Category Archives: Design

Tutorial Tuesday 9: Help!

Where can you go when you need help with a model or mesh? If you’re like Lise, you can ask your colleagues at Shapeways. But, what’s the next best thing? The Shapeways Forums! They’re a great place to ask for advice, check out what community members are working on, and help other other people with their questions. The Shapeways forum community is super active, and many contributors are more than willing to lend a helping hand. This week, we’ll talk about our favorite Shapeways forum groups for designers and modelers.

Help With Design

Three of the Shapeways forums are especially helpful for design questions: First, the Design and Modeling Forum, where you can ask questions about converting models for 3D printing, repairing meshes, or solving design issues. Or, you can answer other designers’ questions if they overlap with your areas of expertise.

Second, the Software and Applications Forum is a great place to ask program-specific questions. You’ll find people talking about software like Fusion 360, Blender, and Netfabb, or discussing software-specific tools and techniques.

Finally, for questions about customizing your designs with CustomMaker or other tools, check out the Customizable Products & Design Forum. This is a great forum to explore if you’re considering making your designs easily personalizable.

Help With Printing

There are also specific forums focused on questions about 3D printing and physical post-processing. Here are three that are of particular interest to designers and product creators.

First, for questions about the 3D printing process itself, check out the Technologies and Hardware Forum.

To ask questions about printing with Strong & Flexible nylon, Alumide, plated metals, or any other types of materials, visit the Materials Forum.

And finally, to learn more about the various post-processing options you could apply to your models after they are printed, check out the Finishing Techniques Forum.

If you’re stuck on a design or printing issue, try looking through the forums for answers. If you can’t find one, just ask a new question. Chances are, a kind soul from the Shapeways community will come to your rescue! And, if you’re an expert or can solve problems, then pay it forward by answering other people’s questions. Do you have a favorite forum on Shapeways? Let us know in the comments!

 

Top and cover image photo credit: gruntzooki via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

The Stunning Game of Thrones Season 7 Teaser Scott Denton Sculpted

Shapeways community member Scott Denton of LikeSyrup is an accomplished artist and 3D modeler, and now, he’s also part of the Game of Thrones universe. Scott sculpted most of the figures seen in GoT’s Season 7 teaser trailer, released last week. Using ZBrush, Scott created the stag, thorny branch, lion, and floral imagery for the teaser, while his collaborator Casey Reuter created the dragon and wolf figures. He shared several of his designs on ZBrushCentral, and you can check out the full teaser below:

For more about Scott, read his full Designer Spotlight here.  Show Scott some love in the comments, and let us know if you have a project you’d like us to share on the blog.

Project Spotlight: H.E.A.D Hunters

PAX East is a great place to go and see up-and-coming game designers creating innovative products, and it’s no surprise that they’re using Shapeways to prototype their creations. We caught up with James Campbell of Gut Shot Games to talk about his new designer-toy/wargaming combo. Make sure to keep an eye out for his Kickstarter, launching May 23rd.

H.E.A.D Hunters at PAX East


Where did the concept for H.E.A.D Hunters come from?

I had the original concept for what would become H.E.A.D. Hunters way back in 2007. Inspired by a recent boom in connected plush toys and the growing popularity of designer toys, I challenged myself to think of new ways to get people playing with their toys instead of watching them collect dust.

In 2007, rapid prototyping was not as accessible as it is today, so the slightest changes to a design had significant costs in both time and money. Because of this and the accurate feedback from major toy companies that the initial game I designed was not very good, the idea was put on the shelf until the spring of 2015. At the time, I was living in China with my family and with limited TV viewing options, we often turned to tabletop games for entertainment. This newfound love for tabletop games inspired me to pull the project off the shelf and partner with game-design veterans Ben Cichoski and Danny Mandel to get H.E.A.D. Hunters where we are today, just a few weeks away from launching our Kickstarter campaign.

How did you create your (awesome) toys and game components?

When I originally had the idea to create a toy that would hold tabletop game components in its head, I had zero experience with 3D software.  At the time, I was lucky enough to find a patient CAD engineer who was able to help me turn my rough sketches into the initial toy designs (image below), and even get me started on learning 3D software on my own.

Since then, my ZBrush skills have certainly improved, but I still felt more comfortable working with a more seasoned toy designer on what would be two major revisions before landing on our current design. Each revision would output an STL file that was the result of dozens of hours of Skype calls and email exchanges. Shapeways allowed us to turn that STL file into something physical we would use in our playtesting.

Once we landed on a final toy platform, we were able to take the prototype with us as we met with toy manufacturers to discuss our manufacturing needs. Once we narrowed down our search, we commissioned them to do painted prototypes to ensure they could match the style we were looking for.

 

How does 3D printing help indie game designers like Gut Shot Games move through iterations to a final product?

How components work together with game mechanics is crucial to the game design process and ultimately the end product. What would seem to be a simple element, like the battle platforms our toys stand on, would actually take four different rounds of prototypes before we had something that would meet all our needs. This process of iteration can raise issues you may have overlooked, such as stability in our initial platform design, and provide potential hidden benefits, such as improved transparency into our current design.

Current H.E.A.D. Hunters with prototype weapons in Shapeways white Strong & Flexible nylon plastic

What do you plan to 3D print next?

Tools of the trade are important in any profession, especially for hunters! As such, we are currently finishing up designs for weapons for all 10 of our H.E.A.D. Hunters. To ensure each weapon complements its owner’s style and personality, we will be turning to Shapeways as we model, print and continue to fine-tune these designs over the coming weeks.

Tutorial Tuesday 8: Using Sculptris to 3D Model With “Digital Clay”

If you want to make an organic-looking sculpted character head or body, and you want to do it for free, then you’ll want to know how to use Sculptris. Sculptris is a free beginner 3D digital sculpting program made available by Pixologic, the company that produces the professional-grade sculpting software ZBrush. It’s very easy to learn how to use Sculptris to create complex 3D models by pushing, pulling, and stretching a digital ball of clay.

Video Tutorials

For a nice introduction to the basic tools, plus a walkthrough showing how to create character heads, check out the Sculptris Reference Tutorial video by IntroducingEmy.

To dig in even deeper, try watching these three in-depth video lessons that Mr.Brooks made for his students: Becoming Familiar With Digital Sculpting in Sculptris, Using the Grab, Scale, Rotate, Draw, Crease Brushes in Sculptris, and Using the Flatten, Inflate, Pinch, and Smooth Brushes in Sculptris.

For even more Sculptris resources, dive into the extensive Sculptris Jumpstart resource page on Thingiverse, and the video resources on the main Sculptris site.

Sculptris Models on Shapeways

Here are three fantastic Shapeways models that were designed with Sculptris. First, a beautiful Dragon Wall Hook by Kai Bracher:

Next, an elegant and mysterious Woman bust by oekart:

Finally, a scientifically intricate Honey Bee model by PeterAndrew (with wings made in ZBrush).

Have you created any models with Sculptris? Let us know in the comments. We love to hear how different designers are using sculpting software, from free programs like Sculptris to commercial software like ZBrush.

Alienology’s Latest: Audiophile-Approved 3D Printed Speakers

Designer Igor Knezevic, AKA Alienology, has had quite a year. After helping create artist Anouk Wipprecht’s incredible Living Pods and being nominated for an Academy Award for his work on “Passengers,” Igor’s taking things in a new direction: cutting-edge audio.

Last week, Knezevic and sound engineer Edin Secibovic launched a Kickstarter for their innovative T3TRA loudspeakers. With frames in colorful Shapeways Strong & Flexible nylon and panels in laser-cut birch plywood, the speakers combine two of the most popular digital manufacturing techniques. The single-piece tetrahedral frame also offers a distinct audiophile advantage, dramatically reducing vibration (and the usual small-speaker tinniness). The result is a small-but-mighty portable speaker. I asked Igor about what led him down this new path in product design.

What inspired you to create the T3TRA speakers?

I thought, “Let’s try to use the simplest geometric forms,” which make great sense for hi-fi sound (no hard edges, no corners, so fewer resonances, etc.), and try to make all the pieces digitally, with a minimum of post-processing. The frame is 3D printed and the sides are natural plywood (birch), laser-cut to fit perfectly into the 3D printed frame. As a result, T3TRA speakers have great sound, especially in this size group.

The finished T3TRA, and in concept form

What advantages did the 3D printed element bring to the speakers?

The tetrahedral frame of the loudspeaker is 3D printed in SLS nylon, giving it great stability and excellent sound properties because of the shape (no parallel edges), rounded edges (better for sound diffusion) and perfect uniformity of nylon material. In short, it’s a “unibody” frame. This is quite hard to achieve with other manufacturing methods. Plus, it can have that really intense Shapeways dye color. The color really pops – like candy.

Available color options

What was the process of creating them like?

This sound system as a form/shape was designed by myself, but the real sound expertise was provided by my friend and co-creator Edin Secibovic, who is a sound engineer. As we tried out some ideas, we realized that by combining two digital manufacturing methods, we can achieve an affordable speaker design which can be produced on-demand and hand-assembled relatively quickly. As far as sound quality is concerned, it worked at first try! We were very pleasantly surprised. Even deep sounds were apparent, which can be a problem for small-form speakers. A few tweaks were needed to make the parts fit perfectly, but it was pretty painless.

The 3D printed frame and laser-cut side panels

Overall, what makes these speakers special?

It’s about having the minimum number of parts, which fit perfectly together since they are all fully digitally manufactured – making for excellent sound distribution. In sound, less is definitely more. It turns out SLS nylon is a very good material for sound applications since the material is perfectly uniform in all directions and sizes are always exact.

We also have another design in the works – this one fully 3D printed, and with a different form factor. Coming soon, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out the Kickstarter for the T3TRA speakers, and don’t miss the incredible pieces in Alienology’s Shapeways shop. Let us know in the comments: have you used 3D printed parts in gadgets you’d like us to feature? Leave a note below for a chance to be featured on the blog.

Tutorial Tuesday 7: What 3D Design Software Should I Use?

Which 3D design program should I use?

Every day, people ask us, “What design software should I use to create a 3D model?” The answer: Everything you can. Each 3D design software has its own unique personality; different programs are good at different parts of the design process. MeshLab is good at modifying meshes, Tinkercad excels at drag-and-drop modifications, and ZBrush enables you to sculpt. While creating one 3D model, you might utilize multiple 3D design programs, depending on what you need at various stages of your design. In this week’s Tutorial Tuesday, we’ll talk about five examples of designs that together use over a dozen different 3D modeling programs. Buckle up!

Inkscape + Blender

As a simple starting example, let’s look at the angel ornament design created in the Shapeways tutorial Creating a design with moving parts. This design used Inkscape to import a drawing and then create nested offsets (shapes within shapes) of that image. Inkscape is great for manipulating 2D images, but to extrude to 3D and add beveled edges and hinges, the designer had to move to Blender.

Interlocking Angel design

Photoshop + Illustrator + Tinkercad + 3DS Max

Here’s another design walkthrough that illustrates how multiple software programs can be used to convert a 2D drawing into a 3D printable designs: How I Made: Custom Bat Wing Earrings by Ghostgirl. This design uses Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to prepare a 2D image of a hand-drawn sketch, Tinkercad to extrude into 3D, and then 3DS Max to round the edges.

Bat Wing Earrings

Sketchup + MeshLab

Sometimes you need an extra software program to export to the correct format for 3D printing. For example, Shapeways community member aeron203 wrote an excellent tutorial on Textured Models with SketchUp and MeshLab showing how to use SketchUp to create a photo frame with an embedded color image texture, and then MeshLab to convert that model to VRML97 format for printing in Full Color Sandstone.

Mathematica + MeshLab + TopMod + Meshmixer

Here’s an example of a design created using four different software programs: the mathgrrl Deltoidal Hexecontahedron model. First, we used Mathematica to export the polyhedron’s vertex set to STL, MeshLab to resize the object by a particular scaling factor, and TopMod to create and stylize the wireframe. You can read about this design process in the Stylized Catalan Wireframes post on MakerHome. A fourth program, Meshmixer, was used to optimize thicknesses and size for printing at Shapeways.

Blender + ZBrush + Rhino

Finally, consider this amazing Skull Ring by tesserato, who was kind enough to write a detailed design walkthrough How I Made: A Skull Ring. Starting from a 3D medical scan, tesserato used Blender to create a stylized low-poly version of the mesh, and to form a ring shape, then ZBrush to do some detailed sculpting, then Rhino for precision scaling before exporting for 3D printing. Here are physical prints of all the stages of the design:

Notice that in each example, designers use what is most convenient for the task at hand. Sometimes that’s based on what tool is best for the job, and sometimes it’s just based on what software they are already comfortable with. What’s in your 3D modeling toolbox? Let us know in the comments!

Out of Shape 2: Kill It With Fire

Second Out of Shape column, you guys! Get excited – this one’s a fun/disturbing one.

After hearing lots about Tinkercad, it was the program I used for my very first official foray into 3D design (aside from my sassy pendant project).

As predicted, a lack of inspiration/purpose proved to be kind of a design roadblock so I was just aimlessly creating — which led to this weird bird (rocket?) thing.

The 3-axis trickiness really challenged my brain when trying to move the beak onto the body, and I couldn’t figure out why it would end up completely off the body while looking like it was attached from certain angles. Remember when I said I’d only ask for help if I “really, really, reaaaally” needed it? This felt like one of those times, so my colleague Seth came to the rescue, basically reminding me that I was 3D designing instead of just designing on a flat plane. This led to the creation of BirdRocket, which I shared with my best friend (hi, Leigh!) because she’s my #3 cheerleader (my mom and dad are #1 and #2, but they’re not really online much). Her reaction was favorable because she’s a wonderful human.

Feeling like I wanted to explore my other 3D modeling options, I downloaded Sculptris because Chandler Rowland from Things You Want To Buy had recommended it. It’s like virtually sculpting clay. Chandler’s shop is a collection of hilarious creatures with brilliant names like Vjorm Loh the Tunabear and Lobgoblin so naturally had to ask how they were inspired. Chandler said, “I get ideas from everywhere and sometimes nowhere. I’ve been inspired by an alternate meaning of a common phrase, the name of a podcast I listen to, and random ideas that just pop into my head. I also often get ideas from nature, mythology, and other forms of fiction, which I try to combine in new ways.”

Because I didn’t have any ideas in mind, I pulled inspiration from the Omnom Paperclip Holder I’ve had on my desk for ages. It’s from Wondercat, a shop full of figurines that are full of personality and cheekiness (like Soul of a Burnt Marshmallow, OMG). In my attempt to recreate this cute ‘lil’ bunny, something went horribly, horribly wrong — leading to the creation of BearPig (model screenshot below). It’s probably an indication of some deep, undiscovered inner darkness of my psyche but that’s okay — especially because Morgan, the designer behind Wondercat, said, “People tell me my toys terrify them all the time, so don’t let that stop you.”

Upon showing them, my colleagues were on Team Terrified and Seth has petitioned to “kill it with fire” (stay tuned for this Facebook Live). I printed BearPig in white nylon. It was the first design of my own that I’ve ever brought to life (again, not counting my Pitch, Please pendant adventure). The resulting print was a pretty solid ball of nylon (I guess I should have hollowed him out a bit more) with tiny, razor-sharp teeth. Here’s a photo of PigBear hanging out with the source of his inspiration; Wondercat’s rabbit looks aptly upset to be doing so. I think I may paint him at a later time, but that’s a whole different skill that needs mastering if it’ll look halfway cool — anyone wanna tackle that with me?

So, onwards and upwards from BearPig. Per all of the great advice I got on my last blog (thank you all for the awesome comments!), I wanted to earnestly find some design inspiration that would guide the next step in my journey — while also hopefully discovering some less sinister designs. So, I reached out to Alex, the creative genius behind WebComicName, a bunch of comics featuring human (and animal) blobs in awkward, hilarious, and often relatable situations. Alex has given me his blessing to 3D model the characters gracing the panels of his comics, like this one:

http://webcomicname.com/post/157782364124

All of the characters are these amazing little blobby shapes that should be basic enough to be an accessible 3D modeling project. And, worse case? Look at how cute Alex makes failure look!

http://webcomicname.com/post/157288106399

Okay but seriously, now I have some questions for you guys:

  • What’s the best program I should use to bring these little WebComicName blobs to life? Someone here suggested Sculptris but I’m worried about a) trying to form these characters starting with a sphere and b) it resulting in BearPig II.
  • How should I design these characters to stand up/lay? Should I give them a base? Design them to lay flat? I tried to flatten out the bottom of BearPig but did it in the wrong place/not enough so he kind of rolls and settles on my desk facing upwards (probably roaring at the sky, but it’s cool).

No Snow? Here’s How to Make Your Own

Snowflakes have always captured the imagination. And, in a winter where even Chicago has (mostly) gone without snow, our imaginations are now more important than ever. Snowflakes also happen to lend themselves well to parametric design, a method of creating around parameters that can turn one design into many.

Today, we’ll learn how to turn one design, a simple snowflake, into multiple products in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. We’ll start with simple low-res 3D prints and prototypes on desktop FDM machines, and eventually level up to printing in Nylon and Plated Rhodium at Shapeways. Along the way, we’ll have to consider ways to optimize for 3D printing on different types of machines, and how to print affordably with different types of materials. The snowflake design we’ll be working with was created with code in OpenSCAD, and can procedurally generate over a billion unique snowflakes. Let it snow!


3D Printing Snowflakes at Home

Each winter, we make a new 3D-printable snowflake design. Back in 2013, when we didn’t know very much, it was a set of simple Snowflake Ornaments created from extruded SVG images. In 2014 we leveled up to a customizable Snowflake Cutter that used symmetric image maps to mimic the way snowflakes are cut out of folded paper, and in 2015 it was a full-blown Snowflake Machine that uses OpenSCAD code to generate over a billion unique snowflakes in different styles from random seeds.

These flexible digital designs can create many different types of snowflake models, including large decorations, small ornaments, and even cookie cutters, all of which we initially printed on a consumer-level Ultimaker desktop 3D printer:

     

We’ll talk soon about how we converted these designs for printing in SLS Nylon and Metals at Shapeways, but first let’s talk about the parametric design itself.

How to Code a Blizzard

The Snowflake Machine was created in OpenSCAD, a free design program that allows you to use simple code to create and export 3D-printable STL meshes. The power of designing with OpenSCAD is that it is “parametric,” which means that you can construct your designs based on variables and parameters that control the behavior and features of your models.

In real life, snowflakes grow outwards from a core center as they fall through different temperatures, humidity levels, and other atmospheric conditions. These conditions add “plates” and “branches” of various sizes and configurations to the snowflake as it falls. The code for the Snowflake Machine mimics this process, using a random number seed to create many random number sequences that determine the algorithmic creation of plates and branches. Sizing and style parameters allow you to influence the random sequences to create snowflakes with more or fewer plates, fuller or sparser shapes, and so on.

You can make your own unique 3D-printable snowflake designs using the customizable interface of the Snowflake Machine that we uploaded to Thingiverse. Go to the link and click “Open in Customizer” to get started, then change the starting seed and style parameters until you get the snowflake you want. By clicking “Create Thing” you can download an STL of your custom snowflake and then 3D print it at home or by sending to Shapeways.

If you want to have more design flexibility with your snowflake models, then you can download and modify the “Snowflakerator” code from our Hello OpenSCAD one-page tutorial document. For more information on getting started with OpenSCAD, check out our recent Shapeways Tutorial Tuesday post Using OpenSCAD to Design With Code.

Printing Snowflake Ornaments in SLS Nylon

Last year, we decided it was time to level up and 3D print snowflakes on some big-girl machines, with fancy materials like SLS Nylon and even jewelry-quality silver. Of course we don’t have the equipment to do such things from home, so it was time to visit Shapeways!

Of course, printing with industrial-grade machines is different than printing with desktop filament-based machines, and the requirements for things like clearances or minimum thickness can be very different. For example, in SLS Nylon we can print much more detailed and delicate snowflakes then we had printed before. By changing parameters in our OpenSCAD code, we created two dozen new snowflakes optimized for printing at Shapeways in White Strong & Flexible material, a set of Small Snowflake Ornaments and a set of Large Snowflake Ornaments:

To save on per-part costs (which in White Strong & Flexible would be $1.50 for each disconnected piece of our print job), we used Tinkercad to arrange each dozen snowflakes on a thin rod, as shown in the pictures below. The rod can be easily snipped off after printing and shipping. Check out this past post for more tips on how to make models less costly. Tinkercad is a great tool for such simple modifications; for more on that see our Shapeways Tutorial Tuesday post Beginner 3D Design With Tinkercad. For more technical design tips on converting filament designs to SLS Nylon designs, check out our Hacktastic post From Prototype to Product: Snowflakes.

Printing Snowflake Earrings in Multiple Materials

Since holiday trees are only around for a little while but snowflakes can be fun all winter, we also decided to make some snowflake earrings. Earrings are basically just smaller ornaments, but if we simply scaled down our designs from above then their features would be too small, especially for printing in metals.

In the end, we decided to completely remake the flakes with different OpenSCAD parameters and seeds, and made six new designs. We tried to make them as delicate as possible while still having enough minimum thickness for printing in a wide variety of materials. The six designs we settled on were Flurry, Frost, Powder, Ice, Crystal, and Blizzard, shown here printed in six different materials:

Of course, we also need some hooks! After some experimenting we settled on what are called “Kidney wire” earring hooks, because the dangly snowflake prints can just slip around and onto the hooks without us having to deal with opening or closing any metal loops, as shown in the photo below left.

As a final step we altered our designs to be printable in metal; this involved closing up some of the smaller holes in each model so that it would pass the Shapeways Printability Checks for Precious Metals. With Shapeways’ new Variants feature, we were able to add new files to our existing product pages that would be used only when customers opted for printing in Precious Metals like Plated Rhodium.

Okay, that’s enough snowflakes for this winter! Let us know in the comments if you’ve used the Snowflake Machine to make any 3D-printable designs, or if you have questions about Variants, Printability Checks, design tips, or anything else. Or, leave a comment if you’ve ever turned one parametric model into a flurry of different prints and products; we’d love to see what you made.

3 Ways to Make Your Prints Cheaper

Today, we rolled out a referral program for our community to help others start making on Shapeways. That means that a whole new group of community members will soon be joining us, and they’ll all have one thing in common: they’ll want to make their models as inexpensively as possible. Lowering the cost of printing your own models isn’t rocket science, but it does require some insider know-how. Check out these three tips for making your 3D prints more cost-effective:

1. Make your design smaller and thinner

optimize-scale    optimize-carve

Jewelry starts out small, so scaling down designs there might not make sense. But, there are plenty of other designs which can be reduced in scale and wall thickness without making your finished product unusable. Think: turning a porcelain coffee mug into an espresso cup. Or, when prototyping in plastic. Strong & Flexible Plastic is our most popular material for makers, and it can be perfect for prototyping designs in a smaller scale, inexpensively, in anticipation of later printing them at full scale in other materials like porcelain or metal. Whether you’re prototyping or creating a finished product, scaling your design down has an exponential effect on material used. Just scaling a 4cm cube down by 50% decreases material usage by 90%. Trust us, it works.

2. Hollow it out

optimize-hollow

If you don’t want to scale it down, hollowing out a model will also reduce the amount of printing material you’re paying for. Plus, if you’re able to leave an opening of at least 40mm, you can save even more money by providing space for us to print other designs inside your model. We have some pretty nifty ways of fitting models into builds to reduce cost.

3. Make it easier for us to print

loopingedit2

Labor costs can impact the price of your 3D prints. This cost varies by material. So, the first step might be choosing a material, like full color sandstone or frosted ultra detail, that has a minimal labor cost and allows multiple parts per file to be printed for a single cost. If you’re printing in Strong & Flexible plastics, which prices prints per part, you can reduce the number of parts your model actually contains by looping or sintershelling your models. To find out how, see this detailed tutorial.

For more detailed info on making your prints cost less, check out these tutorials. Don’t be afraid to test out these methods, or create your own. Do you have a way to make your 3D prints cheaper that we didn’t cover above? Let us know in the comments!

 

Cover image: Micro Piggy Bank by “Ki”-nokuniya & Co.

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.

1

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.

2

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

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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!

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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.

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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:

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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

Posted by in Design, Design Apps, Gifts

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

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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.

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

Twine Jewelry

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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.

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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!