Category Archives: Design

Designer Turns Brain Waves Into 3D Printed Sculptures

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

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

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

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Using 3D Printing to Recreate a Lost Sculpture

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

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

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

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

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

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

3D print rewards MSmith

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

 

Help Shapeways 3D Print The Next Big Meme Contest!

DogeMeme

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

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

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

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

 

 

Happy National Beer Day!

Today is National Beer Day in the US, so we figured it was about time to revisit some of the fun bottle openers available in our marketplace. Whether or not you choose to celebrate this “holiday,” there is never a shortage of unique tools designed to help you open bottles of any kind.

Last year Shapeways Crew member, John Fitzpatrick, put together a list of his favorite 3D printed bottle openers. Check out a few more below!

Vampire Head Bottle Opener

Skull Bottle Opener

Ethanol Molecule Bottle Opener

Poop Emoji Bottle Opener

Beerhead Bottle Opener

There you have it! Do you have a favorite 3D printed bottle opener? Share it in the comments below!

Introducing Our Coolest Material Yet – Moon Dust!

Last year, 3D printers took off to print in space. Now, Shapeways is incredibly thrilled to announce that we’ve added the most innovative material to our portfolio yet – moon dust. Our engineers obtained samples from our friends at NASA  and developed a unique method for leveraging our current SLS printers to 3D print with this groundbreaking material.

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Moon dust surprisingly shares many of the same properties as the nylon powder we use in our SLS printers, so the design guidelines are the same. The finished product, though, has an extraordinary characteristic: a silver shimmer that only appears when held under moonlight. In daylight or under indoor lighting, moon dust products will have the same coloration as the color that we see the moon – a nice light gray with some white gradation. When held under moonlight, however, moon dust products have a beautiful, sparkly quality to them. Imagine how you will wow your family and friends with a smart phone case or bow tie that sparkles under moonlight, like the ones our community member created below!

Stay tuned for more details on our moon dust material, which we’ll open up to the public on the date of the next full moon. In the meantime use #ShapewaysMoonDust to let us know what you will design with this exciting new 3D printing material.

Happy creating!

 

Behind the product: Pocket Clip for Fitbit Flex

We love to hear all about the amazing products we see here at Shapeways. What was the inspiration? How many times was it printed before it was perfect? This series is about exploring the stories behind the creative and unique products that go through our printers.

The Pocket Clip for Fitbit Flex has been a popular product since it was introduced. It’s the perfect example of a product that fulfilled a market need – something that really can’t be found anywhere else. We caught up with the designer, Tom Felker,  to find out more about how the idea came about and how he works with customers to create various versions and improve upon the model.

Where did the idea for this product come from? 

I think this fell into the “necessity is the mother of invention” category. My job’s health insurance program gave everyone Fitbits as part of a fitness incentive, but I already wore a watch and didn’t want two bands. My friend and I were talking about it, and we thought maybe we could 3D print something. The way it snaps in was sort of inspired by how the Fitbit USB charger works, though that snaps in a little differently and uses a spring.

I think I just got sort of lucky in that the problem I solved is shared by lots of Fitbit users, and there are quite a few of them out there.

Walk us through the iteration process? How many designs did you go through?

I iterated the design on paper a little bit before even making a model. At first I didn’t have a great idea for how you’d take the Fitbit out, and I was thinking about having a bendable tab you’d push or something. I decided to figure that out later, make a model and sent it to Shapeways to be printed.

When I got it, I put the Fitbit in and it snapped in perfectly – but I forgot that I had no way to get it out so prying it out was quite a project. Around then I had the obvious-in-retrospect idea to add a hole in the back so you could just push it out with your finger. First I just used a rasp to add the hole into the model I had, and then I changed the 3D model and ordered version 2. I think I made one more version with some minor changes to the geometry to make it snap harder.

Somewhere along the way, I also tried different materials. I found that alumide was too stiff, and I knew the UV resin materials would be a little too brittle but WSF worked great. I had tried rubber and realized I would need a very different design to make that work. Much later, I tried a different design to work with metal but I haven’t gotten too far with that yet. I also tried a version my friend printed out on his hobbyist FDM printer in ABS, but it wasn’t dimensionally accurate enough and was way too stiff – and didn’t look too good.

How important has customer feedback been to you?

When making the first proof-of-concept model I wasn’t talking to customers yet, but later I was. There was a customer who wanted to put it on a pendant, so I made that variant for her and have sold a few of those. Another wanted the pendant loop to go the other way, and so I modeled that, then added a ring to it so you’d have a choice, and at that point you might as well add a chain, and the keychain version was born. Somebody was asking about a version you could use to make a paracord bracelet, so I did that as a beta model. I also ended up strengthening the clip on the pocket clip version due to customer feedback.

What have you learned about the 3D printing process through this product?

I think a lot of what I’ve learned has been more about selling things. The power that exposure can give you. The need to be very clear when communicating to customers.

Do you think gadget accessories will continue to be a popular category for 3D printing?

I think gadget accessories will always be a pretty big part of 3D printing. I come from an engineering side of things, and I probably don’t have a good understanding or appreciation for art (or a lot of budget or space to spend on purely artistic objects), but when you have a dealy-bob and you really need a widget holding bracket for it, 3D printing is perfect for that.

Thanks for the insight into this popular product, Tom. We’re excited to see what else you come up with in the future!

 

Gadget accessories that never go out of style

Tech is always evolving, but there are certain gadgets that don’t seem to be going anywhere. Phones and fitness gadgets seem to be here to stay, and with the new Apple Watch coming soon we might even see watches make a comeback (not that watches really went anywhere). Even better, we might see an onslaught of new watch accessories to make these wearables just a little more stylish.

We love when new gadgets are introduced, because it always spurs amazing creativity from our community. From new iPhone cases that extend the use of your phone to accessories for your fitness gadgets, 3D printing allows anyone to design their own custom accessories they can’t find anywhere else.

Gadget accessories continue to be popular on Shapeways. We love seeing what designers come up with, and what customers are drawn to. Below are some of the current popular items in this category, but we’re excited to see what you’ll come up with next!

BMW iPhone 5 6 Adapter Halter Dock (DE)

Pocket Clip for Fitbit Flex

Microsoft Band Charging Stand

What gadget accessory do you want to see next? Let us know in the comments!

Shapeways + littleBits Hackathon Roundup

Posted by in Contests, Design, Events

Saturday morning was a glorious day in NYC, and we gathered at the lovely littleBits HQ for a full day of fun at the  3D + IoT Smarter Gadgets Hackathon, hosted by Shapeways & littleBits. Over 30 people of all ages and backgrounds from teachers to tinkerers arrived with an everyday object and their imagination at the ready. Here’s what went down…

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After some bagels and coffee, our awesome judges each presented their work and their thoughts on how to approach design. Each one had a key tip for the day, and for design in general.

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Ron Rosenmann of Frog Design told us about coffee time at Frog and how it helps them to make time to brainstorm together. Heidi Farrell of Smart Design quoted Jonathan Ive’s maxim that “So much of our manufactured environment testifies to carelessness” and urged us to constrain assumptions at the beginning of a project to help focus our creativity.

Oscar Salguero of Kid O Toys advised us to invite your friends to a workshop to make lots of ideas for you. He warned that you’d better “make something that works or they’ll be annoyed!”. As a toy designer, he reminded us that kids have no fear! So be a kid! Lastly, Emily Tuteur from Littlebits showed examples of how Littlebits come together and got us all excited by the CloudBit and IFTTT. Then it was playtime! We split up into five teams and two family projects.

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Diego (8 years old) made a three phase adapter to trigger a catapult and his sister Sophia (6) made a windmill with pompoms to simulate a candy cane machine. Alexandra (8) made an awesome catapult too, using a completely different technique, to dislodge a block to trigger the spring.

kids

At the end of the day, Everyone uploaded their projects to littleBits and  we had some fun demonstrations. Here’s what each group made:

Sheet Saver is a smart toilet paper dispenser.  Bianca, Chris, Daniel, Jude, Nick & Stephanie put their heads together to fix the simple problem of toilet paper efficiency…by controlling how much you can use. Enough is enough! Saving trees one sheet at a time.

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Brush-R brush with music! Mason, Maren & Bastiaan hacked a music box to make a song timer to help you brush your teeth for the optimum time of two minutes.

Take A Chill Bit is a responsive office that calms you when you’re angry. Ilya, Mitul & Noel came up with two projects using the Jawbone UP App. The three makers created a circuit that tracks their attitudes throughout the day. “The device detects the problem, reports it on Jawbone UP App and reduces the level of stress by stimulating sensory channels” using a fan and an MP3 player. If you get stressed, it activates to calm you down with soothing light, sound and a fan. Their other project was a way to easily send caloric information to your phone to track your intake. Using a pressure sensor and the cloud, this group turned a box of oatmeal into a smart device!

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Tooth Doodle: a seismograph machine integrated into the toothbrush! Marj & Boian made a seismograph machine integrated into a toothbrush to make brushing fun, you can make art while you brush or if you’re data-driven, match your strokes to an ideal brushing curve!

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Conflict News is Eric’s news delivery service that delivers news through an interactive diorama, instead of cluttering your phone, you get a visual of what’s happening.

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Soundmail plays your favorite song when you come home. Shannon, Cortlan, Soo, Tharit & Reed gave a professional presentation, featuring beautiful slides of the UI of their new creation that works with the Spotify API and is a new service designed to connect people’s emotions through voices and song.

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Remorse Code.: mitigates communication disconnect with your partner. Alecia, Caroline & Adele thought there were too many communication apps so they devised a way to visually share their feelings using the cloudBit and a bargraph.  “Set secret messages with your partner and dial in when you need to say something important. Just think of your bar graph as a BAE graph and let your secret communication fly”.

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We had Andrew and Ed from Shapeways on hand to give each team advice how to best incorporate 3D printing into the next phase of their project, from creating custom cases to house the electronics to integral design components like fun characters that animate.

Now it’s your turn! Seeing what the teams came up with – what will you make? You have until the end of March to  submit your ideas to the Contest!

What ordinary household object will you give a new life with some electronics and 3D printing magic?

Shapeways helps Coca-Cola celebrate 100th anniversary of iconic design with 3D printed bottles

Today, we are thrilled to announce our work with Coca-Cola as part of their 100th anniversary celebration of the iconic Coca-Cola bottle. On February 28th, a new exhibit will open to the public at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta featuring more than 500 3D printed bottles suspended from the ceiling, all 3D by Shapeways.

The 3D printed bottles at the High Museum before being hung up.

The 3D printed bottles at the High Museum before being hung up.

The iconic Coca-Cola bottle was originally designed by the Root Glass Company in 1915 as a result of a competition that challenged manufacturers to develop a design that would be recognizable even if broken or being grabbed in the dark. The winning design ultimately had a huge impact on visual art and culture, and is one of the defining shapes that represents the global company.

The only thing we love more than hearing stories about product iteration is actually being a part of the process. 3D printing is becoming more of a staple in the iteration process, and has helped countless designers perfect their products. As the original designers surely went through various iterations on their way to the perfect bottle, we worked with Conran and Partners on various designs before finding the right one.

The final version of the bottle next to an earlier iteration.

The final version of the bottle next to an earlier iteration.

Initially the bottle silhouette was printed in the fully expanded shape of the bottle. However,  we quickly discovered in testing that once hung the bottle ornaments would stretch and distort. Shapeways, Coca-Cola and Conran and Partners worked closely over the next three days producing four new iterations of the bottle to perfect the design, ensuring that once it was hung, it would perfectly retain the iconic Coca Cola bottle shape without any color or branding. In the final design, the bottle is actually printed in a compressed shape to both compensate for stretching and increase packing efficiency in our printers.

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In order to ensure the bottles printed and processed without fail, we designed a cage that would enclose the actual bottle as it printed so that each bottle could be “opened” and revealed individually after being processed. Check out the video below to see how the bottles looks when they come out of the printer!

Shapeways is so proud to be a part of this celebration with one of the most iconic brands in the world. Their bottle really set the bar for efficient product design, and we are thrilled to be able to use modern 3D printing technology to celebrate this traditional design.

For any community members in Atlanta (or planning a trip there), the exhibit will be open from February 28 through October 4th and will showcase original design illustrations, historical artifacts and experimentation with the iconic Coca-Cola bottle.

What do you think about the design of the Coca-Cola bottle? What other iconic designs would you love to see 3D printed?

 

 

Products in the Press

Posted by in Design, Product

Seeing a product you designed in the press is an amazing feeling. It validates all the hard work that goes into making your product, while giving more people an opportunity to discover and ultimately purchase! Products on Shapeways are special because they cover a range of industries and genres. From tech gadgets on tech blogs, to sculptures featured in design outlets, there’s plenty of room for PR!

The products featured below were noticed for various reasons. Whether it was because it fit within a pop culture moment or just showcased amazing design, these products caught a reporter’s eye and inspired them to write. Always keep in mind that beautiful photos, design stories and customer engagement will help to make your products stand out across the board.

Tardigrade (Water Bear)

The water Tardigrade from Raw Legends Collaborations was featured in 3D Printing Industry after “it became a bit of a minor 3D printing viral sensation, making it onto the editor at Popular Science’s Twitter feed and countless science blogs.” Read More

Ittyblox

Ittyblox was written about in CityLab for all the model fans. “At least some pieces, like the 1:1000-scale Guggenheim Museum and Tudor City building, are based on real-life structures. And all are cut with fantastic detail.”  Read More

Blooming Zoetrope Sculptures


For products that require a video, a few 1-2 minutes can go a long way. Dezeen Magazine wrote a piece on designer John Edmark‘s incredible Blooming Zoetrope Sculptures. Read More

Left Shark

Before the law got in the way, Left Shark was featured as a new meme in various outlets including The Star. “A surprising MVP emerged from Sunday’s Super Bowl — or, more appropriately, MVM — and now you can get your very own 3D-printed “Left Shark” mascot.” Read More

Steampunk Themed Accessories


Steampunk has a lot of fans, and 3DPrint.com included multiple Shapeways products in their roundup of designs. “Steampunk machines, devices, etc., usually consist of a lot of gears and analogue mechanisms. Today you see all sorts of unique designs, such as steampunk jewelry, clocks, clothing, and just about anything else that you can think of. 3D printing is a technology which has taken things to the next level, as designers can now fabricate their own unique, extremely complicated, steampunk creations.” Read More

Chopstick Holders & Crayon Creatures

Quartz featured Chopstick Holders and several of Bernat Cuni’s products in their story on “some of the coolest and most interesting things you can 3D-print right now.” Read More

Wave Cable Holder

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Urbano Rodriguez’s Wave Cable Holder was included in a roundup of tech accessories perfect for the office in the March issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now.

 

If you’re looking to get your products noticed, social media is a great place to start. While it doesn’t quite feel like “press,” all platforms are a space to share, and make it more likely for reporters to find your product and write about it. Shapeways social media guru, Eric Ho has given some great tips of how to get your products in the right platforms.

As always, don’t forget to post your products in our “Feature This!” forum. Our PR team loves to check out what’s new, and will reach out if there is a fit for a story we are working on!

Shapeways+littleBits 3D+IoT Gadgets Contest

We are so excited to partner with littleBits for a unique design challenge: How can you make your home smarter using the Internet of Things and 3D Printing?

SmarterThanYourHome

DESIGN CHALLENGE

Find something in your house that you consider mundane. A coffee mug, a pair of old gloves a floppy disk. Now ask yourself, how can you make it smarter? With littleBits and 3D printing, of course! Upcycle that object into something smarter and cloud-connected. Start doodling ideas and check the rules below.

HACK-A-THON

What better way to get your creative juices flowing than a hackathon? Join us at littleBits beautiful offices this Saturday for the 3D + IoT: Make Smarter Gadgets Make-a-thon with Shapeways & LittleBits. Hear from inspiring speakers, tinker with materials and meet like-minded folks to get your projects started.

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RULES

The contest takes place in 2 phases: Ideas and Finalists.

Ideas Phase: Deadline to submit is March 28th.
Submit concepts for your creation including a rough 3D model and a layout of how you would incorporate littleBits. Upload your projects to the littleBits project page using the hashtag #shapebits.

Make sure in your upload, you include:
- The inspiration and impetus behind your concept
- Reflect on what you did 1st, 2nd and 3rd
- List the resources you consulted to help others in the future

*Remember we are a community who loves sharing work in progress. Don’t be shy to share your piece even if it is not finished yet and ask in the Project Buzz category in the littleBits forum for help.

Finalists Phase: Deadline to submit is April 30th.

After the final deadline, our expert panel of super star judges will be invited to review the entries and select 5 contestants for the “Finalists” phase.
During this phase contestants will receive free bits to create their projects and a coupon from Shapeways to print them out. Final projects will need to be uploaded by April 30th on the Shapeways & littleBits sites both using the hashtag #shapebits.

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PRIZES

The maker behind the smartest, most awesome project submitted will get a Workshop Set, which includes 100 Modules ($1,547 value) and $500 in 3D printing credit from Shapeways.

In addition, the top three entries will be showcased in our MakerFaire booth in San Francisco this May and featured in our newsletters and the littleBits Community Hall of Fame.

JUDGES

We have a fantastic lineup of judges who will rank entries across these measurements of awesomeness:

  1. Creativity — how inspired is your creation, how close to the theme is it.

  2. Technological achievement – how well does this project incorporate the potential of littleBits + 3D Printing

  3. Aesthetics- how well designed and polishes is your final object

  4. Surprise- how original and unexpected is your final project

Here they are:

heide

Heidi Farrell, Design Engineer at Smart Design, NY

Heidi Farrell is an engineer who designs mass-produced, everyday products. She has worked on things like kitchen tools for OXO and camera gear for Joby x Lowepro. Based in Brooklyn, Heidi studied product design at Stanford, has worked in SF and Stockholm, and is currently a design engineer in Smart Design’s New York studio.

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Ron Rosenmann, Senior Design Technologist, Frog NY

Ron focuses on interaction prototyping and building UX simulations as part of the design process at Frog. A nice sampling of his awesome work can be found here.

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Andrew Mager, Developer Evangelist, Smart Things, SF

A developer evangelist at SmartThings in the Bay Area, helping developers all over the world integrate their devices and code into their home automation schemes.

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Oscar Salguero, Senior Designer at Kid O Toys, NY

Industrial designer by training, Oscar has worked on products ranging from high end furniture in Tokyo to energy generating soccer balls for developing communities in Nigeria and Brazil. He’s currently leading a new line of sensory oriented & developmental toys for kids under 6 years of age.

That’s all folks! Have questions? Ask away here or on twitter using #shapeBits. Happy making!

Unleash The Dragon With This Epic 3D Printed Dragon Door Handle

Looking for an upgrade to your average and boring door handle? Kai Bracher of the Shapeways shop Cabrada has designed an epic detailed dragon door handle 3D printed in stainless steel.

Here are some of the amazing photos of the dragon door handle which are also available for sale on his Shapeways store here.

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Dragon door handle video by Kai Bracher

Do you have an epic eye catching design that utilizes the amazing technology of Shapeways 3D printing? Share them with us on the feature this section on our forums.

Unique 3D printed celebrations of love

A few months ago we invited our community members to share how they were commemorating and celebrating their unique love with 3D printing. Needless to say, we loved the creative ideas that they came up with. This Valentine’s Day, as you celebrate love, friendship and treat yourself, we hope that these ideas from our community will inspire you!

3D printed wedding take topper tea set

From Harry of Lightbringer Designs

Our shared affinity for loose leaf tea was one of the first things that brought us together and it has become a recurring design element in our wedding. My Shapeways store focuses on wax seals, so of course we needed a very special seal for our wedding invitations. Liz, being an artist, drew the initial concept sketches, which became the seal. We each wanted our own, so one is cast bronze and the other brass. We hope to have enough time to make chocolate seals to go with the wedding cake too!

3D printed custom wedding wax seals

Borrowing from the seal design, I made cufflinks for the men in the bridal party with each person’s initials replacing the heart and the E&H. This way, they can still use them after the wedding. Also, most monogrammed cufflinks are engraved – as far as I know, Shapeways is the only way to get them embossed. 7 groomsmen, FoB, FoG, and myself – 10 sets in Shapeways polished silver.

3D printed custom wedding cufflink

To, ahem, top it all off, we made our own wedding cake toppers from Shapeways stainless steel. The shorter tea pot with the Stars and a cat tail is for Liz, while mine is a taller wire frame.

I make customized wax seals and cufflinks to order on my Shapeways store, send a a PM to arrange for a similar order.

3D printed cufflink custom wedding

From Erin Baker

3D printed custom wedding favor

I am a graphic artist and wanted to create something unique for our guests to take home with them. I decided on making a 3D ambigram of our initials in a heart, that would represent our marriage. You can view the negative space as two people holding hands, and you can view the positive space as the letters “e” and “g” for Erin and Greg.

3D printed custom wedding favors

by Jo Ann Manolis Photography

From Alejandro Guzman Aguado

Custom 3D printed jewelry

I have created several models for Nancy, but I have only printed 3 pieces, as she is not very fond of jewelry. However, when she can wear something special created just for her I think she enjoys the idea and the gesture just as much as the object itself.

Custom 3D printed engagement ring

When I create a model for her, I feel again as a teenager doing origami for the girl I like. But this object endures far longer than paper and it’s beautiful to watch being worn by the woman you love. The most important piece I have created is her engagement ring. While it may not be the most expensive or elegant ring, but it is a beautiful piece and there is nothing more exciting than creating the object you will deliver when you ask the question that will define your life together.

What would you like to design for someone you love?

Love in 3D: From Wedding Contest Winners to Newlyweds

Just in time for Valentine’s Day we caught up with Bastiaan and Alicia Ekeler, the winners of our Love in 3D wedding contest from earlier this year. They 3D printed their wedding bands and gifts for the wedding party and we wanted to catch up with them to hear about their special day and what they have been making since!

3D printed wedding rings

How did you design your 3D printed wedding rings? What inspired you to put your finger prints on the inside of the bands?

I designed the rings using Photoshop and Rhinoceros 3D. I have a background in industrial design so I am very familiar with these software packages. Rhino has been my favorite 3D modeling tool for a long time and was the perfect candidate for this project. The rings started with an ink pad, an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, a lot of fingerprints and a scanner. The scanned image was prepared in Photoshop and converted into a 3D surface in Rhino. I modelled the rest of the ring around the fingerprint relief and exported the whole thing to STL. There was a lot of experimentation to get all the variables right but the whole process worked pretty well.

The idea of using fingerprints stems from the inherent capability for 3D printing to customize any product. Even without having won the contest, it was clear to me that our wedding rings would have to be unique and personal. No off-the-shelf design would do. Fingerprints seemed pretty unique and personal and the finger has an innate connection with the ring to begin with. They were an ideal match to be brought to life using additive manufacturing. So, the idea was born to have my left ring finger’s print embedded in my wife’s ring and vice-versa.

You might be interested to know that we have actually decided to start offering custom designed rings on Shapeways! We like ours so much that we feel we should share the design with the world and opened out first Shapeways store.

Did you 3D print any special favors for the bridesmaids and groomsmen?

Yes, we actually did design gifts for the members of our wedding party. For the bridesmaids, we created a tiny little infinity symbol, loosely modeled after a precisely curved twig. It is a little hard to see from the picture but the pendant has some knots and imperfections on it, making it a little more organic than mathematical. I even went into Zbrush and textured the outside to mimic tree bark, although this detail got polished out in the finishing process. It is always hard to resist the temptation of getting lost in modeling details when zoomed in 1000% on a 1cm wide model. The infinity symbol was chosen for it’s obvious marriage / friendship related symbolism and the branch element was based on the outside, farmhouse wedding location.

3D printed wedding favors neckalce

For the groomsmen, all high school friends of mine, I designed a pair of cufflinks with the logo we’ve been using since college to symbolize our group. I will leave the interpretation of the abbreviation as a exercise to the reader.

3D printed wedding favors cufflinks groomsmet

Now that you are married, have you designed anything together to commemorate your wedding or your time together since?

We haven’t done any 3D modeling together since the wedding but I would like to share one last Shapeways item we had made: a cake topper. We went through a lot of designs for this but in the end decided to keep it pretty simple and elegant, matching those same qualities of the cake itself. Yet another use for the white, strong an flexible nylon!

3D printed wedding cake topper

Can you share one piece of advice for newlyweds or couples who are about to get married?
I don’t know if we’re really in a position to be giving out advice as fresh newlyweds. From our short experience, I’m afraid I can only talk in clichés, so here we go: Never take each other for granted, pick your battles and always keep communicating.

Thank you again for allowing us to have the best wedding we could have had through the power of 3D printing!

wedding 3D printed

Bastiaan + Alicia Ekeler

Congratulations again, Bastiaan and Alicia! For our lovebirds out there, what do you plan on 3D printing for your sweetheart?  

 

New Year, New Tools: Introducing Shapeways 3D tools

Whether you are creating something for yourself or designing something beautiful for your customers, making your product come to life is incredibly rewarding. 3D printing has continually lowered the barrier from having an idea to actually holding your product in your hands.

Ensuring your 3D model can be printed, and understanding how design and material choices impact how you make your model can however be challenging.  The team at Shapeways constantly strives to make that easier, so with the new year, we’re thrilled to introduce a suite of 3D tools to empower you further. The Shapeways 3D tools give you more transparency into how we check your models and to help you check, visualize, and fix potential issues yourself before purchasing your model.

With the success of our wall thickness fixing tool in March of last year, we were inspired to invest in expanding the ways you can view your model against what our 3D Printing Engineers at Shapeways are looking at when you upload a model – our material design guidelines.  So we built 15 tools that let you view your model against our material-specific guidelines: mesh integrity and repair, bounding box, loose shells, part count, wire thickness, details, text, part clearance, escape holes, machine space, weak geometry, texture, interlocking parts, our content policy, and improved our wall thickness tool with a heatmap view.

Heatmap Wall Thickness 3D tools Flower

Each tool enables you to view your model against our design guidelines and clip your model along the x, y, and z axis for x-ray vision so you can identify any potential issues faster and with confidence.

Our tools are grouped into two types: ‘On upload we automatically check…’ and ‘After purchase we manually check…’ Our wall thickness, bounding box, mesh integrity and repair, loose shells, and part count tools in the first group have automatic checks that will show you a green check, yellow warning sign, or a red ‘X’ indicating our initial level of confidence that you will pass that check upon manual inspection post-purchase.  Every automatic check is still subject to a manual check post-purchase.

Machine space, loose shells, and wall thickness tools will also visualize any detected issues on top of your model.  The improved wall thickness and part count tools offer ‘fixes’ to change your model related to the issue in the tool in addition to a heatmap view.  You can also ‘sintershell’ a multi-part model in the part count tool, which encloses your parts inside a mesh, making it easier to handle and sort.  Adding a ‘sintershell’ can sometimes reduce the labor cost of a multi-part model.

Three Visualizations 3D tools Machine Space Loose Shells and Sintershell

Machine Space Visualization, Loose Shells and Sintershell example

These tools are not only helpful before you purchase, but also after you purchase if your model gets rejected.  If your model is rejected, you will receive the email with the detailed information explaining why, as always, but it will be viewable in our 3D tools right next to your model, and directly above our design guidelines – so you can see all the information you need to take action to fix and re-upload your model.

Rejection Inline with Guidelines in 3D tools Flower (1)

We hope that you’ll be as excited by these tools as we are and find them helpful as you design and get ready to 3D print. Upload a new product and read the 3D tools Tutorial or check out 3D tools with your existing models. This is just the beginning of the 3D tools so we’d love to hear about how you are using them, what you find them helpful for and if you have any suggestions. Post a comment or head over to the forum to tell us what you think!