Category Archives: Design

Scanning Stories: 4 Steps to a Perfectly Printable 3D Selfie

3D Selfie Row

In our most recent Scanning Stories post, we talked about making your full-body Skanect Structure Sensor 3D scans better using MeshLab and Meshmixer. In this fourth entry in the series, we’ll show you four steps between a full-body scan and printing that you’ll want to take to make sure your 3D selfies are true-to-life.

Step 1: Exporting your scans

Today, we’ll start by taking you through the process of exporting your Skanect scans as OBJ files. OBJ is a file format that contains 3D coordinates (polygon lines and points), texture maps, and other object info. By exporting your scans as OBJ files, you will get both a texture file AND a mesh file, as well as a file containing all data. This will help you better edit specific parts of your scan’s shape and appearance.

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Start by exporting your Skanect scan file (for more info on creating scans, see this past post and this tutorial by Skanect) as an OBJ file.

Once you’ve exported the OBJ file, you’ll notice that Skanect has made three files for you: an OBJ, an MTL, and a PNG.

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The MTL file contains all data, the OBJ is the actual mesh (the polyhedral version of your scanned object), and the PNG is the texture map, or surface detail file.

As a pro tip, the colors in the texture file tend to be a little too dark once printed so we we’ll show you how to lighten it up.

You can do this in programs like Photoshop or Lightroom.

Step 2: Compare textures before and after editing

If you look below, these textures look incomprehensible, but don’t worry, the computer understands how to read them. These are the colors that are what the computer is referencing to give texture to the print. The only problem is that the colors in the scan might not be vibrant enough once put onto the 3D model. Just like any form of photography we may need to do some image manipulation to make the colors look the best possible. Therefore, we’re going to bring this texture map into Lightroom and make some adjustments so they’re brighter and will look better.

The textures before lightning up

The textures before lightning up

After lightning up

After lightning up

While editing the images, keep an eye on the details — they can be sharpened if needed. The settings we use in Lightroom are below:

exposure +1.4
contrast +40
highlights +20
shadows +10

 

Step 3: Editing the mesh and texture in ZBrush

When you scan with a hand scanner (like the Structure Sensor from Occipital that we use), you sometimes end up with a file that is not as sharp, complete, or accurate as you would like. You might have holes in the model that shouldn’t be there, or the texture might have flaws that need to be edited. You can make files like this printable using ZBrush or any other 3D program that can handle 3D files with textures like 3DMax, Blender, etc.

Here’s a super helpful tutorial for editing scans in ZBrush:

Zbrush tutorial to repair 3d scanned models

Other tutorials that might be helpful to you:

Pixologic ZBrush YouTube channel

Blender tutorial to repair 3D scanned models

How to Make Your 3D Scanned Models Look Amazing – Beginner Blender Tutorial

Step 4: Replacing the base of the scan

When you create a scan of a person, cleaning up the scan can often mean adding a platform, or base, on which the 3D print will stand. We generally remove the original base from the scan (which is either the ground, the floor, or a temporary platform the person was on) and replace it with a nice, freshly modeled platform because it will look much cleaner and stand upright.

To do this, follow the steps below:

1. Remember to always export the edited file in ZBrush as a VRML file. You’ll have something like this when you’re finished in ZBrush:

5base

2. Make a platform. You can make a platform in any 3D modeling program. We made this simple platform in Solidworks. We made ours by drawing a square, extruding it to have thickness and then filleting the edges to make them less sharp. Once we were pleased with the platform we exported it as an STL file:

6base

We then use Netfabb to merge the two files together. For us this is handy because our printers are set to work with Netfabb. Netfabb has a free version for you to experiment with.

3. Import the mesh AND your platform into Netfabb. Scale your model and/or your platform to a desired height/width. Place the platform underneath the model file (be sure they overlap, because if they don’t the finished file will end up as two separate parts and won’t merge during printing). Select both files and merge them together. Export the final file as a VRML.

4. Finally, create a zip file containing both the texture map PNG and the VRML model file and upload this to Shapeways.com.

The result is always a perfect finished product that can stand on its own.

Happy scanning and editing!

Brigitte & Astrid

Finally found Waldo? Check out Hidden Folks, a game from community member Sylvain Georget

HiddenFolks-Banner2048

Our community is a giant melting pot of creative designers, where 3D design is only a fraction of what the designers, makers, engineers and creators are capable of. A while back we celebrated the Academy Award nomination of Alienology, and today we want to highlight community member Sylvain Georget (visit his Shapeways shop Tegroeg), as he took his extreme detailed drawing skills to the next level by launching his own video game Hidden Folks today.

Hidden Folks is an interactive search-find-and-click game. At first, the concept might remind you of Where’s Waldo, but Hidden Folks has much more to offer. The miniature landscapes you’ll navigate through have many funny elements you can control by simply poking. Open tents, slam doors, poke crocodiles — there is so much to explore, we recommend you try it yourself. What really defines this game (besides the hilarious sound effects) are the amazing black-and-white graphics, all hand-drawn by Sylvain. Don’t let the minimalistic look of the game fool you; the world of Hidden Folks is rich in an insane amount of small but great detail — and gimmicks.

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Sylvain has been drawing miniature worlds for quite some time, and he’s translated some of them into 3D to sell in his shop Tegroeg.

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13 House by Sylvain Georget

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House 7 by Sylvain Georget

During the past years we’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Sylvain a bunch of times, in projects for Dutch Design Week and KunstVesting Heusden, plus we printed his designs for STRP-Festival 2015, and Sylvain even attended the official Eindhoven Factory Opening event back in 2014. Seeing Sylvain use his detailed drawing skills for a whole new platform is truly inspiring.

Sylvain, congratulations to you and Adriaan de Jongh in bringing Hidden Folks to life — we can’t wait to play again!

Hidden-Folks-Indians

Meet Two Women Changing the Face of Cosplay

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

Screenshot 2017-02-14 17.14.49

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sarah in Queen Knight cosplay

Sarah in Queen Knight cosplay

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

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

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

Dhemerae in her San Mask

Dhemerae in her San Mask

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

A detail of Sarah's body armor

A detail of Sarah’s body armor

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

What 3D printed accessories are you most proud of?

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

Dhemerae with her Buster Sword

Dhemerae with her Buster Sword

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

Sarah with her Fenrir pieces

Sarah with her Fenrir pieces

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

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

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

Intro to 3D Modeling:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 

What if Bob Ross Taught 3D Design?

That soothing voice, those happy little trees, that simple adding of elements that are more than the sum of their parts — it can only be Bob Ross. And, just as Bob Ross loved to share the joy of painting, we LIVE to share the joy of 3D printing. So, we asked ourselves, “What if Bob could teach us 3D design?” Then, we looked hard at our Community Manager Andrew Thomas, squinted, and realized: he’s basically the Bob Ross of 3D design. That gentle voice, those mad 3D modeling skills. A wig, a Wacom Intuos4, a free download of MagicaVoxel, and a few hours later, we had launched The Joy of 3D Design With Andrew Thomas.

Check out the first episode below, and don’t miss Uncubed’s awesome feature on the making of The Joy of 3D Design. Then, all you have to do is subscribe to our YouTube channel, and let The Joy of 3D Design take you away….

Easy Custom Gifts for Your Valentine

Valentine’s Day gifts can be tough. Do you go for the usual dozen roses and chocolates? Or would you rather find something… more personal? Heart-shaped jewelry is great, but with Shapeways, there’s no reason not to take it up a notch. After all, the best thing about gifts is the feeling of giving something you just know the receiver will love. And, the best thing about 3D printing is that you can find and create some of the most unique, custom, and personalizable gifts out there. Here are a few easy apps that let you truly create gifts that will speak directly to your love’s unique qualities. So, with the help of the talented designers behind these incredible apps, read on to find out how to make the most meaningful, beautiful Valentine’s Day gifts.

Ciphering

cipher

Ciphering lets you create a personalized ring unlike any other. Its physical form encodes numbers of your choosing. The ring itself looks decorated in a Morse code-like pattern, but really, it’s a message! The secret message only becomes visible only when you take the ring off your finger and either shine light, or look directly through it. The information you input is fed to an algorithm that generates the unique shape. You can also add engraved initials on the inside of the band.

Ciphering-18c4bd67

Create a piece with an anniversary, birthday, or other special date – or initials. Tell us you’ve ever seen anything like this!

Twine Jewelry

Screenshot 2017-01-27 13.18.55

Perhaps your valentine prefers necklaces. Never fear. Twine Jewelry lets you create a unique piece that allows you to combine two names into one lovely pendant, adding a big dose of wow factor to an already gorgeous gift. Available in a variety of materials, this pendant doesn’t break the bank when printed as a fun and colorful accessory, or you could print it in gold to show your love that you’ll be together forever.

Custom Pendant Creator

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The Custom Pendant Creator allows you to fully jump in and make your own piece. Simply draw an image on paper, take a photo (or find one online), and upload it in the Custom Pendant Creator app. Magically, you’ll see your design appear in 3D! Use the tools to adjust settings like size and softness of detail, and add a bail for the final pendant touch! Warning: this app is incredibly addictive. Print in colorful plastic or a lovely rose gold – you decide – to make this gift 100% personalized.

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Shapeways. Share your best gifts with us in the comments below, and check out our Valentine’s Day collection for more lovely (get it?!) designs from our amazing community.

Introducing: Out of Shape

I obviously love wearing jewelry from our marketplace, but I want to start making my own!
I obviously love wearing jewelry (and 3D printed crowns, naturally) from our marketplace, but I want to start making my own!

Being surrounded by brilliant people at Shapeways every day — and seeing the incredible designs available in our marketplace — it’s impossible not to catch the design bug. That being said, I fall into the segment of the population that’s super excited about 3D printing, but simultaneously intimidated by the world of 3D modeling. Since we’re starting a new year (and there’s no way I’d ever resolve to eat less), I’ve added 3D modeling to my list of “wanna learn” resolutions.

image1

Like most people, I’ve always been better at sticking with things when I’m publicaly held accountable. So, Out of Shape will be the column where I document the joys and struggles of my 3D design journey. This is the place where I get to share my weird, wonderful attempts to learn the world of 3D modeling while also trying to inspire others who find themselves in my shoes to do the same (but only after they give me back my shoes).

I’ll be using the tools and tutorials available on Shapeways so that I can attempt this self-taught thing as much as possible. But, if I really, really, reaaaally need help, I’ll tap my colleagues, Community Manager Andrew and Design Evangelist Lauren Slowik. My hunch is that once I get started, it’ll be a pretty manageable effort. The problem is that I’m definitely overthinking where to start. I’m overwhelmed by the possibilities: Do I want to create a cute little figurine for my desk? Should it be a series of personified feelings? Is hungry a feeling? Or maybe, do I want to design a jewelry line? Deep breath. Okay.

I’m going to start by just opening up some free applications like Tinkercad, Meshmixer, and 123D Catch, and start futzing around, getting familiar with the tools, and drawing some basic shapes. That being said, I’m gonna make sure these are the most awesome shapes ever.

Is this post a bit of an excuse to delay diving in? Yep! But it worked, didn’t it? So… anyone have any advice for a newbie venturing into the world of 3D printing? Or any tips on whistling with fingers? I need all the help I can get!

Celebrating Alienology’s Academy Award Nomination!

Sometimes, you stumble across a story that instantly needs to be shared. Yesterday evening, long-term community member Alienology announced out that he, as part of the Art Department team of the movie “Passengers” led by Production Designer Guy Hendricks Dyas, has been nominated for nothing less than an Academy Award for Best Production Design. The movie, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, tells a story of 5000 people making a 120-year long intergalactic journey — with the two main characters waking up from their hypersleep while only 1/4 of their way through the trip. An enormous starship called Avalon is their carefully (3D) designed carriage for the trip across the vast nothingness of space.

Back in 2009, Igor Knezevic joined the Shapeways community as Alienology. Over the years, he’s featured an impressive variety of futuristic designs in his shop, offering products ranging from jewelry to lamp shades. While we were already impressed by his designs, we were thrilled to learn that Igor’s design skills had made their way into Hollywood. HUGE congratulations to Igor for his work and for being recognized by the Academy! Check out more of Igor’s work below:


Recent work “Living Pods” together with Anouk Wipprecht for SOMFY. Read the full story behind this project here.

Alienology 1 Clothoid.A Lamp – Also featured in WIRED Magazine (US Edition – October 2012). Photo courtesy of Alienology.

Alienology 2 Dualnexus Bracelet. Photo courtesy of Alienology.

Alienology 3 Guilloche Necklace. Photo courtesy of Alienology.

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.

Designer Spotlight: Knight Customs RC Cars

RC cars are hugely popular worldwide, and the RC car community on Shapeways is growing bigger every day. Designer James Knight of Knight Customs is a highly respected creator of RC car accessories. He shares with us how he got started, and how anyone interested in RC cars can use 3D printing to bring their dream cars to life. Let us know in the comments what parts you’d like to see James tackle next.

One of the most popular RC cars to upgrade, the Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. The image shows the following Knight Customs parts: AJ40011 Halo Light Bucket Set (frosted ultra detail) AJ30006 Skull Face Grill & Mount (White strong & flexible polished) AJ10030 Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Bumper & Stinger (Stainless Steel) AJ10018 Hood Latch (Black strong & flexible) AJ10023 Smittybilt XRC JK Front Fenders AJ10020 Snorkel Tall (frosted ultra detail) AJ10037 Smittybilt Stingray Hood

One of the most popular RC cars to upgrade, the Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. Jump to the bottom of this post for a full list of 3D printed parts used.

How did you get started creating custom RC car parts?
I have been a fan of RC cars since a very young age. Many of the cars I have collected were based on full-sized models but didn’t always have all the details of the full-sized vehicle. I started making custom parts to add those missing details and to create my own unique versions of a particular model.

Were you always using 3D printing, or did you begin with a more manual process?
Early on, I used a lot of traditional model-making techniques, glue and plastic, but it was very time-consuming to create multiple copies of certain parts. I also found that by using certain 3D printed materials I could create parts that were much more durable than if they had been created with traditional techniques that were available to me.

What inspired you to open your shop and offer your products to the RC car community?
People within the RC community often asked me to build them a copy of some of the parts I had created, so it just made sense to open a shop so they could purchase one of my creations.

Are there any designs that are proving particularly popular? What need do you see these designs filling for the community?
The most popular designs have been those that allow you to add more realistic details, such as working LED lights to your RC model. This is a popular upgrade for many RC vehicles and if you have ever seen an RC with working lights, they look awesome (see picture of our Halo lights fitted to the Axial Jeep®). Other popular parts allow the modeler to give a fresh new look to a stock vehicle. Just like in the 1:1 world, everyone wants their car to look a little different from the stock showroom model.

How did you determine which brands to offer parts for?
I take inspiration from the 1:1 world. I am a fan of off-road vehicles so I look at the classic and modern vehicles to see which are the most popular and what sort of modifications the 1:1 communities make to those vehicles. I partner with the real 1:1 companies to create officially licensed replicas of many of the popular off-road parts from great companies like Magnaflow, Smittybilt, RotopaX, Front Runner Outfitters, and Ripp Superchargers.

SOR Graphics make our licensed T-shirts and RC vehicle graphic wraps. We also have relationships with leading RC companies Axial, RC4WD, and Vanquish Products.

A few of Knight Customs licensed products

A few of Knight Customs’ licensed products

What advice would you give to RC car fans who are just starting to customize?
I would say make sure you pick a good base for your project. When you decide on the car you want, then check to see if anyone already makes that model as a kit. There are some great base models to use from the top manufactures like Axial and Tamiya. There are many great RC forums to go on to find information and inspiration on building your custom project. My favorite is www.scalebuildersguild.com. Doing a little research online will show you what parts are already available to customize your rig, and of course a search on Shapeways shows you all the great parts the community here have helped create. If you want to learn to create some parts yourself, I recommend Rhino CAD software. It has great functionality for the price and there are many great tutorials on YouTube teaching you how to create models.

In the Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon model featured at the top of this post, Knight Customs parts include:

AJ40011 Halo Light Bucket Set (frosted ultra detail)
AJ30006 Skull Face Grill & Mount (white strong & flexible polished)
AJ10030 Smittybilt XRC M.O.D. Bumper & Stinger (stainless steel)
AJ10018 Hood Latch (black strong & flexible)
AJ10023 Smittybilt XRC JK Front Fenders
AJ10020 Snorkel Tall (frosted ultra detail)
AJ10037 Smittybilt Stingray Hood

Thanks for sharing your story with us, James! We can’t wait to see what you decide to work on next.

Oculus Medium Sculpting the Beast

The adorable Beast and mini Beast

The adorable Beast and mini Beast, courtesy Facebook

We were super excited to see Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook video of an artist at Oculus creating a 3D model of Beast, Mark’s ridiculously cute pup (who, might I add, is more of a celeb than I can ever aspire to be). The video has us excited for a number of reasons:

  • One, the sculpture was created with Oculus Medium, a tool that we’re incredibly excited about because of the potential for it being a game-changer in making 3D modeling more accessible. Pete talked about the possibilities in this Mashable article and Mark’s video is the perfect example of the technology in action (and obviously leveraging some serious design talent).

  • Two, we know from first-hand experience how challenging it can be to capture a quality scan of a beloved pet using 3D scanning technology, thanks to our adventure with Franklin the Pig. While the Structure Sensor from Occipital works well on people, pigs are wiggly and aren’t the best subjects for a physical scan.

Kinda jealous of Beast’s mini-me figurine? Our partners Cuddle Clones and Arty Lobster create mini figurines of pets using photos of your favorite little fur-baby. And, stay tuned, because we’ll be using them to do Franklin better justice than his 3D scan did.

Have you used Oculus Medium yet? If so, let us know in the comments what you’re designing.

An Oculus designer using Medium to sculpt Beast

An Oculus designer using Medium to sculpt Beast

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

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

Experiments with MagicaVoxel software

Experiments with MagicaVoxel software

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How I Made It: 3D Printed Roller Coasters

Our new How I Made It series takes us inside the projects that have inspired our designers, shoppers, and makers. Last week, designer and Shapie Mitchell Jetten’s miniature roller coasters got lots of attention from the community. I asked him to share how they came to be. Leave a comment if you’re interested in having us feature your latest project.

Back in 2014, I got the idea to start 3D printing rides from a game I used to love, RollerCoaster Tycoon.

I had no idea how to paint this, and not having too much money in my pocket, I decided to make a small version in Full Color Sandstone.
Mitchell 1

I’m sure many people will still remember these rides and their iconic entrances and exits.

Same goes for these two renders of the burger and drinks stalls:
Mitchell 2

A couple of years ago I decided to go a bit bigger. I decided to 3D print a Boomerang Rollercoaster, which cost around $300.

Definitely worth every penny, as it was a staggering 60cm long.

I included some roller coaster cars, which as you can imagine were just static (you can move them by hand) as it wouldn’t be able to do a full run back and forth.
Mitchell 3
Mitchell 4

This was all great, but I didn’t expect that anyone would be willing to spend $350 on a 3D printed roller coaster.

Rescaling this roller coaster wouldn’t work; the rails would be too thin to print.

I designed around five or six rollercoasters back in 2014, but, with a Boomerang already coming out at $350, there was no way the others would be close to affordable.

This plan went in the fridge till last month.

It made me think about the issue: why couldn’t I rescale the coaster and sell it for a lot cheaper?

The tracks where too thin, so the the only option was to get rid of the detailed track, make a tube, and hope it would still have a coaster feeling.

As everything is done by using splines, changes were made easily to the track.

In the image below, on the left is the first prototype and, on the right, the second prototype with a flattened track.
Mitchell 5

The test print of the second prototype arrived just days later.

A quick picture of the model with a coin for scale and a post on Facebook in a roller coaster group was all it took to create a buzz — people loved it already.
Mitchell 6

Right away, I noticed that some supports had to be a bit thicker due to their length, but that wasn’t really a problem and it was fixed just minutes after detecting the problems.

Here is a picture of my first attempt to paint the roller coaster:
Mitchell 7

And a bonus picture of another coaster, the Raptor:
Mitchell 8

And the results:

Rougarou (1:1200)
Mitchell 9

Raptor (1:1200)
Mitchell 10

A few more rollercoasters can be found here:

https://www.shapeways.com/shops/miniaturized

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Mitchell! Remember to leave any questions for Mitchell below, and let us know if you have a project you’d like to share.

When Should You License Your Work?

As you launch into a year of designing, engineering, and selling your work on Shapeways, our top legal brain, Michael Weinberg, takes on a sticky question around licensing and IP. How do you best protect your intellectual property – while avoiding the pitfalls of over- or under-licensing your work? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Is it Better to Over-License?

Licensing is all about setting rules around what people can and cannot do with the stuff you create. If you make something that is protected by copyright, someone else needs your permission in order to make a copy of it. A license is one legal form that permission can take. In many cases, the license essentially says “I give you permission to make a copy of my work as long as you do X”. X can be “pay me $50”. X can also be “give me attribution.”

Technically, the reason that someone else would need your permission to copy your work is because the work is protected by copyright. If they do not get your permission first, you could (at least in theory) sue them for copyright infringement.

There is a flip side to all of this. Not all work is protected by copyright. For example, functional objects are broadly excluded from copyright protection. That means that someone else can copy the functional item you made without legally needing your permission first. They do not have to worry about a license on your work because it is not legally enforceable. In fact, putting a license on a work that is not actually eligible for copyright protection can create all sorts of unintended problems.

All of which means that if you are creating something that is eligible for copyright protection and want to share it with the world, you should release it with a copyright license. And if you are creating something that is not eligible for copyright protection, you should not release it with a copyright license.

Which is all well and good if the thing you create fits obviously into a copyright/not-copyright category. But what if the thing’s copyright status is a bit more ambiguous? Should you err on the side of releasing it with a license just in case? Or should you err on the side of not using a license so you don’t unintentionally complicate things?

This is a harder question than you might expect and this blog post does not try to answer it. Instead, this blog post is designed to try and lay out the costs and benefits of each path. It explains what happens if you over-license by applying licenses where no copyright exists, as well as under-license by not applying a license where a copyright does exist. It then ends with a plea for your input. The norms around 3D printing, copyright, and licensing are still being established. Although this is an easy question to ignore, there is a benefit to the community coming together to try and come to consensus about expectations. We here at Shapeways are going to try and work on this in 2017, and in order for that to end well we will need your help.

Wait, what?

Admittedly, this problem can be a bit abstract. In order to make the following a bit easier to follow, it will probably be helpful to have a specific product in mind. Ideally, it is an object where the copyright status (is it protected by copyright? Is it not protected by copyright?) is unclear. Since we have used this as an example of an object with an ambiguous copyright status in the past, let’s stick with studiogijs’ birdsnest eggcup.

(Note: none of this should be implied to attribute any sort of position about copyright to studiogijs. I am just using the eggcup as an example because it is a good illustration of the type of object that can trigger this kind of problem. The rest of this blog post also assumes that studiogijs wants to share the eggcup under some sort of sharing-oriented license such as Creative Commons, although the core issues are the same if studiogijs wanted to use a more restrictive license)

Birdsnest eggcup quattro by studiogijs

Birdsnest eggcup quattro by studiogijs

As you may recall, this eggcup combines functional (read: not eligible for copyright protection) elements that allow it to hold an egg and nonfunctional (read: eligible for copyright protection) elements that mimic the look of a birdsnest. Since there is currently a case being decided by the United States Supreme Court trying to determine if this sort of object that combines functional and nonfunctional elements is protected by copyright, it is probably safe to say that the copyright status of the eggcup is ambiguous.

That means it is not totally clear what happens if someone were to make a copy of the eggcup without studiogijs’ permission. If the eggcup is protected by copyright, making a copy without permission would be copyright infringement. If the eggcup is not protected by copyright, making a copy without permission would be (legally) allowed. In the first case – where copying without permission would be copyright infringement – a license would be really useful. In the second case – where copying without permission is totally legal – a license does not matter very much.

But studiogijs cannot do both. They either have to use a license or not use a license. That choice is not a simple as it might seem.

If it turns out that the cup is not protected by copyright, attaching copyright license to it would be an example of over-licensing. Conversely, if it turns out that the cup is protected by copyright, failing to attach a license would be an example of under-licensing. Since right now the copyright status of the cup is unclear and there isn’t an obvious right answer, designers like studiogijs need to decide if they are going to err on the side of over-licensing or under-licensing.

Here are some of the costs and benefits of either path:

Over-Licensing

Over-licensing would happen if the studiogijs decides to err on the side of the eggcup being protected by copyright and releases it under a copyright license.  If it turns out the the eggcup is protected by copyright, “over-licensing” just becomes “licensing.” The eggcup is protected by copyright and there is a license governing how it can be used.

However, if it turns out that the eggcup is not protected by copyright, “over-licensing” becomes “putting a license where it does not belong.” From a legal standpoint such a license is essentially meaningless: without an underlying copyright, there is no actual punishment for violating the terms of the license. It can be ignored by downstream users. But even this legally meaningless license can send ripples out into the world.

Clear up Ambiguity (Good)

The most obvious impact of over-licensing is to remove ambiguity. While there are plenty of 3D printed things that fit cleanly into a “protected by copyright” and “not protected by copyright” dichotomy, there are also many that fall into a grey area. This grey area can exist because the rules around copyright today are unclear, or because there is a chance that the rules around copyright could evolve in the future.

In either case, adding a copyright license can act as a “just in case” tool. Studiogijs can use the license to assert “this eggcup is probably not protected by copyright, but if it is here’s a license that you can rely on.” That makes it easy for downstream users to confidently make copies of the eggcup under clear rules regardless of the ultimate answer to the “is this protected?” question.

Social Signaling (Good)

This benefit is easy for lawyers to overlook, but it is an important one. Licenses act at a legal level and also (probably more often) at a social level. A well expressed license is an easy way for studiogijs to tell the world “here is how I want you to use my work.” Even if that desire is not supported by the law it can still be quite important to the community. People in a community are motivated by all sorts of impulses not grounded in the formal legal system. If you are a fan of studiogijs you may care how they want people to think about copying the eggcup even if they cannot haul you into court for going against those wishes.

Restriction-Free Licenses Reduce the Downside

A license such as the Creative Commons Zero license would dedicate the eggcup to the public domain. It imposes no restrictions or obligations on the people who would make copies of the eggcup and makes no attempt to control their behavior. In this context, it tells the world “the eggcup is probably not protected by copyright, but if it is I hereby remove its copyright and make it freely available to everyone” while asking for nothing in return. If a studiogijs is relying on a truly restriction-free license in an ambiguous situation, the effect of the over-licensing with this type of restriction-free license is almost all benefit with no cost.

This calculation changes if studiogijs uses a conditional copyright license. Even a very permissive Creative Commons Attribution license could create problems because it places a condition on people who make copies of the eggcup (they are required to give attribution). In this context, such a license tells the world “the eggcup is probably not protected by copyright, but if it is you can use it as long as you give studiogijs credit as the creator.”

If the eggcup really is protected by copyright, such a license is great – all you need to do in order to make a copy is give studiogijs credit. But if the eggcup is not protected by copyright, a person who wants to make a copy might think they are required to credit studiogijs where no legally enforceable requirement exists. In other words, the license attempts to impose obligations on people who want to make copies without the actual ability to do so. That can create confusion and disappointment for everyone involved. All the more so if the relatively benign restriction to give the studiogijs credit is replaced with a more aggressive demand for a royalty payment.

Normalizing Expanded Copyright Protection (Bad)

In addition to possibly imposing obligations that are not legally enforceable, over-using copyright licenses can have a long term effect on how people understand the scope of copyright’s reach. It is not hard to see how “if you are unsure, slap a copyright license on it” can evolve into “the widespread use of copyright licenses in 3D printing means that all 3D printed stuff should be protected by copyright.” That could potentially remove countless objects from the public domain and expand the scope of copyright well beyond its intended bounds. Over-using copyright licenses could evolve into a situation where such licenses are actually legally required.

Under-Licensing

Under-licensing is the flip side. Instead of releasing the eggcup under a “just in case” copyright license, studiogijs could simply choose to not apply a license at all. In doing so studiogijs is gambling that the eggcup is not protected by copyright so the license is unnecessary.

Avoids Normalizing Expanded Copyright Protection (Good)

Not surprisingly, erring on the side of not using a license can have the opposite effect of erring on the side of using it. If in ambiguous situations there is no license, it will set an expectation that no license is necessary. This expectation could prevent the expansion of copyright to cover these edge cases. This could preserve the public domain as it is today.

Complicates Social Signaling

A license is not the only way to signal to people who want to make copies of the eggcup how studiogijs wants them to do so (if at all), but it is a clear and easy one. Without a license, would be copiers who want to take studiogijs’ wishes into account have to rely on other cues in order to determine how studiogijs might want or not want their work to be used.

Can Prevent Further Use (Bad)

The lack of a license, even in ambiguous situations, can create problems. If a person who wants to make a copy of the eggcup is risk-averse (or is having risk aversion pushed on them by their legal department), the lack of a license clearly granting them permission might prevent them from copying the eggcup even if there is no legal barrier to doing so. Additionally, if it turns out that there is some sort of latent copyright in the eggcup, the lack of a license could legally prevent people from copying it even if studiogijs wanted them to do so.

Which is Better?

I’m still not sure. Trying to weigh all of these factors will be part of 2017. If you have thoughts, please let me know. There is not going to be a real “right” answer. Hopefully we can come together to help form some sort of consensus around which of these not-great options is better.

This January, Make 100 With Kickstarter

Screenshot 2017-01-03 12.29.51

Ready to start making your 3D printing New Year’s resolutions come true? Shapeways is all about making your ideas a reality, and we’ve got the perfect opportunity to jumpstart your newest project.

Our friends at Kickstarter are inviting people to launch a new series of new mini-campaigns called Make 100. Throughout January, they’ll be featuring artists and creators running quick projects that offer backers an edition of exactly 100 items. This is the perfect way to reach out to your friends and fans and offer them a small run of special, 3D printed gifts. And, it’s a great way to share and develop a new idea — while providing friends and fans with a unique, limited-edition design.

And, after your Kickstarter ends, bringing your vision to life through Shapeways means:

  • Iterations go directly to market

  • Low barrier to entry — just design it and print

  • No setup costs compared with traditional manufacturing

  • Unlimited unique, custom items

  • Over 50 high-quality, consumer-ready materials (and if you have a home printer, Shapeways can take your prototypes to final version quality)

  • Direct shipping and fulfillment

  • Prints ready to post-process (where applicable)

  • Strong community support and inspiration

Whether you’re making miniatures or jewelry, art or practical tools, if you have an idea for a Make 100 campaign, sign up here.

Learn more about making with Shapeways here.

A Visionary Artist Takes on the Smart Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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