Category Archives: Customization

RC Customization Series: The Story so Far

Two months ago, inspired by our amazing — and growing! — RC car community, I set out on a journey into the world of RC cars. Colleague Tijs Lochbaum and I took a Tamiya Hornet completely apart and gave it a whole new look. We’ll be ready for the big reveal soon, but in the meantime, we’re taking a look back to see how far we’ve come.

We started with a dream of taking a classic Tamiya Hornet and making it our own. During this whole process, Tijs Lochbaum, who is a well-known European RC drifting expert, was our guide. As it turns out, I had a lot to learn about how to make a custom RC Car. I always thought you could only buy a complete car in a toy store, so a whole new world opened up for me. For one thing, I never thought so much manual polishing was involved to make the parts look good. I could go on all day about what I didn’t know — but instead, let’s take a look at what we’ve done so far:

Lap 1 – Upgrading The Tamiya Hornet


In the 1st Lap of the RC Customization Series, we explain our plan and what we need to create a custom RC car classic, the Tamiya Hornet.

Lap 2 – RC Engineering


The 2nd Lap features an interview with designer Alberto Massarotto from AMPro Engineering. Alberto takes us through his design process to guarantee his parts fit on original RC car body and chassis.

Lap 3 – Finalizing the Parts


On Lap 3, we look at post-production methods. Polishing, dyeing, sanding and preparing for spray-painting — we covered it all.

We’ve come a long way already, and we just have a few finishing touches to add. In the meantime, here’s a teaser shot of our completed Tamiya Hornet:

Stay tuned for the full reveal!

Tutorial Tuesday 6: Making Your Designs Customizable with CustomMaker

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One of the most powerful things about 3D printing is the ability to create customized, one-of-a-kind objects. You could choose to make many different personalized jewelry pieces from one ring or pendant design by making modifications on a case-by-case basis in your own design software. Or, you can use Shapeways’ CustomMaker tool to make your shop designs personalizable with just the click of a mouse, enabling yourself or your customers to add their own text or images to parts of your designs. This week on Tutorial Tuesday, we’ll talk about how you can turn your existing designs into easily personalizable, one-of-a-kind pieces.

Getting Started with CustomMaker

CustomMaker runs on Shapeways’ own Javascript voxel-based design language ShapeJS, but you don’t need to know anything about that to apply it to your designs. Using CustomMaker to add customizable text and image fields is as easy as dragging and clicking with your mouse.

So how does it work? Suppose you have an existing design on Shapeways that you want to make personalizable. Start by going to the “Customization” section of the product edit page for that design and activate the “CustomMaker” radio button.

Then, select either “Add Text Box” or “Add Image Box” and click somewhere on your object to make the text or image box appear. You can drag to move or re-size the text or image box however you like. The tool will even automatically curve your text or image around rounded parts of your design! Choose whether you want the text or image to be “embossed” (protruding out from your model) or “engraved” (carved into your model), set the detail depth and font parameters, and click “Preview” to see an example of how the customized text or image would appear on your design.

2-screenshot_custommaker

You can change settings while in the Preview mode and the design will automatically update. To change the placement of text/image box again, press “Edit” to exit the Preview mode. To add a second customizable feature, first “Save Changes” and then return to the Customization menu and preview. You can add up to one text box, one image box, or one of each type of box.

CustomMaker Resources

For a video overview, check out Lauren Slowik’s tutorial How to Use CustomMaker:

For more in-depth information see the Shapeways tutorial Getting Started with the CustomMaker Tool. To discuss CustomMaker issues with the Shapeways designer community, check out the Shapeways forum Customizable Products & Design.

Customizable Products on Shapeways

To see existing CustomMaker designs on Shapeways, check out the list of All Customizable Products in the Shapeways Marketplace. Or just search for anything on Shapeways and then click the “Customizable” checkbox in the left sidebar to restrict to personalizable items. One of my favorites is the elegantly simple Tile by 3Dprintingdog, which lets you upload any image, drawing, or emoji to personalize the design:

4-tile

Have you used CustomMaker on any of your designs? Do you have any questions about applying CustomMaker to your existing models? Let us know about it in the comments 🙂

RC Customization Series: Lap 3 – Finalizing The Parts

In the previous Lap of the RC Customization Series you could see how Tijs prepared the 3D printed parts for assembly. We now know for sure that the parts will fit together, and that they fit on the original Tamiya Hornet body. But just connecting them to the original body will not finish our RC car — we need colors!

Tamiya 4

We quickly agreed on the colors for the car: white, black and blue. To achieve that, Tijs recommends using two different methods for finishing the parts. For some items we use the dyeing process that we offer at Shapeways. The other components will be spray-painted, and for that we need some additional tricks. Tijs is way more experienced in the spray-painting method, so we decided to split the workload.

I spoke with Lisa from our Strong & Flexibles team in Eindhoven. Lisa explains the process that we normally use at Shapeways when you order colored Strong & Flexible plastic. First, Lisa and I polish the models in giant tumblers, filled with ceramic cones. The stones will scrape off a thin layer of the products’ surface, giving them a smoother feel and also make them less sensitive for stains.

The next step for the parts is the actual coloring. For that, we put them in a pan with a solution of water and color pigment. Within a couple of minutes the exterior of the products changed color, as you can see in the video above.

Tamiya_1
These parts have been dyed black. For black, we do not polish the parts.

Tamiya_2
Blue Strong & Flexible is first polished. To keep the color from fading during intense use as racing with the Tamiya Hornet, Tijs also sealed the parts with a transparent varnish.

In the meantime, Tijs was busy preparing the other parts for spray painting. The surface has to be smooth, so the first thing to get rid of is the stepping, the layered pattern on products, which is an unavoidable side effect of using 3D printing for your products. Tijs first uses two types of sandpaper and then applies a primer for plastics.

Tamiya_3
The grey area is the half treated with primer. On the white half, you can clearly see where the stepping was on this part. After some work, these will forever be hidden under a nice glossy white finish!

While I thought it looked pretty smooth after applying the first layer of primer, Tijs is not satisfied yet and decides to use a technique he calls “wet sanding,” meaning he uses wet sand paper on the parts treated with the primer. By doing so, he removes the layer of primer and smoothens the nylon plastic. The Strong & Flexible plastics can be porous, so by rinsing them with water the excess material will definitely not remain on the parts. This step is repeated a few times, and then after applying a final layer of primer, the glossy white spray paint is applied.

Tamiya_4
The roof on the left is finished with a gloss white spray paint, while the other parts are ready for finalizing. Almost there!

So, the parts are nearly done — but we still need to assemble the car. More about that in the final Lap of the RC Customization Series, coming your way soon!

RC Customization Series: Lap 2 — RC Engineering

Since launching the RC Customization Series last week, we’ve been super excited to see such a positive response to this Tamiya Hornet customization project! In case this is the first time you’re hearing about the Shapeways RC Customization Series, together with our RC expert Tijs and Adéla behind the camera, the three of us have set out on a journey into the world of customizing remote-controlled cars for the best look and performance.

Tamiya 4
In the back you can see the assembled original Tamiya Hornet, in front all the parts printed in White Strong & Flexible plastic.

In the previous Lap of the series, we started with a default Tamiya Hornet and a set of 3D printed parts designed by Alberto Massarotto, better known as AMPro Engineering. But in order to use the 3D printed parts, we first need to make sure they fit on the original body of the Hornet. In this second Lap of the RC Customization Series, Tijs gives tips on how to remove the sprues, which drills you have to use to make sure the right screws fit, and how to tap the screw thread in the Strong & Flexible plastic parts without breaking them. While Tijs was busy preparing the parts for pre-assembly, I had a chat with Alberto in which he explains his design process and why he started in the first place! See how this all went Lap 2: RC Engineering in the video below.

Want to build your own AMPro Super Hornet? The list of parts we use for this car can be found here.

Tamiya 6
After all the preparations, the parts fit nicely on the Hornet. Next step is finishing them with colors and stickers.

EDIT: Tijs did a massive update of the building with lots of close up images on our forums – read more here!

Note we release new episodes regularly, so if there’s anything you’d like to see, make sure to share that with us in the comments below and maybe we can explore that in the next Lap of the RC Customization Series.

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.

Tamiya 3
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.
Tamiya 1
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.

Tamiya 5

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. You can find a full list of the products printed here. From here, our customization journey begins!

Tamiya 2
All parts here can be found in the AMPro Engineering shop and in the collection at this link

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.

Tamiya 4

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.

We Have the Droids You’re Looking For

For Star Wars fans, this is a huge week. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opened across the country and, for Shapies, there’s even more Star Wars action in the galaxy. Because now, you can now create your own personalized Star Wars droids with the 3D Print Studio at Disney Store, powered by Shapeways. The 3D Print Studio allows collectors to customize their own droids, choosing the droid model, size, material, and even custom text. These custom Star Wars droids are only available through DisneyStore.com. So harness the power of The Force — and the amazing power of 3D printing — to create your own custom droids.

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Dream team: 3D printed R2-D2, C-3PO, and BB-8 droids

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A pair of 3D printed Astromech droids in stainless steel

Easy Custom Holiday Gifts for Everyone You Love

Custom holiday gifts from independent designers were once expensive and hard to create. But this holiday season at Shapeways, we have thousands of fun and affordable ways for you to Say You Made It. Enabling you to craft one-of-a-kind personalized gifts that hold special meaning for your loved ones. From our Easy Creator apps to the thousands of customizable objects offered by our community — including personalized ceramics pieces — making extraordinary gifts for all your friends and family has never been this easy.

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Create a Christmas heirloom with the easy Ornament Creator

Does your mom still save the macaroni art you made for her in fourth grade? That’s because even a simple custom gift can have a huge impact. Thankfully, it could not be simpler to use one of our Easy Creator apps to design your own personalized pieces. Use the Ornament Creator to make a holiday heirloom, the adorable Cookie Caster to design cookie cutters for loved ones who love to bake, or Crayon Creatures to magically bring your kids’ 2D art to life.

Crayon Creatures turn kids' crayon art into 3D creatures

Crayon Creatures turn kids’ crayon art into 3D creatures

If you don’t want to make an entire custom object, you can use the Customizable option in our SHOP section, or marketplace. Here, you’ll find products that allow you to add your own messages to pieces already for sale. You can find customizable products by clicking the “Customizable” box on the left-hand side of any page in our marketplace. Underneath the box, you can also select the type of material you would like to customize.

Sometimes, the best gifts are the ones that help preserve a precious photo memory. Your mom’s favorite snapshot of you. Or the double selfie from that amazing day you spent at the ball game with your dad. What if you could turn these images into durable 3D mementos? Luckily, one of the most amazing things that you can do with Shapeways — that you cannot do anywhere else — is to create Celadon Selfies. In this store, you can select any number of lovely tiles, mugs, or ornaments to which you can apply your own image (or one of your sister, mom, dad, or pets!).

Celadon Selfies help preserve special photo memories forever

Celadon Selfies help preserve special photo memories forever

Time spent with family and friends is the most important part of our lives. What could be better than using Shapeways to create mementos of your favorite moments, and custom gifts that hold special meaning for you and your loved ones? We’re happy to offer so many unique ways to show your love this holiday season. What’s your best custom gift of all time? Let us know in the comments, and make sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide for gifting inspiration for all the beloved people on your list.

Designer Spotlight: Gavin Rose – Sparkshot Custom Creations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Custom-Designed 3D Printed Gifts for the Animal Lover

Looking for a gift for a loved one who adores their pet? Get their pup or kitty immortalized in an unforgettable 3D form. In full color sandstone or even in bronze, silver, or gold, these pet-inspired pieces are perfect for collectors — adding a familiar face to their dollhouse or train set — or for any pet parents who can’t stop Instagramming their furry friends.

Designers Cuddle Clones and Minichua Design specialize in creating incredible pet mementos in 3D.

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A cute example of the type of custom 3D design that can be made from a picture of a pet, by Cuddle Clones.

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Cat lovers will fall in love with Sleeping Kitty 1, 2, and 3 by cheerioboy.

labrador pendantPay tribute to their favorite breed of pup with a pendant like this Labrador dog full body silhouette pendant by Custompendants.

Design it yourself with 3D printing apps like Pup Workshop or the Keychain Creator which doubles nicely as a custom dog tag creator.

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Click for More Custom Pet Gifts

The Crazy Build-it-Yourself Watch Your Dad Will Love to Make

If your dad is anything like mine, he likes to work with his hands. This year, rather than getting him a run-of-the-mill store-bought product, I thought I’d order something cool he can put together himself.

Shop owner Danowall has designed this faceplate for the stylish wordwatch. The wordwatch is a DIY project where you can combine electrical components from Adufruit with Shapeways 3D printed materials to make this super creative accessory. The 3D printed metal faceplate is attached to a matrix of LED lights on a circuit board, then to the wristband. Instructions for assembling and programing the watch can be found here.

wordwatch

 

Danowall offers the faceplate as an STL file you can print or laser engrave, but I think you’ll agree that the cast metals available at Shapeways really bring out the best in the design. Not only is it the perfect watch for your dad to wear to that next big meeting, but people will be blown away when your dad tells them he built it himself.

 

How have you customized your watch? Show us with by leaving a comment below!

Learn ShapeJS: Signet Ring

I’m really excited about this weeks post. Not only did the test prints come out well but as a creator concept I really think this idea has legs. We published the ring creator a few years ago and the response and sales have been very favorable. Looking through the designs people make it’s clear that signet ring type usage is desired. ShapeJS has had a signet ring example for awhile, but for this posting I improved it with side images and engraved text. In terms of new ShapeJS concepts we’ll go over Text,Embossing,Mul and Mask.

Let’s start with a photo of the first test rings. These are with the text engraving but not the side images. The user gets to choose the top imagery, the engraved text plus the typical ring size and width.

Originally I had the image go completely through the ring. For this revision I changed to having the image engraved. We are working up to having shopper friendly creators available and we found that explaining when pieces would fall out was difficult. Engraving the top allows you to ignore that problem and there’s never a question whether it will be structurally sound. Here is a picture of the original style:

How would you go about modeling this ring style? The primary area of interest is the top image area. We want a flat area that blends nicely into a band. Let’s start with a Cylinder slice as the top area. This gives us a circular landing area. Here is a diagram showing the setup we’ll use.

We made the height of our image area(called a bezel) 1.5mm. This gives a nice feeling weight to the ring and insures that we have enough space to engrave at least 0.35mm deep as required by the guidelines for polished metals. The next part we’ll do is cut the cylinder with two planes at an angle. This gives us something more interesting then just a straight sided cylinder. Here is the code for this portion:

  // bezel is cone truncated by 2 parallel planes
  var bezel = new Intersection();
  bezel.add(new Cone(new Vector3d(0,Ay, 0), new Vector3d(0,-1,0), bezelAngle));
  bezel.add(new Plane(new Vector3d(0,1,0), bezelTop));
  bezel.add(new Plane(new Vector3d(0,-1,0), -bezelBase));

Now let’s turn towards getting the band correct. For this we’ll start with a Sphere(ringBase) which will be a radius of ring size + the ring thickness. From this sphere we’ll cut out a cylinder for our finger(thru). Then we’ll use the combination of a cylinder and box to create the arch like shape on the sides(cutoff). The final band will be the base sphere plus the bezel that we then subtract the finger thru hole and the side cutoffs.

  var ringBase = new Sphere(outRad);

  var ring = new Union();
  ring.add(ringBase);
  ring.add(bezel);

  var cutoff = new Union();

  var gw = gridWidth;
  var gw2 = gridWidth/2;
  var thru = new Cylinder(new Vector3d(0, 0, -gw2),new Vector3d(0,0,gw2),inRad);

  cutoff.add(new Cylinder(new Vector3d(-gw2, Ey, Ex), new Vector3d(gw2, Ey, Ex), cutR));
  cutoff.add(new Cylinder(new Vector3d(-gw2, Ey, -Ex), new Vector3d(gw2, Ey, -Ex), cutR));
  cutoff.add(new Box(0,-inRad,  Ex,  gw, 2*(inRad+Ey), 2*cutR));
  cutoff.add(new Box(0,-inRad, -Ex,  gw, 2*(inRad+Ey), 2*cutR));

  var partialRing = new Subtraction(ring,thru);
  partialRing.setBlend(1*MM);

  var fullRing = new Subtraction(partialRing, cutoff);
  fullRing.setBlend(0.1*MM);

Now that we have the ring modeled its time to turn to making it more customized. Using user imagery is a great way to add customization. For our signet ring we’ll provide 4 customizations points. We’ll have an image on top, an image on each side and text on the inside of the ring. In the past we’ve learned about the Image3D datasource. These easily turns images into 3D geometry. This is great for when we have flat areas to place things or a simple curve like a cylinder. Things become more tricky when we want to apply imagery to complex or unknown shapes. When dealing with these you’ll want to use the Embossing datasource. An Embossing let’s you change the surface of an object with another object. If your familiar with displacement maps in traditional modeling packages it’s a similar idea.

An Embossing takes a base shape and then an embossing shape. It also takes a minimum and maximum range value to limit the embossing distance. In general an embossing is only really good close to the surface, usually you wouldn’t extend further then 2*MM from the surface with this. This example also uses another new datasource called a Mask. A mask is used to select portions of a datasource you want to use for an operation. By default an embossing affects all sides of an object within its volume. For our ring this would mean the side images would emboss both the inside and outside. Since we want text inside we need to mask out the inside. We can do this by taking the band as the mask and shifting it to right or left. This creates a masked area on the outside to limit the application of the embossing to that region. Here is the code for left side imagery:

  if (args.leftImage !== undefined) {
    var edepth = ringThickness/4;
    var mask = new Mask(result,0,edepth);
    var maskShift = new Vector3d(1,0,0);
    maskShift.scale(edepth);
    mask.setTransform(new Translation(maskShift));

    var lbump = makeImage(args.leftImage, 0.84*2*Cx, By+inRad,12*MM,false);
    var trans = new CompositeTransform();
    trans.add(new Rotation(0,1,0,Math.PI/2));
    trans.add(new Translation(inRad,0,0));
    lbump.setTransform(trans);

    var maskedBump = new Mul(lbump, mask);

    var lsideImage = new Embossing(result,maskedBump);
    lsideImage.setMinValue(-edepth);
    lsideImage.setMaxValue(0);
    result = lsideImage;
  }

Since we are looking to engrave the ring we set the minimum value of the embossing to our desired depth and then maximum value to 0. Now that we have the imagery on the sides we are ready to tackle the engraved text. Text in ShapeJS is basically just like the Image3D node. Internally your specified text string, font and font styles are converted to a raster image. To do this you use the Text2D datasource. You then specify the font name and style you want to use. In a later tutorial we’ll cover how to use custom fonts. Text2D has alignment and centering options for the horizontal and vertical directions. Checking the online docs I can see we need put more detail there, so look for that soon. Here is the final ring:

One note about the image sizes. The side images are mapped to cover the whole side of the potentially largest ring. I used images of 400×667 resolution. Anything following that aspect ratio will work. If you adjust ring width you’ll reveal more of the image on the sides.

This wraps up our signet ring post. We’ve introduced a bunch of new concepts this week that we’ll reuse in later postings. Adding text and imagery to base objects gives your users plenty of options to make things their own. Using 3D printing we can make each object unique and this gives you the power to easily get it done. Here is the full code for your enjoyment:

Signet Ring

Learn ShapeJS: Symmetry and Reflections Part 1

For this week we’ll start into the powerful world of symmetry and reflections. ShapeJS allows arbitrary transformations of objects and as we’ll see in this post this has great power and some sharp edges to avoid. Guest writing this week is Vladimir Bulatov, he’s the math whiz behind the curtains of ShapeJS.

PeriodicWrap is a ShapeJS transformation which is most useful for creating repeated shapes and patterns. However if used incorrectly it can produce unexpected results. The purpose of this tutorial is to provide basic info and examples with correct use of PeriodicWrap, highlight potential problems and suggest possible solutions.

PeriodicWrap generates a fill of the three dimensional space (tiling) with copies of a single tile – the fundamental domain. PeriodicWrap is defined by linearly independent basis vectors and an origin. All parameters have type Vector3d. Basis vectors define the shape and orientation of the fundamental domain and the origin defines the place of the fundamental domain in space. There are 3 variants of PeriodicWrap one-, two- and three-periodic. This week we’ll examine the one periodic version, and in a later post we’ll cover the more complex versions.

One-periodic wrap
We start with the simplest variant – one-periodic. It is defined by one basis vector and origin. The origin has default value (0,0,0) which means the PeriodicWrap is located at the origin of the coordinate axes.

var a = 5*MM;
var pw = new PeriodicWrap(new Vector3d(a,0,0));

This creates a one dimensional PeriodicWrap with basis vector (a,0,0).

The one-periodic tiling can be imagined as cutting a space into set of identical slices. The fundamental domain (yellow) is a single slice. Slices are orthogonal to the basis vector (in this case (a,0,0). The thickness of the slice equals the length of the basis vector (5mm in this case) and the left side of the slice passes through the origin of the PeriodicWrap (in this case default value (0,0,0)). Let’s place a simple shape inside of the fundamental domain.

  var sphere = new Sphere(a/2,a/2,0, a/3); // sphere radius a/3 centered at (a/2,a/2, 0) 


And apply PeriodicWrap to the shape.

  sphere.setTransform(pw); // tiled sphere 

Here is the diagram of the result:


Shapes are replicated in both directions indefinitely. Below is the screenshot of the ShapeJS rendering:

Let’s place a different shape in a different spot

  var redSphere = new Sphere(0,a/3,0,a/2); // sphere radius a/2 centered at (0,a/3,0)

PeriodicWrap works by filling the whole space by identical copies of single tile – the fundamental domain.The interior of the fundamental domain is replicated. Parts of the shape outside of fundamental domain are cropped. It means, that the half of sphere sitting outside of fundamental domain abruptly disappears.


The rendering looks even worse, the cropping induces severe rendering artifacts

There is a simple solution to the problem. We can shift the origin of the tiling to make a shape enclosed by the fundamental domain

  pw.setOrigin(new Vector3d(-a/2,0,0));


And here is the tiling

The rendering now looks correct as well

But it is not always possible to select a good location for the tilings origin. In example below we have a union of two shapes.

The union doesn’t fit inside of fundamental domain. Therefore the shape always will be partially cropped:


The solution to the problem is to build a shape inside of the fundamental domain in a way which will compensate for unavoidable cropping: the opposite sides of fundamental domain have to pair seamlessly to each other. In this case we can place copy of another red sphere translated by the tiling basis vector (a,0,0)


Here are the drawing and rendering of the resulting tiling:



Complete ShapeJS script of the example with two shapes:

function main(args) {	
  var w = 30*MM; // scene size
  var a = 5*MM; // period of wrap 
  var s1 = new Sphere(a/2, a/2, 0, a/3);  // shape 1
  var s2 = new Sphere(0, 0.7*a, 0, a/2);  // shape 2
  var s2t = new Sphere(a, 0.7*a, 0, a/2); // translated shape 2
  var pw = new PeriodicWrap(new Vector3d(a,0,0));  
  var shape = new Union(s1, s2);
  shape.add(s2t);
  shape.setTransform(pw);  
  return new Scene(shape,new Bounds(-w,w,-w,w,-w,w));
}

After a PeriodicWrap transform is applied to a shape inside of the fundamental domain we normally obtain an unbounded shape. That shape intersects the scene bounds and as result has an open interior, which results in manifold problems in the generated mesh as is shown below with red.

In order to obtain a finite shape of specific size, we may intersect unbounded shape with some shape of specific size, for example a box:

shape = new Intersection(shape, new Box(55*MM, 20*MM, 20*MM));


PeriodWraps are a powerful method for creating many copies of your geometry. It’s also a much more efficient way to create lots of shapes instead of copying the datasources. In our next posting on symmetry and reflections we’ll explore the two and three periodic wrappings. These allow you to create some interesting patterns, similar to what you might find in nature. As a taste here are some two and three periodic wrappings:

3D Shaver – Personalize Your Shaver With 3D Printing

3D printing technology and online customization tools are opening up new possibilities in manufacturing a personalized product. And what could be more personal than shaving?

That was Philips’ thinking when it opened up its classic men’s shaver for personalization. The 3D Shaver, developed in partnership with Shapeways and Twikit and custom designed by you, is currently being offered by Philips in a limited edition trial.

3D Shaver Tool

Shavers can be configured with different handle designs and colors at 3dshaver.com. Once ordered, the custom parts are 3D printed and dyed at Shapeways’ factory in Eindhoven and shipped to Philips in the Netherlands for final manufacturing and assembly. The shaver is then packed in a custom box and shipped to you within 2-3 weeks of placing an order.

3D Shaver 4 Colors (800vers)

The 3D Shaver is exclusively available in The Netherlands. There are only 125 3D Shavers available and only two shavers can be ordered per day. A large number already have been sold, so you’ll have to move fast to get one.

We’re excited to partner with Philips on this and they have long shared Shapeways vision for the future of 3D printing; we were founded in 2007 in Eindhoven as part of Philips’ lifestyle incubator and look forward to working with them on more personalized products in the future.

Learn ShapeJS: Coins

On tap for this week we’ll print our own coinage. Don’t tell me you haven’t secretly wanted your own currency! When we first introduced cast metals it was one of the first projects I thought of. Here are the first tests I’d did:


These came out well, better then I really expected. The detail was amazing, nice weight to them and they sounded right when you flipped them. If your latin is not so good, it says “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” Well, maybe it says that, been a long time since latin class.

In terms of what went wrong. I overestimated the height needed so the text it a bit too raised from the base. It doesn’t feel completely right in the hand, more like braille then coinage. Looking more at real coinage they have some edges(called reeds). Adding those cleaned up the sides nicely. Here is the second attempt:

This time I also printed them out in stainless steel as well as the polished metals. Steel has a minimum height of 3mm. The detail is better then I expected and the pricing is certainly nicer. It does however feel a bit heavy for a coin. I also did a test with White Strong & Flexible coins, but I can’t say I really liked them.

You can create your own coins here: Coin Example

This script uses concepts we have mostly already covered, but there are a few more details of the Image3D datasource to cover. The first is the useGrayscale method. The default operation is to assume your image is black and white. Under the covers we process this into a distance transform. We do this so that lower resolution images looks better. For greyscale imagery we can’t do the same operation, we just take your image and use it to define the height. Black represents the highest points and white the lowest. Think of this like your drawing with a black pin, your ink creates 3D geometry, the darker it is the more of it.

The second concept is the image placement options. When we create the geometry from an image it has a few modes. These are based off the setImageType and setImagePlace. The image type says whether we creating an embossed or engraved image. An embossed image has the darkest points going upwards whereas an engraving has the darkest points going downward into the object. The placement options say how the image is placed in the image box. Top placement puts the image in the upper area of the box, bottom does opposite. Both mode has the image in the top and bottom of the box. The following diagram gives a visual reference of the different modes:

Coins are fun way to start into the 3D printed metals. If you create your own coins or improve my script post into the forums and show it off.

Prioritize your Personal Self-Expression with 3D Printing

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‘Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live.’ – Gianni Versace

Inherently, fashion is a form of self expression that has the ability to show the world who you are without having to say a word. In today’s world, we style ourselves (and our homes) with the clothing, jewelry and goods that are made readily available to us by different brands, be it large or small. Thus far, that’s worked just fine — but what about a world where you are your own brand? Where you decide what gets made, based on your own preference. Is it possible? Is it even realistic?

Overwhelmingly, yes. I envision a future where your personal and aesthetic expression are prioritized over that which is made in mass — and without a doubt believe that 3D printing is the avenue that will help us achieve this future. Why is your self expression important? Below are a few reasons.

It’s sustainable. In traditional retail, a brand will come up with designs that they believe will have consumer appeal, and then manufacture a certain number of those designs based on projections. All too often, those brands will over-manufacture a piece, only to have hundreds (or thousands) wind up sitting a warehouse — which is an effective waste of material, space and labor.

The beauty of creating your own products with 3D printing, is that the only market validation you’ll ever need is your own. Since products are produced as you order them, you have ease of mind that you’re getting exactly what you want, from an environmentally friendly source that you can trust.

It’s infinite freedom. With customization made more accessible, you no longer have to settle for the almost perfect item. Not everyone may want to design their own everything – sometimes, it’s about making custom modifications to the things that are almost what you’re looking for. Perhaps it’s a piece of wall art that would be so great for your room if only it were just a little bit smaller, or in a different color than is available.

The made-to-order nature of 3D printing means there’s infinite possibility to customize products in a way that is true to exactly what you want. Today, we already have powerful tools such as CustomMaker and ShapeJS that make it easy for anyone to make modifications to products they love.

It’s tools like these that begin to pave the way to the wave of the future, where we’ll see more software and hardware applications expanding to a point where you can customize literally any item you could possibly want.

It’s uniquely you. The most important piece of this is you. Today, you can take your passion and wear it close to your heart, literally. Whether you have a love for science, or a love for ravens – it’s all made possible with 3D printing.

We are lucky enough to be living in a world where we are finally liberated from the mass-produced constraints of our predecessors, and it has only just begun. The future will only give way for more opportunities for you to be you.