Category Archives: Gadgets

Printing the Impossible: Evolution of a Fidget Cube

fidget toy

Today’s How I Made It post explores a journey to 3D printing a fidget toy. Fidget toys have been trending since October, and it’s amazing to see our community come up with ever-more-brilliant ways to keep those hands busy during deep thoughts, Netflix binges, meetings….

I usually start my designs by prototyping at home with a desktop FDM/filament 3D printer. But some models are really, really difficult to print on a filament-based 3D printer, and my “Fidget Cube” model is one of the worst: it has enclosed hinges that point in every possible direction, and pieces of the model that have to somehow print floating right above other pieces. On an SLS/nylon powder printer like those used for Strong & Flexible plastic prints at Shapeways, such “impossible” prints can be printed with great success rates. But at home, different desktop filament printers, different filaments, and seemingly even different days of the week can have an influence on the success or failure of 3D printing Fidget Cubes.

In this post, we’ll track the evolution of one particularly fidgety 3D design over the past five years, from an assembly model to print-in-place on FDM machines, to multicolor variants, and finally all the way to SLS printing at Shapeways, where we will be able to level up our idea of “impossible” to include the printing of a fully-functioning Yoshimoto cube!

2013: Pieces

Our story begins with a 3D-printable Folding Cube by the legendary emmett. This model prints in eight separate pieces which you then click together to assemble.

This model is based on the popular “photo cubes” that you might have made out of paper and tape when you were younger. If you want to make a paper one, check out Magic Folding Photo Cubes on Instructables. Emmett’s Folding Cube is a beautiful model that is really fun to fidget with, but because I’m not good at rotating or visualizing objects mentally, I had a really difficult time putting the pieces together properly. In fact, I was so bad at it that I vowed never to do it again, and set about to create a remix that could print all in one piece, fully assembled.

2014: Print in Place

After a lot of trial and error, I ended up creating the design from scratch in OpenSCAD. Clearances between hinge parts and adjacent surfaces have to be just right for the Print-in-Place Fidget Cube to print successfully, and getting your slicer settings and model clearances to hit that sweet spot is a fairly advanced 3D printing challenge.


It probably isn’t going to work on your printer, with your filament, on the first try, but once you find the right settings and clearances you should be able to print these Fidget Cubes reliably with a low failure rate (or, you can obviously go straight to Shapeways). If you decide to print it at home, the Print-in-Place Fidget Cube model we put on Thingiverse is customizable so that you can tweak sizes and clearances and try to find what works for your machine.

2015: Yoshimoto

The folding action of the Fidget Cube is the same as that of the Yoshimoto Cube, an incredible model that takes advantage of the fact that a cube can be evenly dissected into two Stellated Rhombic Dodecahedra — and in fact, that those two Stellated Rhombic Dodecahedra can themselves be folded inside out to form cubes of the same size as the original cube. You kind of have to see it to believe it:

You can make a Yoshimoto Cube using origami or you can purchase a truly beautiful version from the MoMA store. Unfortunately, you can’t make a Yoshimoto Cube by carving up a Fidget Cube into two pieces, because the hinges protrude out of the shape and would interfere with the nesting of the pieces. However, we can carve out a Stellated Rhombic Dodecahadon shape from the inside of our fidget cube to form a Fidget Star that folds one way into a cube and the other way into a Stellated Rhombic Dodecahedron.


Here it is in action. This piece isn’t any more difficult to print than the Fidget Cube, but it seems a lot more impressive and surprising when the entire shape of the object changes as it turns inside out.


2016: Embedded Hinges

Next in line is the Kobayashi Fidget Cube by pkobayashi, which prints in one piece and has flat hinges! I think you still couldn’t make a good Yoshimoto Cube out of this, but this version should be much, much easier to print than the Fidget Cube. This design isn’t a remix of mine or of emmett’s, but it is definitely an improvement on both:

Designer pkobayashi later created a Dual Color version, which you print in pieces and then assemble:


2017: Multicolor

What about two-color print-in-place cubes? As of this year, that also exists. MosaicManufacturing has been making beautiful Multi-Color Fidget Star prints! Design-wise, this was made from the Fidget Star just by splitting the model into two pieces (a cube surrounded by a shell). But, printing it is a serious accomplishment:


They made me one, and it’s huge! Thank you, Mosiac Manufacturing!!


They handled the two-color printing with a Palette, a device you can use for pre-processing filament to send to your 3D printer. The Palette actually cuts and assembles pieces of colored filament at exactly the right lengths for switching colors in the correct places while printing.

If you have a dual-nozzle 3D printer then you can download Mosaic Manufacturing’s Multi-Color Fidget Star model and print it yourself. Here is one I printed on the lovely dual-nozzle Ultimaker 3. I happened to print it very small, and on fast, low-res “draft” mode, so it’s nowhere near the highest quality that the Ultimaker 3 can produce, but it still looks pretty good and it works!


… And Beyond: Shapeways!

Printing any of the Fidget Cubes above on an FDM printer can be a difficult process that involves a lot of trial and error, skill, and luck. A lot of the problem lies with the fact that the model has to print without support material for the hinges to operate, which means that the many overhangs and bridges on the model have to print without that support. These problems melt away if you print with a “powder printer” such as the SLS Nylon printers they use at Shapeways to print in Strong & Flexible plastic:

Having industrial-grade 3D printers makes a huge difference in what you can print successfully. Here’s a wonderful, tiny Fidget Cube Stress Reliever by brandutchmen on Shapeways:


Even better, with the SLS printers, we can get to the holy grail of Fidget Cubes: Nesting hinged models that combine to make a Yoshimoto Cube! VeryWetPaint created a fully functional, two-piece, nesting Yoshimoto Cube model that prints in SLS Nylon at Shapeways, called the Yoshi prime box. His open-style design very cleverly allows both pieces to be hinged so that they can nest together. It’s amazing!

Shapeways people, what’s next? Can you push this design to the next level? What even is the next level? Let us know in the comments and we’ll see which designers dare to take fidgeting to new heights…

Designer Spotlight: Sonia Verdu

Shapeways designer Sonia Verdu hails from Madrid, Spain – and she embodies the creativity of the city she calls home. “I was born in a very creative and not too conventional-minded family,” Sonia told us, adding, “I think this helped me follow heart rather than my head.” Her Shapeways shop captures that spirit, with designs that run the gamut from an intricate star-shaped locket to a series of adorable phone stands to fully articulated doll and robot figurines. We talked with Sonia about how she got started, and what inspires her.

How did you learn to design in 3D?
I’ve always liked sculpting and painting, and although I did not see many career opportunities in the world of art, I decided to get a Bachelor of Arts at university and study Artistic Ceramics in an art school. I learned digital modeling in 3D mainly on my own. At university I learned only traditional techniques of painting and sculpting, as I considered it very important to have that base. Later, I worked as a designer, and since I was really interested in digital modeling, I started to watch tutorials on the internet and fell in love with Blender, a professional-grade, open source software. I’m still learning to model with this program and I think I still have a lot to learn. 

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
A friend, Gianluca Owen, an expert in 3D printing, suggested it. I listened to him and started to share my designs here. I think this is a fantastic website where you can find a huge number of interesting designs, and it’s a great source of inspiration – besides having the possibility to test different materials to print my designs.

In terms of who has served as an inspiration, well, this question is very difficult to answer because there are many designs that inspire me. Some of the designers are Brian Chan, Nervous System, and Rustylab.

Your smartphone holders are adorable. How did you come to that idea?
My idea was to create several mobile holders in the shape of animals, that were cute and childish and at the same time very simple.

What inspired the two tiny robots in your shop?
The idea of designing these robots came up after designing toys for my children. I wanted to create cute robots and, like the above mobile holders, with a childish appearance and rounded corners.

Lantea the Jointed Doll is incredibly well-designed. Was it a challenge having to keep assembly in mind when designing for that model?
Yes, Lantea was a great challenge for me and, although it took me a long time for the complexity of the assembly, it was a lot of fun. Besides, in every new design of a jointed doll I learn new things, and that encourages me to do more and more.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
Since I left university, I’ve had in mind the idea of making sculptures and combining them with water, and I believe 3D printing could be a great tool for this project. I would like to make it come true someday.

We hope Sonia does realize her dream of multimedia 3D printed sculptures. We’ll make sure to share them when she does. Do you have a project you’d like us to showcase? Leave a comment below!

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.

The Week in 3D Printing

This week in 3D printing was all about kids, mystery-solving, and a magical spoon.

Color Us Impressed

Huffington Post wrote about how Act For Kids is using 3D printing to create monster-shaped crayons to help provide art therapy to children who have experienced child abuse or neglect. Because drawing can be extremely therapeutic, the idea is that these crayons will allow kids to “draw away their monsters,” said Christian McKechnie, Co-Founder of Act For Kids.

Image courtesy Act for Kids YouTube channel

Vroom, Vroom

NewAtlas covered how Rolls-Royce spent 400+ hours 3D printing a small missile that propels children at a blistering 10MPH through hospital corridors. No word if they actually use their blinkers to signal a lane change.


Hong Kong police used two 3D printers to reenact crime scenes to help with police investigations. CNets Zoey Chong opens up the article with a fitting Scooby Doo reference, “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids and your 3D printers.”

Finger Licking Good

PSFK gave us the skinny on a glass wand prototyped on a 3D printer that helps to enhance the sweet flavors in foods like yogurt, Nutella, and honey. May not work well for hot wings.

The Week in 3D Printing

This week, we learned what it will take to 3D print homes for humans on distant planets, how 3D modeling of your head and face can give you new hair — or just perfectly fitted sunglasses — plus, we found out how to turn used analog sound equipment into smartphone-connected wizardry.

Printing a New World

This is not a 3D printer, but one day, it will have 3D printer friends

This is not a 3D printer, but one day, it will have 3D printer friends

Pioneering USC engineer Behrokh Khoshnevis told NBC how he’s working with NASA to use found materials on Mars to create 3D printed homes, machines, infrastructure… basically anything humans need to choose that Martian lifestyle. That means technologies like 3D-printing method Contour Crafting (CC), which Khoshnevis used to print a 2,500-square-foot building in less than a day — back in 2004. Our post-Earth future is looking up. Now, if we can just figure out how to get to TRAPPIST-1.

Trump Should Check This Out

ABC brought us the touching story of a woman whose upcoming wedding compelled her to address her thinning hair. Thankfully, a high-tech hairpiece created using 3D printing saved the wedding day. The result is so realistic, our hairdo-in-chief should probably know about this (please, someone tell him).

It's definitely more realistic than this

It’s definitely more realistic than this

Sunglasses, Sports, Mullets

In the search for the perfect-looking pair of sunglasses, it’s often impossible to find a pair that actually, literally fit your face. Not “too big or too small for my face shape” but rather “don’t dig into my cheeks, fall off easily, or squeeze my head oddly.” Guess what can help? 3D printing! Skelmet (they originally planned to make bike helmets) takes scans of your head and face and creates custom frames to your specific measurements, as TechCrunch reported. However, as they also noted, these frames are strictly sporty, so you’ll either end up looking like Lance Armstrong or Dog the Bounty Hunter, depending on your hair length.

Skelmet's scanning-for-sunglasses app in use

Skelmet’s scanning-for-sunglasses app in use

Pump Up the Jams

Geeky Gadgets got a little less geeky this week when they pulled a DJ move, showing us how to mix vintage knobs and switches,  3D printed parts, and an Arduino to create a smart MIDI controller. Recycled, digitized, and made with 3D printing? Pump it up.

Screenshot 2017-02-25 10.43.25

The MIDI controller of your 3D printed dreams



7 Boredom-Busting Stocking Stuffers

It’s the cherry on top of Christmas morning: the stocking, stuffed with a few extra goodies. It’s also a gifting challenge. Stocking stuffers should be unexpected, interesting — and tiny. Luckily, our designers are experts at delivering big impact in small packages. Helping you to deliver gifts that are the opposite of boring. This week, as we highlight Last-Minute Finds for every budget, discover seven stocking stuffers they may end up liking better than their real presents.

1. Micro Pocket Fidget Spinner

Micro Pocket Fidget Spinner by Idle Hands Development

Micro Pocket Fidget Spinner by Idle Hands Development

Fidget spinners have been big in 2016. Just add a couple of roller skate ball bearings, and you have a handy tool to keep your hands busy while your brain focuses. It’s true — fidget toys can actually help us focus. Plus, this one is small enough to keep your fidget toy obsession on the DL.

2. Santa-Approved Cookie-Dipper

Little Dipper by Craig Kaplan's Mathematical Art

Little Dipper by Craig Kaplan’s Mathematical Art

Some people just want a milk-soaked cookie, and not an entire glass of milk. We suspect that Santa is one of those people. So he’ll feel pretty good about leaving behind the Little Dipper in your little one’s stocking.

3. Bacon Mobius Strip

Bacon Mobius Strip by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Bacon Mobius Strip by Joaquin Baldwin 3D Printed Designs

Mobius strips are amazing mathematical objects (read all about them here), and when combined with shockingly realistic bacon details, rendered in full-color sandstone, this one could become a bacon-lover’s favorite — and most unexpected — holiday gift.

4. Kaladesh Die

'Kaladesh' D20 Balanced Gaming Die by Tiny Tokens

‘Kaladesh’ D20 Balanced Gaming Die by Tiny Tokens

Trust us, the roleplayers in your life will go insane over this Magic the Gathering-inspired die.

5. Wow, Such Doge

doge by Ryan Kittleson's Sculpture

doge by Ryan Kittleson’s Sculpture

Doge is the meme that keeps on giving. He’s adorable, and he’s just excited to be here. Give your giftees a dose of doge with this stocking-sized figurine.

6. Klein Bottle Opener

Klein Bottle Opener by Bathsheba Sculpture LLC

Klein Bottle Opener by Bathsheba Sculpture LLC

The Klein Bottle is an amazing one-sided object that math nerds love. Play with the concept with this Klein Bottle that actually opens normal bottles.

7. Knuckies

Cat by Knuckies - Phone Stands, With a Twist

Cat by Knuckies – Phone Stands, With a Twist

These cool little tools are phone stands, phone grippers, and fidget toys all in one. Maybe the most useful stocking stuffer they’ll receive this year.

Check out our full selection of finds in our Holiday Gift Guide, and make sure to order soon. All of our holiday order deadlines can be found here. And let us know in the comments what you’d like to find in your stocking on Christmas morning.

Never Drop Your Phone Again

As clumsy as it makes us feel, most of us drop our phones. Every. Day. What if there were a way to avoid it? And what if that solution was also fun — and multifunctional? Meet Knuckies – Phone Stands, With a Twist. The 3D printed phone stands, fidget toys, and phone-grippers make perfect holiday gifts, whether you’re stuffing stockings or adding handy accessories to a big-ticket tech gift purchase. Check out all they can do in the video below:

Knuckies attach easily and securely to any device with a simple double-sided mounting sticker. With a range of designs, there’s also a Knuckie for everyone from cat lovers to minimalists. And, while Knuckies make excellent phone stands, they also fold flat — keeping your device low-profile.

Anchor by Phone Stands, With a Twist

Anchor by Knuckies – Phone Stands, With a Twist

Triple Ring by Knuckies – Phone Stands, With a Twist

Check out the full collection of Knuckies here. And for more ways to give your holiday giftees a Technical Advantage, don’t miss all of our gadget-lover gifts in the Holiday Gift Guide. Let us know in the comments how you keep a grip on your phone.

Fitbit + Fashion = Bytten

Cases for gadgets are usually purely a necessity. Sure, they can be gorgeous, but for the most part, they’re there to protect. But, what if a case could actually make your tech more useful? Startup bytten aims to do just that, creating stylish Fitbit covers that slide right on — taking the wearable from gym casual to sleekly stylish. This week, as we focus on holiday gifts that offer a Technical Advantage, we’re taking a closer look at a small business that wants to give your wearable technology a fashion upgrade.

True to bytten’s mission to “bring your fitness tracker’s style and personality to a whole new level,” the Lucas slide for Fitbit Flex takes inspiration from computer circuitry to create an intricate, cutting-edge look.

Lucas slide for Fitbit Flex by bytten

For the minimalists on your list, The James Slide for Fitbit Flex is like wearable modern architecture.

James slide for Fitbit Flex by bytten

The Rasa slide for Fitbit Flex allows you to make their tech a personal statement, with custom text options available at no extra charge.

bytten 3

Bytten’s Fitbit cases are available for multiple models of the popular fitness trackers. The designers also enjoy experimenting and creating pieces in response to feedback from the Shapeways community. The image below shows the symbol collection, which was inspired by requests from bytten’s customers.

The Symbol Collection by bytten

Check out bytten’s full collection in their Shapeways shop to make your fitness-tracking friends more stylish than ever. Plus, don’t miss our Technical Advantage collections for gift ideas that let you personalize, modify, and improve their favorite gadgets.

Make Their GoPro Go Further

The little action camera that can go almost anywhere has inspired a serious following, from newbie adventure-seekers to serious videographers. Some of the GoPro’s biggest fans are makers whose accessories help achieve professional-grade results. Like designer Dan Newman of My GoPro Kit, whose mods range from filter attachments to tools for capturing aerial 3D shots. As we shine a spotlight this week on holiday gifts that offer a Technical Advantage, discover a few tools that will help your favorite GoPro fans get truly pro results.

Capturing 3D shots using GoPro’s Dual Hero System can be a challenge for objects that are more than 10 feet away. The GoPro HERO 3+ 3D System allows for wider lens separation, ensuring crisp coverage of subjects between 10 and 50 feet away — perfect for wider-parallax shooting like aerial photography.

GoPro HERO 3+ 3D System: Wider Lens Separation by My GoPro Kit

GoPro HERO 3+ 3D System: Wider Lens Separation by My GoPro Kit

This base for a motion-control rig lets you capture dynamic time-lapse photography using a model train track. At the link above, Dan also shares full plans for the time-lapse rig system, so get making!

Train-lapse rig for GoPro by My GoPro Kit

The Sun hood and 37mm filter holder for GoPro not only helps you attach filters to your camera, it also ensures that you maintain resolution while using ND filters, even in bright sunlight. Add this to your toolkit for flawless full-sun coverage.

Sun hood and 37mm filter holder for GoPro by My GoPro Kit

Sun hood and 37mm filter holder for GoPro by My GoPro Kit

Follow My GoPro Kit to keep up to speed on all of Dan’s innovations, and find dozens more ways to give everyone on your list a Technical Advantage this holiday season in our Holiday Gift Guide. What are some of your favorite high-performance GoPro accessories? Let us know in the comments below.

Better Their Tech With These 5 Gifts

Tech lovers like to stay on the cutting edge. But, traditional mass-produced devices have their limitations. The truly gadget-obsessed require unique accessories and modifications to take their tech to the next level. Thankfully, Shapeways offers hundreds of gifts that can personalize, modify, and improve almost any popular gadget. This week, as we focus on ways to give everyone a Technical Advantage, we’re taking a closer look at five clever add-on gifts for your tech-obsessed friends.

1. Anchor Their AirPods

EarPod attachments for active people by Amznfx

EarPod attachments for active people by Amznfx

When Apple announced those indispensable accessories for the iPhone 7, wireless AirPods, opinion was split on whether it’s possible to avoid losing the tiny devices. Shapeways designer Fernando Sosa decided to turn that issue on its head with his EarPod Attachments for Active People. Help your favorite Apple-lovers hold onto their AirPods with these handy accessories.

2. Make Their Fitbit Wearable Anywhere

Lucas slide for Fitbit Flex by bytten

Lucas slide for Fitbit Flex by bytten

Designer Bytten has some brilliant ideas on how to make the FitBit more useful. This piece, designed by Lucas Goossens, takes inspiration from computer circuitry to create a cover that takes your tracker from fitness tool to fashion statement.

3. Help Them Track Their Tracker

Wallet for Tile (Tracking Device) by Dearborn 3D Design

Wallet for Tile (Tracking Device) by Dearborn 3D Design

The Tile is an ingenious tracker for your most important items, but… how to keep track of the Tile itself (if you want to keep tabs on something other than keys)? This Tile-compatible wallet solves that problem, while providing an efficient, compact place for your money and cards.

4. Keep Their GoPro’s Vision Sharp

Lens Cover for GoPro by 3dprintingdog

Lens Cover for GoPro by 3dprintingdog

GoPro has given us a technology that can go anywhere — but its curved lens can lead to scratches that can ruin the view. This customizable GoPro-compatible lens cover will help your adventure-loving friends protect their cameras while leaving their mark.

5. Give Their Photography a Boost

Bounce Buddy - Bouncer for the internal flash! by Wile's Wonderbox

Bounce Buddy – Bouncer for the internal flash! by Wile’s Wonderbox

The Bounce Buddy diffuses the harsh light of a camera’s flash, creating a perfectly soft look for those times when only a flash will do. This allows shutterbugs to leave the external flash at home and still capture the moment.

For even more ways to help your giftees better their tech, check out the Technical Advantage collections in our Holiday Gift Guide. And, let us know in the comments how you would modify your favorite devices with 3D printing.

Designer Spotlight: Tatsuo Ishibashi – MizuLabo

This week, we’re focusing on holiday gifts that offer a Technical Advantage — making tech both better and easier to use. Sometimes, this means making tech more accessible for everyone. Designer Tatsuo Ishibashi’s Mizu Laboratory does just that, developing beautiful, useful assistive gadgets that can help ease our interactions with everyday technology.

"Shippo", Input Assist Device by mizulabo

“Shippo”, Input Assist Device by mizulabo

What inspired you to start creating assistive technology through 3D printing?
Muscle force of the elderly decreases over 50% from that of youth, and I also sometimes feel weakness of grip strength. There are many self-help devices on the market to assist our daily life. But, it is difficult to find a favorite device to use because design and usability are not thoroughly considered. Existing mass-production methods cannot be adopted to make specific structures that satisfy both design and usability for the assistive devices. A 3D printer can do it easily!

Eating Utensil Holder by mizulabo

Eating Utensil Holder by mizulabo

How do you identify the types of products that can be developed to make everyday items easier to use for the elderly (and others)?
It’s a general method that involves product, market, and patent research. Now we can take in a variety of information through networks, so I also often test products in a real market. And there are lots of needs in our daily life. I started from a relatively simple item, a cap and tab opener.

"Higaki", Cap & Tab Opener by mizulabo

“Higaki”, Cap & Tab Opener by mizulabo

While these are assistive devices, they’re also incredibly beautifully designed, so that they’re basically utilitarian art. Tell me more about the design process and how you picked patterns for each item.
It’s a result of trial and error. First I simplify a function of a device. Next, I make a simplified prototype by using a desktop 3D printer. I then evaluate the function and durability. Afterward, I design it based on the simplified prototype. I usually repeat that process until a satisfactory result is obtained.

Finger Input Device by mizulabo

Finger Input Device by mizulabo

Check out Tatsuo’s Shapeways shop here. His gadgets are snazzy little gizmos that are more like life-hacks, suggesting that 3D printing is changing the assistive device game  creating tools that are more useful, affordable, and beautiful than before.

Trending: Fidget Toys

As someone with way too much energy — I’m a constant pen-clicker, toe-tapper, doodler (and more) — I was excited to see some products trending on the Shapeways marketplace that are perfect little fidget toys. This array of ingenious designs allows you to use skateboard bearings and interlocking elements to create and print your own compact gizmos for noiseless fidgeting.

These types of toys are definitely becoming more popular, with Buzzfeed even offering a roundup of jewelry and products that can help you calm down (which included Oddity’s Finger Hula Hoop on Shapeways). One standout gadget is the Cog Tri Spinner Fidget Spinner, which turns standard skateboard bearings into hours of fidgeting fun.

Below are a few more products that we think deserve shout-outs for being awesome fidget toys:

This working propeller ring is not only a fun little jewelry piece, it also exemplifies what’s possible with our recently launched interlocking metals capability. Pick one up and take it for a spin.

While similar to the spinner above, The Swirl has a minimalist design that’s worth checking out.


This Twisting Links Fidget series is designed to be a discreet but effective fidget toy with tactile sensation and endless movement.

4 Gadget Gift Making Trends For Holiday 2016!!

With the holidays quickly approaching, we’re excited to be positioning Shapeways as the go-to for unique, customizable gifts– and our designers are crucial to growing that marketplace. We’ve identified some of the hottest tech hobbyist trends of this year to inspire our makers to stretch their imaginations and consider creating accessories for each, making them on-demand stocking stuffers.

Raspberry Pi: With this little computer giving you a lot of power to program and create, what better companion for it than 3D printed accessories? We’d suggest our designers tap into Shapeways customizable product feature to create Raspberry Pi cases or stands– because while it’s what’s on the inside that matters, it doesn’t hurt to have a neat exterior for your favorite gadget.Apple III Raspberry Pi Case 3d printed

Raspberry Pi Apple III case by RetroConnector

iPhone 7: With Apple’s latest release being on (most) people’s wishlists and being significantly different than previous models, it’s a great opportunity to tap into creative cases and accessories.The Vibe iPhone Case - 40033196:7.67 3d printed

The Vibe iPhone Case by Cacai

GoPro Hero 5 (Black and Session): GoPro’s latest cameras come in two sizes, meaning double the accessory options! Because both work on voice-command, there should be some fun potential for newly designed cases and accessories. We also hear that while the Hero 4 Black is waterproof, it won’t float so some aquatic accessories could be useful.Boonie Hat Mount for GoPro Cameras (Slim Case) 3d printed

Boonie Hat Mount for GoPro Cameras by BrainExploder Creations

Apple Watch Series 2: The new Apple Watch model is about the same size and shape as its predecessor but slightly thicker. We’ve been seeing some great watch docks and charging stations, and there’s limitless room for variations.Apple Watch Metal Bumper 42mm 3d printed


Apple Watch Metal Bumper by Amznfx

Remember, one of the most important parts of leveraging the products you create is showing vs. telling shoppers what your product does. Quality photos tell a thousand (or more) words and super nifty videos are even better.

Shop More Gadget and Tech Trends Here!

7 3D Printed Gadgets to Take Your Meal to the Next Level

In this era of trading hamburgers for *ramen* burgers and breakfast sandwiches for *donut* sandwiches, it’s time to make our food accessories just as trendy and futuristic as our hybrid foods. Introducing… 3D printed food gadgets.

You can even take some inspiration from these 3D printed objects from Shapeways and design your own essential foodie items (or be lazy and buy the ones we’ve picked out for you).

1. Chopstick Holder

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Do you love sushi but are incapable of using chopsticks, but also don’t want to be culturally dense and use a fork? Say hello to 3D printed chopstick holders.

This ingenious invention will turn the most infuriated sushi lover into an expert chopstick artist instantly.

2. Finger Saver

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There’s nothing more terrifying than almost chopping off a finger while cutting kale for the salad you’ve convinced yourself you like. Avoid all of that vegetable tension with a 3D printed finger protector.

Now you don’t have to worry about cutting your finger while you distractedly chop kale as you think about nachos again!

3. Egg Holder

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Have you ever made yourself a trendy brunch, complete with soft-boiled eggs, only to realize you don’t have a trendy egg holder to keep your egg at optimal elevation? Never eat a tilted soft-boiled egg again with this 3D printed octopus egg holder.

Bonus: If you’re on a diet, check out this nest egg holder. You’ll lose your appetite thinking about how your breakfast was once a baby chicken instantly. Calories saved!

4. “Little Dipper” Cookie Dunking Bowl

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True loss is dropping the warm chocolate chip cookie you just slaved over into the abyss of a full glass of milk. You know you will never see that cookie again. You know if you do, it’s going to be a disgusting, milk-saturated mess.

Luckily, a Shapeways community designed a brilliant solution for the world’s greatest problem: the “Little Dipper,” a 3D printed cookie dunking mug. The best part is you can still drink the milk after.

5. Pizza Chair

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The tables that come on delivery pizzas serve no point– that is, until you add this 3D printed pizza chair obviously. This dining set is perfect for your tiny imaginary friend to recline in while you eat your pizza.

Bonus: Check out this miniature 3D printed stool that can be easily adapted for pizza seating as well, unless your tiny imaginary friend has back issues. That would be insensitive of you to not provide him with back support then.

6. Toast Retriever

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Standing toasters were not designed for people with fingers. Unfortunately, most people have fingers. With these 3D printed toast retrievers, you can now grab your toast out of the thinnest of toast slots without fearing for the life of your fingers.

These toast retrievers can also pick up the little burnt pieces that inevitably fall off your toast in the retrieval process. In fact, they can even grab pop-tarts and other objects that are not toast itself, but are frequently enjoyed toasted. So much functionality!

7. Statue of Liberty Ice Cream Cone

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Enjoy a patriotic cone of your favorite flavor as you cheer on America with this 3D printed Statue of Liberty ice cream cone (child not included).

F1 Racing Miniatures And Memorabilia That’ll Get Your Wheels Spinning

It’s no secret that some massive changes have occurred in the Formula 1 Racing scene. Between constantly changing regulations, and John Malone’s Liberty Media – F1 deal closing last week in an $8B deal, F1 is set to become much more mainstream.
With the cars (and industry) racing around at 240MPH, you’re probably looking for ways to rep your favorite road racing sport.

Mini3DDrivers’s Mini Scuderia #7 car (and accompanying Mini Kimi Raikkonen driver) are just one of the whimsically accurate tiny cars offered in this F1- dedicated shop.

 Maybe you’re looking for an F1 inspired track to throw on your desk or wall.  3D Racetracks features a number of topographically accurate racetracks, including an officially licensed Nurburgring.

Want to celebrate the Ferrari 312T driven to victory by Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni? This 1:100 scale by Giles’s Designs can be used as a keychain or pendant. There’s also a number of other F1 inspired memorabilia in his shop, such as these miniatures.

Looking for more automotive & F1 inspired accessories? Check out my list here, and follow me on Shapeways to see what I’m looking at!


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