Category Archives: Community

Japanese Designer Creates 3D printed Transforming ‘STINGRAY’ Toy Kit

Artist and Designer Tomoo Yamaji who was inspired by the Transformers cartoons from the 80′s and 90′s has designed a fully functional, detailed, 3D printed, assemble yourself transforming robot. Tomoo felt that there was a need for a grown up version of transforming robot toys and decided to use Shapeways 3D printing to bring this impressive design to life. The product comes in kit form and needs to be assembled by the customer. All parts already have the screw holes, so they can be easily assembled with screws. No adhesive is required.

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(The kit is printed in White, Strong & Flexible nylon plastic unpolished) 

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 (STINGRAY kit unassembled) 

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Tamoo’s robot kit and parts were designed using the 3D CAD software Rhinoceros

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Here is a video of his transforming sculpture

Tamoo Yamaji’s STINGRAY kit currently sells for $190 US on his Shapeways shop. You can find the instructions on how to assemble it on his website here. We have seen a growing number of talented digital artist designing custom 3D printed toys and figurines, especially designs that are aesthetically pleasing and challenges traditional manufacturing methods.

What are some custom toy ideas you’d love to see designed by our community members for the Shapeways marketplace? Let us know in a comment below.

This 3D Printed Steel Sculpture Is Amazing!

San Francisco based Designer and Artist Tareq Mirza has a passion for exploring the possibilities in traditional metalwork and 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing for artistic and educational purposes. We recently came across his blog and instagram where we discovered his amazing 3D printed metal sculptures. This Shadow Self sculpture really caught our attention, the sculpture was designed in Zbrush. The sculpture itself was 3D printed in steel through a local metal 3D printing provider and the centerpiece was printed in brass with Shapeways.

 

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3D Printed Shadow Self Sculpture by Tareq Mirza

 

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 Brass center piece printed by Shapeways with garnet stones

Tareq is also the owner of the Shapeways shop Ektera where he sells this cool Vampire Head Bottle Opener.

We enjoy seeing community members that push the boundaries and create jaw dropping designs. We want to see more of your designs, especially on instagram where we discovered Tareq’s incredible work. Follow Shapeways on Instagram @Shapeways and tag us in your photos and your designs might get reposted on our page.

What is the largest design you’ve 3D printed and in which material? Let us know in a comment below!

Mani Zamani’s Epic 3D Printed Toy Collection

Shapeways allows designers to leverage 3D printing in an interesting way, whether they are making innovative designs, custom products, or designs that are simply not possible without the use of 3D printing. A very eye catching Shapeways shop by designer Mani Zamani creates incredible SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) 3D printed toys that wouldn’t otherwise be possible without 3D printing technology.

Mani’s 3D printed toy collection called “Extra Terestri Aristocrats” are printed in our nylon plastic material and are available in various dyed colors. His toy designs are unique and take on complex and unimagined shapes. Some of his toy designs are printed with moving parts and are fully articulated without any assembly straight from the 3D printers.

 

 

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Here is a video of some of the models of Mani’s 3D printed toy collection which are also available for sale on his Shapeways shop.

Have you ever designed a 3D printed toy? If not our nylon plastic material is a great material for pushing the limits for what traditional toys are suppose to look like. Explore more 3D printed toys and creative designs from our community on our marketplace here.

Designer Proposes With Beautiful 3D Printed Crystalized Hearts Ring

When the love of 3D printing meets the love of another person, a marriage between the two usually occurs. Belgian designer Kurt Drubbel recently proposed to his long time girlfriend with a gorgeous 3D printed engagement ring he designed. This unique piece is covered with tiny crystalyzed hearts (visible up close only). The ring was prototyped in alumide and finally printed in polished silver.

Kurt and his fiancé have a 2 year old daughter together. He presented the 3D printed ring to her on a ferry on a rough sea at night, between the islands of Malta and Gozo. The answer was an overwhelming yes.

Here are some photos of the ring printed in polished silver

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Video showing the prototype and final ring

On behalf of the Shapeways team, we want to congratulate Kurt and his fiancé on their engagement! Do you have a 3D printed love story to tell? We’d like to hear it. Shoot us a email to community@shapeways.com.

Designer Turns Brain Waves Into 3D Printed Sculptures

Imagine if you can visualize your thoughts into brainwaves and then turn those brainwaves into a 3D print. Architect and Artist Ion Popian deals with human perception and how we understand our environment and what effect that has on the individual and the greater community. This is why he created The Mental Fabrication Project. The Mental Fabrication project uses a NeuroSkyelectroencephalogram (EEG) sensor  to capture data on the brain and creates a 3D model based on the brainwaves.

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Behind the Scenes. Mental Fabrications Project from Ion Popian on Vimeo.

Ion uses Shapeways to 3D print his brainwave sculptures and his work has been exhibited in galleries like SoHo’s HarvestWorks gallery. You can learn more about Ion and his work on architecture fabrication projects on his website here.

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Shapeways and DJI Take Flight

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Today we are excited to announce that we have partnered with DJI, the market leader in easy-to-fly drones, to further enable the Shapeways community to create unique 3D printed accessories for drone products. DJI hand-picked some of their favorite drone accessories on Shapeways for a special curated list to show support for the current (and future) maker community.

Why is this so exciting? It’s the first time a major brand has supported the maker community in this way. By acknowledging the unique creations Shapeways designers are making for their products, they are truly showing their support of the maker community and the innovation that is produced on a daily basis. Check out this page to see the amazing DJI-curated accessories!

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We’re also thrilled to announce that Adam Savage (host of Mythbusters!) is working with us and DJI to show his support of the 3D printing community. An avid DJI drone fan, Adam has been making his own modifications for years. He is a fan of 3D printing with Shapeways to bring to life durable, custom add-ons, creating more drone accessories that build off the incredible design of DJI drone products. He will be working with the Shapeways community of designers to create more accessories to offer to drone fans around the world.

Fresh off the announcement of their new Phantom 3, we’re excited to see what new designs and accessories show up in the future. We’re so glad that DJI is further supporting its customers’ passion and innovation by highlighting some of the best community-designed accessories and opening up co-creation to its whole fan base.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more exciting news and collaborations between us and DJI. In the meantime, keep creating amazing products!

 

 

The Hate Project

With almost 25,000 shops on our site, we could spend all days browsing the amazing products our community has for sale. We’re always interested in seeing what new things pop up and how customers are finding new shops.

A few weeks ago we noticed a shop called The Hate Project was very popular. Obviously we were very curious and connected with the shop owner to find out more about the shop and how they attracted customers.

Tell us a little about yourself!

My Name is Rob Baptie and I started a small social experiment called the Hate Project based on selling goods via the internet from California and giving the money away to charitable causes.

What’s the story behind your shop?

The Hate Project is a crowdsourcing endeavor based on the idea that together, smaller donations that might be deemed insignificant can make a huge difference when lumped together.  This idea/project was born out of trying to help a friend whose nieces were stricken with Cystic Fibrosis raise money for their foundation.  This process is documented here: The Hatedust Project .

To date we have given away about $195,000 to different charitable groups like AlphaK9.org and The Make-A-Wish Foundation. Why HATE? I like the idea of repurposing a negative into a positive. HATE comes from what we decided your insides would do if you ate too much of our pepper concotion called Hatedust.

What’s the story behind your designs?

The designs mainly involve variations on my pig based theme. I started fundraising for Make-A-Wish by donating pig bbq’s for their charity.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the good in others.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?

The ease of operation Shapeways brings to my efforts.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?

I don’t! I have a good friend, Wes Newman, do it for me and he is GREAT!

How do you promote your work?

I promote via my Facebook Group: The Hate Project https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheHateProject/

Anything else you want to share?

I’d just like to thank all the HATERs who have supported this idea over the last 18 months. 100% of our net proceeds have gone to helping others.  This idea is nothing without their ongoing support.

Thanks, Rob! We always love seeing our community use their creativity for good. Also, be sure to check out the website to learn more about the project (and to find out what Hatedust is!).

Introducing Improved Product Discovery

Today, we are proud to announce that we are further improving the way shoppers can discover great products on Shapeways. With improved sort capabilities, we’re offering a better way for shoppers to travel through our vast catalog and find products of interest.

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From the beginning,  Shapeways has allowed users to upload a 3D model and see it become a 3D print. This was the beginning of a new technology and a new community. As the community grew, so did the number of products coming out of our printers. This new library of products meant 3D printing was no longer just for those with modeling experience, but a place to create, buy and/or sell 3D printed products. Two years ago, with this in mind, we introduced a new way to discover and purchase products on Shapeways.

With the introduction of a marketplace, our community was quick to respond to the initiative and opportunity to be able to sell their products on the same platform they were able to create them on. They began filling up categories with iPhone cases, jewelry, drone accessories, miniatures and much more. We now have nearly 25,000 shops with thousands of products for public sale on Shapeways, and as these numbers continue to grow we will continue to improve upon our marketplace.

Today we are integrating a lot of the functionality people are familiar with when it comes to browsing an online marketplace in order to make it easier to shop. We are taking steps to ease browsing with tag filters, shop by material, and more.

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These new features also translate over to your mobile devices. We’ve taken more steps to make our site responsive and customers are able to browse and shop on any device.

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Here are some of the core upgrades of the new Shapeways Marketplace experience:

Ubiquitous category, price, material, customizable and Beta filters

  • Want to know what’s new in your favorite category and material combination? Or customizable products in a specific subcategory and in a specific material? We have you covered with the available facets on the left pane of any Marketplace view.

In-material product pictures or digital renders displayed in the results when using a material filter

  • Wondering how to easily compare products? Enable a material filter and watch the displayed results update with photos or digital renders in the specified material.

Narrow results with a tag

  • Looking for all Miniatures tagged at scale 1:144? Activate a tag filter to your view and the displayed results will reflect your choice.

Improved merchandising

  • This allows the Merchandising Team at Shapeways to better curate products on additional dimensions, such as subcategory, tag, material, featured products, shops, co-creator apps and more. This means more opportunities for shop owners to be featured in new places across the marketplace.

So what’s next? As with all major feature releases, we will be closely monitoring how the new marketplace is adopted and used. That data and feedback will be used to tweak things where needed, and we look forward to continuing to improve the experience. All of us here at Shapeways are inspired by the creations of our community. We strive to showcase them to the public in the best ways possible and we believe this new marketplace experience improves the discoverability of those creations.

Using 3D Printing to Recreate a Lost Sculpture

We say this a lot, but we are always in awe of our community and excited to see the projects you are working on. One we’re really excited about is from UK-based designer, Matt Smith, who has launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds to recreate a sculpture by Umberto Boccioni that was destroyed nearly 100 years ago. Shown in 1913, all that is left of the sculpture is a collection of original photographs and sketches.

Using those sketches, Matt will recreate the original piece using digital sculpting techniques and 3D technology to exhibit the work at various galleries, with the first showing in London.

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For background: Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) was a prominent Italian artist of the Futurist movement, who rejected traditional materials and embraced technological advances. Several of his plaster sculptures were destroyed, leaving an important gap in his artistic legacy. It seems appropriate that the contemporary technologies of digital sculpture and 3D printing, which Boccioni would have probably embraced, are now being used to recreate his lost work. Replacing his missing work will be an invaluable contribution to the art world; benefiting scholars, researchers, artists and the public .

Matt discovered Boccioni’s work as an art student and was immediately inspired. During a trip to Italy, Matt discovered Boccioni’s own photographs of the lost sculptures and began an exhaustive investigation of the remaining records of the missing artwork. As he states in his press release:

“I wanted to understand more about this unique sculpture, to study the work. As it no longer existed, that was going to be a challenge. The photographs taken by Boccioni over 100 years ago are an invaluable guide. I saw the possibility of piecing the fragments together and sharing what I learned with others. I believe I have found enough evidence, photo references, drawings and research to help me recreate the work in 3D as the artist intended.”

Matt became an avid 3D designer thanks to constant inspiration from 3D in all its forms; at Art School it was clay, then 3D computer graphics. Having worked in the virtual 3D world of games, using Maya, Lightwave and ZBrush, 3D printing allowed him to use his experience to make virtual objects physically real. His first 3D printed object actually  was Umberto Boccioni’s ‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space.’ This was before 3D scanning was feasible, so he took reference photographs and sculpted it in ZBrush.

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He believes the “all or nothing” funding approach of Kickstarter makes the most sense for his project, and is sure backers will make a significant different (he’s already raised almost half his goal!). If the target goal is reached Matt is offering some great rewards to those who make pledges. Be sure to check it out and support a fellow 3D designer!

 

Help Shapeways 3D Print The Next Big Meme Contest!

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We all love memes — they’re hilarious, introspective, and sometimes downright deep. It’s time for us to expand our collection in the Shapeways marketplace, and we want you to help us pick our next meme!

Share your favorite memes on Instagram & Twitter with the hashtag #SHAPEWAYSMEMES until April 30th. We will choose one of the memes with the most shares to be modeled by one of our community all-star designers and put it up for sale in the Shapeways marketplace. Be sure to check if we already have your favorite meme in our marketplace before you share!

To help you build your meme collection in preparation for the new model, we’re giving you $5 off all memes and figurines in the Shapeways Memes Gift Guide until April 30th. Simply use the promo code SHAPEWAYSMEMES at checkout to save $5 when you order one of our memes.

The fine print: Offer is for $5 off any order containing any selected figurines. Eligible products are listed on shapeways.com/gift-guide/memes-and-figurines. SHAPEWAYSMEMES code cannot be combined with other discounts and is valid 5 times per customer. If you return your purchase, you will be refunded the amount paid. Expires April 30, 2015 at 11:59pm PDT. The winning meme will be determined by Shapeways using criteria chosen at Shapeways’ discretion.

 

 

Why Shapeways is Participating in 3D/DC

On April 29th, we’re heading down to Washington, DC for 3D/DC.  3D/DC is an event organized by the nonprofit organization Public Knowledge designed to introduce policymakers and the 3D printing world to each other.  Instead of waiting for a crisis, the goal of 3D/DC is to make sure that policymakers are familiar with 3D printing – and that the 3D printing community is familiar with policymakers – in an environment that facilitates education and understanding. (Full disclosure: I have helped to organize 3D/DC since the beginning and, even after leaving Public Knowledge last month, continue to be closely involved in its operation.)

This year the event (which is free and open to the public) will feature a full day of panels on various aspects of 3D printing, along with a demonstration reception so everyone can see and talk to people using 3D printers themselves.

So, why is Shapeways participating?  As the leading online service and marketplace for 3D designers and 3D printing, we sit at the intersection of a huge number of 3D printing-related policy issues.  With such a great view, we want to make sure that policymakers in Washington understand the amazing things that are happening in our community.

We are operating at the bleeding edge of 3D printing.  That means  the challenges facing our community today will be felt throughout the larger 3D printing community tomorrow.  That also means  the ways  we work to address current challenges will serve as a model for addressing challenges in the future.

We know  being in such a position gives us a special responsibility to explain to both our community and policymakers what we are seeing.  Good policy starts with good information, and Shapeways has some of the best information around on what people are doing with 3D printing.

We are looking forward to connecting with policymakers in DC, and with any of you in the DC area that want to come out to join us!

3DPrintingDog Creates 3D Printed Kinetic sculptures

Some of the best designs we come across on Shapeways are the ones that take advantage of the printers we use to create incredible unique products we’ve never seen before. A Digital design studio called 3DPrintingDog based out of Philadelphia, PA uses the power of Shapeways SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) printing to make 3D printed Kinetic sculptures that come out of the printer with no assembly required. Here are a few examples of the designs that they’re making designed with Solidworks.

Deconstructed Bicycle Freewheel

 

Deconstructed Bicycle Freewheel

What are some of your favorite fully articulated designs you’ve come across on Shapeways? Let us know in a comment below or tweet us @Shapeways.

Five 3D Prints To Celebrate International TableTop Day

Posted by in Community, Curation, Games

International Table Top Day is right around the corner and we wanted to curate some of the coolest 3D printed products on Shapeways designed by community members to help you take your table top gaming to the next level this year. Whether you’re into RPGs or card games, these 3D prints are sure to impress your family and friends.

1) Celtic Dice Set by eondesigner

2) ‘Twined’ Dice D20 Spindown Life Counter Die by Foxworks

3) Catan Card Management designed by Carpemortis

4) Role Playing Counter Blades Set designed by Berian

5) HeroForge Custom 3D Printed Miniatures - Making custom  3D printed tabletop gaming miniatures gets real easy with the Hero Forge App.

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We have a very active and engaged tabletop gaming community on Shapeways and you can always explore more tabletop game inspired designs on our game category on Shapeways. What are some of your favorite table top games to play? Let us know in a comment below or feel free to tweet at us @Shapeways on Twitter. 

What I learned from exhibiting at my first Maker Faire

By Vicky Somma, a Shapeways Crew member and owner of the shop TGAW. This piece was first published on Vicky’s blog TGAW

Earlier in March 2015 I had a booth at my very first Maker Faire! The Nova Mini Maker Faire in Reston, Virginia. My booth focused on my 3D Prints made with Blender (for 3D Modeling) and Shapeways (for 3D Printing).

Vicky Somma at the NoVa Mini Maker Faire

Vicky Somma at the NoVa Mini Maker Faire

I was interested in knowledge sharing, so I had a monitor displaying a Giant Prezi of Death of screenshots of my modeling techniques in Blender. I also had on hand a variety of prints I had done through Shapeways:

Shapeways prints ready to go to the faire

Shapeways prints ready to go to the faire

Since I was giving a speech on “3D Printing without Owning a 3D Printer” in the afternoon, I also had a small section of my table dedicated to compliment that speech and to let people know that they could 3D print that day without owning a printer or knowing a thing about modeling.

Small “3D Printing without Owning a Printer -OR- Knowing Modeling” Section

Small “3D Printing without Owning a Printer -OR- Knowing Modeling” Section

Giving my talk at Nova Mini Maker Faire

Giving my talk at Nova Mini Maker Faire

It was an absolutely fantastic time and as with all first experiences, I learned a little along the way. Here are a couple of Do’s and Don’ts I came away with.

DON’T Be Intimidated!
At the informational meeting, the organizers stressed that they want Makers of all levels. You didn’t have to be an expert or a professional. Reinforcing that concept, the NoVa Mini Maker Faire kept posting a badge saying, “We are All Makers” and they mean it.

I was somewhat nervous about the other 3D modelers. I’m still relatively new to 3D modeling, so at times leading up to the event I had a wee bit of “imposter syndrome.” I was mentally preparing myself for someone coming up, sniffing arrogantly, and saying, “Oh, I see you are using the Boolean Modifier. Don’t you know that makes messy meshes?” : )

But the environment of the Maker Faire isn’t like that at all. People are enthusiastic, people are curious, and people are very very very nice. It’s like the Comment thread of Instructables.

Speaking of Instructables, there’s actually an Instructables out there for “Your Own Booth at the Maker Faire“. A great resource for knowing what to expect! : )

DON’T Be Afraid to Reach Out to Related Vendors
Leading up to the Faire, I emailed Shapeways to let them know what I was doing and they sent me giveaways for my booth! So I had some nice stickers and postcards for people to take!

And then get this! The Community Advocate from Shapeways, Michael, came down to our faire and helped with the booth. As busy as the faire was, it was great to have an extra voice there. He brought a good sampling of products as well which only further showcased the capabilities of Shapeways and 3D Printing!

Community Advocate Michael Williams at Nova Mini Maker Faire

Community Advocate Michael Williams at Nova Mini Maker Faire

Similarly, I had a great experience prepping for the “3D Printing without Owning a 3D Printer” speech. I found everyone to be very generous with questions I had. FromNovaLabs to the Virginia Tech Northern Virginia Center MakerLabClub to Ara’s Hub (through 3DHubs) to PrintedSolid, everyone was happy to help me with information. Don’t be afraid of looking like an idiot. If you have questions, ask!

DO Stage Your Items Ahead of Time
We staged everything ahead of time on my Mom’s dining room table. This made it very easy for us to know what else to pack (extension cord, monitor cables, mounting goo, tablecloths, signs, packing tape, etc).

DO Ask for Help
My forte doesn’t lie with decoration, so I recruited my Mom. She instantly had suggestions for tablecloths, how to display the Christmas ornaments (a metal tree she had in her room) and a little dark cove to showcase the glowing Cthulhu Jack-O-Lanterns (a collapsible grocery crate she had in her car). Not only that, she was a key supply gatherer. I mentioned I needed something to sticky to mount my signs. The very next morning, I woke up and found some sticky goo in my staging area. My Mom was a big help.

My mom makes a puppy through Pupworkshop

My mom makes a puppy through Pupworkshop

I also recruited my friends Britt and Chris to help with the booth during my speech. With that, I really underestimated their work load. I pitched it as warm bodies watching the booth, but pretty much everyone that assisted me that day (my husband, Michael from Shapeways, my Mom, Britt and Chris) was busy the whole day. Chris, Ryan, and Michael did a lot of talking and question answering. Britt and Mom did a lot of kid-wrangling. : )

I also recruited people to help me with some first hand research for the “3D Printing without a 3D Printer” talk. My Mom designed a puppy through Pupworkshop. My sister-in-law drew an angel we printed via the Shapeways’ 2D to 3D App. Finally, my three year old even accrued a personalized 3D object by making a Color Me Teddy.

My three year old designs a Color Me Teddy

My three year old designs a Color Me Teddy

DO Enjoy the Free Feedback
Like most Shapeways shop owners, I have Google Analytics enabled gathering data about my referrals and traffic. But you know what is even better? Watching people’s eyes light up. Watching people revel in how beautiful the Library of Congress ornament is or laughing when they get Schrodinger’s Cat. You get instant feedback on how people are responding to your designs.

And some of the lessons may be surprising. Over the holiday break, I was playing with Python scripting for Blender to make customized Cancer Ribbons. I was thinking people would like an interface to order ribbons “In Honor Of” or “In Memory Of” their loved ones sort of like Relay for Life Luminaries. But watching the response at the Faire, if I do put time towards automating something through code, I may want to focus on faces for the Dial-O-Lantern. That got an overwhelmingly larger response at the faire.

Vicky works the booth with Dyson

Vicky works the booth with Dyson

DO Know the Event is Family Friendly
The Maker Faire is family friendly, which meant we were able to bring our boys. At times, I had a cute accessory as I worked my booth.

DO Have An Activity for Kids
Related to the Family Friendly aspect of the event, do have an activity for kids. In my case, I went with a contest for the Dial-O-Lantern! My faces actually started as drawings, so we invited kids to draw faces for a new Dial-O-Lantern. We’re picking six winning faces and sending each winning child a print that includes their face. This turned out to be a good activity. The amount of entries exceeded our expectations (and makes selecting the winners a tough task).

Working on a Dial-O-Lantern face

Working on a Dial-O-Lantern face

DO Check Twitter
Although you are getting first hand feedback from your booth visitors, be sure to keep an eye on Social Media as well. I got a HUGE thrill walking between buildings when I saw that the Editor-in-Chief of Geek Dad appreciated and tweeted my Schrodinger’s Cat. Geek Dad! We have Geek Dad books on our bookshelf!

DO Have Business Cards / Contact Info
The day before the faire, I actually picked up some quickie business cards from Staples. And here’s the thing. I designed those cards assuming there would be a lot of leftovers. At the top and bottom I included lines for every millimeter. Why? When I’m designing 3D models, I am constantly measuring things and getting out rulers to gauge how big I want to make something. But rulers are also popular with my boys, so it seems they are frequently misplaced.

So I figured if I was going to have a bunch of unused business cards around, I might as well make them handy. And although I do have a few I can use for measurement, I don’t have nearly as much leftover business cards as I expected! I was very surprised by how many business cards people snatched up.

DO Make It Easy For People To Learn More
I printed QR codes for pretty much everything. My presentations were both put online (Prezi and SlideShare respectively). I used BufferApp to “live tweet” links during my talk (Hat Tip, Jess Hedstrom). I coordinated with the Nova Mini Maker Faire so all the links from my PowerPoint were easy to find on their blog. You want people to learn more– make it as easy as possible!

Those are my take-aways from my very first Maker Faire. It was an absolutely fantastic time. I can hardly wait for next year!

You can read more about the NoVa Mini Maker Faire on their blog athttp://www.makerfairenova.com.

More of our photos from the event are on Flickr.

 

 

Easy steps to get started 3D printing right now

Dain Penman is a member of Shapeways Crew and the owner of the Madasu Designs Shapeways shop

This blog outlines what you need to do to start 3D printing, based on my own experience.

The first thing you will need (aside from an idea) is a design program – unless you would like to use one of Shapeways Easy Creator Apps. I am currently using Autodesk’s 123D Design which is a free 3D design program I downloaded (http://www.123dapp.com/design). Autodesk also have a number of associated programs such as 123 Catch which is a 3D scanner using a smartphone and Meshmixer, an editing program where you can update textures, combine models and generally play around with 3D models.

To create a design, there are 3 main methods I use (often in combination):
Working with functions such as using 3D objects like cubes, spheres and cylinders. I then modify these objects to end up with a 3D model;
Create 2D sketches using 2D objects like squares, circles and lines and make them 3D by applying a thickness, or;
Importing 2D sketches from the internet.

The process is best explained using an example of a pair of cufflinks:

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I started by importing a 2D image (which I found on the internet and converted to a .svg file), as below:

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The imported file becomes a 2D sketch, to which I applied a thickness – so I then had a 3 dimensional object shaped like the above. The picture was quite large (about 20cm across), so I used a scale tool to reduce the size down to around 2cm across. The program has a grid, so I estimated the size against the 5mm grid the object was placed on.

get into 3D print pic 2

I then checked the thickness by using the measuring tool as I wanted a more precise measurement for the height. I made it 2.5mm high.

To make the backs for the cufflink I created two cylinders. When I create the cylinders I specify the radius of the cylinder and the height. I created one short, wider one for the back piece and a taller, thinner one for the piece joining the front and the back.

I then filleted the edges on the cylinders to create smooth edges. Where the angle is external, it trims away and makes a smoother edge. Where the angle is internal (like where a wall meets the ceiling), the rounding ‘fills in’ to make a smoother corner, much like a cornice on a wall/ceiling join.

get into 3D print pic 3

Once all this was done and a single cufflink was complete, I duplicated the design to make the pair. I then exported the file in a .stl format which contains the model data including the size of the model.

The file is uploaded to Shapeways on the design page where the model is automatically checked against a number of characteristics to check it can be printed.

The requirements differ between different materials, so you should have an idea what materials you are designing for before you start.

Once it is checked, Shapeways gives you prices for different materials and you can then order your model! You can also select materials to sell and set the price. You can add tags, categories and a description for the model, to get the final product:

get into 3D print pic 4What was your first 3D printing project? What inspired you to get started and what resources were helpful?