Category Archives: Designer Spotlight

How to Turn Your Hobby into 7000 Items Sold

Grant 4-4-0 Metal - Zscale by Stony Smith Designs

Grant 4-4-0 Metal – Zscale by Stony Smith Designs

What do you doodle on the margins of your notes? Stay up late reading about online? Build communities around? Whatever it is, chances are you have something 3-dimensional to contribute to it.

For Stony Smith, who just sold his 7,000th scale model railroad accessory on Shapeways (!!), the seeds of that hobby were planted early on. His parents “were both very crafty, and very strongly into Do It Yourself,” he told us. Today, Smith is a uniquely Shapeways kind of success story – one that proves that, with the right tools, an individual’s hobby can end up enriching a whole community.

As we celebrate his 7000th sale, we thought it was a great time to ask him about the secrets of his success. Take note!

Start With What You Love, and Make It Better

Stony Smith took his love of drawing, combined it with his love of architecture, and then, went 3D. “I’ve worked with 3D design/drawing since 1974, but it was always limited to just 2D renders until 3D printing came along. In 2008, I started building a Zscale (1:220), but I found that the choices for buildings in that scale are extremely limited. I fumbled for a good while with trying to make paper model buildings. Sometime in 2009, I read about Shapeways on the HackADay.com website, and thought, ‘I wonder if 3d printing would work?’ I built a model [of a house], uploaded it, and received a ‘Manifold Error’ message. After several misdirections, I redrew the house using OpenSCAD, and poof! It worked!” OpenSCAD is a great way to create 3D models if you have some programming experience, or have zero 3D modeling experience. Learn more here.

The real-life house that inspired Stony's first 3D printed design

The real-life house that inspired Stony’s first 3D printed design

Get to Know Your Community, and Follow Their Lead

Stony was immersed in a community of makers who all loved scale models, and who challenged each other to create and innovate. “Since 2008 I’ve participated in a forum of fellow ‘Z-heads’ and [I] showed the model to one of the members, Steve Van Til (RIP), who then asked me the crucial question: ‘That’s cool, but can you make one of these?’ That’s where it all started. I could blame all of this on Steve. It’s been a never-ending cycle of ‘That’s cool, can you make one of these?’ ever since.”

Stony's response to "That's cool, but can you make one of these?" The Taconite Orr Car II

Stony’s response to “That’s cool, but can you make one of these?” The Taconite Orr Car II

Embrace Making as a Pure Hobby (Unless You’re Looking to Become a Brand)

Sometimes, you want to make a huge mark on an industry. Sometimes, it’s better to let your day job be your job, and your hobby be purely fun (even if it makes you money). Stony stresses, “This is a HOBBY for me. There’s enough ‘work’ in my day job to keep me fully active. I get a significant amount of relaxation and satisfaction just while doing the drawings, and that’s why I only work on designing things that look interesting to me or catch my attention. I don’t need the distraction of trying to become dependent on the income. That would make this a ‘job’ not a ‘hobby.’ And when someone takes one of my items, paints it properly and places it on their layout, then if I see it in a photo or IRL, the thrill of ‘I did that!’ is what keeps me going.”

Let Your Other Passions Inspire You

For Smith, a career that he truly enjoys inspires how he manages his Shapeways Shop. “My day job is in high-powered big data analytics. Throughout my career, I’ve always been ‘the computer guy.’ There are a number of methods/tools from the day job that I bring over to watching the status of my shop here at Shapeways, like knowing that I’ve sold 7000 items!” He’s also surpassed $10,000 in sales, as we reported last year.

So, what are you waiting for? Do you have a hobby you’d like to take to the next level, but you’re not quite sure how? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll be happy to connect you with the resources you need. Ask away!

Cover image: Ferris Wheel – Zscale by Stony Smith Designs, photo by Karin Snyder

Designer Spotlight: Jin Kyeom – VITAMIN-IMAGINATION

When I was a child, I wanted to be a paleontologist (a scientist who studies fossils) because I thought dinosaurs were absolutely incredible. My parents took me to the Museum of Natural History here in New York, where I discovered that paleontologists slept in tents during their digs — and promptly changed my mind on that career. Alas. Over twenty years later, at my post as PR Lead here at Shapeways, I stumbled upon Jin Kyeom’s Shapeways’ shop and felt positively giddy; Jin’s incredible 3D designs bring dinosaurs back to life (in the artistic sense, obviously). Jin lives in South Korea and works as an educator teaching people of all ages about dinosaurs.

Sifting through the array of models in Jin’s shop, it’s impossible not to let your imagination run a little wild, assisted by the fact that many of the designs are paired with an animation of the 3D modeled dinosaur in action (running, attacking – it’s all there). Due to my weakness for awkward-looking animals, the Carnotaurus model is my favorite  look at its tiny little arms! How does that dinosaur give hugs? Scratch its head? Do anything, basically?

Carnotaurus (Medium / Large size) by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Carnotaurus (Medium / Large size) by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Obviously wanting to fangirl, I asked Jin lots of questions about his models for this Designer Spotlight, so without further ado:

What do you use to guide the dinosaur designs?
Because dinosaurs are extinct, restoring them in a scientifically accurate way is not an easy task. I collect not only the skeleton pictures of the dinosaurs I want to make, but also skeleton data of similar animals. In addition, since extinct dinosaurs are steadily studied, I review the latest academic information. If the collected scientific data and my imagination are in the wrong combination, we can create a strange monster so I review skeletal data of existing animals that are similar to the dinosaurs that I want to restore. The skin patterns of reptiles, for example, are extremely beneficial in guiding the creation of my dinosaur designs.

I use ZBrush for dinosaur-making, Rhino3D for product structure, and KeyShot for rendering. When I prepare a lot of materials, I make the dinosaurs with a ZBrush. In the middle, I get advice from a dinosaur researcher in South Korea. So I try to make nice designs of scientifically accurate dinosaurs.

Tyrannosaurus vs. Triceratops Skeleton by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Tyrannosaurus vs. Triceratops Skeleton by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Your dinosaur designs are now incredibly complex and highly detailed. How long did it take you to master 3D design?
I have been studying ZBrush since 2011 and have been using it until now. In the beginning, my ability was a mess. Recent dinosaurs I have made are better in design and scientific knowledge than my past dinosaurs.

The dinosaurs I had studied and worked on for about two years were the first to receive praise. While I’m much more knowledgeable than when I first started, I continue to study, learn, and strive to improve my skills because there’s always room for growth.

Jin’s earliest Breeding Kit models

How long does it take to model each design?
Typically, I invest a week to design one dinosaur, but it’s a continuation of a long process of research, collecting data, and consulting experts. When the print has been completed, the work is post-processed with paint.

Ceratopsian small package by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Ceratopsian small package by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Check out Jin’s shop – it’s a very realistic-looking blast from the past (which is also what probably killed the dinosaurs, womp womp). There are also Jin’s adorably cartoonish baby dinos in the New Breeding Kit section, for all your cuteness needs.

Triceratops Head skull flower pot by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Triceratops Head skull flower pot by VITAMIN IMAGINATION

Meet Two Women Changing the Face of Cosplay

TheLaserGirls (Sarah C. Awad and Dhemerae Ford) are powerhouses of cosplay, 3D design, and general badassery. On their podcast and blog, they show in vivid detail how two creative people have turned their love of fantasy, sci-fi, and cosplay into incredible 3D printed costumes and accessories – while empowering others to do the same. Last week, I had a chance to take a deep dive into what drives TheLaserGirls.

Screenshot 2017-02-14 17.14.49

I really admire you, and I’m sure many of your fans do as well, for showing that cosplay and fantasy/sci-fi can be welcoming, creatively inspiring spaces that women can help define. How do you see yourselves in terms overcoming traditional gender dynamics in those worlds?

The characters we portray and our undying love for them are just two parts of what we do with cosplay. Obviously, we choose to portray women that have shaped us through our lives, and to us represent strength in more nuanced and unique ways. One could say that the “Strong Female Character” is now a trope in itself that has become overly-simplified, and we want to open the box again and reintroduce diversity to that definition.

For Dhemerae, it is also about paying homage and thanking these characters for the impact that they had had on her, and for Sarah, it is also about giving them the attention and portrayal she wanted for them. Many of the characters Sarah loves, she feels were foundationally incredible, but were lessened by either a lack of exposure publicly or storylines that smothered them. Through cosplay, she hopes to give them a new platform to showcase their amazingness!

The other huge portion of this is our focus in making. What we want show is that making is meaningful – more accessible than one would think – and just [show] the joy of creating and building something: here’s a project, and this is how we made it, and it’s awesome, and it’s fun, and it’s challenging, and it betters you, and you can do it too, and here’s how. 3D printing has a wide and deep context that we have found turns many people away because they do not feel they are capable of unlocking it. We want to show and help people clear that wall; it is less about the final product (because if you love what you’re doing, you will look great!) and more about being creative and learning how to build something functional that makes you feel amazing and that gives back to your influences.

How did you get interested in cosplay? Did you each have a separate journey to where you are today, or did you draw inspiration from each other and get involved in creating costumes after you met?

S: I’ve always been interested in cosplay. I was a big anime fan as a tween/teen and I was also a performer, so cosplay was the ultimate marriage of the two. I did a few smaller cosplays with my siblings when I was younger, but never ended up pursuing it like I do now. I think fondly on those days, because when I started cosplaying again in my 20s, I remembered the sense of confidence I felt when I created it and wore it, and witnessed how I affected other people through it. It is a full circle moment for me.

I think working with Dhemerae has helped me unlock a completely different side of making within me that I would have never been able to access on my own, and that has hugely influenced and opened up my mind to what I’m capable of doing with cosplay.

Sarah in Queen Knight cosplay

Sarah in Queen Knight cosplay

D: I’ve always been interested but never had the confidence while I was younger to actually do it. Once I got involved with 3D printing, met Sarah, and began to hone my skills, I really proved to myself that I could in fact do it! This is sort of my time to revisit that interest and finally realize the characters that I always admired and loved.

Tell me about the moment you first used 3D modeling and 3D printing to trick out your costumes. What was your early process like?

D: The first thing I made was San’s mask from my favorite animated film, Princess Mononoke. I had this idea to use the ProJet 660 (sandstone printer) to create a lightweight hollow mask that mimicked the look and feel of a handmade mask. I also wanted to add my own artistic spin by creating some sinister looking cracks in the surface for a weathering effect. I had to print three iterations before I got the size right, and the mechanical component I spent hours designing to keep the mask on my head completely failed. It turns out the best solution was to simply epoxy an elastic band and wear it like a plastic Halloween mask. That process really taught me a lesson in over-engineering. The simpler solution was the most elegant one, and the costume turned out a lot better than expected. I also came up with a crazy idea to attach the ears to my piece of fur using screws inset into the powder prints, which worked beautifully. That was another lesson learned in experimenting with new fastening techniques using 3D printing. So, overall the process was frustrating, but probably the most rewarding to date.

Dhemerae in her San Mask

Dhemerae in her San Mask

S: For my first 3D printed cosplay, I decided to go all in and build body armor. I had never made anything like that ever, and I selected it for that very reason. With each project I choose, I try to give myself a new challenge to explore in order to always be learning and growing, and if I went into everything I learned and experienced during this process, it would be a book (Check out the Sarah’s Comic Con Chronicles on thelasergirlsstudio.com)!

A detail of Sarah's body armor

A detail of Sarah’s body armor

I can say generally speaking, my early process is always the same: I do a ton of sketching, 2D blueprint making, and calendaring in order to set the structure for my workflow. I am a wildly imaginative person which can very easily make me lose my focus, so I need that structure to balance me and make the way I work more effective.

What 3D printed accessories are you most proud of?

D: I am most proud of my Buster Sword from the Lightning As cosplay. For me it was a feat of engineering to be able to 3D model and print a sword that could be assembled in that way, at that scale; I was also proud of the magnet mechanism I designed to join the pieces!

Dhemerae with her Buster Sword

Dhemerae with her Buster Sword

S: Definitely my Fenrir pieces from this year’s Lightning As cosplay; the pauldron, the earrings, and the bag embellishment. I made all of those pieces from one model, which to me shows the usefulness and versatility of 3D printing. Also, the buttons that I printed for my pants – simple but so effective!

Sarah with her Fenrir pieces

Sarah with her Fenrir pieces

What advice would you give to cosplayers who might not be using 3D printing now, but are interested in exploring new ways to bring their visions to life?

When we took a 3D modeling class in college, our professor had us start by choosing a specific object we wanted to make, and we always recommend that others start in this way as well. Choosing an object you love and want to make will not only keep you motivated to finish through the more frustrating parts of learning, but will also make it easier to choose a software package to begin with, and a context under which to work. We also recommend when choosing your first project, to either select one large object or several smaller objects in order to not overwhelm yourself out of the gate!

In terms of where to find learning resources, we actually have a whole blog post on that we recommend you check out- also, Shapeways’ forums are fantastic!

Intro to 3D Modeling:

pt1: http://bit.ly/2kqXwtv

pt2: http://bit.ly/2lsFfMH

I’m curious about your relationship with your fans. Do you work actively to grow your fanbase? How do your fans inspire or inform your work?

From people just getting started in 3D printing to those with experience, the reason why we started thelasergirlsstudio.com was because we wanted to provide a resource and a perspective on the process that can hopefully inspire our followers to get involved in the community, or try new ventures in their process. We Have always genuinely loved to share our work and knowledge, and in a world where people hold onto their content for dear life, we strive to focus on sharing in hopes that others can learn from us, and start their own journeys into 3D.

We do our best to provide helpful feedback to those who contact us via any of our social media channels, and hope to build a positive community filled with productivity, experimentation, creativity, and joy.

Any big projects on the horizon that you’re excited about?

We recently announced that we’re going to I-Con in March in cosplay. Sarah is going as Re-L from the anime Ergo Proxy, and Dhemerae is going as Ripley from the first Alien film. We picked these characters specifically because they’ll have only one major prop print. We’re also considering attending other cons in the fall.


Other than cosplay, we’re working on a bunch of new and exciting content for the blog, which should include some good tutorials and maybe a few vlogs. We may have a couple of teaching opportunities on the, and we are hoping to potentially release a collection of pieces in the Summer/Fall of this year.

Luckily, you can actually buy a selection of TheLaserGirls’ accessories in their Shapeways Shop. And for more learnings, incredible photos, and insights, check out their blog, Instagram, and podcast.

 

Designer Spotlight: Nikolay Vorobyov — Disculpt

From his childhood in a small rural village to a career in cutting-edge 3D design, Nikolay Vorobyov of Disculpt proves that inspiration — and  innovation — can come from unlikely places. We were floored by his detailed, soulful depictions of wild animals, and we were even more impressed by his passion for creating them. Read on to find out how Nikolay bridges the gap between the digital and physical worlds.

Lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! How did you decide to focus on these animal-inspired designs?
I grew up in a small village in the north of Russia on the banks of the river, on all sides surrounded by forests. In my childhood, I was always around a lot of animals, both domestic and wild in the nearby forest. Later, in my work, my interest in animals sculptures grew from real custom orders.

Deer Head Ring by Disculpt

Deer Head Ring by Disculpt

Having studied architecture, was it difficult to transition into creating natural-looking animal sculptures?
I tried a few jobs, from architecture to 3D game character design and animation, and eventually, digital sculpture. It was at a time when 3D printing had become more accessible.

How did you approach prototyping your jewelry?
Gradually, in my work with clients, the priority has shifted to sculpture for 3D printing instead of real-time models, and I like it, not depending on polycount, textures, or game engines. And most importantly, the possibility of seeing my own creation as part of material world. Now I have a little studio, and I can work at my pleasure. Modern technologies like 3D printing gave me this possibility. I hope sometime in the future I will be able to maintain my own production, instead of only digital sculpting.

Of course, when I became aware of the existence of Shapeways, I wanted to try to make something in metal or plastic. I had not thought too long what it could be, so naturally animals are my first experiment, in jewelry and wall-mounted heads.

Two Ravens Ring by Disculpt

Two Ravens Ring by Disculpt

Were there any particular challenges you needed to approach in the design of any of your products?
Was it difficult? I think i just went to what I’ve always wanted. I had much to learn by myself for many sleepless nights, but it was worth it.

I think I am a perfectionist. I dive into the fine details, trying to make the model more realistic. Sometimes i want to shout to myself, “Enough, stop it, go do something else already!”

To work with Shapeways was very, easy, and the latest updates makes it even easier. Shapeways gave me a chance to offer my digital art to people from around the world. And it has already ceased to be only “digital.” Now it is “real,” “material,” “actual.”

Proud Wolf Head by Disculpt

Proud Wolf Head by Disculpt

Thanks for sharing your process with us, Nikolay! Don’t miss his full range of designs in his Shapeways shop, and leave a comment below if you’d like to be featured in a future Designer Spotlight.

Designer Spotlight: Lizz Hill — Toolry

One of my favorite thing about Shapeways designers is that their work is sometimes very “meta.” A perfect example is the work of Lizz Hill, the Brooklyn-based designer behind Toolry. Combining complex artistry with the expanded design possibilities of digital manufacturing, she creates products that take a lighthearted look at the tools behind the design process. It makes sense, considering how immersed in the design process she is: By day, she’s a hardware and jewelry 3D modeler for a major NYC fashion accessories company, and her spare time is filled with embroidery, soapmaking, origami, painting, and of course, Toolry.

The designer with a couple of her favorite things

The designer with a couple of her favorite things

In your shop description, you say, “These statement pieces are meant to engage you and poke fun at their counterparts.” Which pieces in particular capture this spirit?
The first personal pieces I had made for myself were based on tools, hence “Toolry“! I loved the idea of taking something that has a specific use, like a wrench or a caliper, taking away its function and purpose, and wearing it as jewelry. The Calipers Pendant was the first tool that I modeled for myself. I use digital calipers for work, modeling hardware and jewelry, so I’ve always been very intrigued by the original, fully manual calipers that preceded their modern, digital counterpart. I love to find the beauty in utility.

caliper pendant

The Calipers Pendant by Toolry

What was the inspiration behind the Troubled Waters trio?
I’ve recently taken up embroidery as a hobby, and one of my more ambitious projects was embroidering a pair of Converse sneakers. I’ve always been very intrigued by old sailor tattoos and iconography and had chosen this theme for my sneakers. As I was designing my embroidery layout I realized that the theme would lend itself very well to some small icon rings. I had also been seeing more and more midi rings worn by the women of NYC so decided to model a trio that would mirror the imagery of my Troubled Waters Converse.

Lizz Hill's Troubled Waters embroidered shoes and Rings Trio

Lizz Hill’s Troubled Waters embroidered shoes and Rings Trio

Your tooth cufflinks and ring were modeled based on real human teeth. How did that come about?
I’ve always been quite fascinated by the morbid things that make most people cringe. I have a collection of bones, antlers, teeth and animal horns that show up in various ways in my apartment: on the wall, on necklaces and as succulent planters! My husband recently found his wisdom teeth which he had kept after their removal, and gave them to me as a gift. I joked with him that in place of my sapphire engagement ring, that I would instead set his tooth into a ring setting and wear that instead. That imagery stuck in my head for awhile, and I finally gave in and modeled one of the teeth and set it into a ring for myself and a pair of cufflinks for him.

Tooth Ring by Toolry

Tooth Ring by Toolry

Tell me about the teddy bear ring and pendant.
Ha! These are my favorite! The Teddy Bear Pendant was another one that followed an embroidery piece. Like my jewelry, my embroidery is all about taking themes and icons and turning them upside down. The teddy bear embroidery was about taking something sweet and traditional and adding a disturbing twist. I have the piece framed on my bathroom wall but loved the bear so much that I wanted to create a piece that I could wear. The Teddy Bear with Turnkey Ring was the second piece I created using my bear and I have at least one more version of the bear that I’ll be posting soon.

teddy

Teddy Bear Embroidery and Pendant with Open Stomach by Toolry

Can you share a little more about your inspirations or design process?
My entire career thus far has been about taking hardware designs and ensuring they are functional, affordable, and mass-producible, aside from just being aesthetically pleasing. I’ve seen so many ideas quieted or cast aside because they couldn’t be made within those parameters. Now, thanks to Shapeways and other emerging vertical manufacturers utilizing 3D printing as part of their manufacturing process, the range of product that is available to the end consumer has begun to expand rapidly. As a designer and a product developer, I have fewer limitations on what I can make and offer to my customers because minimums, manufacturing limitations, and capital investment are no longer major hurdles for me. I have so much more creative freedom, and that drives me to act on the ideas that may have been riskier or impossible in the past.

What are you waiting for? Go check out Lizz’s brilliant designs at Toolry!

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.

pgpac2

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!

pgpac3

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!