Category Archives: Community

RC Customization Series: Lap 1 – Upgrading The Tamiya Hornet

Our new RC Customization Series takes us inside a very cool Tamiya Hornet customization project, headed up by Shapeways’ Eindhoven Distribution Specialist Tijs Lochbaum and European Community Manager Ruud van den Muijzenberg. Tijs and Ruud show us how exciting (and surprisingly easy) it can be to use 3D printing to make your mark on RC racing.

Because of the global drone hype, I didn’t realize other remote-controlled vehicles were still a thing. But that was before I found out that my colleague Tijs Lochbaum, who works in our Eindhoven distribution center, is a national champion in RC car drifting!

Watch Tijs drifting with his own RC car:

Boy, was I wrong! Tijs proved to me that RC Cars are being used more than ever, in totally different ways than I expected, and that customizing them is the best way to enhance your performance in competitions. Accompanied by Tijs, I’ll deep-dive into customizing RC Cars and share the process with you via videos and blogs in our RC Customization Series. With us cruising on the first Lap of the series, we begin our journey at the beginning, showing you how we got started — and hopefully inspiring you to take on your own customization projects.

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Adéla, Tijs and I on the first recording day of this project

Of course, we need a car to begin with. RC cars have been around for decades, so Tijs recommended we start this project with a classic: the Tamiya Hornet. Watch the awesome 1980s commercial below:

After ordering the original car online, we received a box filled with components a few days later. I was expecting to get a fully operational car, so I was a bit surprised, but Tijs reassured me this is normal (yup, I’m really exploring new territory). The big advantage of getting a car in separate components is that it’s easier to replace some of the mass-manufactured items with new custom parts, while still keeping the original essence.
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The box the Tamiya Hornet arrives in. It has an appropriately vintage look.

Tijs then built the car overnight, as you can read in detail in his forum thread, to explain that there’s a lot of work involved in making the original car.

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We now have our own Tamiya Hornet assembled in its original state, even with all stickers in place. Considering that the design itself is over 30 year old, calling it a classic buggy is an understatement. But then comes the question: you can’t go wrong with a big refresh after so many years, right?

Tijs brought the AMPro Engineering store on Shapeways to my attention as one of the go-to places for new, fresh designs of Tamiya Hornet parts (and for many other RC cars too). We ordered a bunch of AMPro products that we 3D printed in our White Strong & Flexible material at our factory in Eindhoven, as you can see in the overview below. From here, our customization journey begins!

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All parts here can be found in the AMPro Engineering shop

The designs offered by AMPro Engineering are perfect for the adjustments we have in mind, but other brilliant engineers such as James Knight from Knight Customs (read his Designer Spotlight here) offer a great digital inventory of RC car (and other RC vehicle) parts on Shapeways.

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So, now we have a car, and we have a lot of 3D printed components. The next thing we need to do is prepare the printed components for assembly — but we’ll look into that in the next Lap of the RC Customization Series. Don’t forget to shoot us questions by commenting below or on our social media channels. We’ll be adding more Laps to the series soon, and we’ll make sure to take your input into account.

This 3D Printed High Elf Miniature Is Downright Incredible

Late last year, we made our Black High Definition Acrylate (BHDA) available for sale by our Shop Owners, enabling them to market incredibly detailed models. Since then, we’ve been watching with a ton of excitement as miniature makers prototype and iterate their concepts to prepare them for sale. Shapeways Shop Owner Gareth Nicholas, the multitalented 3D designer and award-winning miniature painter, shared his thoughts and process around designing for and finishing BHDA on his blog, and we were so blown away that we had to share.

SEO Miniature painting, toy models, figurine, heroforge, Dnd miniatures, how to paint miniatures, dungeons and dragons, reaper miniatures, dungeons and dragons character generator, sheet, mini figures, fantasy miniatures. GAMES WORKSHOP, gameworkshop, citadel paints, war games, games, boardgames, high elve, shapeways

Nicholas took his already expert-level experience in painting Warhammer and Reaper miniature figurines to the next level by creating his own figures with 3D printing. On his blog he explains:

“Concept-wise there’s nothing particularly original here. Games Workshop have been starving me of High Elves recently (at the moment it’s starting to look doubtful they’ll ever return, but I live in hope) so I decided to make my own. As I usually do when I sculpt something, I spent a while with a pencil and paper sketching various designs for armour and so on. I rejected a few designs that I thought looked cool on the grounds that they probably wouldn’t print very well or look good when painted.”

SEO Miniature painting, toy models, figurine, heroforge, Dnd miniatures, how to paint miniatures, dungeons and dragons, reaper miniatures, dungeons and dragons character generator, sheet, mini figures, fantasy miniatures. GAMES WORKSHOP, gameworkshop, citadel paints, war games, games, boardgames, high elve,

To start the design, Nicholas blocked out the character with simple shapes in (free software) Blender. We strongly recommend emulating his process here because he kept the overall model at the same level of finish throughout his process. This allows him to make good judgements as he improves the model through iterations, working from the most general forms to the most finely detailed.

“I roughed out the proportions in Blender and spent a fair bit of time viewing the model from every angle until I was happy that the anatomy wasn’t too awful. I then went back and refined each element, and made decisions about how the hair and the cloak would flow.”

Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways Hereforge, Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden

Afterwards, Nicholas describes how he took the smooth finish of BHDA and made it glow with simple paints (check out his blog for more awesome expert painting tips).

“I elected to go with non-metallic metal when painting as there are some interesting shapes and I wanted to explore the reflections. For the steel parts I used my tried and tested method of highlighting with cyan and shading with red added to the mix.

“Overall I am quite pleased with how the miniature has turned out for a first effort at this scale and I’ve learnt a lot that will hopefully lead to better results in the future.”

Finally, check out the finished product below, and find more of Nicholas’s original miniatures in his Shapeways Shop here. This High Elf would be an impressive addition to your next Warhammer battle or Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden

Looking for more custom-made miniatures? Check out Gareth Nicholas’ shop here, Tabletop & Wargaming accessories here, and the Miniatures marketplace here. And, let us know in the comments what figurines you’d like to see in the marketplace in the future!

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.

Shapeways Goes to India: Maker Fest Ahmedabad

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

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

The author at Maker Fest

The author at Maker Fest

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

Lauren Slowik demonstrates 3D modeling

Lauren Slowik demonstrates 3D scanning

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

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

 

D-School or Self-Taught: How did you learn to 3D design?

One question we get all the time is: What’s the best way to learn how to 3D design? Did you learn the tools and processes in an academic setting like school? Did you teach yourself though experimenting? Did you watch tutorials or take online classes?

Experiments with MagicaVoxel software

Experiments with MagicaVoxel software

We posed these questions to our community on the Shapeways forums and got some amazing responses. Here are some of these learnings that could serve as a great guide for others interested in starting their journey in digital manufacturing.

“I have always loved to draw with pencil and paper as a hobby. But I am a Mechanical Engineer and I started my professional career as a CATIA application engineer at IBM in 1992, and did that for more than 15 years. I had taken several CATIA training classes and spent many hours studying by myself. ” – Shapeways Shop owner Glehn

In the forums, our community has a range of backgrounds, from fine arts to science to engineering. Most reported learning the design software themselves from online tutorials and YouTube. They were creative prior to learning 3D design, and had begun their journey earlier with other hobbies like drawing and model building.

Many started learning before academic classes in 3D design were available. Personal digital manufacturing is still in its infancy and the educational infrastructure around it is still forming. Those who taught themselves are leading the charge to start educating the next generation of designers.

Most importantly, community members have learned to come to design with a creative, can-do mentality. By working on specific problems, like wanting to create a necklace or a robot, they’ve experimented with the tools at hand — and found solutions. Design always requires a combination of patience, problem-solving, and elbow grease. They’ve learned to value hard work, and that making something yourself pays off.

“My parents instilled in me the belief that it’s better if possible to craft something on your own than to buy it pre-built. 3d printing just gives me better construction tools” – Shapeways shop owner Stony Smith

How did you learn to 3D design? Did you learn in school or pick it up yourself? Let us know in the comments below.

A Visionary Artist Takes on the Smart Home

This year’s Amsterdam Light Festival is putting Dutch artist and Shapeways designer Anouk Wipprecht’s designs in the spotlight. Her Living Pods exhibit asks us to rethink the smart home as something more than purely functional, with interactive clothing and flower-inspired pods that welcome visitors “home” by reacting to their presence.

Mechatronic “LIVING PODS” – Anouk Wipprecht x Somfy Home Automation from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

Wipprecht is already well-established in the Fashion-Tech world, and her current exhibit expands on past work around reactive and wearable tech. The Pods are part of The Art of Motion, the artist’s ongoing collaboration with connected home company Somfy, Michael Sagan of Autodesk’s Fusion 360 team, and LA-based concept designer Igor Knezevic. The project envisions a time when all the objects in our homes become sensory and smart. While Wipprecht’s fashions focus on interaction with (and mediation between) the human body and the outside world, the Pods aim to bring humanity and soul to home electronics.

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Visitors to the Amsterdam Light Festival take in Wipprecht’s work

To articulate the concept, she created an one-piece hanging mechanical gripper structure with hooks that allowed 3D printed leaves to be connected. The gripper mechanism was created in Fusion 360 by the designer during her residency at Pier 9 — Autodesk’s maker-workshop in San Francisco. The Pier 9 Artists in Residence program allows artists, makers, and fabricators to work with high-end tools and machinery in Autodesk’s digital fabrication workshop, bringing dream projects to life. The final pieces were printed at Shapeways, each in a single piece, using SLS for strength and rigidity. The Pods light up, and a linear motor moves their petals in response to a sensor, emulating a living flower’s reaction to the sun.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Amsterdam this week, check out Anouk’s exhibit at the Amsterdam Light Festival, now through January 8, and let us know in the comments what smart home tech you’d like to see in the future.

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Living Pods designs for Somfy in Fusion 360, printed at Shapeways

Living Pods designs for Somfy in Fusion 360, printed at Shapeways

Bonus: Check out the video below to go behind the scenes of the Living Pods’ creation. Behind The Scenes // LIVING PODS [Mechanic Flower lamps in Fusion360] from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

Our Community in 2016

The year ends tonight, and what a year it was. While the world got a little crazy in 2016, the Shapeways community grew and thrived. Here’s a look back on some of the ways you, our community, made 2016 our best year yet.

We made amazing projects!

Lumecluster created the Dreamer Regalia Armor for Felicia Day and showed what it takes to use Blender to create custom-fitting cosplay gear.

Our community grew closer, and through members who love 3D printing scale models, we made new friends around the world. The Kogashima Streetcar is a testament to how 3D printing can bring people together across borders.

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Winter finally came, and along the way we got to see some incredible props printed by Shapeways for (my personal favorite) HBO series Game of Thrones!

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We launched new materials and tools!

We introduced the strongest and lightest ever material at Shapeways, DMLS Aluminum! We saw it used to create working mountain bike prototypes and an amazing FPV drone!

For those who are prototyping and iterating on their designs, Shapeways started offering PLA to provide a quick turnaround.  Shop Owner Bhold showed us how she uses her own printer to iterate on her concepts and come up with the final product she sells on Shapeways.

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One of the best parts of printing with Shapeways is being able to create products that couldn’t be made without 3D printing. Building on these remarkable products, we launched innovative Interlocking Metals. For the first time ever, we can print complex geometries in precious and semi-precious materials.

At Shapeways we’re all about being responsive to our community. One feature designers have asked for was the ability to determine the orientation of of how the machine prints their model. So, we released the print orientation tool so makers can better control aesthetics and accuracy when printing with Selective Laser Sintering.

Above all, we had fun together

The best part of Shapeways is being part of an amazing community. This year we got to meet so many of our designers and Shop Owners in their own element.

We talked to Model Railroad enthusiasts about the best way to design a 3D printed N Scale train.

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We played games together at Gen Con using the amazingly artistic dice created by Shapeways designers.

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We teamed up with DJI to challenge the Shapeways community to help first responders save lives with augmented drones.

We saw old friends and enjoyed great math puns like the Klein Bottle opener created by Bathsheba.

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Finally, we joined forces with Fat Cat Fab Lab to sell designers’ unique jewelry and home decor as last-minute gifts for the holidays.

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We had an incredible time in 2016, and we’re looking forward to seeing you all in 2017!

Beating Tech Obsolescence With 3D Printing

One of the most exciting — and practical — ways our community is using 3D printing is in the creation of replacement parts for household electronics. Australian designer MichaelAtOz of Matter Haus is a perfect example of a maker who starts with existing tech (in Michael’s case, Dyson vacuums), and creates a range of parts to extend the life of the high-end devices. In his recent forum post, shared below, the designer tells the story of his latest work.

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Adapter for Dyson V8 to pre-V8 tools/accessories by Matter Haus

This is my latest major design. An adapter to fight obsolescence, which I think is a great aspect of the evolving maker/3D printing possibilities. This is how it happened.

A friend’s daughter was cleaning her car, and managed to drop their Dyson Handstick vacuum into a bucket of dirty water. Fitzzitzt…the vacuum now sux  not. So they bought the latest Dyson V8 Handstick.

It wasn’t until they got home that they realised the V8 had changed the connectors, and so they couldn’t use the variety of additional accessories they had bought for the previous version.

I had previously modeled the old version’s connector to make a range of holders/wall mounts for the accessories/tools. I needed to measure the changed V8 sizes and the new clip mechanism to update my holders anyway, so I though an adapter would be possible. Plug the new measurement into my OpenSCAD designs, and after a bit of that design magic, blood sweat and tears, I worked out that Strong and Flexible Plastic (S&FP) would allow me to use “flex” in the design of the release clip.
adapter prototype cut Flex.jpg

I often prototype my designs on my personal FDM 3D printer, but that imposes design constraints which Shapeways S&FP doesn’t have, like gravity. However, the bad thing about Shapeways is that it isn’t here in Oz, and a prototype can take some time to arrive. So you have to adapt, firstly make sure it fits, cut out bits which aren’t needed and show the internals; luckily this was doable with minimal support material. The first physical prototype confirmed the fit, and the flexi release worked as intended.
Adapter 1st prototype SANY0921.JPG
(My printer is a bit long in the tooth, it could use some adjustments for better results)

Similarly working out a good way of joining the new V8 tip design to the old receptacle I also considered how I could prototype on my local printer; after careful attention to the angles, I had a design I could print with little support.
Adapter 2nd local prototype printed.JPG

It was time for a real Shapeways prototype; finalising the design and ensuring the Shapeways 3D tools were happy took a few more iterations. Again it was necessary to incorporate cut-outs otherwise you couldn’t see how well the parts will fit.
Adapter 2nd prototype cut A SW.JPG
As, until I sell some more designs, I’m not made of money, I also chopped off bits not needed for testing to save on material and machine space costs.
Adapter 2nd prototype cut B SW.JPG

I chose White & Un-polished S&FP as it saves several days production time, and awaited delivery…
Adapter 2nd prototype cut delivered SW.JPG

Thankfully my measurements, earlier prototypes, and tolerance guestimates were good, and it fit like a glove. The next step was a final prototype of the complete model. Previous testing with a variety of the Dyson tools showed a small variance in size, so there was a small gap to allow for this. I was concerned how that may affect the vacuum suction, something I couldn’t test with the cut-out prototype.

Not wanting to spend too much on prototypes I decided the design should be finessed for the next order. It needed a seal/gasket/washer, this took a lot of searching to find the most appropriate, cost-effective, and easily acquired solution. The best balance turned out to be o-rings, so I had to find the right size to fit the design and incorporate an appropriate recess to hold it.
adapter o-ring cut SW.JPG

It was ready for the full prototype, or as I hopefully like to call it, the first production model. As the design has a friction fit I had always intended Polished S&FP as the production Material, and given the Dyson design, it had to be red.

And so, a new design is born
Adapter mounted w brush SW SANY0852.JPG Dyson Adapter Side SW SANY0827.JPG Top oring SW - SANY0892.JPG

As it turned out, it works pretty well without the o-ring, but the capability is there if you want perfection ;)

So after six weeks from concept to product, it came just in time for Xmas, so my friend can keep his old accessories.

That’s how it happened.

Thank you for sharing your story, Michael!

Which electronics would you revive with the right replacement parts? Let us know in the comments what parts you’re working on or would like to see our community develop.

Maker-Made Gifting at the Fat Cat Holiday Market

Last Sunday, Shapeways teamed up with one of our favorite Maker spaces, Fat Cat Fab Lab, to host the 2nd Annual Holiday Market. Twenty-five Makers from the New York City area set up shop for the afternoon to show off unique handcrafted and 3D printed products. Among them were a few of our favorite Shapeways designers, including The Laser Girls and Bless This Mess NYC. Folks who stopped into the West Village Maker hub got to browse, chat with independent designers, and go home with cool holiday gifts.

Here are a few of our favorite moments from the market:

Shapeways designers Bless This Mess NYC show off their beautiful jewelry and home decor

 

Oak Digital Craft’s trendy 3D printed bowties and necklaces

 

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The Laser Girls 3D printed nails and cosplay swords overlook Christopher Square in Manhattan

 

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Nirvager’s incredible collection of hand-painted Lego mods and accessories

 

Shapeways designer and sculptor Paul Liaw showcased his jewelry designs

Shapeways designer and sculptor Paul Liaw showcased his jewelry designs

 

Holiday Market organizers Deren Güler (Fat Cat Fab Lab Co-Founder) and Andrew Thomas (Community Manager at Shapeways)

 

Designers and Shapies Ring in the Holidays, Dutch Style

With the end of the year drawing closer, the holidays are nearly here. Last week, we felt the time was right to celebrate our Dutch designers who were true rock stars during Dutch Design Week. While unfortunately not all DDW participants were able to make it, we still had a blast and are looking forward to meeting up soon again!

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Designer Anna Ruiter of Tjielp Design shows Santa and Mrs. Claus her jewelry

Besides good food and drinks and a workshop full of Shapies on site, we were excited to once again welcome our special friends from the North Pole: Santa and his reindeer Kai! After their visit the last two years, Mrs. Claus couldn’t resist joining our early Holiday celebration as well.

Community members meet Mr. and Mrs. Santa and their reindeer

Community members meet Santa and Mrs. Claus and their reindeer

The designers had an exclusive meet and greet with our friends from the North Pole, and their designs got a thorough check to see if they’re ready to be gift-wrapped and delivered down your chimney. From all of us at Shapeways to all of you, happy holidays!

Check out the shops of all the designers featured in our holiday video:

Shapeways' Eindhoven factory team

Shapeways’ Eindhoven factory team

Hacking Arts Conference 2016

Last week, Shapeways sponsored the Hacking Arts Conference at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hosted by the MIT Media Lab, the three-day conference brings together students and professionals from technology and the arts to discuss interdisciplinary creativity.

Shapeways’ Community team was there to greet panel goers and give them a chance to get their hands on some of the 3D printed materials and products available in the marketplace.

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The conference also included a hackathon and some amazing performances. Below is a moment from audio/visual artists the Holladay Brothers during the opening ceremonies.

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A video posted by Andrew Thomas (@andrew.s.thomas) on


 

The Hacking Arts Conference was also a great opportunity to see old friends. Artist and Shapeways Shop Owner Bathsheba Grossman came by to play with some of her math-inspired Klein Bottle openers, printed in a variety of materials.

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We had a great time talking to hackers, artists, and lifelong learners at the Hacking Arts Conference. Are you a student combining design and technology? You can sign up for our education program here.

 

Thanks to You

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We wouldn’t exist without you, our makers. Inventors, designers, artists, hobbyists, and, of course, all our small business owners that keep the printers running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. And, we’re equally indebted to our shoppers for supporting these independent makers. So, this week, we want to say “Thank you.”

Thank you to our designers, for opening shops on our platform, creating microbrands, and for making our marketplace the world’s destination for the unique, wonderful things you can’t find anywhere else. And thank you to our shoppers for helping bring our designers’ visions to life by supporting their small businesses.

We know that there are a lot of options when it comes to holiday gifting. Thank you for choosing to make your gifts on a platform where craftsmanship, originality, and ingenuity are in our community’s DNA.

Together, we’re shaping and bringing these ideas to life, from 3D renders to amazing finished products — many of which would never have existed without digital manufacturing. Thank you for being there, every step of the way. We look forward to seeing all the incredible things you’ll make in 2017 and beyond.

New Dieselpunk Miniature Robots Kickstarter

This week, we’re going full geek to bring you the best 3D printed holiday gifts for the gamers, roleplayers, puzzle masters, fantasy builders, and meme makers on your list. Some of the best geeky gifts are those that let giftees paint, customize, and play. Enter Noah Li’s miniatures. To help expand the options he can offer into full kits, he’s set up a Kickstarter. Read on to learn more.

A few months ago, we featured an awesome design by Noah Li, the miniature Russian Walker tank.

Since he shared that design with us, he’s been hard at working expanding the tank’s options into a series of interchangeable, customizable kits of parts for these robotic war machines. To finish the project, he’s raising money via a Kickstarter, which you can support here.

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Noah set out to create a series of customizable miniature tanks inspired by a science fiction, dieselpunk setting. Representing designs in an alternative World War II reality, each tank is based on a different country. The parts are totally interchangeable, allowing for endless creative combinations.

Below are some process photos documenting Noah’s post-processing and painting of his French- and Russian-themed tanks.

First, the raw Strong and Flexible Plastic is cleaned of any remaining powder:

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Then it gets a base coat of paint:

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Finally, metallic paint is applied to show wear, and brown tones are rubbed on to show dirt, giving the impression of a well-used machine:

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The final parts are interchangeable and can be assembled and mixed together:

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Examples of how the tanks can be assembled:

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And reassembled:

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The obligatory banana to show scale:

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For more check out Noah Li’s shop and Kickstarter campaign here. Looking for more paint-it-yourself pieces to satisfy the miniatures lovers on your list this holiday season? Check out our Paint it Collection here.

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!

What is a Möbius Strip?

Our Holiday Gift Guide is full of creative versions of the Möbius Strip. What is this magical shape, and how did it get its name? Thankfully, mathematician, guest blogger, and Shapeways Shop owner Henry Segerman is here to reveal the secrets of the strip. Henry’s new book, Visualizing Mathematics with 3D Printing explains beautiful mathematical ideas using 3D prints made by Shapeways!

Segerman_book_cover

 

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stop4stuff’s Twin Rail Mobius

What is a Möbius Strip?

Möbius (or Moebius) strips are a popular subject on Shapeways, from Joaquin Baldwin’s Mobius Nautilus and Bacon Mobius Strip, to stop4stuff’s Twin Rail Mobius, The Magic Shop’s Moebius Cup  and 8 bit Nirvana’s Super Mario Mobius Strip. But what is a Möbius strip? And where did it come from?

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The Möbius strip is named after August Ferdinand Möbius, a German mathematician who discovered it in 1858. In case you don’t happen to have a 3D printed one handy, you can also make one from a strip of paper by taping the ends together, after adding a half-twist. The Möbius strip is an example of what mathematicians call a “surface” — a geometric object that is essentially two-dimensional: if you look at a small patch of it, it looks the same as a small patch of the two-dimensional plane. Of course, any paper or 3D printed model has to have some three-dimensional thickness, but a perfect mathematical surface has zero thickness.

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8 bit Nirvana’s Super Mario Mobius Strip

Famously, the Möbius strip has only one side: if you start painting one side of it, you will find that you end up painting the “other” side as well. If you are Mario, for example, running around 8 bit Nirvana’s Level 1-1, you run around the loop twice before you get back to where you started, passing by on both sides of each patch of surface that makes up the Möbius strip. Perhaps less well-known is the fact that the Möbius strip also has only one edge. The ground that Mario runs along wraps all the way around the one edge of 8 bit Nirvana’s strip. It might look like the top of the flagpole is at a different edge from the bottom, but the ground is also at that edge, on the back side of the strip!

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Mind Eversion’s Hopf Ring

What about different numbers of half-twists? If you don’t put any twist in your strip before you tape the edges together you get what mathematicians call an “annulus”, from the Latin word for “little ring”. It’s the curved part of a cylinder, or the cardboard tube inside a roll of toilet paper. You could also put in two half-twists, as in Mind Eversion‘s Hopf Ring. Or three half-twists, as in Mind Eversion’s trefoil Moebius Pendant. If you put in two half-twists, you again get two sides and two edges, just like the annulus. And, if you put in three half-twists, you again get one side and one edge, just like the Möbius strip.

In fact, thinking about the surfaces themselves, rather than the way Mind Eversion chose to put them in three-dimensional space, they are the annulus and the Möbius strip. If Mario is stuck in the two-dimensional world of Level 1-1, and he can’t see out into three-dimensional space, it turns out that there’s nothing he can do to tell whether the strip he lives on is twisted one half turn, or three half turns, or actually any odd number of half turns. So, from the perspective of the surfaces, they are all just copies of the Möbius strip. On the other hand, Mario can tell if he’s on a strip with an even number of half-twists, because that surface has two sides, and he would never be able to get to the other side.

Bacon Mobius Strip by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Bacon Mobius Strip
by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

So, why do people like the Möbius strip so much? Maybe part of it is that there is twice as much space to draw or write on than for an ordinary annulus ring. 8 bit Nirvana’s Level 1-1 print would have had to be twice as long if they had used an annulus. But I think it’s more about the surprise and the paradox, that a twist in a surface can make it have only one side.

For more on how math can be used to create incredible 3D designs, check out Henry’s new book.