Category Archives: Inspiration

Tutorial Tuesday 5: Quick Fixes With MeshLab

Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday! This week we’ll discuss three methods for modifying 3D meshes with the free software MeshLab. When you export a 3D file to STL format, what you’re doing is creating a file that describes the surface of an object with a mesh of tiny triangles. Sometimes there are problems with that mesh that cause printability issues, and MeshLab can help you fix most of those issues to make your files ready for printing.

We’ll focus on the top three issues that can arise with meshes: having too many triangles (too fine a mesh), having triangles that are oriented incorrectly or inconsistently, and having triangles that intersect with bad geometry. MeshLab has a dizzying array of menu items with long names, but if you know just which ones to choose then you can repair these three types of issues very quickly. Let us know in the comments if you have other mesh-repair techniques to share!

Reducing Triangle Count

Shapeways can accept 3D models with up to one million triangles, but it’s surprisingly easy to go over that threshold, especially if you’re working with 3D scans or a sculpting program. To reduce the overall number of triangles in your model, open the model in MeshLab and from the Filters menu select “Remeshing, Simplification, and Reconstruction” and then “Simplification: Quadric Edge Collapse Decimation.” For more detailed information, see the Shapeways Tutorial Polygon Reduction with MeshLab as well as Mister P.’s video Mesh Processing: Decimation.

meshlab-QECD

P. S. to MeshLab veterans: Good news! MeshLab updated to a long-awaited new version in late 2016, and in the new version you can perform “QECD” multiple times in a row without crashing the program! There’s still no “undo” in MeshLab though, alas. :/

Orienting Normals

If some of your model appears “inside out” (like the black area in the image below), then you should select and flip any reversed normals using the method outlined in the recipe Using MeshLab for fixing normals in the 3D Printing with RepRap Cookbook.

meshlab-normals

Or, try a quick overall fix in MeshLab by selecting “Normals, Curvature, and Orientation” from the Filters menu, then choosing the “Re-orient all faces coherently” tool.

Removing Non-Manifold Edges

If the mesh of your model has faces that meet together in geometrically unpleasant ways, then you’ll need to repair it before 3D printing; see the Shapeways article Fixing Non-Manifold Models. “Non-manifold” edges and vertices look those like the ones shown below from Martin Sälzle at PCL Developer’s Blog.

meshlab-non_manifold

You can identify and select non-manifold elements from the Filter/Selection menu in MeshLab; look at the bottom of the view window for a count of the number of bad faces. To repair any bad geometry, use the method from the MakerHome article Shrinking and Remeshing the Fidget Cube: from the Filters menu, choose “Cleaning and Repairing”, and then try some combination of the tools “Remove Duplicate Faces”, “Remove Duplicated Vertex”, “Remove Faces From Non Manifold Edges”, and/or “Remove T-Vertices by Edge Flip”.

What are your favorite fast fixes for repairing and simplifying meshes? Let us know in the comments so we can all learn how to handle mesh problems quickly and get back to designing and creating!

The Week in 3D Printing

Rumors swirled around a possible iPhone 8 3D scanner, an animator took loading screens from digital to analog using 3D printing, plus: laughs, limbs, pills, and backbones got the 3D printed treatment, and we resurrected both dinosaurs and a thinner you — all this week in 3D printing.

Take a (3D) selfie

Appleinsider brought us some pretty serious-sounding speculation that Apple will roll out a 3D scanner with its iPhones 8. Some see an opportunity for scanning and printing almost anything, others see an opportunity for Snapchat to get even creepier.

Back it up now

Some people love to wait. Take Raphael Vangelis. Aside from having a preeeetty awesome name, the director/animator also appreciates the art of loading screens — enough to take them from digital to analog format, creating stop-motion animations with his own special twists, as The Verge reported. Now, hurry up and wait:

Analogue Loaders from Raphael Vangelis on Vimeo.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss back pain goodbye

Printing in space got even more interesting somehow this week when the Made In Space printer aboard the International Space Station produced a “laugh” (a print of a 3D model of sound waves emitted during laughter, natch). Get all of the laughs on Space.com. MEANWHILE IN SYRIA, Vice brought us the moving story of Ibrahim Mohammad, a refugee who’s working to bring relief to Syrian and Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon — in the form of 3D printed limbs. Read the whole beautiful, harrowing tale here. Less dramatic, but no less useful was the revelation that 3D printing is a better way to produce pills, as reported by 3Dprint.com. And, in an even more stunning innovation for 3D printing, a woman in India received 3D printed titanium vertebrae implants, and was pain-free 12 days after the 10-hour, life-threatening surgery that this entailed. Slow clap.

Image courtesy flickr user Vagawi

Image courtesy flickr user Vagawi

Ride a dino

As TheHindu.com reported, Paleontologists in New South Wales are using 3D printing to recreate a dinosaur they’re quickly digging up. Combined with a planned VR experience, they’ll use the model they’re making to immerse people in an encounter with a dino. Just don’t get too friendly… or get any ideas about cloning extinct dinosaurs for inclusion in a theme park-like setting.

Get that (3D) model body

Most of us know David Barton gyms as body-conscious places where people go to “tighten things up” to the beats of a hired DJ (really). Now, as CBSNewYork tells it, members have a chance to drill down on what exactly that weight loss routine is doing, thanks to 3D scanning and a personalized 3D model you can use to “sculpt” a new you. Now, we can all have a model body.

Low Poly Human Male derived from a 3D PD model, by GDJ

Low Poly Human Male derived from a 3D PD model, by GDJ

How to Turn Your Hobby into 7000 Items Sold

Grant 4-4-0 Metal - Zscale by Stony Smith Designs

Grant 4-4-0 Metal – Zscale by Stony Smith Designs

What do you doodle on the margins of your notes? Stay up late reading about online? Build communities around? Whatever it is, chances are you have something 3-dimensional to contribute to it.

For Stony Smith, who just sold his 7,000th scale model railroad accessory on Shapeways (!!), the seeds of that hobby were planted early on. His parents “were both very crafty, and very strongly into Do It Yourself,” he told us. Today, Smith is a uniquely Shapeways kind of success story – one that proves that, with the right tools, an individual’s hobby can end up enriching a whole community.

As we celebrate his 7000th sale, we thought it was a great time to ask him about the secrets of his success. Take note!

Start With What You Love, and Make It Better

Stony Smith took his love of drawing, combined it with his love of architecture, and then, went 3D. “I’ve worked with 3D design/drawing since 1974, but it was always limited to just 2D renders until 3D printing came along. In 2008, I started building a Zscale (1:220), but I found that the choices for buildings in that scale are extremely limited. I fumbled for a good while with trying to make paper model buildings. Sometime in 2009, I read about Shapeways on the HackADay.com website, and thought, ‘I wonder if 3d printing would work?’ I built a model [of a house], uploaded it, and received a ‘Manifold Error’ message. After several misdirections, I redrew the house using OpenSCAD, and poof! It worked!” OpenSCAD is a great way to create 3D models if you have some programming experience, or have zero 3D modeling experience. Learn more here.

The real-life house that inspired Stony's first 3D printed design

The real-life house that inspired Stony’s first 3D printed design

Get to Know Your Community, and Follow Their Lead

Stony was immersed in a community of makers who all loved scale models, and who challenged each other to create and innovate. “Since 2008 I’ve participated in a forum of fellow ‘Z-heads’ and [I] showed the model to one of the members, Steve Van Til (RIP), who then asked me the crucial question: ‘That’s cool, but can you make one of these?’ That’s where it all started. I could blame all of this on Steve. It’s been a never-ending cycle of ‘That’s cool, can you make one of these?’ ever since.”

Stony's response to "That's cool, but can you make one of these?" The Taconite Orr Car II

Stony’s response to “That’s cool, but can you make one of these?” The Taconite Orr Car II

Embrace Making as a Pure Hobby (Unless You’re Looking to Become a Brand)

Sometimes, you want to make a huge mark on an industry. Sometimes, it’s better to let your day job be your job, and your hobby be purely fun (even if it makes you money). Stony stresses, “This is a HOBBY for me. There’s enough ‘work’ in my day job to keep me fully active. I get a significant amount of relaxation and satisfaction just while doing the drawings, and that’s why I only work on designing things that look interesting to me or catch my attention. I don’t need the distraction of trying to become dependent on the income. That would make this a ‘job’ not a ‘hobby.’ And when someone takes one of my items, paints it properly and places it on their layout, then if I see it in a photo or IRL, the thrill of ‘I did that!’ is what keeps me going.”

Let Your Other Passions Inspire You

For Smith, a career that he truly enjoys inspires how he manages his Shapeways Shop. “My day job is in high-powered big data analytics. Throughout my career, I’ve always been ‘the computer guy.’ There are a number of methods/tools from the day job that I bring over to watching the status of my shop here at Shapeways, like knowing that I’ve sold 7000 items!” He’s also surpassed $10,000 in sales, as we reported last year.

So, what are you waiting for? Do you have a hobby you’d like to take to the next level, but you’re not quite sure how? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll be happy to connect you with the resources you need. Ask away!

Cover image: Ferris Wheel – Zscale by Stony Smith Designs, photo by Karin Snyder

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

HiddenFolks-Banner2048

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

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

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

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13 House by Sylvain Georget

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House 7 by Sylvain Georget

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

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

Hidden-Folks-Indians

The Week in 3D Printing

This week in 3D printing, we went from the bottom of prehistoric oceans to the remote villages of Appalachia, picking up some precious metals — and helping the blind to read — along the way.

Printing money

Fortune (appropriately) brought us the story of Desktop Metals, a company that has the likes of Alphabet, BMW, and Lowe’s ponying up $45 million in investment in the hopes of bringing down the cost of 3D metal printing. Takes coin to make coin.

And the blind will see

“Braille” by Roland DG Mid Europe Italia, licensed under CC BY 2.0

“Braille” by Roland DG Mid Europe Italia, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mashable reported on Team Tactile, a group of undergrads at MIT who are tackled the long-ignored, ripe-for-disruption world of braille translators for 2D text. Their model could cost a tiny fraction of the price of existing machines, thanks to 3D printing. While giving 2D-to-3D a whole new meaning.

Jurassic SeaWorld

Popular Mechanics branched out this week, detailing how scientists from the Smithsonian are basically living a paleontologist’s wildest dream — they’ve discovered a treasure trove of prehistoric, extinct marine life, and are using 3D modeling to reconstruct the ancient creatures. Safer than Jurassic Park, and almost as cool.

The Beverly Hillbillies should invest

Bloomberg told the tale of an innovator and a dream: Julielynn Wong, founder of 3D4MD, who wants to bring medical supplies to impoverished rural areas using 3D printing. Even in places where wood stoves still provide the heating, like remote Appalachia, or, one day, the frigid poles of Mars. Not exact black gold, but way more useful in a pinch.

The Week in 3D Printing

With Valentine’s Day approaching, it’s appropriate that hearts are being 3D printed around the globe. Hands are also being printed, and bridges, and fish-grabbers… honestly, it’s been a pretty exciting week in the world of what’s being digitally manufactured. We feel a little bad for the fish, though.

Bridging the gap

The Daily Dot’s John-Michael Bond wrote about the unveiling of the world’s first 3D printed bridge which has been built in Castilla-La Mancha park in Alcobendas, Spain. The structure, designed by the The Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), was specifically inspired by complex forms found in nature, which helped to optimize the bridge’s strength in proportion to the material used (micro-reinforced concrete). The final result was a 40-foot-long footbridge constructed from eight separate 3D printed parts. Appropriately, it’s pretty odd-looking as bridges go, but it’s an incredibly cool application of 3D printing in the field of civil engineering.


Video courtesy The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia’s YouTube page

A story with a whole lot of heart

CTV News covered the story of a group of doctors at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children using a 3D printed replica of a six-month-old’s heart to practice before a complicated heart surgery. The model was created using scans of the patient’s heart and allowed for a successful surgery– making it a perfect example of the ways in which 3D printing is literally saving lives. This practice is becoming more common around the world:  Thompson Reuters Zawya also recently covered the way in which doctors in India are using 3D printed replicas of hearts.

Let’s give these kids a hand

Jesse Leavenworth at the Hartford Courant wrote about a group of twenty middle school students in Connecticut volunteering to assemble “raptor hand” prosthetics as part of The Hand Challenge, a branch of the e-NABLE Community, a global network that leverages volunteers to create prosthetic hands using their 3D printers.

Go Fish

Nathaniel Scharping at Discover Magazine describes how researchers at MIT have 3D printed some squishy robots which are not only mostly composed of water (and polymers), but are also powered by pumped water. The resulting robots are strong, flexible, and fast, allowing them to grab a (very confused looking) goldfish. These machines are going to be key for medical applications in the future, so it’s a development to keep an eye on.

This Galentine’s Day, Treat Yo Self

A Shapeways 3D printing engineer by day and a jewelry designer by night, @Yung_Crowley recently launched the winter collection of STONEDALONE on Shapeways. The collection is an assortment of digital talismans created to help conquer your digital universe… with some trinkets specifically geared towards the single ladies. The line was created to boost the wearer’s confidence and empower them to attract more positive vibes online (and off). Obviously, better juju for 2017 can’t hurt. Because this collection screams “Treat yo self”, I’ve decided to gift myself some of these pieces for Galentine’s Day:

ANDROMEDA ARM CUFF

andromeda

This is the physical manifestation of the “spell for enchanting every person you message to make ghosting impossible.” Hello, I’ll take whatever precautions I can to avoid ghosting. Apparently there’s also a new trend called “breadcrumbing,” which is like ghosting, but with occasional texts after disappearance. Cosmo pegs it as “savage AF.” I’m just going to go ahead and assume this cuff will protect me from that too.

CASSIOPEIA RING

cass ring

Described as “magnetizing your DMs to attract prospective suitors and opportunities,” I figure this ring will inspire more witty, endearing messages on any dating apps you’re on. I bet it also makes sure the messages are authored by people that are exceptionally good at the distinction between “you’re” and “your”.

AUGOEIDES RING

aug ring

This ring “makes you immune to negative haters and trolls.” Assuming the designer means those of the online variety, not bridge ones, that’s pretty helpful in today’s world of social media.

You can check out the whole collection at STONEDALONE for the perfect bling to fit your life goals. There’s even a set of earrings that help you network online, make bank, and prosper. How can you say no to that?

The Week in 3D Printing

Welcome to our latest series, The Week in 3D Printing. We’ll be rounding up the juiciest tidbits from the world of 3D printing, so you don’t have to scour the internet to keep up to speed. Without further ado….

The hottest 3D printing news this week’s roundup reads like a juicy episode of a Shonda Rhimes show — there’s sex, politics, and some scandal (okay, so maybe we’re being a little dramatic). Yes, yes, yes, let us tell you all about it.

The birds, the bees, and 3D printing

As Mashable’s Katie Dupere reported yesterday, 3D printing is helping to make sex ed more accessible to blind students, something which has been otherwise impossible through traditional teaching materials (photos, video, etc). Benetech, a nonprofit using technology to drive social change, is creating 3D printed anatomical models that can be used in the classroom — eventually aiming to make the files open-source for educators.

Venus De Space by Obsidiana

Maybe Benetech can make use of Obsidiana’s astro-naughty Venus De Space…

There’s definitely skin in this game

As covered by Aatif Sulleyman at The Independent, there have been some immense developments on the ability to 3D print lab-made skin — a serious game-changer in the medical field. There are two key components we’re particularly excited about. One is that the printed skin is comprised of three layers, taking full advantage of multi-material printing. Two, digital manufacturing is all about customized creation, so it enables the material to be developed from a patient’s cells, ensuring the resulting material isn’t rejected when transplanted. The full report is here, if you want to get seriously technical.

…and in related news

Folks are holding their breaths waiting to see how Trump’s hiring freeze could affect the FDA’s advancement in medical product development. Bloomberg BNA’s Jeannie Baumann explores the specific implications of the hiring freeze and what it means for key technologies like 3D printing, big data, informatics, and more.

Ending on a wheely well done idea

Writer Bianca Britton at CNN Tech documented how Layer is using 3D digital data and 3D printing to create bespoke wheelchairs, designed to individuals’ specific biometric data and needs. With customizable mattresses, shoes, and bikes already so accessible, it’s about time someone is making the same possible for such an important product.

Celebrating Alienology’s Academy Award Nomination!

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

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


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

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

Alienology 2 Dualnexus Bracelet. Photo courtesy of Alienology.

Alienology 3 Guilloche Necklace. Photo courtesy of Alienology.

RC Customization Series: Lap 2 — RC Engineering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RC Customization Series: Lap 1 – Upgrading The Tamiya Hornet

Our new RC Customization Series takes us inside a very cool Tamiya Hornet customization project, headed up by Shapeways’ Eindhoven Distribution Specialist Tijs Lochbaum and European Community Manager Ruud van den Muijzenberg. Tijs and Ruud show us how exciting (and surprisingly easy) it can be to use 3D printing to make your mark on RC racing.

Because of the global drone hype, I didn’t realize other remote-controlled vehicles were still a thing. But that was before I found out that my colleague Tijs Lochbaum, who works in our Eindhoven distribution center, is a national champion in RC car drifting!

Watch Tijs drifting with his own RC car:

Boy, was I wrong! Tijs proved to me that RC Cars are being used more than ever, in totally different ways than I expected, and that customizing them is the best way to enhance your performance in competitions. Accompanied by Tijs, I’ll deep-dive into customizing RC Cars and share the process with you via videos and blogs in our RC Customization Series. With us cruising on the first Lap of the series, we begin our journey at the beginning, showing you how we got started — and hopefully inspiring you to take on your own customization projects.

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Adéla, Tijs and I on the first recording day of this project

Of course, we need a car to begin with. RC cars have been around for decades, so Tijs recommended we start this project with a classic: the Tamiya Hornet. Watch the awesome 1980s commercial below:

After ordering the original car online, we received a box filled with components a few days later. I was expecting to get a fully operational car, so I was a bit surprised, but Tijs reassured me this is normal (yup, I’m really exploring new territory). The big advantage of getting a car in separate components is that it’s easier to replace some of the mass-manufactured items with new custom parts, while still keeping the original essence.
Tamiya 1
The box the Tamiya Hornet arrives in. It has an appropriately vintage look.

Tijs then built the car overnight, as you can read in detail in his forum thread, to explain that there’s a lot of work involved in making the original car.

Tamiya 5

We now have our own Tamiya Hornet assembled in its original state, even with all stickers in place. Considering that the design itself is over 30 year old, calling it a classic buggy is an understatement. But then comes the question: you can’t go wrong with a big refresh after so many years, right?

Tijs brought the AMPro Engineering store on Shapeways to my attention as one of the go-to places for new, fresh designs of Tamiya Hornet parts (and for many other RC cars too). We ordered a bunch of AMPro products that we 3D printed in our White Strong & Flexible material at our factory in Eindhoven, as you can see in the overview below. You can find a full list of the products printed here. From here, our customization journey begins!

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

The designs offered by AMPro Engineering are perfect for the adjustments we have in mind, but other brilliant engineers such as James Knight from Knight Customs (read his Designer Spotlight here) offer a great digital inventory of RC car (and other RC vehicle) parts on Shapeways.

Tamiya 4

So, now we have a car, and we have a lot of 3D printed components. The next thing we need to do is prepare the printed components for assembly — but we’ll look into that in the next Lap of the RC Customization Series. Don’t forget to shoot us questions by commenting below or on our social media channels. We’ll be adding more Laps to the series soon, and we’ll make sure to take your input into account.

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.

A Visionary Artist Takes on the Smart Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beating Tech Obsolescence With 3D Printing

One of the most exciting — and practical — ways our community is using 3D printing is in the creation of replacement parts for household electronics. Australian designer MichaelAtOz of Matter Haus is a perfect example of a maker who starts with existing tech (in Michael’s case, Dyson vacuums), and creates a range of parts to extend the life of the high-end devices. In his recent forum post, shared below, the designer tells the story of his latest work.

dyson

Adapter for Dyson V8 to pre-V8 tools/accessories by Matter Haus

This is my latest major design. An adapter to fight obsolescence, which I think is a great aspect of the evolving maker/3D printing possibilities. This is how it happened.

A friend’s daughter was cleaning her car, and managed to drop their Dyson Handstick vacuum into a bucket of dirty water. Fitzzitzt…the vacuum now sux  not. So they bought the latest Dyson V8 Handstick.

It wasn’t until they got home that they realised the V8 had changed the connectors, and so they couldn’t use the variety of additional accessories they had bought for the previous version.

I had previously modeled the old version’s connector to make a range of holders/wall mounts for the accessories/tools. I needed to measure the changed V8 sizes and the new clip mechanism to update my holders anyway, so I though an adapter would be possible. Plug the new measurement into my OpenSCAD designs, and after a bit of that design magic, blood sweat and tears, I worked out that Strong and Flexible Plastic (S&FP) would allow me to use “flex” in the design of the release clip.
adapter prototype cut Flex.jpg

I often prototype my designs on my personal FDM 3D printer, but that imposes design constraints which Shapeways S&FP doesn’t have, like gravity. However, the bad thing about Shapeways is that it isn’t here in Oz, and a prototype can take some time to arrive. So you have to adapt, firstly make sure it fits, cut out bits which aren’t needed and show the internals; luckily this was doable with minimal support material. The first physical prototype confirmed the fit, and the flexi release worked as intended.
Adapter 1st prototype SANY0921.JPG
(My printer is a bit long in the tooth, it could use some adjustments for better results)

Similarly working out a good way of joining the new V8 tip design to the old receptacle I also considered how I could prototype on my local printer; after careful attention to the angles, I had a design I could print with little support.
Adapter 2nd local prototype printed.JPG

It was time for a real Shapeways prototype; finalising the design and ensuring the Shapeways 3D tools were happy took a few more iterations. Again it was necessary to incorporate cut-outs otherwise you couldn’t see how well the parts will fit.
Adapter 2nd prototype cut A SW.JPG
As, until I sell some more designs, I’m not made of money, I also chopped off bits not needed for testing to save on material and machine space costs.
Adapter 2nd prototype cut B SW.JPG

I chose White & Un-polished S&FP as it saves several days production time, and awaited delivery…
Adapter 2nd prototype cut delivered SW.JPG

Thankfully my measurements, earlier prototypes, and tolerance guestimates were good, and it fit like a glove. The next step was a final prototype of the complete model. Previous testing with a variety of the Dyson tools showed a small variance in size, so there was a small gap to allow for this. I was concerned how that may affect the vacuum suction, something I couldn’t test with the cut-out prototype.

Not wanting to spend too much on prototypes I decided the design should be finessed for the next order. It needed a seal/gasket/washer, this took a lot of searching to find the most appropriate, cost-effective, and easily acquired solution. The best balance turned out to be o-rings, so I had to find the right size to fit the design and incorporate an appropriate recess to hold it.
adapter o-ring cut SW.JPG

It was ready for the full prototype, or as I hopefully like to call it, the first production model. As the design has a friction fit I had always intended Polished S&FP as the production Material, and given the Dyson design, it had to be red.

And so, a new design is born
Adapter mounted w brush SW SANY0852.JPG Dyson Adapter Side SW SANY0827.JPG Top oring SW - SANY0892.JPG

As it turned out, it works pretty well without the o-ring, but the capability is there if you want perfection ;)

So after six weeks from concept to product, it came just in time for Xmas, so my friend can keep his old accessories.

That’s how it happened.

Thank you for sharing your story, Michael!

Which electronics would you revive with the right replacement parts? Let us know in the comments what parts you’re working on or would like to see our community develop.

1 Gift = 6 Brilliant Ways to Unleash Their Creativity

If you’re like me, you still have a few people on your list who are proving literally impossible to shop for. Your little niece who gets every toy she desires. Your crafter mom who, if she wants it, she makes it. Even your gearhead uncle, who would rather start a project in his garage than ever buy a new vehicle. Good news: Shapeways Gift Cards are perfect for all of them. They open the door to limitless creativity, whether your giftees have never heard of 3D printing or are advanced 3D modelers. Below, discover six easy ways that everyone on your list can start making on Shapeways, thanks to Shapeways Gift Cards for every budget.

1. Fund their first jewelry designs, from pendants…

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The Pendant Creator easily turns their 2D designs into pendants. They can customize details, add a bail for chains, and print in their favorite material.

2. …to gorgeous rings inspired by their favorite shapes

ring

Custom Ring lets them design their own custom, 3D printed rings. They can choose from beautiful preset patterns, or create their own.

3. Equip them to make a keychain they’ll never lose

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The Keychain Creator lets them easily turn 2D designs into keychains. Customize details, add a loop for key rings, and print in your favorite material.

4. Help bring their snapshots to life in 3D

photoshaper

The Full Color Photoshaper takes any photo and turns it into a 3D memory.

5. Let them create their own intricate, personalized ornaments

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The Ornament Creator will help them make custom holiday ornaments by experimenting with template patterns or uploading their own 2D design.

6. Get them started in 3D modeling

2dto3d

2D to 3D lets them easily turn 2D designs into 3D prints, whether they want to make jewelry, art, decorative objects — or just let their imaginations run wild.

Discover even more ways that Shapeways Gift Cards can help them start making on Shapeways here. And while you’re at it, give one of our Easy Creators a try yourself. You never know where your creative journey will lead!