Category Archives: Community

Sketchup tips from Steven Gray: Part 2, viewing your model

Shapeways Shop owner Steven Gray of MyGadgetLife shares some advice for designing with the amazing free design tool Sketchup. This is Part 2, click here for Part 1.

6. Don’t be afraid to change the camera type often. While the Perspective View can be used most of the time, it’s often useful to see plan or elevation views of the model. Switch to Parallel Projection view, then choose one of the Standard Views from the menu, or click the corresponding view icon (Windows – with the ‘Views’ toolbar open) or press Cmd-1 to Cmd-6 (Mac) to switch between orthogonal views quickly.

Don’t be afraid to change the shading view often either. So switch away from ‘Shaded Textured’ to X-Ray or wireframe to see if there’s any pesky stray geometry inside your model. Use the Hidden Geometry option to reveal edges incorporated into curved faces (with this selected, individual facets of a curved face become selectable).


Note that you can change camera or shading type during a tool operation – handy if you’re zoning in on an area of complex geometry while drawing.

This leads me to the last and most important tip about the camera. Remember the early 3D video games where the camera would suddenly and disturbingly clip your character or a piece of scenery and you’d see ‘inside’ the model? Well don’t be afraid to do that on purpose in Sketchup. If you zoom in on a part enough, the camera will clip the geometry and you’ll be looking at the ‘inside’ of the model – the part normally occupied by whatever material the object will be printed from. You can use this ‘feature’ to your advantage and seek out stray or unnecessary geometry that might affect your upload success. This camera clipping only works when the ‘Perspective View’ is selected. If you get lost, use Ctrl-Shift-E (Windows) or Cmd-[ (Mac) to show the whole model.


It was suggested to me that the Section Plane tool does this too (and in a lot of ways, is easier to use!), but I guess I just prefer ‘walking’ through the model. Try both techniques and see what you prefer.


Your Favorite 3D printed jewelry Inspired by Microscopic Organisms

Community member Kimberly Falk is a scientist and self-taught 3D modeler based out of Germany. She is the designer behind the Shapeways shop Ontogenie, her shop consist of 3D-printed jewelry inspired by science and nature. What is distinctly unique about her designs is that she turns her fascination of filigree structures of microscopic organisms on land and in the sea into detailed a gorgeous 3D printed pieces of jewelry that you can wear.

Some of her pieces are amazing and her designs really take advantage of the materials that they are printed in. Take her Discalia Pendant for example, which is based on an Anthomedusae jellyfish, Discalia medusina.

You can see how well the details of her Spumellaria pendant came out printed in our polished bronze material.

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Her Cristelleria pendant which are a marine single-celled organism that lives inside a spiral-shaped, calciferous shell looks absolutely beautiful printed in polished silver.

Kimberly 3D models her designs in Blender and also takes custom request. She loves working with scientists, having been a research scientist herself for many years at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology. Kimberly is not sure which microbes she’ll tackle next, or whether she might instead switch to something larger, like jellyfish, but there’s certainly enough weird creatures in nature for inspiration for many years to come. You can find Kimberly on Twitter @Ontogenie.

What is your favorite weird creature or microbe you’d like to see 3D printed? Let us know in a comment below!

3D Printed Cityscape Rings Lets You Wear Your Favorite City Around Your Finger

Traveling and exploring the world is an experience that very few forget, especially when you’re adventuring through beautiful cities like Amsterdam, New York City, Berlin, or Paris. Jewelry designer Ola Shekhtman is a traveler who found a way to combine her passion for city landscapes, 3D printing, and Jewelry into these beautifully designed 3D printed cityscape ring collection.

Ola’s Cityscape rings are rings that feature several of that city’s famous landmarks. For example her Paris Cityscape ring features such landmarks as Tour d’ Eiffel, Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge, Arc De Triumph and many more.

Ola’s Cityscape ring collection also includes New York City, Berlin, and Amsterdam. They’re available for sale on her Shapeways shop Shekhtman Dreams and are printed in our cast metals from 14k Gold to brass. Ola 3D models her rings in Rhinoceros.

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Here’s a Berlin Cityscape Ring Video

What is your favorite city and which cityscape ring should Ola design next? Let us know in a comment below and feel free to tweet at Ola at @Shekhtman.

The Most Terrifyingly Awesome 3D Printed Kraken D20 Die You Will Ever See

RPG fans and dice rollers brace yourselves for one of the most terrifying and coolest die we’ve come across. Designer Ian Dwyer of the Shapeways shop Nveonom8 Designs has created this terrifying mass of writhing tentacles and gaping beaks holds a dark secret: It’s a completely fair 20-sided die!

The die is almost three inches across (7.1cm), this eldritch monstrosity of a D20 is the perfect centerpiece for your gaming dice collection. May it guide you safely across treacherous seas, help you triumph over unspeakable horrors, and give you courage in the face of the kraken–or even Cthulhu himself!

The Dice is available stainless steel

Be careful of it’s pointy tentacles and avoid anywhere near your eyes!

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Here is a video of the Kraken D20 dice is action

What are your thoughts on the Kraken D20? Would you unleash this baby at your next RPG gathering? Let us know in a comment below.

Incredible Artwork at SIGGRAPH by Shapeways Designer Brian Chan

The annual SIGGRAPH exhibition brings together the best minds in 3D graphics and design for a week of sharing acacemic papers, emerging technology and remarkable creative ideas. This year’s art exhibition, Hybrid Craft presented artists who merge high tech and traditional processes to create vibrant art objects that speak both to history and technology.


Shapeways designer Brian Chan was included in the group show, presenting a collection of hand painted invertebrates. Fully articulated and highly detailed, these 3D printed creatures are created in the ’jizai okimono’ Japanese tradition of making lifelike sculptures of small animals.

While beautiful in their own right when freshly printed in White Strong and Flexible, Chan then carefully hand paints each model with water color paints. Chan notes the laser sintered nylon has similar qualities to fine textured water color paper and soaks up the paint well, allowing for multiple layers of pigment with delicate precision.


The show also included examples of Chan’s foldable instruments, created from a variety of materials and using parts printed at Shapeways and CNC milled components. These fully working instruments are based on historically accurate designs, but are more than meets the eye because they can be deconstructed and turned into a box like a Transformer.

As the art exhibition was curated to investigate, Brian Chan’s work combines high tech (but accessible) technology and old fashion craft to achieve incredible results. As a dedicated tinkerer and teacher, Chan constantly pushes the boundaries of technology and creativity while paying tribute to traditional or forgotten crafts.




A 3D Printed Topology Joke

Mathematical artist and community member Henry Segerman has found a creative way to combine 3D printing and a topology joke. The joke goes about topologists is that they can’t tell the difference between a coffee mug and a doughnut. For those who are not familiar with topology, topology is the study of geometrical objects where you don’t care about lengths and you don’t care about angles, what matters is how the spatial relations relate to each other.

This series of 3D prints is a joint collaboration between Segerman and Keenan Crane. To a topologist, as the old joke goes, a coffee mug is the same thing as a donut since one can be deformed into the other.

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(Topology Joke printed in white strong & plastic)

Video of Henry Segerman explaining Topology Joke printed in our Porcelain Pilot Material.

You can see more of Henry Segerman’s sculptures and mathematical inspired 3D printed on his Shapeways shop.


Formlabs & Shapeways Happy Hour Recap


Last night Formlabs and Shapeways hosted a Meetup at the Formlabs headquarters and invited the attendees at the Fab11 Boston. Fab11 brings together Fablab owners from the world over for a weeklong Conference and Symposium.

I had a great time talking to Shapies, Formlab’s community and the folks running Fablabs over pizza and drinks. I got a chance to show off our new CustomMaker feature and answer some questions about how Shapeways shoppers can personalize their products.

One of the interesting points that was raised repeatedly in conversations was that these labs were looking for an opportunity to scale their operations. They have the knowledge and skills to develop a product but may not have the facilities required to take a prototype into manufacturing at the scale they need. In addition, as local community resources there are lots of folks who come to them for help in design projects, but their staff only has so much time to spend on education.

Both of these needs can be supported by Shapeways, and I was happily told that we’ve been a great help so far. For labs with a solid expertise and who have invested in a few desktop machines, Shapeways is the perfect solution to outsource large batches of prints without over extending the capacity of lab printers. Shapeways also has the necessary tutorials, education resources and design community or those who need help getting started or want to hire a designer.


3D Printed VR Headset Will Mesmerize Your Eyes

The emergence of technology such as virtual reality, drones, and gadgets have always prompted a new market opportunity for designers to design custom 3D printed accessories and modifications for them. We’re always on the lookout for the coolest and eye catching 3D prints and this impressive designed 3D printed VR headset by designer Masaharu Ono caught our attention.

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(VR Headset Bloom)

Masaharu was inspired to create this awesome headset through his love of nature. He modeled this headset in Rhinoceros and Grasshopper. The VR headset is 3D printed in nylon plastic and is available for sale on Mashaharu’s shop for $10,000.

Below are some iterative sketches behind his 3D printed VR Headset.




This cool VR headset is one of the more ambitious 3D designs we’ve seen from our community recently. We’re big believers in pushing the limits of product design and testing the potential of making creations that were once thought of as impossible before the existence of 3D printing capabilities.

What is the most ambitious design you’ve worked on? Let us know in a comment below or tweet us on Twitter @Shapeways.


Earn $5 : Phone Case Custommaker Challenge!

Join the Phone Case CustomMaker Challenge by Sunday August 16th at 12 PM EST


3D printing enables anyone to create amazing products – from jewelry and figurines to drone accessories and smartphone cases. Now, with the release of CustomMaker, every product can be instantly personalized to every shopper.

Over the next few months, we’ll be putting out design challenges to our community to challenge you to use CustomMaker to make the best products for shoppers! We’re kicking it off this week with our Phone Case CustomMaker Challenge. Design a phone case, upload it to, enable CustomMaker to let your customers personalize it and share it with the community to get $5 in Shapeways Money. No purchase is necessary to participate and receive the credit – all you need to do is upload a case you designed and enable CustomMaker.

Shapeways will also choose our favorite models to be printed, professionally photographed and included in promotional material. By participating in the challenge you grant us permission to do so.  Models be picked on the basis of creativity, manufacturing feasibility and presentation.

All Submission are due by Sunday August 16th at 12 PM EST. Shapeways Money will be processed the following week.


Share Submission


Rotary Phone Case for iPhone 5 / 5s by Joaquin Baldwin

Rotary Phone Case for iPhone 5 / 5s by Joaquin Baldwin

How to Join the Challenge



Design a phone case

  • Using your favorite 3D modeling software, design a case for a phone of your choice. Cases do not need to be new, you can use cases you’ve already designed.


Upload Your Design to Shapeways

  • Open up a Shapeways shop (if you don’t already have one). Upload your model* using the upload button. Put your model in the ‘cases category and tag it as is relevant. Set your model to ‘public’ and ‘for sale’ in your Model Details page. Set the prices with your markup for the materials you want to offer in (we’d recommend the Strong and Flexible family) Models must be *.stl or *.obj


Activate CustomMaker to Personalize Your Design

  • In your model’s ‘Customization’ field, enable CustomMaker so shoppers can personalize your phone case with text and/or an image. Make sure that the text or image fits on the case correctly and that the shopper has instructions to understand the maximum number of characters they can use.


Share Your Entry!

  • Share a link to your product in the Phone Case CustomMaker Challenge thread along with a photograph or render. Remember you can share as many products as you want, but only one credit will be given per shop.


  • Credits are limited to one per person.

  • By participating in the CustomMaker Challenge you are granting Shapeways a perpetual, nonexclusive, sublicensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to use your model, description, and photographs, as well as print and distribute prints of your model, for promotional purposes.

  • All submissions must be awesome

  • All submissions must be submitted by Sunday August 16th at 12 PM EST.

  • All submission must comply with the Shapeways Terms & Conditions and Content Policy.

August Event Frenzy

While working hard on big projects such as the launch of our CustomMaker, opening up our Porcelain Pilot for the public and announcing our collaboration with V-MODA, we have been working hard on the background with planning our upcoming events for the fall of this year.


August is about to begin, we hope to meet you in person during one of the following events:

August 6 - Formlabs & Shapeways Beer&Pizza Happy Hour as part of FAB11 - Boston, MA, USA
August 11 – 13 - SIGGRAPH (booth #1129) – Los Angeles, CA, USA
August 19 – 22 - IDSA - Seattle, WA, USA
August 29 – 30 - Eindhoven Mini Maker Faire - Eindhoven, The Netherlands

We will be hosting Meetups during these events as well, be sure to keep an eye on our Meetup page where all the details will be announced soon! Also don’t forget to tune in to Shapeways Live, every Tuesday at 5pm CET to catch all the ins and outs of what’s next!

See you in August!


Ashley Zelinskie’s world where things made of code are made of things are made with code….

C0DE DENS1TY is a collaborative, multi-media show presented by Lightbox, a gallery Space in New York City from July 23- 26. The show highlights work by Shapeways community member Ashley Zelinskie. Zelinskie creates sculpture which are made of numbers drawn from the code of the design file itself. Her work explores the process by which the objects are transformed from numerical data into physical objects through digital fabrication. The code that defines and creates the object becomes part of its physical manifestation…

…its a pretty mind-blowing concept.

The show itself is an immersive experience bringing viewers into the brackish waters of technology and art. Sparse, geometric objects ranging from monumental to palm sized are displayed throughout the space while nearly every inch of wall is used for a projected video that loops geometric imagery as it builds to a frantic pace and glitches out into nothingness. On the second story loft area a small 3d printer farm reproduces out miniatures of the work.

Faces made of 3D printed plastic are part of the show’s vocabulary as well. An interactive piece has several white masks displayed with light projected onto them. Visitors are encouraged to touch the masks, doing so causes the projection to animate boxes emitting out as if from underneath them.

On of the most interesting pieces is also the most personal. A 3D printed portrait of Zelinskie created with 3D scanning, the surface is constructed from a portion of her own DNA.

Zelinskie’s futurist universe invites the viewer to both question how the objects are made and what the implicates are of a world where data and matter can become interchangeable. Far from a dry series of formulas simplified beyond human comprehension, the vision of the Singularity posited by C0de Dens1ty is like stepping into a thunderstorm of information.


Photos: by Ashley Zelinskie.

Developing 3D Printed Assistive Tools For The Elderly

As we age and get older, especially for the elderly, ordinary actions become extraordinarily difficult such as writing, typing, or opening bottle caps. Japanese Designer Tatsuo Ishibashi was aware of these issues and has created 3D printed products aimed for assisting the elderly and people with a loss in muscular functioning.

Tatsuo’s Shapeways shop mizulabo specializes in “assistive technology”, simple and functional designs that lead to lightweight, low cost, and easy handling of functional activities. He models his designs in 123 Design by Autodesk and prints them through Shapeways. Below are some examples of his tools.

The writing assist tool is a tool for helping people write with a ballpoint pen.

Higaki” is the tool to remove caps and tabs from a plastic bottle and a can easily.

The Finger Input device is a for device for making tapping PC keyboard, remote controller, etc easier.

Tatsuo’s designs show that 3D printing can be used to make very attractive tools for assisting people and functional tools can be aesthetically pleasing and useful. What are some attractive 3D printed tools you’ve designed or come across? Let us know in a comment below.

Five tactics to help you decide your next design idea

For some people finding new design ideas is as easy as looking at their surroundings and finding inspiration, for other’s it can be challenging finding that creative spark. An even more difficult challenge is designing a product that has the potential to sell and do well on the Shapeways marketplace. Here are some of the tactics that you can use to come up with new ideas for product designs.

1) Google Trends

Designing products around what’s trending online is a great way to make a design that is fresh and relevant in people’s minds. One way to find what’s trending is by using Google Trends. With Google Trends you can filter out what’s trending by many category options by demographic and subject matter (science, sports, animals, etc). This is based on top stories and search terms people are searching for. You can even do a search on Google Trends for specific keywords and see how strong they come up in Google search. Here is an example of a search I did to see how popular the Tardigrade was. Here you can see how popular the keyword was and the demographic that are searching for it.

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2) Instagram Hashtags / Explore

Instagram recently launched a new updated discovery tab which allows users to easily discover trending hashtags and photos based on the type of photos you post and like. This is a great feature to see a curated stream of photos based on the photos you’ve already liked and give you a visual inspiration for your next product design idea.

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Searching various terms on Instagram shows you how relevant and popular a subject can be.

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3) Collaborations

Collaborations amongst other designers and artist have been a growing trend in the Shapeways community. A fantastic way to bring a new product to the marketplace is to get together with a designer or artist whose designs inspire you. If they’re on Shapeways you can send them a private message, you can tweet at them on Twitter, or send them a direct message of a mock up 3D model to that artist on Instagram letting them know you’re an admirer of their work and if they’d be interested in collaborating with you on bringing that design to market on Shapeways. Here is an example of a collaboration done between Gabriel Prero and Bathsheba.

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4) Ask your existing audience / Do a Q&A

Do you have an existing audience or following? Ask you audience on social media. Make a post on Twitter or Facebook asking your followers what’d they like to see you design next and listen to their feedback. You can also experiment with Reddit’s r/IAmA, here is an example of one done by Kostika Spaho and Christopher Carter.

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5) Modify An Existing Product

Take a look at your existing products and see if you can modify it or manipulated it into a whole new product all together. For example here is a 3D printed Grumpy Cat and  a Santa themed grumpy cat created by designer Manuel Poehlau.

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Designer Corretta Singer of the Shapeways shop CS1 turned her mech heart pendant into a mech heart ring.

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Give these tactics a try and you just might come up with your next hit product. What does your creative design process look like? Let us know in a comment below!

Shapeways and ExOne Steel 3D Printing Community Meet Up In Pittsburgh

Posted by in Community

Last week Shapeways hosted it’s first community joint meet up with ExOne in Pittsburgh. ExOne is a production partner of Shapeways with whom Shapeways works closely to offer the best steel 3D prints to our community. Local designers, makers, students, and community members in the Pittsburgh and Ohio area got the opportunity to visit the ExOne 3D printing facilities. They were able to meet with members of the Shapeways community team, get a tour of the steel 3D printing machines, learn more about our current steel material options, and get to engage and interact with fellow designers.

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Community members were able to get a walk through of the steel 3D printing process from planning, model checking, build planning, printing, post production, and finishing.

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We got to talk about our exciting updates and launches this year including ShapeJS, Designer For Hire, 3D Tools, and our Pilot Materials program.

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Designer and Shapeways shop owner Jeremy Burnich (pictured above) spoke about how he started 3D printing with Shapeways, advice on building your brand, and his experience 3D printing in steel.

Here is a Video montage of the event

Shapeways Steel 3D Printing video

Have you 3D printed in steel before? If so how has your experience been and what type of designs do to make for steel.

Redefining product creation through 3D printing

Posted by in Community, Shapeways

Hi Shapeways community,

I have some exciting news to share with you: Shapeways has just closed a new round of funding. We raised $30M led by INKEF Capital, and supported by new investors Hewlett Packard, Presidio Ventures, as well as existing investors Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, Lux Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.

We see 3D printing as digital manufacturing technology, disrupting the old analog mass manufacturing technologies and business models. This has a profound impact on manufacturing and society. It changes who is in control, from corporations to individuals. It changes what products are available, from what’s available in stores to whatever you want. It changes where products are made, from centralized huge factories to everywhere in the world (we brought manufacturing back to New York City and Eindhoven, the Netherlands). And it changes the time to market of products, from months to days. In this new world of digital manufacturing Shapeways is the platform enabling anyone to make amazing products come to life.


Strandbeest by Theo Jansen

With this new round of financing we will continue to make investments to benefit our community. We will improve our website, our materials portfolio, and our service, making it easier, more fun and faster for you – our community – to get what you want.

Since Shapeways started it has been an amazing journey, starting on the Philips High Tech Campus in 2007 and  launching in July 2008, to becoming an independent company with our first investment from Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures in 2010. We opened our first factory in Eindhoven in December 2010 and our main office in New York City at the same time. In 2012 we opened our factory in Long Island City, Queens. Most recently, in October 2014 we moved to an amazing and huge factory in Eindhoven, because the previous one simply was too small.

Entry to our new factory in Eindhoven

Entry to our new factory in Eindhoven

During these years we’ve grown a lot! We now have over 620,000 community members, designers and companies using Shapeways. Over 30,000 are using Shapeways as the platform to run their business and our database holds over 2.5 million 3D printable products. We are offering over 50 different materials and finishes and there are many more to come.

It’s really awesome to welcome Robert Jan Galema from INKEF Capital to the board. He knows Shapeways from our early years at the Philips Lifestyle incubator and I enjoyed working with him during that time. His experience in growing small businesses and running large businesses will be very valuable for our next phase as a company. We are also excited to welcome HP, a company that is working on the next generation of 3D printers, and with whom we already announced a partnership to become one of its foundational customers. With this round HP reconfirms its commitment to 3D printing and we are excited to team up with them. We are also excited to welcome Presidio Ventures, part of the Sumitomo group. Their knowledge about Japan will help us bring Shapeways to the Japanese market when the time is right.

This funding round ensures that Shapeways will succeed in its role as the world leader in the next industrial revolution.


Thank you for being part of this amazing journey!