Category Archives: 3D Tools

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

Tutorial Tuesday 4: Using OpenSCAD to Design With Code

Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday! This week, we speak to the geeks. Did you know that you can create 3D-printable designs with code — no 3D modeling required? OpenSCAD is a programming language for solid modeling, specifically built for creating designs that are exportable as triangular meshes for 3D printing. In this post, we’ll walk you through the basics and show off some Shapeways designs created with this powerful parametric modeling software.

openscad_screenshot_sweeper_sized

Getting Started With OpenSCAD

If you’re an experienced programmer, then you’re going to love this. But even if you’ve never written a line of code before in your life, you’ll be able to learn the basics of OpenSCAD and get started modeling right away! Start by downloading a free copy of OpenSCAD and bookmarking the very useful OpenSCAD User Manual and OpenSCAD Cheat Sheet.

user_manual_sized

For a quick start, check out the Hello OpenSCAD one-page starter document with OpenSCAD sample files. For extensive documentation and examples, see the Thingiverse OpenSCAD Jumpstart page and OpenSCAD discussion group. Or, get started in less than 10 minutes by watching and playing along with the video PolyBowls – A simple OpenSCAD code walk-through.

polybowls_video_sized

If you like learning by video, then you should also check out Patrick Conner’s video playlist of OpenSCAD tutorials. This playlist is how I initially learned about OpenSCAD and the videos are very clear, simple, and easy to follow.

openscad_patrick_conner_sized

OpenSCAD Models on Shapeways

OpenSCAD is particularly good for creating models based on equations or data, or that are procedurally generated. Here are four beautiful jewelry models on Shapeways that were designed with OpenSCAD:

 

sponde  tentacle

rhumb  lorenz

Going beyond jewelry, OpenSCAD is also a great tool for making abstract sculptures, processing and modifying data, and even creating household objects. Here are four more Shapeways models made with OpenSCAD:

 

12star  loxodrome

sappho  dyson (1)

Do you create with OpenSCAD? Let us know what you’ve made in the comments. If you’re just getting started and have any questions, let us know that too. See you next week!

Designer Spotlight: Guy McCann – 3D Body Jewelry

Guy McCann's Brain Half Left-side Pendant

The hidden beauty of the brain, transformed into a pendant

What would you give to glimpse the invisible? Guy McCann has given his career to it — but he’s held on to his sense of humor. As a total sucker for puns, I fell in love with the intricate, gorgeous designs in his 3D Body Jewelry and Academic Gift Products shop. Especially when he asks, “Have you ever wanted to give a colleague, friend, or loved one ‘a piece of your mind?’ Well, now you can! Choose your thought (and mood) with one of our Brain Mood Gifts.“

Guy is a tenured professor of the Physical Sciences and has always been fascinated by the hidden beauty of nature. For fifteen years, he was the director of an electron microscope imaging laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania — where every day they worked to glimpse the 3D structures of nature that were invisible and smaller than the wavelengths of light! He points to his pioneering work in the field of 3D electron imaging, capturing never-before-seen structures in nature, as what’s guided his life for the past twenty-five years.

What led you to make the leap from 3D electron imaging to designing jewelry? I love that you took a literal approach to giving someone a piece of your mind, by the way.
It was more of an organic artistic growth rather than a leap. The hidden beauty of nature within us has been a focus of my life for over forty years. In the 1960s, electron microscopes gave us our first chance to glimpse the invisible. In the 1980s, computers were linked and now we could create digital 3D CAD rendered screen images. With the advent of 3D printing, an entirely new medium opened to the teaching industry. Initially, I was designing special 3D models for teaching purposes on body parts that are hard to visualize without anatomy. Boring indeed, however, 3D printing rekindled my artistic love of human symmetry and a desire to create something new and unique. Hence a product line of 3D Body Jewelry and Academic Gifts. My inspiration is our slogan “The invisible beauty of Nature made visible  and printable.”

A second principle in my design of pendants is that I seek to express the duality of our hidden nature by making creations that can be displayed and worn forward or reversed — revealing our yin and yang — whenever I see the possibility in the structure. The Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons is also shown in its two display positions, for example.

 

McCann's Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons Pendant

McCann’s Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons Pendant

Do you see a specific type of customer frequenting your shop? Do you see a trend of medical or psychology students buying these pendants, perhaps?
Yes, I see the academically inclined to be much more interested than “regular” jewelry buyers. If I continue to market correctly, I want to direct it towards women of all ages, with specializations in the Academic, Executive, and Professional worlds. I want to see a trend of medical, psychological, and every other academic field: they are my primary market. My view is that this “Academic, Executive, and Professional” field is an overlooked market. What do you give an egghead in medicine like an otolaryngologist for a birthday gift? (That would be Ear Nose and Throat doctors to the rest of us.) How about some nose bones together as an aesthetic desk paperweight gift? Ridiculous to ordinary people. But these people have spent at least eight years of their life studying these beautiful bones hidden inside our nose! What do you give to the tens of thousands of medical students who graduate every year as a graduation gifts?

 

McCann's Palatines and Vomer Bone Ornament

McCann’s Palatines and Vomer Bone Ornament

I would bet that some of your customers really relate to your products on a deeper level than simply buying it because they like the aesthetic. I could imagine someone buying the Fear Monitor Lobe Neurons as a reminder to conquer a fear, for example.
Yes, your example of emotions connected to the given product, as fear in Fear Monitor Lobe pendant, is exactly the type of consumer interplay I am receiving and seeking. I have a polished sterling silver pendant, “Emotion Control Center.” Some people have purchased it to say and show that they have control over their emotional center. The “Consciousness” pendant is endless in its emotional appeal and it possesses an elegance of design completely hidden from the ordinary world of objects, bringing forth new visions of natural beauty.

The Consciousness Pendant

The Consciousness Pendant

Check out Guy’s creations for yourself — his shop is perfect proof that beauty really is on the inside.

This 3D Printed High Elf Miniature Is Downright Incredible

Late last year, we made our Black High Definition Acrylate (BHDA) available for sale by our Shop Owners, enabling them to market incredibly detailed models. Since then, we’ve been watching with a ton of excitement as miniature makers prototype and iterate their concepts to prepare them for sale. Shapeways Shop Owner Gareth Nicholas, the multitalented 3D designer and award-winning miniature painter, shared his thoughts and process around designing for and finishing BHDA on his blog, and we were so blown away that we had to share.

SEO Miniature painting, toy models, figurine, heroforge, Dnd miniatures, how to paint miniatures, dungeons and dragons, reaper miniatures, dungeons and dragons character generator, sheet, mini figures, fantasy miniatures. GAMES WORKSHOP, gameworkshop, citadel paints, war games, games, boardgames, high elve, shapeways

Nicholas took his already expert-level experience in painting Warhammer and Reaper miniature figurines to the next level by creating his own figures with 3D printing. On his blog he explains:

“Concept-wise there’s nothing particularly original here. Games Workshop have been starving me of High Elves recently (at the moment it’s starting to look doubtful they’ll ever return, but I live in hope) so I decided to make my own. As I usually do when I sculpt something, I spent a while with a pencil and paper sketching various designs for armour and so on. I rejected a few designs that I thought looked cool on the grounds that they probably wouldn’t print very well or look good when painted.”

SEO Miniature painting, toy models, figurine, heroforge, Dnd miniatures, how to paint miniatures, dungeons and dragons, reaper miniatures, dungeons and dragons character generator, sheet, mini figures, fantasy miniatures. GAMES WORKSHOP, gameworkshop, citadel paints, war games, games, boardgames, high elve,

To start the design, Nicholas blocked out the character with simple shapes in (free software) Blender. We strongly recommend emulating his process here because he kept the overall model at the same level of finish throughout his process. This allows him to make good judgements as he improves the model through iterations, working from the most general forms to the most finely detailed.

“I roughed out the proportions in Blender and spent a fair bit of time viewing the model from every angle until I was happy that the anatomy wasn’t too awful. I then went back and refined each element, and made decisions about how the hair and the cloak would flow.”

Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways Hereforge, Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden

Afterwards, Nicholas describes how he took the smooth finish of BHDA and made it glow with simple paints (check out his blog for more awesome expert painting tips).

“I elected to go with non-metallic metal when painting as there are some interesting shapes and I wanted to explore the reflections. For the steel parts I used my tried and tested method of highlighting with cyan and shading with red added to the mix.

“Overall I am quite pleased with how the miniature has turned out for a first effort at this scale and I’ve learnt a lot that will hopefully lead to better results in the future.”

Finally, check out the finished product below, and find more of Nicholas’s original miniatures in his Shapeways Shop here. This High Elf would be an impressive addition to your next Warhammer battle or Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden Black High Definition Acrylate BHDA Shapeways miniatures Garth Nicholas Dragon Maiden

Looking for more custom-made miniatures? Check out Gareth Nicholas’ shop here, Tabletop & Wargaming accessories here, and the Miniatures marketplace here. And, let us know in the comments what figurines you’d like to see in the marketplace in the future!

Oculus Medium Sculpting the Beast

The adorable Beast and mini Beast

The adorable Beast and mini Beast, courtesy Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

An Oculus designer using Medium to sculpt Beast

An Oculus designer using Medium to sculpt Beast

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

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

Experiments with MagicaVoxel software

Experiments with MagicaVoxel software

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scanning Stories: How We Created Ultra-Lifelike 3D Selfies

3D Selfie Row

Our Scanning Stories series continues this week with an update from Shapeways’ 3D Scan Engineers Brigitte and Astrid that lets us in on how they achieved incredibly detailed 3D scans at Dutch Design Week. Learn more about 3D selfies in our first Scanning Stories post, and read on below for more tips and tricks to help you make the most of 3D scanning.

As 3D selfies get ever more popular, we’re excited to have the opportunity to use a variety of scanning tools, from top-of-the-line scanning booths to handheld tablet-based software.

At Eindhoven’s Dutch Design Week (DDW) in October, we were lucky enough to present the amazing 3D Scan Lounge from Scanologics and offer members of the public a chance to have their 3D scans taken.

096.JPGL_booth2.jpg

We 3D scanned lots of people during DDW: young and old, parents with their kids — together or separate — grandparents, and even a man with his dog. Everyone was super enthusiastic about the booth. Plus, taking a 3D scan within a split second gave some the opportunity to experiment with different poses.

L_booth1.jpgL_booth1a.jpg

The scanbooth is a portable, full body, photogrammetry 3D scanning solution. That means that in one second, hundreds of 2D pictures are taken that will be processed into a printable 3D selfie. The main differences between a 3D scan made with a scanbooth and those made with a handheld scanner like the Skanect are speed and quality. Taking a 3D scan in a scanbooth only takes a few seconds, whereas handheld scanners will take about a minute. And, the faster the scan, the more accurate it will be.

Check out the high-definition results below:

LR_selfieofselfies

In our next post, we’ll talk about editing your manual scans from tablet-based software Skanect.

That’s it for now. Stay focused and enjoy the world of 3D scanning!

NextEngine Ultra HD 3D Scanner – Now Click-to-Print on Shapeways

Scanner Image

Replicate precious heirlooms. Recreate two-million-year-old hominids from fossils. Model George Washington’s face from his death mask, in breathtaking detail. NextEngine’s 3D Laser Scanner inspires and enables new possibilities. We’re excited to announce a new partnership that transforms richly detailed objects into accurate 3D prints, seamlessly.

Dog Model and 3D Print

Starting today, NextEngine scans not only create a 3D model file, they also link directly to Shapeways. NextEngine’s ScanStudio app now has Shapeways built in – once you finish your scan, just click the Shapeways button to upload directly to your Shapeways account.

“NextEngine is thrilled to partner with Shapeways’ leading 3D print platform to bring ultra high precision 3D laser scanning to the designer community, at remarkably low cost,” said Brad Bryker, NextEngine’s VP of Business Development. “Now designers worldwide can share exquisitely accurate and detailed scans of their original creations, and just click to print them in high-quality materials on Shapeways.” See the video below for how a spaniel dog figurine was recreated, right down to the lines in the fur.

NextEngine’s 3D Scanner is the most affordable, high-precision laser scanner available. It captures objects smaller than an acorn, and larger than a seven-foot statue. A robotic motion stage is included, to do full 360-degree capture automatically, so the scanner does the work for you. It even includes a tripod mount to capture stationary objects like stone building reliefs. And powerful software is included, standard.

All this means that you can produce high-quality, precisely detailed 3D models, all in less than an hour, automatically. These model files are much more accurate than other low-cost devices, and turn complex organic shapes into beautifully detailed 3D prints.

Pineapple_SidebySide

Your NextEngine scanner can also be used to market services to other designers, artists, archeologists, anthropologists, architects, scientists and more. Shapeways community member Sophie Barret-Kahn created her own thriving scanning business.

And, right now there’s a special promotion to celebrate this new partnership. Get a NextEngine 3D Scanner, and you’ll get a $300 credit toward any upgrade of your choice. Just enter promo code “Shapeways”.

And to make the deal even sweeter, Shapeways will give you 20% off your first print order once you register your device. Order now – this promo ends in November.

What do you want to scan? Share your vision in the comments.

The App That Tricks the Eye

As the holidays approach, that unique personalized gift you’re looking for may just be a 3DWordFlip by Sparenberg Designworks. This creative application allows you to take two individual words and morph them into one 3D optical illusion.

3d WordFlip Demonstration

3DWordFlip takes two different sets of characters and forms them into a single 3D design file. From one view, you can clearly see the first set of letters. Flip the model 90 degrees, and the next set of characters appears.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 7.43.25 PM.png

3DWordFlip has font variations and specialty message types including birthdays, weddings, and special phrases. In order to begin, select the occasion that best fits your needs.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 7.49.56 PM.png

To create the model, input your information for both fields and select “generate.” This will provide you with a render of your design as well as an estimated quote. Once you are satisfied with the design, you may save your design for later or upload directly to Shapeways.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 8.24.33 PM.png

Once the model is uploaded to Shapeways, you are provided with a number of materials and colors to choose from.

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 7.44.15 PM.png

Shapeways provides a listing of a variety of easy creator applications including 3DWordFlip that you can use to design your individualized gifts. Your presents will be delightfully meaningful — and uniquely 3D printed.

CAD vs. Modeling: Which 3D Software to Choose?

One of the most common questions we get from those who are new to digital manufacturing is “If I want to design something, which software should I learn?”

The answer to that is a little complex, but it hinges on one simple idea: What are you trying to make? There are lots of great software packages for 3D design out there, each tailored to a different type of product design. Knowing what you are trying to make will dictate the type of software you will use.

Overall, design software falls into two camps: CAD and 3D Modeling. CAD software is used when creating industrial, mechanical objects. Alternatively, 3D modeling packages more commonly used for making organic elements used for film special effects and video games.

Depending on the goals of your design, you may use both types of software at different stages of the design process to make the final 3D-printable design.

Below, we’ll go over how they are different and provide a few examples of each software type.

 

CAD (Computer Aided Design/Drafting)

CAD programs ask the user to “draw” a 2D shape and then turn those drawings into 3D forms, as either solids or surfaces. Drafting software comes from a long lineage of product designers, architects and engineers who would draw 2D plans, complete with measurements, which would be handed over to technicians or craftspeople who would interpret the designs and make the said object. This could be done manually or with a successive process of machining. Nowadays we have tools like 3D printing so that the design can be interpreted by other software (CAM or Computer-Aided Manufacturing) to create the tool path or slicing for 3D printing.

CAD programs take these 2D drawings and digitally translate them into 3D rendered “objects.” In some cases these are just “shells” or surfaces, while other programs treat the object as mathematically solid material. Simple shapes can then be added or subtracted to create more complex forms.

Because CAD software takes its roots in 2D drafting it is mainly for functional, measured 3D objects. Any functional object around you (your phone or computer that you’re reading this blog on) was designed in CAD software.

Examples of CAD:

Solidworks: Industry standard CAD software

 

Fusion 360: Free for students, startups, and makers!

 

Tinkercad: great for beginners

 

Onshape: Cloud-based with free option

 

3D Modeling

CAD software is great for functional objects, things that need to work mechanically or fit to a real world device. That said they may not give direct enough control over a design to allow for freeform, artistic work. This is where 3D modeling software comes in. Long used by the film and video game industry to make animation and special effects, you can also use these programs to create printable 3D models.

Modeling softwares are based around surfaces created from 3D geometry. This may be based around a system called NURBS, or may be simple polygons composed of vertices, edges, and faces. In many cases, programs will let you switch between these systems with ease, depending on your workflow. These points and surfaces come together to form the edges of a 3D object.

The advantage of modeling over CAD is that modeling software gives users direct input into each vertex or surface individually or as groups. This always for different ways to manipulate the shapes, often in ways that look more organic.

Some programs are even designed to treat 3D models as if they were lumps of clay so that designers can take a more sculptural approach. Using tools that emulate traditional artistic techniques, artists can get the most out of the geometry of a digital object.

Examples of 3D modeling software:

Sketchup: Free and popular

 

Maya: Industry standard for film and animation

 

Blender: Free, open source, and runs some of Shapeways’ backend tools

 

ZBrush: Professional digital sculpting software

 

Sculptris: Simpler, free version of ZBrush for beginners

Overall, knowing what you want to achieve with your design is vital to choosing the right tool for you. If a design needs to be functional, fit to other real-world objects, or have specific measurements, starting with CAD is the way to go. If a design needs to emulate a real-world or imaginary object or showcase your artistic vision, modeling could be a solution. If a design wants to do both, try mixing and matching software within your process.

Gravity Sketch Launches a Kickstarter Campaign

We’ve been huge fans of what the Gravity Sketch team has done to make 3D design more accessible to everyone through their iPad app, Gravity Sketch iOS, which is being used by thousands of creators across the world.

As a result of all the user feedback from the app, the Gravity Sketch team embarked on developing a more advanced tool to even further lower the barriers to 3D literacy by creating a desktop and virtual reality version and have just launched a Kickstarter to fund the project.

The new experience offers users a “what you see is what you get” interface where users can interact with 3D creations in real time, in a truly three dimensional space. The team was inspired to extend this fully immersive creation experience, allowing you to tap (literally) into simple tools that enable you to create complicated shapes in seconds– all of which are sketched the exact size as you see it.

Ready to take 3D modeling into your own hands? Gravity Sketch is ready to make this possible with this VR experience. As a fun bonus, for a limited time, backers that support the Kickstarter campaign for about $19 (£15), you’ll be able to pick and receive a Shapeways 3D printed ornaments that was designed by a Gravity Sketch artist, right in time for the holidays! Check out the gorgeous options below, they’re printed out of strong and flexible plastic, with some nifty little interlocking parts!

 

From Ugly Sweaters To Pretty Pendants: A Maker Story

Having recently joined the Shapeways team as PR Lead I was extremely excited to be delving into a world of digital design and manufacturing. While my DIY background was limited to making Halloween costumes and very, very ugly Christmas sweaters (actual creations below)– the possibility of taking more complex ideas and printing them was something I couldn’t wait to tackle.

The problem was that I was a little apprehensive of where to start with tackling the world of 3D design, because it’s kind of a huge departure from my familiarity with hot glue and felt. Fortunately Shapeways has some pretty cool tools to help ease beginners into the world of digital manufacturing. My colleagues suggested that I start with the easy Custom Pendant Creator— a tool that would allow me to create a pendant either from a drawing or using one of their existing templates. Being in the market for a new signature necklace, I immediately was intrigued by the possibility of being able to create something that was undeniably something “me”. The inspiration stemmed from a PR pun I’d made, that while by no means the first, was something that became a bit of a cheeky mantra, “Pitch, please.”

While I’d been wanting to create something with this pun for years, I never had the tools or capabilities to create something quality-enough that I’d feel comfortable wearing. The pendant creator and digital manufacturing seemed like it would do just the trick here. Because I’m not particularly proud of my handwriting, I recruited my boss to write out “pitch, please” in Sharpie on a blank piece of white paper. She also added two little loops, one on the first “p” and the other on the last “e” so that I’d be able to turn it into a necklace.

I snapped a photo of the design and used Afterlight to crop the image and improve contrast between the paper and ink, ensuring the pendant creator would have an easy time identifying the outline I wanted printed.

After uploading it to the pendant creator, the automatic system check identified a few issues with my design– namely that the walls were too thin for printing in most materials. Fortunately the creator also makes it effortless to fix, giving me the option to automatically “Fix Thin Walls” at the click of a button.

Once my design was fixed and passed an initial check for printing in polished brass (my choice for this one), all I had left to do was order it and wait for my package. Two weeks later…

Yahoo! I got to hold my sassy, classy little pendant in my hand! I’m extremely excited to find the perfect chain to turn this into a necklace and proudly tell everyone, “I made this”– because it’s a huge upgrade from my DIY ugly Christmas sweaters.

Make a 3d printed pendant in 15 minutes out of 14K Gold! No 3d modeling experience needed.

I have always wanted to make jewelry around specific interests I have without having them look homemade but I’m just not that talented at beadwork and still tackling the steep learning curve for 3d modeling from scratch.   However, I have made several pendant charms for myself and gifts for friends with the Shapeways EZ Pendant Creator.   It is truly a DIY dream come true if you are brand new to 3d printing.

Here is my first project; a lion pendant charm in 14K gold in honor of my son who was born in August and is a Leo.

Lion pendant

I got so many compliments on it, I videotaped a quick step by step tutorial.   Check it out and start making pendant charms for yourself and don’t forget this is a great personal gift for loved ones.   I sent my best friend a cat charm last Christmas and a Buddha charm to my daughter for her birthday.   Before long, my family and friends might start putting in orders and I will have to open a shop on Shapeways!

The Best Cloud Based Design Software

As most 3D designers will proudly share, building the right computer rig and adding all the best software can be a huge investment. These powerhouse machines are great for unleashing a landslide of creativity but what happens when you can’t be sitting in front of it in your office/house/whatever – does this mean you can’t be designing?

No way.

Like most advances in software these days, 3D design is moving into the cloud. Javascript, HTML and webGL enable us to work directly in browser over a connection to the web. This is huge if you’re traveling (I’m writing this blog post from a train) or would prefer to be sitting in the sun at the park.

Here are a few (free) recommendations to get you started designing in the cloud:

TinkerClip

Tinkercad is of the most accessible 3D apps, Tinkercad (by Autodesk) is a great way to get started with 3D design. Easy to pickup, its great for those who are new to design and want to get started without needing to buy a new computer. Its a beast of a beginner program in that it’s easy to learn even if you’ve never made a 3D design, but chock full of impressive features.

Crank Piston - Jim Shaw

Onshape is awesome as a more advanced CAD system. Built by a group of ex-Solidworks engineers, it brings all the power and precision of solid modeling to browsers and mobile devices for ultimate accessibility. Its also easy to share and collaborate working designs and save multiple versions to help with iterating on a design. Onshape is still in beta but its shaping up to be the new industry standard for mechanical engineers, rocket scientists and anyone else who can run the newest version of google chrome on their computer.

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SculptGL is cool for 3D sculpting the organic features that Onshape or tinkercad can’t do. the interface is similar to Sculptris, the free version of Zbrush, making it easy to start pulling and deforming the surface of a model to your heart’s content.

Bonus!!!!!!!

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Pixlr is a freebie image editing program that’s reminiscent of photoshop, so you can post process photos or tweak texture maps from your browser.

 

Introducing CustomMaker – the most powerful customization tool for 3D printing

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Emerald Top Ring by Damsel_In_Design; Brass Neck Anchor by seanmcharg; Klein Bottle Opener by Bathsheba.

Today we are thrilled to announce CustomMaker, a groundbreaking tool for designers to add customization elements to their models, so shoppers can get a personalized 3D printed product.

By blending artistic control for our shop owners with the freedom for shoppers to truly personalize their purchase, Shapeways is laying down the most scalable, most powerful customization platform for 3D printing. CustomMaker is free, easy to use, and requires no additional skills or software as it is powered by our own ShapeJS platform.

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CustomMaker enables designers to create the customizable experiences that they want. A designer can select an existing model, or upload a new one, and set a specific area of the model to be customized by text and/or image. They will instantly see how a model will look with a real-time viewer directly in the Model page. This ensures that artistic control remains with the designer – they choose which models they want to enable for customization, and how each model will look.

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Lucky Heart Pendant by Phits

Once a designer chooses their customization settings, any shopper will be able to personalize the product and get it 3D printed! A shopper can simply select a product they like, such as a piece of jewelry or a smartphone case, type in a name or upload an image, and see in real-time how the product will look.

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Today, CustomMaker is available to all 30,000 shop owners on Shapeways, making it the first time we are launching a new pilot feature to the public. As the feature is in pilot, we are asking all designers and shoppers to provide feedback via the Shapeways forums. Feedback from our community helps us to improve functionality and evolve our offerings.

To get started, check out this tutorial, our FAQ, and start customizing your models today (and be sure to tweet us at @Shapeways and let us know what models you are enabling). To check out products you can personalize yourself already, click here.