Category Archives: Gadget Lab

3D Printed Gifts For Him

Don’t put fill his stocking with socks and jocks this year when you can surprise him with toys for boys, masculine accessories and geeky gadgets. To make gift giving a little easier this giftmas we have put together a few galleries of 3D printed items that are guaranteed to please*. And of course shapeways always include free shipping for any order over $25.


3D Printed Customized cufflinks are a great way to add some subtle flair to a business shirt. If he doesn’t have a shirt with french cuffs why not combine it with a custom Blank Label shirt?

No need for him to wear a cumbersome tool belt to fix broken toys or assemble ikea furniture with A Bit Cross

Give a gift within a gift this giftmas with the Gift Cube. One of many puzzles available on Shapeways.

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3D Printed PC Mouse

OK, Those of you who roll your eyes every time we feature an Apple Gadget protector, stand or shrine, now it is time for the PC accessory to have it’s moment to shine thanks to Dimitri Kobzar‘s 3D printed PC mouse. Perhaps next we will see a full color bust of mass customization trailblazer Michael Dell

Read on to get Dimitri’s take on the process and result.

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Ponoko Launches 3D Printing

A big welcome to Derek, Dave and the rest of the team at Ponoko who have made the move into the third dimension by adding 3D printing to their current 2D laser cutting.

Realized in partnership with Cloudfab, Ponoko are offering a range of 3D printed materials from their US hub including white polyamide, UV curable acrylic resin, ZCorp, stainless steel and gold plated stainless steel. They add 3D printing to their existing options which includes laser cutting of a vast range of materials along with electronic components via Sparkfun.

It is exciting to see another voice emerge along with Shapeways to promote the huge potential of 3D printing to independent designers and 3D printed products to potential buyers.

3D Printed Gifts for Apple Enthusiasts

The 12 days of Christmas are covered with 12 Apple Geek gifts on Shapeways..

Looking for the perfect gift for the Apple obsessed in the gifting season?  Check out some of the products for the iPad & iPhone along with a few beautiful oddities designed by the Shapeways community that may just hit the mark..


Stabilize, cover & protecting the Apple iPad the Shapeways community with some of the coolest designs online.

Kitchen stand for iPad from $29.83

PadFoot – stand for iPad from $25

Canvas Wrap – Pixel from $50

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Friday Feature: Minime, Silver Rings & Giant Miniature Ants

After a brief intermission filled with trade fairs, flu and flights we return to our regular friday feature of the latest amazing models to be shared on the It Arrived forum by the Shapeways community.  If you would like to be featured next week be sure to post your clear photographs and descriptions….

First up and quite mind blowing is the Minime by Tristan Bethe from a full body 3D scan. Can’t wait to see the results of the 3D scan of his wife in her wedding dress!!

Stunning first attempt at 3D printing is the Pilot and accessories for an Remote Controlled Mustang by Lupus. Amazing level of detail achieved using Softimage XSI and Zbrush with clean and clear detailed prints.

The first silver prints have started to be shipped with Václav Mazaný’s Holey Ring showing the polished finish you can expect with Shapeways silver.

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Stripes 4 iPhone by Salokannel

Next in the line of Apple accessories designed by the Shapeways community comes Stripes 4 iPhone by Salokannel.



Picking up from his Stripes for iPad, the iPhone4 snap case features a striped motif across the back Salokannel has developed a perfectly fitting case that may also solve the Antennagate issue.

Now with the iPhone, iPad, iPod and shuffle being well represented, what apple products can we see accessorized next? What about a HTC or Blackberry case, or even a Dell widget of some kind?

3D Printing With Lego, Not 3D Printed Lego

Will Gorman of BattleBricks has built himself the MakerLegoBot, constructed of Lego bricks it constructs with Lego bricks…..

The MakerLegoBot uses 3 Lego Mindstorms NXT Bricks, along with 9 NXT motors, and is inspired by the  by the MakerBot and RepRap teams. A Java Application that runs on the PC takes an .ldr MLCad file, determines a set of print instructions, and then sends the instructions via USB over to the MakerLegoBot for printing. The current design works with 1×2, 2×2, 3×2, 4×2, and 8×2 Lego bricks. Once a brick is grabbed, the next brick in line falls into place. Once a brick is retrieved, the printer head rotates vertically and moves to the exact location where the brick should be placed. The printer then places the brick, and uses an axle based release mechanism to leave the Lego in place. Immediately after placing the Lego, the bottom of the printer head applies pressure to the brick to ensure its proper placement. Once each layer has completed printing, the printer rotates up a single brick height. It can print objects that are up to 12 bricks tall.

the MakerLegoBot, a Lego Mindstorms NXT 3D Printer will be appearing at LegoWorld October 22nd through October 26th, 2010 in Zwolle, The Netherlands. Of course if you cannot wait till then you can always follow the 447 step by step (brick by brick) instructions to make your own

Thanks to Hack a Day

Overwhelming Success with Kickstarter

This project has been bouncing around the internet a little but it is well worth mentioning here on the Shapeways blog. 

A couple of guys designed an iPhone 4 accessory with two primary functions: mounting your iPhone to a standard tripod, and acting as a kickstand to prop your iPhone up at an angle. They made their first prototypes with Shapeways (having to order a couple to make the minimum $25 order).

Cool idea, nice design, they were interested in taking The Glif into mass production so they put it along with a quick video on Kickstarter seeking $10,000 in backing to get it into production.  Those who pledge $20 or more get an injection molded plastic version when it goes into production, those who back $50 or more get a 3D printed version (way cooler).

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How To 3D Print High Polygon Models with Shapeways

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of April, 2013, Shapeways no longer offers this high polygon workaround. If your model has over a million polygons, use this handy tutorial to reduce them so you can upload your model in the normal way. Thank you for your understanding!

Ok Zbrush users, organic algorithm artists and character modelers, Shapeways have developed a workaround so that your models can now exceed the 1,000,000 polygon limit currently in place. 

It is not elegant, and takes some negotiating, but if we get enough demand we will try and automate the process to make it easier for everyone.  Let us know what you think, is this something you would like to see as standard? 

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Shapeways Loves Makerbot

So what will I miss most now that I’ve left Shapeways?

My colleagues? No, what I will miss is the Shapeways Makerbot. We got a beautiful Makerbot Industries Cupcake CNC some weeks ago. Our Makerbot is quite noisy but we love it. Hans put it together for us and he is trying to add things to it all the time. We really wanted a 3D printer around the office and we’re very happy to have this now.

Our findings:

  • The entire process of getting a Makerbot and putting it together is a lot of fun.
  • Assembling a Makerbot is not difficult if you’re a Dremel owning techie type of person.
  • Your Makerbot will not work all the time so you have to keep at it.
  • You will get stuck but there is a great Makerbotting community out there to help you.
  • Owning a Makerbot will make you feel like you came from the future.

Watch the rather noisy video of our Makerbot below (and I was kidding I’ll miss my colleagues a tonne!) . 

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Shapeways community manager Joris says goodbye

Dear community members, I will be leaving Shapeways as per tomorrow. I’ll continue to do some Shapeways blog posts but will no longer be your Community Manager. I’m leaving Shapeways in order to pursue other opportunities.

The past two years have been the most invigorating & exciting of my life. To be able to let Shapeways grow from a group of beta testers to a large and vibrant community with tens of thousands of members, tens of thousands of designs and more than 8000 models ordered a month was an incredible experience.

Those first few months were rather chaotic. It started with a bang with articles on TechCrunch and Boing Boing. We were inundated by email, questions & problems (and in one fell swoop thousands of members). Materials had to be introduced Black Detail, White, Strong & Flexible; Transparent Detail, Full Color, Stainless Steel, Glass, High Gloss Glass and above all else we were impatient.

Impatient to show you what you could do using 3D printing technology. We were getting to grips with letting you “upload and print” but already working on the Creators, the Co-Creator platform and all the other features you’ve seen. The learning curve was steep, not only for our growing community but also for us. Nonmanifold, open edges and coming to grips with software packages we’d never even heard of meant we were learning all the time. Bugs were popping up everywhere, as if we were gallivanting around the jungle tossing sugar cubes every which way. At the same time we had to organize and visit events such as SIGGRAPH, Dutch Design Week and Makerfaire. As a net result I’ve explained 3D printing to more people than I’d ever think I’d meet in a life time. Somewhere along the line I managed to write 347 blog posts: some of dubious quality, many in dire need of editing but hopefully some good ones in there somewhere.

I also got to dive into model trains, 3D puzzles, space ships, design schools, jewelry designers, Fablabs and many other communities we engaged. So not only has Shapeways let me meet a large number of people and these people have been very diverse. I’ve also gotten to learn about 3D printing and: graduation ceremony deadlines, N & H0, sculptural intent, live action role playing, remote control helicopters, replica steam boats, racing teams, 3d scans of clavicles, jet engines, fashion accessories, dinner wear, knives & forks, Snoopy, the Virgin de Guadalupe, LEGO swords, fractals, elves, chocolate molds, brass knuckles, Facebook games, UAVs, action figures, Second Life, insects, proteins, DNA, photography, stamps, RFID tags, augmented reality, watches, chess sets, manga, robot arms, fighting robots, board games, desktop wargaming and many other things. Opening up your eyes every day to new communities, new designs and new challenges was wonderful. Thank you all for letting me learn about your community!

We’ve spent the time since trying to encourage and marshal the incredible skill and energy level of the Shapeways community by holding contests and reaching out through You Tube, this blog and our lively forum. Whereas initially we were focused on just letting people upload to Shapeways, later on it became a question of inspiring people in creating more and more diverse things. The quality of work in the gallery and on It arrived (Ralph’s idea!) has continually improved remarkably as people have mastered designing for 3D printing. The sheer variety of the designs on Shapeways right now is mind blowing. While I’d like to think I played a small part in this I know that it is really the community that made this happen.

Fairly quickly the first heroes started to emerge in our community. Whether by tirelessly submitting bug reports or suggestions, spending hours helping on the forum, writing tutorials or by spreading the word it was these community heroes that really have made Shapeways what it is today. Shapeways is a very high engagement community and it is these people’s pioneering work that has made this possible. We’ve had members spend 10-12 hours fixing someone else’s complex design and others have spent over a 1000 hours on Shapeways. We’ve seen hundreds of blog post and tweets by community members spreading the word.

These heroes were brought to us by sites linking to us and writing to us (over ten thousand!). I’d like to especially thank Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing, the Wired Blogs, the guys at Makezine, Gizmodo and Engaget for bringing us talented creative people that have helped shape Shapeways. I’m intensely proud of Shapeways and the Shapeways community. Not only am I proud of what we’ve all achieved together so far but I know I will be proud of what you’ll achieve after I’ve left. I would like to thank each and every community member from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for your friendship, ideas & encouragement. I am indebted to you for inspiring me with your creativity and hard work for this community.

Should you wish to keep in touch with me you can follow me on twitter here or email me at joris (dot) peels (at) gmail. (dot) com. 

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Painting your Spaceships

A few weeks ago Steve of Third Fate Creations approached us about showing off
his painting skills on some of the space ships on Shapeways. Steve
works with mini designers in a very selective way. He chooses designs
that inspire him and then paints them. Mostly this is for a fee and sometimes when Steve is really inspired it is in return for credit and keeping the painted mini. You can
check out the pricing and also a lot of airbrush and painting tips on his

We gave Steve a few models so he could show off his
skill for you guys and hopefully get you all to start thinking of the
possibilities of combining airbrushing with your 3D prints. For
Shapeways Steve painted two of  Charles Oines intricate and wonderful
spaceships: the Ryuushi
and the Martian
Icaria Class Strike Cruiser

Steve, “used an airbrush on all but the “gem/glass reflection
spots” and on
those used a 00 brush.
The paint is a combination of GW, Createx, and
Autoair, depending on what effect I needed.
It took, roughly, 4-6
hrs total time to prep and paint each one.”

If you look at Charles’ Shop
you can see that the models are tiny.The Dominator for example of 0.9
by 3.6 by 3.9 cm. The intricate painting detail that Steve managed to
with at this scale is just crazy. 

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Introducing High Gloss Black Glass & High Gloss White Glass

We can now offer you two new glass materials: High Gloss Black Glass and
High Gloss White Glass. Open the floodgates of your creativity. What
images does their super shiny sheen conjure up in your mind? What will
you guys make with these materials?

egg cup big hearts
is $40

The Angel
as seen above are $23

The candle holder below is $89

The materials have a start up cost of $5 and will cost $6.99 per
cubic cm. Initially the start up costs for Glass were $15 so this
represents a significant price drop in the start up costs. The start up costs of the Milky White Glass has also been reduced by $10 and this material will cost $5.99 per cubic cm. Even though the design rules are the same, the gloss materials are nicer to the touch and stronger.


The materials are made by 3D
printing recycled glass. The fine powder is built up layer by layer and a
binding material is applied to the glass powder that will become your
product. When the 3D print is complete it is baked in an oven to fuse
the glass powder. Your products are then
subsequently enameled to get their glossy finish. 



As you can clearly see in the Angel picture
there is a fair amount of “definition” from the 3D printing process in
the form of bumps and the like. The enamel smooths the 3D prints out
considerably and these prints are closed so not porous as the Milky
White Glass material is. The models are however far from completely
smooth. A lot
of the objects made with this process look really good and very arty.
But, significant warping may occur and the overall dimensional accuracy
of this process is still limited. 3D printing glass is amazing but also
very new and a very experimental process. 

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Shapeways Siggraph 2010 competition

From today until the end of the month we will be holding a super quick SIGGRAPH competition. Just add the tag SIGGRAPH2010 to your best model to enter. There will only be one winner this time, winner takes all! This winner will have their model displayed at SIGRRAPH as the centerpiece of our stand. After the show we will also send you the model and give you an additional $250 coupon in 3D printing. We will be looking for the best, most impressive display model. The model can not cost more than $200 and must be inspiring as well as show people the possibilities of 3D printing. Don’t forget only two weeks to design! Fame and fortune await! Enter now!