Category Archives: Designer Spotlight

Designer Spotlight: Guy McCann – 3D Body Jewelry

Guy McCann's Brain Half Left-side Pendant

The hidden beauty of the brain, transformed into a pendant

What would you give to glimpse the invisible? Guy McCann has given his career to it — but he’s held on to his sense of humor. As a total sucker for puns, I fell in love with the intricate, gorgeous designs in his 3D Body Jewelry and Academic Gift Products shop. Especially when he asks, “Have you ever wanted to give a colleague, friend, or loved one ‘a piece of your mind?’ Well, now you can! Choose your thought (and mood) with one of our Brain Mood Gifts.“

Guy is a tenured professor of the Physical Sciences and has always been fascinated by the hidden beauty of nature. For fifteen years, he was the director of an electron microscope imaging laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania — where every day they worked to glimpse the 3D structures of nature that were invisible and smaller than the wavelengths of light! He points to his pioneering work in the field of 3D electron imaging, capturing never-before-seen structures in nature, as what’s guided his life for the past twenty-five years.

What led you to make the leap from 3D electron imaging to designing jewelry? I love that you took a literal approach to giving someone a piece of your mind, by the way.
It was more of an organic artistic growth rather than a leap. The hidden beauty of nature within us has been a focus of my life for over forty years. In the 1960s, electron microscopes gave us our first chance to glimpse the invisible. In the 1980s, computers were linked and now we could create digital 3D CAD rendered screen images. With the advent of 3D printing, an entirely new medium opened to the teaching industry. Initially, I was designing special 3D models for teaching purposes on body parts that are hard to visualize without anatomy. Boring indeed, however, 3D printing rekindled my artistic love of human symmetry and a desire to create something new and unique. Hence a product line of 3D Body Jewelry and Academic Gifts. My inspiration is our slogan “The invisible beauty of Nature made visible  and printable.”

A second principle in my design of pendants is that I seek to express the duality of our hidden nature by making creations that can be displayed and worn forward or reversed — revealing our yin and yang — whenever I see the possibility in the structure. The Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons is also shown in its two display positions, for example.

 

McCann's Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons Pendant

McCann’s Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons Pendant

Do you see a specific type of customer frequenting your shop? Do you see a trend of medical or psychology students buying these pendants, perhaps?
Yes, I see the academically inclined to be much more interested than “regular” jewelry buyers. If I continue to market correctly, I want to direct it towards women of all ages, with specializations in the Academic, Executive, and Professional worlds. I want to see a trend of medical, psychological, and every other academic field: they are my primary market. My view is that this “Academic, Executive, and Professional” field is an overlooked market. What do you give an egghead in medicine like an otolaryngologist for a birthday gift? (That would be Ear Nose and Throat doctors to the rest of us.) How about some nose bones together as an aesthetic desk paperweight gift? Ridiculous to ordinary people. But these people have spent at least eight years of their life studying these beautiful bones hidden inside our nose! What do you give to the tens of thousands of medical students who graduate every year as a graduation gifts?

 

McCann's Palatines and Vomer Bone Ornament

McCann’s Palatines and Vomer Bone Ornament

I would bet that some of your customers really relate to your products on a deeper level than simply buying it because they like the aesthetic. I could imagine someone buying the Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons as a reminder to conquer a fear, for example.
Yes, your example of emotions connected to the given product, as fear in Fear Monitor Lobe pendant, is exactly the type of consumer interplay I am receiving and seeking. I have a polished sterling silver pendant, “Emotion Control Center.” Some people have purchased it to say and show that they have control over their emotional center. The “Consciousness” pendant is endless in its emotional appeal and it possesses an elegance of design completely hidden from the ordinary world of objects, bringing forth new visions of natural beauty.

The Consciousness Pendant

The Consciousness Pendant

Check out Guy’s creations for yourself — his shop is perfect proof that beauty really is on the inside.

Designer Spotlight: Knight Customs RC Cars

RC cars are hugely popular worldwide, and the RC car community on Shapeways is growing bigger every day. Designer James Knight of Knight Customs is a highly respected creator of RC car accessories. He shares with us how he got started, and how anyone interested in RC cars can use 3D printing to bring their dream cars to life. Let us know in the comments what parts you’d like to see James tackle next.

One of the most popular RC cars to upgrade, the Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. The image shows the following Knight Customs parts: AJ40011 Halo Light Bucket Set (frosted ultra detail) AJ30006 Skull Face Grill & Mount (White strong & flexible polished) AJ10030 Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Bumper & Stinger (Stainless Steel) AJ10018 Hood Latch (Black strong & flexible) AJ10023 Smittybilt XRC JK Front Fenders AJ10020 Snorkel Tall (frosted ultra detail) AJ10037 Smittybilt Stingray Hood

One of the most popular RC cars to upgrade, the Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. Jump to the bottom of this post for a full list of 3D printed parts used.

How did you get started creating custom RC car parts?
I have been a fan of RC cars since a very young age. Many of the cars I have collected were based on full-sized models but didn’t always have all the details of the full-sized vehicle. I started making custom parts to add those missing details and to create my own unique versions of a particular model.

Were you always using 3D printing, or did you begin with a more manual process?
Early on, I used a lot of traditional model-making techniques, glue and plastic, but it was very time-consuming to create multiple copies of certain parts. I also found that by using certain 3D printed materials I could create parts that were much more durable than if they had been created with traditional techniques that were available to me.

What inspired you to open your shop and offer your products to the RC car community?
People within the RC community often asked me to build them a copy of some of the parts I had created, so it just made sense to open a shop so they could purchase one of my creations.

Are there any designs that are proving particularly popular? What need do you see these designs filling for the community?
The most popular designs have been those that allow you to add more realistic details, such as working LED lights to your RC model. This is a popular upgrade for many RC vehicles and if you have ever seen an RC with working lights, they look awesome (see picture of our Halo lights fitted to the Axial Jeep®). Other popular parts allow the modeler to give a fresh new look to a stock vehicle. Just like in the 1:1 world, everyone wants their car to look a little different from the stock showroom model.

How did you determine which brands to offer parts for?
I take inspiration from the 1:1 world. I am a fan of off-road vehicles so I look at the classic and modern vehicles to see which are the most popular and what sort of modifications the 1:1 communities make to those vehicles. I partner with the real 1:1 companies to create officially licensed replicas of many of the popular off-road parts from great companies like Magnaflow, Smittybilt, RotopaX, Front Runner Outfitters, and Ripp Superchargers.

SOR Graphics make our licensed T-shirts and RC vehicle graphic wraps. We also have relationships with leading RC companies Axial, RC4WD, and Vanquish Products.

A few of Knight Customs licensed products

A few of Knight Customs’ licensed products

What advice would you give to RC car fans who are just starting to customize?
I would say make sure you pick a good base for your project. When you decide on the car you want, then check to see if anyone already makes that model as a kit. There are some great base models to use from the top manufactures like Axial and Tamiya. There are many great RC forums to go on to find information and inspiration on building your custom project. My favorite is www.scalebuildersguild.com. Doing a little research online will show you what parts are already available to customize your rig, and of course a search on Shapeways shows you all the great parts the community here have helped create. If you want to learn to create some parts yourself, I recommend Rhino CAD software. It has great functionality for the price and there are many great tutorials on YouTube teaching you how to create models.

In the Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon model featured at the top of this post, Knight Customs parts include:

AJ40011 Halo Light Bucket Set (frosted ultra detail)
AJ30006 Skull Face Grill & Mount (white strong & flexible polished)
AJ10030 Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Bumper & Stinger (stainless steel)
AJ10018 Hood Latch (black strong & flexible)
AJ10023 Smittybilt XRC JK Front Fenders
AJ10020 Snorkel Tall (frosted ultra detail)
AJ10037 Smittybilt Stingray Hood

Thanks for sharing your story with us, James! We can’t wait to see what you decide to work on next.

Designer Spotlight: Daren Strange – East Tower Design

Daren Strange is the designer behind East Tower Design, a Shapeways Shop that boasts some beautifully designed architectural models and cityscapes from around the world. We’ve asked him about his work below, which lends some incredible insight into his design process and what it might mean for architecture.

Speaking of being illuminated about Daren’s work, we love that you can take a lamp (or even just your phone flashlight) to light his city models from below (check out his photos of it here).

Which cities have been among the most popular for customers?
I have sold more Houston and Los Angeles models. The scale of the cities was very important. I try to print the smallest buildings I can without them failing to resolve. I have tried to test most of the materials at Shapeways, determining the limits of the machines and allowing me to minimize the amount of material required. Chicago is one of the models I scaled where it really requires the space of two models to print well, and I have not submitted for sale.

Los Angeles, California by East Tower Design

Los Angeles, California by East Tower Design

How do you decide which monuments to design?
I am developing a model of New York that covers the size of 12 of the printed cities, but I am only done with three out of the twelve parts. I also have several more cities ready to be printed. If I sell 100 of the city models I will take requests, and develop more choices.

You’ve designed a few stand-alone buildings and structures. How did you decide to do that?
The choices I have made with my architectural projects is directly related to my ability to remove as much solidity as I can, in other words, skeletonize the building. If you reference my model of the John Hancock building in Chicago, and my model of the Bank of China building in Hong Kong, you can see they are perfect candidates, since they are iconic in form with either the actual structural steel in the case of the John Hancock, or configuration with the Bank of China. Currently the John Hancock building received a 67% print success which means I have to update the file for sale. I see this as a setback, but it also means that I am on the literal cutting edge of the tolerances for your machines. As a designer, that gives me an advantage.

Concerning my model of the Burj al Arab in Dubai, it is unique in its ability to remove the entire habitable space and still have a model that is easy to understand and recognize, especially with a helicopter pad with a scale helicopter. I keep this model in the corner of my office and the sun hits it directly during the day. It is absolutely stunning, and represents the future of printing for architects and owners.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai by East Tower Design

Burj Al Arab, Dubai by East Tower Design

What’s next for your modeling and designing?

I am experimenting with projecting real-time information onto the models, such as current weather, or traffic. The idea of having a 3D printed solid model with animated information is fascinating to me.

I am also developing a paper box with led lights to place the city models on top of.

What inspires you to design?
As to my inspiration, I love architecture. It is the ultimate in sculptured reality, and it has to provide the Vitruvian principles of firmness, commodity, and delight. The complexity of a city and all of its buildings, rivers and geography is comforting. In the same way the complexity required to produce a building is also comforting. If you have seen a working model file from the Autocad Revit software you know what I am talking about.

I am removing myself from the traditional process of architecture and hopefully inserting a useful addition for communication between architects, themselves and their clients. My endgame is consulting business where I deliver 3D printed models to architects for internal use after which they can sell them to the client, or donate them to schools. My focus in development is being able to convert a 3D file for delivery (scale 3D printed model) well within the schedule of each phase of an architectural project.

Architects use varying pieces of software to produce construction documents. Currently, the process to just “print out a building” is fraught with failure and expectations unfulfilled. The size and material demand for scale 3D printed models are prohibitive in nature, although they do not compare to traditional methods of architectural interns using exacto knives to produce paper models. I have consulted on several architectural projects, where the architects wanted a 3D printed model and ultimately the cost of production (including my fee) is the limiting factor. If I can lower the cost of the 3D print by removing irrelevant information and by skeletonizing or even hollowing an entire building I can bring the cost into play for useful models that architects will happily pay for.

Boston, Massachusetts by East Tower Design

Boston, Massachusetts by East Tower Design

We’re excited to see all that Daren will achieve with 3D architectural models. In the meantime, check out his incredible shop here, and let us know in the comments what buildings or cities you’d like to hold in your hand.

Designer Spotlight: Scott Ryan – Reaper Media

This week, we’re highlighting fun, unexpected last-minute gifts that you can still get in time for the holidays. Scott Ryan of Reaper Media creates just such personality-infused designs, resulting in a ton of fun products — ranging from frames to keep fortune cookie fortunes to intricate dice to mini monster figurines.

There’s a wide variety of types of products in your shop, what inspires your designs?
I have… a wide ranging and eclectic set of interests. And I tend to jump around from one to another a lot. One moment I’m obsessed with Celtic knots and the next it’s flowers. To tell the truth, I’m just a weird mix of unfocused and obsessive.

Love your fortune frames — how did you get that idea?
The fortune frames developed from a conversation with my brother during a family meal at a Chinese buffet. We’ve always liked to read the fortunes out loud after the meal and have a laugh at the more interesting ones. I said some of them were good enough that they ought to be framed. Then it hit me that I could do exactly that with Shapeways. My brother said that if I ever made them he’d definitely buy one, but instead I gave him one of my original prints for Christmas.

Fortune Frame (2.25" by .625") Standing - Five by Reaper Media

Fortune Frame (2.25″ by .625″) Standing – Five by Reaper Media

There are some incredible dice in your shop, how did you come up with such wide variations?
Usually I make things for the fun of it or simply because I haven’t made one yet, and then later try to see what I can do with it on Shapeways, but my dice are one of the few things I have ever sat down and tried to come up with ideas for. I’d make lists of things of a similar nature that come in different numbers, like how many loops in a Celtic knot or the number of lobes on a leaf. The trickiest one was my Legs Die, which I don’t sell because I’m not entirely satisfied with. I used a man with a cane for the number three and it feels like cheating. I don’t suppose you know any animals with three legs, do you?

Gear Die by Reaper Media

Gear Die by Reaper Media

Do you generally advise people to paint the dice models?
I’ve only tried painting one set of dice and I wasn’t happy with the results, though that was primarily due to my own lack of skills when it comes to painting. The only thing I’ve painted and been happy with have been my Emotional Robots because they were designed to look a bit run down and low budget.

Speaking of which, what’s the story behind the overly-emotional robots?
The Emotional Robots began with a name. For some reason I just thought Depressed Robot Productions would be a hilarious name for a company. To go along with the name I sketched out a quick and sloppy drawing of a moping robot on a stool. Normally I clean things like that up in Illustrator but for some reason I liked the loose style of it and even put it on a t-shirt. Making a 3D printed version came much later, and the idea to do a series came even later still.

You’re up to 50 pint-sized monsters! What inspires these little creations?
The monsters first came to me while I was half asleep one night. Cute, cartoony little creatures that could be made quickly and without too much detail just seemed like a fun idea, but what kept me going was when I made up rules and turned it into a game with myself. I would make them in groups of five. Each monster would have one primary color and not share that with any other member of the five. I came up with categories like Ancient, Bug, Cryptid, Joke, Space, Spooky, Winged, etc. Each monster would express primarily one of those and no two monsters in one batch could share the same category. And finally there had to be at least two female monsters in each batch. The challenge of following those arbitrary rules has kept my interest for well over fifty monsters. I’ve nearly filled a shelf with them and I hope to fill a few more before I’m done.

Wandering Eye by Reaper Media

Wandering Eye by Reaper Media

Your shop is full of variety, what ultimately drives your inspiration behind producing all these different things?
The variety is really just my refusal to get bored with what I do. I take an interest in one topic for a while and before I get sick of it I move on to something else. Later I may return to further mine out an older theme for new ideas. Other things are specifically for people I know. Christmas gifts that I later decide might have a larger audience. And I’m always happy to take requests. My father used to make z-scale train sets in briefcases. He wanted cacti for an old west set and couldn’t find what he wanted, so I offered to make him some. Now they’re one of my best sellers.

Check out Scott’s shop on Shapeways and see his eclectic array of products. With his wide collection of mini monsters, the selection promises to be scary good.

 

Designer Spotlight: Tatsuo Ishibashi – MizuLabo

This week, we’re focusing on holiday gifts that offer a Technical Advantage — making tech both better and easier to use. Sometimes, this means making tech more accessible for everyone. Designer Tatsuo Ishibashi’s Mizu Laboratory does just that, developing beautiful, useful assistive gadgets that can help ease our interactions with everyday technology.

"Shippo", Input Assist Device by mizulabo

“Shippo”, Input Assist Device by mizulabo

What inspired you to start creating assistive technology through 3D printing?
Muscle force of the elderly decreases over 50% from that of youth, and I also sometimes feel weakness of grip strength. There are many self-help devices on the market to assist our daily life. But, it is difficult to find a favorite device to use because design and usability are not thoroughly considered. Existing mass-production methods cannot be adopted to make specific structures that satisfy both design and usability for the assistive devices. A 3D printer can do it easily!

Eating Utensil Holder by mizulabo

Eating Utensil Holder by mizulabo

How do you identify the types of products that can be developed to make everyday items easier to use for the elderly (and others)?
It’s a general method that involves product, market, and patent research. Now we can take in a variety of information through networks, so I also often test products in a real market. And there are lots of needs in our daily life. I started from a relatively simple item, a cap and tab opener.

"Higaki", Cap & Tab Opener by mizulabo

“Higaki”, Cap & Tab Opener by mizulabo

While these are assistive devices, they’re also incredibly beautifully designed, so that they’re basically utilitarian art. Tell me more about the design process and how you picked patterns for each item.
It’s a result of trial and error. First I simplify a function of a device. Next, I make a simplified prototype by using a desktop 3D printer. I then evaluate the function and durability. Afterward, I design it based on the simplified prototype. I usually repeat that process until a satisfactory result is obtained.

Finger Input Device by mizulabo

Finger Input Device by mizulabo

Check out Tatsuo’s Shapeways shop here. His gadgets are snazzy little gizmos that are more like life-hacks, suggesting that 3D printing is changing the assistive device game  creating tools that are more useful, affordable, and beautiful than before.

Designer Spotlight: Dmitry Ustinov – Forpost D6 Miniatures

As we take a deep dive this week into the Tiny Worlds our makers bring to life on Shapeways, we’re taking a closer look at a designer whose miniatures add dimension to tabletop gaming. Dmitry Ustinov of Forpost D6 Miniatures focuses on Warhammer, 40000 Mordheim, and Necromunda, designing incredible characters, tiny accessories (from milk jugs to helmets), cannons, and war vehicles.

1/100, 1877 de Bange cannon, 155mm by Forpost D6

1/100, 1877 de Bange cannon, 155mm by Forpost D6

How do you find inspiration for your more creative models?
In the first place, I look for models that are in-demand by miniatures collectors and game players. Most of my models I originally created for myself and some were made at the request of other people. It’s an interesting challenge — to combine the desired appearance, printability and practical shape-form. Many good ideas come from searching custom models, which are produced by conventional methods such as resin casting. Some models were quite simple to remake using 3D modeling, and some (such as people’s faces and bodies) become challenging. Of course, when you hold the printed model in your hands, you get a better idea of how to improve the design and which new products will turn out better next time. Sometimes users of Shapeways suggest interesting ideas, but it’s difficult to make the designs by myself and I have to hire third-party modelers. I’ve commissioned designs of Cultist Chan, for example.

What’s your process behind creating miniature tanks? Do you base them on historical models?
The process of model tank design begins with a studying of the drawings, blueprints, and photographs. To begin, you have to determine the size of the vehicle which depends on material consumption and the amount of detalization. I usually make the body hollow and without a bottom panel to reduce the cost of production. Some tanks I design with movable turrets, but in a small scale, this is usually not required. The main problem is the representing of machine gun barrels because printing rules requires them to be thick. But otherwise, 3D printing technology competes with the traditional casting process.

For the majority of “railroad” scales such as 1/220, 1/160, 1/144, I do historically accurate models. For tabletop scales such as 15mm and 28mm I mostly make fictional vehicles.

1/144 Renault FT tank (3 pieces) by Forpost D6

1/144 Renault FT tank (3 pieces) by Forpost D6

You said you have a long to-do list of requests from people. What are some of the most popular requests you get?
I get a lot of requests to make a model on a different scale. So now I’m trying to publish a design at multiple scales. I’m often asked to make a head to create an unusual conversion for their Warhammer 40k Imperial Guard armies. Also, they ask to make weapons for action figures. A long list consists of requested historic tanks and artillery pieces. Sometimes people need to alter the model for easy copy-casting.

One of your models is not like the others. What’s the story behind Peter the Piglet and his tractor?
I am interested in challenging myself in different subjects, not just miniatures. I have noticed that there are popular memes printed in colored sandstone. Peter the Piglet is one of the Russian internet memes. It was originally a character from a children’s book, to which a blogger came up with their own story, changing the essence of what is happening in the pictures. Somehow, one of the pictures became widely spread among Internet users. Thus the image of a piglet Peter has become a symbol of the emigrant who leaves their country for whatever reasons (political, economic), taking with him something of value (in this case, the tractor).

Peter the Piglet and His Tractor by Forpost D6

Peter the Piglet and His Tractor by Forpost D6

Discover more miniatures in the Tiny Worlds collections in our Holiday Gift Guide. And, to learn more about miniatures in general, Dmitry suggests joining the Facebook group where folks share game and collector miniatures available on Shapeways. Members not only share their own creations but also post things they’ve found while clicking around the site. We also encourage you to check out the array of awesome miniatures in Dmitry’s Shapeways shop.

Designer Spotlight: Jady Swinkels – Swinks

This week, we’re celebrating the many ways that Shapeways lets us geek out this holiday season, whether it’s by creating (and gifting) D&D game pieces or developing arcade game mods. Jady Swinkels’ shop Swinks is a perfect example of how a designer is using 3D printing in innovative ways to do just that — creating accessories and modifications for pinball machines. We wanted to find out more about how this pinball wizard got his start.

Congo Pinball Hippo (Schleich 14681) Mount by Swinks

Congo Pinball Hippo (Schleich 14681) Mount by Swinks

How did you become interested in pinball machines?
I was part of the era in the ’80s when there were pinball machines in the arcades near the movie cinemas and fish & chip shops here in Australia, and I really enjoyed playing them. Then, in 2010, I discovered that lots of people bought them for their homes, so I purchased my first game.

Over the last six years I have bought eight different games, but at the moment I’m back down to two games, which are the first two games I purchased. The first was a 1976 Gottlieb Surf Champ, a surfing pinball game, and the second was a 1992 Bally Creature from the Black Lagoon which has great art and is a fun game with a cool drive-in movie theme in which I have produced many different custom designs for.

How do you determine the types of accessories and add-ons to create?
Custom accessories in the pinball world are known as pinball modifications (shortened to “mods”). They’re accessories that enhance a feature of a game that it could be lacking, usually by adding a 3D touch or more character. Many people like to personalize their own games with mods. I strive to design a mod that has a purpose and looks cool, but is fairly simple to install. A good mod is one where people are wowed by it and comment that the game should have had the mod as a standard feature when the game was made, though this is personal and hard to achieve as everyone is different. A good mod is also one that is removable and allows the game to be reassembled back to original if desired.

Then there’s another side to pinball parts, which is that older games often suffer from having no parts available anymore due to stock running out and then not being remade. So, in some cases, fellow pinheads have asked if I can help them out with a replacement part. I like to help them and others where possible to keep an old game playable — it’s rewarding.

How personalized or custom-designed can one make a pinball machine?
Some people like their games to stay stock/original. Others like to personalize it with a few quality features, and some like to fill it up. It really is a personal taste thing, and that’s the great thing about pinball mods: there is variety out there. Currently, at a rough guess, there are probably 40-50 people around the world designing quality pinball mods, each with a unique flare or game preference, from older games to newly released games and certain themes. Some specialize in casting, others in decals, and some experiment with 3D printed parts while others prefer machining parts. Some games are really popular for mods, and people could spend above and beyond $2k on mod accessories for their games when a game itself costs $5-6k.

CFTBL Tail Light Mod - Tail Light Lens by Swinks

CFTBL Tail Light Mod – Tail Light Lens by Swinks

Are there any modifications you’re particularly proud of?
Custom Flipper Bats are one of my cool designs as traditionally pinball machines have a cast, one-piece fixed-length bat. I wanted to approach it differently. Traditionally, the bat’s post passes through the playfield and is fastened to a mechanism. For a beginner, it’s a component that stays in there for years as the bats are awkward and sort of a pain to change out. My solution has 3 benefits:

  • It’s still is a pain to change out the first time, but now the bats can be swapped out in a few minutes instead of an hour for a beginner, all without lifting the playfield due to the designed-in square drive .

  • People can put in standard-length bats, shorter ones to make a game harder, or longer ones to make a game easier.

  • People can customize with custom colors or features.

Designer Jady Swinkels of Swinks

Designer Jady Swinkels of Swinks

Check out Jady’s shop and see the way he’s totally pimping out people’s pinball machines with his custom modifications. If you’re a pinhead, leave a comment here and let us know of your dream mod!

Designer Spotlight: Vincent Meens – Space Models

Vincent Meens’ Shapeways store is totally out of this world — his designs are all intricately detailed parts for space models. Vincent works for the French Space Agency and has actually given his models to a number of museums, so he definitely knows his stuff (his completed Apollo 11 model is below).

meens 1

How’d you link your passion for space with 3D design?
To answer your question, the link was not just with 3D printing but rather between space and modeling.

Since childhood (December 1968 actually with the flight of Apollo 8, the first men to orbit the moon) I have always been interested by the exploration of space; the 60′s and 70′s being my favorite years with the culmination of the Apollo flights to the moon. I started building space models when I was a kid and I have continued this hobby until now.

In the 60′s and 70′s there were a few space models available like the Gemini, Vostok or Apollo spacecraft, but if you wanted to build something different (for instance a lunar rover or a large lunar module) you had to scratchbuild these models. I eventually became quite good at it, having now a couple of models displayed in museums. A large part of scratchbuilding is research to design parts with paper, wood or styrene. When 3D printing appeared, I said to myself that maybe all this available research could be used in designing parts in 3D and printing them.

meens 2

Meens’ A10-FUD-Descent Stage for a 1/32 model of the Lunar Module

Seems like you’ve been very successful with the 3D printing approach to your models.
Scratchbuilding requires a lot of research to find the good measurements but it also takes time. Imagine you designed a tiny thruster which take you about half an hour to build and you have 16 of them. 3D printing comes as a very interesting tool, not only your part will be more precise but you can also reproduce it. It also saves time and frustration if you lose a part.

Your models have been displayed in museums, tell us how that came about.
Monogram released many years ago a model of the Apollo spacecraft at 1/32. Unfortunately the lunar module was never released at that scale. Having previously built a large 1/24 lunar module (scratchbuilt) I used my research to design the missing 1/32 LM. I knew this would certainly be a hit among space modelers and it was, being largely promoted on space modeling fora and on my web site where I explained all the intricacies of this model built. As of today it is the only 1/32 lunar module plastic model available.

For the 1/32 lunar module I already designed a few years earlier a 1/24 model which I gave to a museum. All the research was already done and it was just a matter to design it in 3D and print it. Not only it was fun and quicker to build than the 1/24 one but I could offer it to other space enthusiasts.

Designer Vincent Meens of Space Models

Designer Vincent Meens of Space Models

We encourage you to check out Vincent’s Shapeways shop here, he has detailed instructions on assembling his model on his website for any of the models you’re interested in building.

Designer Spotlight: Cynthia Breheny – President Guinea Pig & Co.

Cynthia Breheny’s President Guinea Pig & Co. shop on Shapeways is full of whimsical designs which are illustrated not only by super cute product shots but also in the inspiration behind the products. We chatted with Cynthia to find out more — and obviously to learn the story behind her shop name.

How did you come up with the shop name President Guinea Pig & Co.?
The name for my shop is a remnant from an old comic I used to draw as a kid. I would get my class work finished early and draw comics in my notebook. Unfortunately, it kept the kids around me from finishing their work!

Can you let me in on the inspiration behind a few of your pieces? Let’s start with Charles the Great White Hair Comb.
Charles was inspired by my sister. She had a close encounter with a manatee who came up to say, “Hi” while she was floating on her back. Thinking it was a shark, she bolted out of the water, screaming like a banshee. Many inside jokes later, the manatee became an imaginary shark named Charles who can be blamed for all false alarms.

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How about the Hana Tentacle Hair Comb?
The Hana Tentacle Comb was partly inspired by my husband’s Japanese heritage and partly by an octopus at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I spent a long time watching it in the exhibit on our anniversary last year and found out they recognize people by “tasting” them with their tentacles. I thought that was cute — in an admittedly creepy way. Combine that with cherry blossom paintings done by my husband’s grandmother and you’ve got yourself a hair comb!

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Any other items you feel have a compelling or fun story/background behind them?
One piece I’ve always been proud of is my first successful interlocking print – the Heart Charm Ring. It’s modeled after a ring my grandmother gave me when I was four. It was my favorite ring and I wore it every day. Being that my fingers have grown since then, I couldn’t wear it anymore, so I made it (with slight modifications to the design that I liked better) with 3D printing! That’s what really solidified my love for the process. The fact that you can recreate something you lost or make a better version — your idealized recollection of a treasured possession is so amazing. We can literally manufacture dreams now.

It sounds like your style is influenced by your family. Tell me more!
My grandfather is a former Disney employee. He worked there for 27 years as a handyman after bringing his wife and kids here from Cuba. During his time working there, he won multiple awards for designing tools and fixtures that increased efficiency in the hotels and rides. He paints, writes music and poetry, and makes instruments out of dried fruit. It’s because of him that I learned to draw inspiration from pretty much everything.

Definitely check out Cynthia’s shop on Shapeways for a gorgeous example of a shop that’s leveraging incredible product shots to highlight her designs.

Designer Spotlight: Josh Appleman – Geo Glitz

Because statement jewelry and accessories are always a good addition to any outfit, Josh Appleman’s shop Geo Glitz on Shapeways is definitely worth bookmarking. He’s created cufflinks shaped like every state in the United States. After being unable to find some sleek Minnesota-shaped cufflinks to wear with his tuxedo for his wedding, Josh decided to turn to 3D modeling and printing to create them. Having received lots of compliments on the cufflinks, he decided it would be fun to design ones for the rest of the states in case anyone else wanted to show off some state pride. As it turns out, there were loads of people interested in getting some!

How long did it take you to create the comprehensive collection?

I probably spent around 15 hours collecting CAD drawings of all the states, scaling them appropriately and modeling them in 3D with the cufflink stems. In my day job, I design surgical robots. Selling cufflinks is something I do on the side for fun. I’m delighted every time I get a notification that someone liked my product enough to buy it and hope it adds a trendy personalized touch to the recipient’s outfit!

Any stats on the top-selling states?

The top three states I’ve gotten orders for are Minnesota, Michigan and New York.

Any interesting challenges you encountered during the creation of this collection?

Certain states, such as Hawaii, Alaska, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Louisiana were tricky to model because of all the islands they have or because of thin portions of their geography. I spent many hours trying to decide what details were possible to maintain and which had to be removed. For example, for Hawaii I decided to make the geography the negative of the cufflink, I took a rectangle and removed the island outlines from it. Cape Cod needed to be thickened a bit as did the connection between Long Island and the rest of New York State. Lots of tedious work but fortunately I only needed to do it once.

You’ve done all 50 states! So what’s next?

Thinking of doing pendants and money clips. Also want to add geographies of different countries and famous cities. Lastly, I’ve done a few embossed orders with custom lettering, so may continue to do so per request.

Designer Josh Appleman of Geo Glitz

Designer Josh Appleman of Geo Glitz

We encourage you to check out Josh’s Shapeways shop and snag something to rep your home state pride!

Designer Spotlight: Gavin Rose – Sparkshot Custom Creations

Gavin Rose of Sparkshot Custom Creations has been interested in British outline railways since a very early age and has been making models since he was 12 years old. Almost 20 years later, he’s still at it, now with the help of 3D design and 3D printing. Gavin does a tremendous job of leveraging 3D printing to create model trains that are otherwise unavailable through mass-manufactured models.

How’d you get into 3D modeling of trains?

Prior to doing 3D modeling I used to (and still do) railway modeling the usual ways — build kits or ‘bash’ them — modifying them to represent a different version of an engine, either real or theoretical. Before this, I dabbled in military modeling, but the bug has always been for railways more than anything. Amongst a few other things, 3D printing creates the opportunity for me (and you!) to now own models of railway prototypes the mainstream firms haven’t created. You have to buy your own wheels, motors and bits for the printed model but once done, it’s great to see the engine you’ve always longed for pottering about on a layout.

You mention that models of railway prototypes you’re building aren’t available from mainstream firms. Tell us about that and what you’re focusing on.

Most of the mainstream Ready to Run (RTR) manufacturers concentrate on the latter British Railways (BR) period of railway history and I can only estimate this is because most of the people alive today remember that period, and not earlier. As such, nostalgia has its power well established in BR territory, which undoubtedly is the reason that the mainstream companies cater to BR models. This means that newcomers to the hobby end up with a choice that is predominantly BR so sales of those products increase, mainstream companies keep making them … and so the cycle continues.

There’s nothing wrong with BR, but the post-Grouping (and especially pre-Grouping) suffers dreadfully, and many locomotive classes aren’t given any attention while the popular ones are redone over and over and over. This is a shame, and along with it goes some of the history and knowledge of what our railways looked like, once upon a time. If more people were to model the earlier periods we could hopefully get back to some degree and accurate portrayal of what was once lost and my hope is that 3D printing will help to bring the past back to the present. Currently Sparkshot Custom Creations is concentrating on the earlier periods, so keep an eye out. :)

We love that you’re using modern-day manufacturing to bring back the past! Tell us more about how you design these unique models.

For customization, I have done a series of variants of most of the locomotive classes. Some are real variants, but a lot are freelance also to enable me and anyone who is inclined to model certain things in a more theoretical rather than factual way. Obvious detail variations are the most important such as the standard VS extended tank E2 and the various chimneys some engines ran with. The new-to-the-SCC range Furness J1 class has a separate pack of chimneys to order that allow the engine to take on different guises, the simple change in chimney can make all the difference.  People have asked me to make a few alterations here and there and I have done it; the creation of the Cambrian Class 61 was due to consultation to give the Furness K2 some alterations but the work became more elaborate than originally envisioned as research continued. It has however produced a new loco choice all together, so all good!

At the time of this interview, the next engine to be completed and released for sale will be the Furness Railway J1 Class. There is already a Furness Railway 21 Class that’s also known as the K2 available in several variants, so for the meantime, I’m concentrating on this particular railway company and then will move on to another.

Check out Gavin’s incredible model train designs in his shop here. He’s created some videos on post-processing his models here and here if you’re looking for a glance into his methods.

He’s also requested that if anyone has built, painted, and are running his creations on a model railway, to please send him photos or video. As Gavin says, “I’d very much like to see what people do with the kits, there’s something quite ‘happifying’ seeing your own designs all completed by another!”

Designer Spotlight: Erin Winick – Sci Chic

At Shapeways we’re huge believers that smart is sexy and 4th year Mechanical Engineering student, Erin Winick’s goal is to help show off the fashionable side of science and show that 3D printing and technology is accessible to everyone. Her shop Sci Chic features a wide array of gorgeous jewelry, all inspired by science and we were excited to learn more about her mission and her successes so far.

 

Tell us about what drives your designs.
My biggest inspiration is to encourage more young girls to enter the engineering fields. All of my designs are inspired by science and engineering. Everything is paired with science descriptions so that fashion can help spread science literacy. I enjoy creating a variety of items, some more obvious than others in their inspiration. I hope to intrigue people enough with the design that they want to learn about the science behind it as well.

As a mechanical engineering student, the whole experience has been rewarding and really given me a platform to talk about encouraging young kids to look at science and engineering in a new and creative way.

 

Know you said you created your jewelry to utilize fashion to help spread fashion literacy. Do you have any interesting anecdotes about how you’ve accomplished this as a result of wearing/selling your jewelry?
Absolutely. One of the coolest messages I got was a mom who had bought a necklace for her 11 year old daughter who has now worn it to school every day since. It felt great to know that she loved the piece so much that she was telling all of her friends about it! For me, wearing the Trajectory Necklace has sparked a lot of conversations at events. People look at it and don’t see the inspiration right away, and when I tell them that it shows the path of the Apollo 11 mission, they get super excited! It is really rewarding to see people get so excited about science. I even had an astrophysicist wear the Trajectory Necklace on an episode of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s TV show, StarTalk! The necklace even became part of the conversation for the live audience.

Additionally, I have had stories of teachers wearing pieces in the classroom when teaching about related lectures and students receiving pieces as graduation necklaces printed in precious metal. Bringing science into people’s everyday lives keeps me going.

With over 2,500 Instagram followers, what are the typical reactions you get from people about these creations?
When we first reveal a new piece on Instagram it is always really exciting. We usually show it in plastic first, and then in metal. People usually comment on how awesome the steel materials look. Also, when we release a piece covering a new area of STEM, it is fascinating to see scientists and engineers from that area flock to that piece. They get so excited someone is bringing attention to STEM in a new way. People love the variety of looks they can achieve with our pieces because of all of the materials we offer.

We also love sharing pictures of our customers wearing the 3D printed creations. Many of the customers our in the STEM fields, allowing us to show some great role models in STEM for young women on our Instagram as well. However, we also have customers who are intrigued by the look of the piece and the fashion aspect of it, and might learn some about the science behind it in the process of buying it.

Instagram has been a great platform for us to build a community around.

What else can we see coming from you on the horizon?
We are working on some collaboration pieces right now with scientist and engineers from around the world. We are hoping to give them a platform to help share the fashionable side of science and reach a wide audience. We will be donating a portion of these sales to STEM related charities as well. We can’t wait for everyone to see them!

Designer Erin Winick of Sci Chic

Designer Erin Winick of Sci Chic

Check out Erin’s shop here, she recently added a ton of beautiful product images that we’re super excited about.

 

Designer Spotlight: Igor Puškarić – Iggy Design

Iggy Design features some incredible creations by Igor Puškarić, who is an award-winning 3D artist and animator with over 6 years of experience in the video game industry. He loves to design and create high-quality models that people can use in their own projects, films, games, and animation. We were particularly intrigued by Igor’s intricately designed chess pieces so wanted to share it with our community.

 

Tell us about your chess piece designs.
What I always strive for is originality and innovation. I would love to design toys and figurines; and chess was a popular game already so I decided to give it a shot and have my own take on it, with a strong intention to produce something that has not been seen before. I actually googled alternative chess images and see a huge potential there.

I tried to showcase something completely different, yet familiar and usable. I created them specifically so they would be difficult to cast, meaning I wanted to make them 3D-printable with the specific purpose of celebrating the technology. The great thing about printable chess is that you can afford to lose a piece– just replace the lost one, rather than having to buy a whole board again.

What inspired the design?
I started playing with general features of each figure but through a sort of steampunk direction to make them intricate while also keeping the industrial-futuristic tone. It was my wish to make them look cool no matter which angle you were looking at them from, so the flow of the shape was important.

So, what’s next?
I yet have to create the opposing army as well, so the black and white figurines aren’t the same armies painted differently. Painting is also something I intend to learn, but I am not there yet.

Designer Igor Puškarić of Iggy Design

Designer Igor Puškarić of Iggy Design

Chess pieces aside, Igor is most proud of his Swarm pendant which is printed in stainless steel and is loved by lots of happy customers. Check out his shop and consider picking something up for yourself!

 

Designer Spotlight: Cro’s Miniatures for Tabletop RPGs – Anthony Hinton

Having recently opened up Black High Definition Acrylate for shop owners to make this material available to their customers, we wanted to highlight Cro’s Miniatures for Tabletop RPGs, a Shapeways shop that offers highly detailed and customized miniatures printed in this material. We asked Anthony about how he began creating miniatures and the tools he uses:

What led you to start creating miniatures?
I started designing and printing 3D models when my D&D group all created rare races of characters. We searched around and couldn’t find any miniatures that were suitable for our strange assortment. After creating these characters, I realized how powerful 3D printing is for tabletop RPGs. Each character is so unique and the miniature that represents it should match, and that’s only really possible through the amazing technology of 3D printing. One of my customers requested a gnome sorcerer with a squirrel on his shoulder and a smaller clockwork version of himself. There’s no way anyone would have such a specific miniature, but through the magic of 3D printing, Foodle was born.

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How do you do it?
I found some amazing tools that help me create quickly. Make Human is an amazing open-source base model creator that I’m now using for all my new models and from there I import the base into Blender and render the rest of the figure. Each of my models is fully rigged for animation using Rigify (Pitchipoy Human). With those tools alone, anyone can make amazing 3D models.

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And you do custom orders?
While I wish I could do this full time, 3D modeling is only a hobby for me right now as my day job keeps me from making more than one or two miniatures a week. If you have a character that you’d like to have made, let me know. If you have the time to wait for the perfect model, I’ll make whatever you can imagine.

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Check out Cro’s Miniatures for Tabletop RPGs shop here, his custom creations are well worth being patient for!

Designer Spotlight: Artur Dabrowski – Multiply Like Rabbits

Artur is a twenty-something maker from Brooklyn, New York who became fascinated by the idea of 3D printing while pursuing his architecture degree. While a relevant topic in the architectural field, Artur’s school didn’t offer resources to delve into the technology, so it wasn’t until after graduation that he found Shapeways by chance and took time to print a house in plastic to see how the process works. He loved the result and began attempting to print metals, making a pendant for a close friend of mine. She loved it and Artur was inspired to continue creating– leading to the launch of Multiply Like Rabbits, a line of whimsical jewelry and accessories. Artur pairs his products with gorgeous photos that tell a story, cute drawings that engage the audience, and work-in-progress shots… all combined with writing peeking into the thinking behind the designs.

Because the clarity of Arthur’s vision is carried out so impeccably throughout his Shapeways shop (and featured on our Jewelry marketplace), we wanted to find out more about his process and creative aesthetic.

What’s your inspiration behind your designs?
Everyone always asks ‘why rabbits?’ I started drawing rabbits in the margins of my notebooks during high school. I would personify rabbits to express thoughts, situations or feelings I was having. I think the imagery of the rabbit being personified is playful — the rabbit is cute, hops around, eats, multiplies… and lives naively in this world. Personification takes that image and crosses them with this highly rational and complex being, incapable of preserving its naivety. Rabbits were the vessel through which I felt comfortable expressing myself.

One rabbit leaps across the open gap of the two finger ring band while the other rabbit observes: Double Rabbit Ring

How do you approach the designing process?
Imagination lets you take elements inspired from reality into a world that is whimsical and of your heart’s content. I can remember as a child playing in my room, with little scraps of wood leftover from my father’s work, cutouts of printed paper, toy game pieces… and assigning them meaning and value. Elements of reality became extraordinary in this augmented world… little pieces became characters… desks and bed sheets became landscapes. I didn’t let go of that childlike fantasy — I still imagine things that don’t exist and stories that never happen. But I think, as an adult, we have the ability to turn that imagination into reality.

I do a lot of sketching on the subway. There are so many more serene places to sketch (on a deck overlooking the water) but I make the most of what I have. I ride the subway to get around the city in the morning. I’m usually hyped up on coffee fifteen minutes into my day, so I just can’t sit patiently. I need to make things. I can’t design in my mind because I get easily distracted. And to develop an idea I HAVE to draw it. Although the subway is crowded, I found that drawing has become a way to get into my zone… headphones-on I can zone out and be immersed in what I do. Plus, since I’m fixed in my seat, I can’t walk away from what I’m doing. It’s funny to think that such polished jewelry is inspired in the grittiest of all places. That’s NYC.

Brick Arch Ring
As an architect, I love working with brick because it’s one of those materials you can feel with your eyes. Roughness is rendered by light, adding depth to a seemingly flat application. Although bricks are cut with a machine precision, they are always imperfect. It’s such a beautiful material in and of itself. I tried to capture such depth when creating the 3d printed ring. The bricks are 3d modeled rough and uneven, and the roughness peeks through the joints of the mortar. Hand polishing won’t reach into the .04 mm gaps, leaving striated 3d print lines. But the roughness is only visually, it wears smooth and comfortable.

When I design, I like to create something as if it was a found object, as if all the details were meant to be and there’s no trace of the designer to be found. In architecture school, I preferred to work with existing ruins and other found “objects” on a site. With jewelry, I like to work with the body as a landscape. To invigorate the design process, I embed stories within the objects that govern design moves. Rather than be overt, I like to naively create a moment suggestive of a story that can be interpreted differently than my initial intent. Although I am expanding the line with more architectural pieces, I use rabbits as characters in this open-ended story.

For more beautiful photos of Artur’s work, check out his Instagram account where he documents his design process and ethos.

Designer Artur Dabrowski of Multiply Like Rabbits

Designer Artur Dabrowski of Multiply Like Rabbits