other parts of the internet, like blogs or reddit, it may be harder to quickly establish who the author (and thus copyright holder) is. More often than not, somebody owns the copyright. Shapeways can neither be judge or jury in this case, as we cannot know the entire catalog of copyrights on earth, so it’s up to you to do your research.

But I see other people designing copies on Shapeways!

If in your research you see other models on Shapeways that seem to be using copyrighted work, that is not an incentive for you to create your own. Remember, Shapeways is a safe harbor of user generated content, so we do not (and can not) check every upload for copyright infringement. Those models may well be the original creations of their authors, or the designers may have licensing agreements in place (SuperFanArt models for instance have licenses with Hasbro). It is also very possible that there are infringing copies on our site and they may well receive a takedown notice.

So what are these Takedown Notices?

Shapeways as a company is bound by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and we are a “Safe Harbor” meaning we have a harbor where anyone can put their boat. This is what’s known as “User Generated Content.” Under the DMCA, to keep being a safe harbor, Shapeways agrees to a Notice-and-Takedown process. If a copyright holder identifies an unauthorized use of their work on our site, they must notify us with a proper DMCA Takedown notice, as detailed in our Content Policy. Rest assured, this is not something we take lightly. A DMCA Takedown is a specific legal document that contains statements of good faith made under the penalty of perjury. There could be costly penalties if the sender makes material misrepresentations about the infringement. We investigate and correspond with each and every notice we receive. We then notify the designer and remove the model from Shapeways within a reasonable amount of time.

If a designer feels the takedown is in error, they have the option to send us a Counter-Takedown, the process is also detailed here. Legal defenses such as “Fair Use” which take into account things like valid commentary, criticism, parody, news reporting, and teaching, consider many different factors, and can be quite difficult to prove. Unfortunately, Shapeways is not the one to prove it to. We can not consider any defenses a designer may have as we’re not a judge or jury, we can only introduce you to each other and let you work things out. Since we can not provide legal advice, we suggest you reach out to legal experts in your area.

But don’t despair! Some of the outcomes we have seen in the past range from a designer showing they have the rights to a design, a copyright holder upholding their rights, a community member getting a job at the accusing party’s company, a profit-sharing scenario on a model and, ideally, an opening up of Intellectual Property by a major brand: SuperFanArt with Hasbro.

Superfanart-landing-page

So what CAN I do?

If you get a takedown notice, don’t panic! Use it as an opportunity to learn about what is and isn’t copyright, and to develop your own work. Use your imagination! Making original content is the best way to avoid any legal issues. Taking the time to create your own original content, including 3D modeling, taking product photographs, writing creative descriptions and marketing your products, not only prevents infringement, it showcases your creativity and will set your shop apart.

Here at Shapeways, we provide the tools and YOU bring the magic, and we love seeing what you create! Like this incredible bacon mobius strip.

Still need inspiration? Take a look at public domain works! Many artworks in museums are in the public domain, which means copyrights on them have expired. There are people who may never have expressed an interest in art now excitedly walking around the Met 3D scanning art! The Met has embraced it, so has the Smithsonian, so maybe it’s time for a museum meme mashup?

Use 3D printing to solve a problem! We’re seeing an explosion of drone parts and gadget acessories – making add-ons to your favorite hardware is creative innovation at its finest. Solve a problem! Have you seen the e-NABLE hands helping children? Incredible.

Ultimately, we see 3D printing as a technology full of creativity and not about copyright infringement. With any new technology that’s democratizing access to a tool, infringement is possible, but what we’re enabling at Shapeways is a community in which original innovation triumphs.

Interested to learn more ? Check out these great articles about the state of 3DP and Intellectual Property from Michael Weinberg from Public Knowledge.

This post probably raises more questions than it answers so please lets continue the discussion in the comments. If there are other topics you want us to cover, let us know!

This information is for educational and informational purposes only. The content should not be construed as legal advice. The author and Shapeways disclaim all responsibility for any and all losses, damages, or causes of action that may arise or be connected with the use of these materials. Please consult a licensed attorney in your area with specific legal questions or concerns.

How To Make Amazing Videos For Your Shapeways Products

Posted by in DIY, Education, How To

Selling and telling the story behind your Shapeways 3D printed product can be difficult when the consumer cannot see or experience that product in their hands. One way to make the buying experience easier for customers is having high quality, creative, and short videos of your products. Videos can provide an accurate assessment of the product and should achieve the following: form, function, scale, and purpose. Your product video should be no longer than two minutes and should provide essentially a 360 overview and elevator pitch of what your product is, what it looks like, and what it is intended for.

I’ve curated a few examples of well made videos you can use a reference for creating your next product video.

 1) Strandbeest Video by Theo Jansen

2) Mortal Coil video by Ryan Kittleson

3) Ghost Spinning Top by Michiel Cornelissen

4) Sprout video by Egant

5) Microsoft Band Charging Stand by Idle Hands Development

Do you have a great product video you wish to share with us? Share them with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!