Shapeways 3D Printspiration

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Posts tagged "3d printing"


Awesome factory tour at shapeways, with Duann Scott, organized with Pratt Center and NYDesigns

The Emerging Topologies of 3D Printing Showing in Sydney, Australia

Emerging Topologies is an upcoming exhibition exploring how contemporary technologies are changing our relationship with the architectural space we inhabit.  The exhibition is the culmination of artist Josh Harle’s four year doctoral research, informed by degrees in Computer Science, Philosophy, and Sculpture, and completed between the School of Design, COFA, and the Faculty of the Built Environment, University of New South Wales.  The artist’s practice utilises exotic production techniques and bespoke software tools that map, scan, and visualise the city in contingent, poetic ways using 3D fabrication, laser etching, cloud processing, and structural reconstruction from images. 

The artist explores the shifting landscape of a city experienced through mobile mapping technology, sketching out his own improbable paths through the shadows.  The works tell tales: compiling esoteric maps of journeys through strange cities, and taking playful, winding trips across the smudged face of the GPS screen.

The research thesis will also serve as the catalogue for the exhibition, and the artist is selling printed and DRM-free ebook versions to help with the cost of the exhibition.

Opening: Tues, May 21, 5-7pm

Where: Kudos Gallery 6 Napier St, Paddington, NSW

Hours: Wed to Fri, 11am – 6pm, Sat, 11am – 4pm 

Ask Your 3D Printing Questions on Fridays at 5 with Shapeways Engineers

Fridays at 5 is our regular Google hangout where you get to ask Shapeways Engineers your questions about 3D Printing with Shapeways.  Last week we talked about the upcoming launch of our new elasto material, how we 3D print our high detail acrylic and we set fire to a couple of Nylon and Full Color 3D prints to prove they are not suitable to put into a kiln.

Star Trek vs Star Wars vs 3D Printers

Science fiction becomes reality at Shapeways with on demand 3D printed products.

Shapeways Educational Discount for 3D Printing on a Student Budget

Today we have launched the first stage of the Shapeways Educational Program with an awesome 10% discount on 3D printing for all students and educators with a Shapeways account registered with an .edu email address.

This is our first step at helping students and educators have better access to high quality 3D printing through Shapeways.  We will be rolling out more features as part of the Shapeways Education Program so that everyone from elementary to post graduate students can use 3D printing to help them learn, understand and communicate their ideas whether they be technical, artistic or conceptual.

Register for the 10% discount on all 3D printing by visiting the Shapeways Education page and activating your email.  The 10% discount will automatically be applied at checkout unless you have another discount code you wish to enter.  You can still use Shapeways credit and your student discount at the same time.

We will continuously monitor and review the educational discount so that we can optimize it to students needs which may involve a change in the terms under which we offer the discount.  We will keep all of those registered for the education discount updated on any changes and/or additions to the program.  We will also work to include other educational institutions that do not have an .edu domain for their emails in the near future.

Please pass on the details of the discount to your friends, fellow students and teachers, the more people that are registered and use the educational discount, the more incentive there is for Shapeways to develop the educational program further. 

If you have any other ideas you would like to see implemented into the Shapeways educational program please email

How To 3D Print at Home with an iPhone and a Magnifying Glass (VIDEO)

While looking for a way to recycle our excess Nylon powder we found a way for anyone to 3D print at home with an iPhone and a magnifying glass.

At Shapeways we recycle most of the Nylon powder from our industrial 3D printing process but sometimes the powder does not meet the standard required for use in our 3D printers.  We were looking at the testing process when we made a really exciting discovery, with a tightly focused beam of light you can solidify the Nylon powder into a solid.  

We did some experiments and discovered a way that anyone can 3D print at home using an iPhone and a magnifying glass with our Nylon powder.  Take a look at the simple video below and email and we can send you (for the cost of shipping) some of our excess Nylon for you to try at home.

In a relatively simple step by step process that almost exactly replicates the way in which our industrial 3D printers work it is easy to 3D print a basic form with an iPhone with a ‘Torch’ app, a strong magnifying glass, a ruler and some fine Nylon powder.

    1. Prepare the Nylon powder to around 3mm thick on a clean flat surface.  The smoother this first surface the better quality your 3D print will be as this is the foundation of your entire print. (This is the same way that our 3D printers prepare for your 3D prints)
    1. Use the Torch App to activate the flash on your iPhone and a magnifying glass to focus the light into a tight beam. You will need to experiment to fid the perfect distance from the Nylon and the time it takes to solidify the powder so that you do not burn the Nylon.  (Our industrial machines use much the same process except with a laser to speed up the printing time and give greater accuracy)
    1. Use a ruler or other straight flat item to gently cover the first layer of your 3D print with around 0.5mm of Nylon powder, you will be printing your part from the bottom up, tracing the existing layer to ensure the melt together. (Again, this is the exactly the same process our SLS 3D printers use, except the layer of Nylon is in the Microns yet still building objects from the bottom up)
  1. Repeat steps 2 and 3 to print your object, ensuring you melt each layer to the layer below, as you gain confidence you can try to 3D print simple interlocking parts like a chain. (please note: The strength of the part is reliant on the uniformity of the bond between Nylon particles, we do not recommend you use this process for any parts under stress.  The industrial 3D printers Shapeways use are high precision machines that 3D print high quality parts. Home 3D printing with this process is an experimental process for fun more than function.)

Take a look at the video below to see our results, if you want to try this yourself at home contact us and we can send you some Nylon (for shipping costs) so you can try this at home too.

We Bid a Sad Farewell to Tinkercad

Today we bid a sad farewell to Tinkercad, one of the easiest 3D modeling apps plugging into the Shapeways 3D Printing API.

When Tinkercad launched in early 2011 as a simple browser based, drag and drop interface for 3D modeling, it made it easy for anyone to create a 3D form.  In August 2012 when Tinkercad plugged into the Shapeways 3D Printing API it also became one of the easiest ways for people to learn how to 3D print their own designs which is why we used it to teach everyone from 2nd graders to senior citizens how to design for 3D printing.  With the introduction of the ability to import existing designs Tinkercad also became one of the easiest ways to modify and customize an existing design.

Luckily we are seeing more and more 3D printing apps plugging into the Shapeways 3D Printing API to make it easier for people to access 3D printing but Tinkercad will be missed.

For Tinkercad users they are rolling out the closure in stages:

  • Effective immediately they have closed sign-ups for new users    
  • April 30 2013 - All free accounts will be changed to read only    
  • August 31 2013 - All academic accounts will be changed to read only    
  • December 31 2013 - All paid accounts will be changed to read only    
  • June 31 2014 - Read only access for all users will be discontinued 

This means if you currently have files stored on Tinkercad, you will have until June 31 2014 to download them from their storage and/or upload them to another repository such as Shapeways, Sketchfab or Thingiverse.  If you have unfinished models in Tinkercad you have a limited time to make the modifications to export and/or 3D print them.

There is also an FAQ with additional details.

We wish Kai, Mikko and the Tinkercad team the best of luck as they move away from the development of the Tinkercad user interface and onto Airstone Labs.

Do You Want More Flexible 3D Printing at Shapeways?

We found a squishy 3D printing material back in early 2012 that was not quite ready for us to use with our 3D printers so we found another flexible alternative that unfortunately was not up to our standards so we had to stop supporting the material when the trial ended.  

We are super excited to learn the original flexible material is finally ready and we are preparing our 3D printers so that we can offer it to everyone to 3D print.  

Do you want more flexible 3D printing for your designs?

Need to Repair Your 3D Printer? Use Shapeways to 3D Print Replacement Parts

Anyone who owns a desktop 3D printer knows that sometimes you need to replace some of the components to optimize performance.  In many cases you can simply 3D print a replacement part with your 3D printer which is an incredibly rewarding process of self sufficiency but when it is a critical component that stops the 3D printer from functioning properly it can quickly become frustrating dead end. 

Shapeways community member Schlem discovered the extruder gears that came with his Printbot Kit were warped and his 3D printer was not functioning properly.  Of course a non functioning 3D printer can not 3D print repair parts so he used Shapeways to 3D print his replacement parts in laser sintered Nylon.  By using Shapeways to 3D print the parts for his 3D printer he now has a more durable, higher resolution part that will make his desktop 3D printer more accurate and reliable.

He also made it possible to make the 3D printer even more awesome by designing the Skulltruder, adding a little gothic bling to what is essentially an engineering project.

'Dita' Gown by Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti 3D Printed by Shapeways on Flickr.

Via Flickr:
3D printed gown designed by Michael Schmidt and Francis Bitonti modeled by queen of burlesque Dita Von Teese.

Full info on the Shapeways Blog…

Photo by Albert Sanchez Photography

Comparing Apples and Oranges: Injection Molding vs 3D Printing

We often get asked ‘at what point does it become cheaper to mass produce and item rather than 3D print it? at which point we have to ask what do you want to make, in what material and to what level of complexity or customization?  To approach a need and simply switching method of manufacturing misses the power of 3D printing.

A recent blog post by 3sourceful compared the cost of manufacturing two items using Shapeways 3D printing and Protomold to make injection molded parts.

"In this case, we prices out two different parts.  One, a very small bracket (~1cm^3) and one a larger jig (~50 cm^3).  To compare, we obtained quotes from Shapeways and Protomold.  And for simplicity, we just assume the cheapest material from each.    We then plotted out the total cost of production for different quantities.  As we would expect, the tooling costs of the molds resulted in 3D printing being cheaper at lower quantities in both cases.    But, in the case of the larger part, the cost of the 3D printing material meant that over 100 units, Protomold became the cheaper solution.  Where, for the smaller part, 3D printing was cost effective over 1000 units.”

This is great for a simple equation for comparing the cost of a simple part required in bulk like their bracket, but if there is any level of complexity in the part or strict tolerances, the price to injection mold is likely to quickly increase, where as the price to 3D print would likely stay the same or may actually be reduced if the complexity is in the form of meshed or perforated features.  The larger item might not have taken advantage of the density discount on Shapeways that can dramatically reduce the cost of large parts.

The comparison does not take into account the upfront investment required along with cost to warehouse and distribute the injection molded parts with the liability of predicting sales and holding inventory that may not sell.  Customization and/or fast iteration is also an incredibly powerful advantage of 3D printing not so easily posible with injection molded parts. If you want to make 1000 components that are very similar but not the same, the cost to 3D print remains the same where as with injection molding you will need to invest in 1000 different molds, or at the very least, 1000 different mold inserts which would then need to be manually changed out after each part is manufactured.  

Same too with fast iteration, if you want to modify your design in any way to optimize your design there is no additional cost or delay with 3D printing where as with injection molding you would need to retool in most instances, adding greater cost that would need to then be amortized across the sale of your product.

The post title rightly sums up the equation cost = f(size, quantity, technology) + a whole lot more, where the ‘whole lot more’ is just as important as the rest of the equation.

Join Shapeways to Discuss Fashion Innovations in 3D Printing at Eyebeam in NYC

As we see more and more fashion designers like Kimberly Ovitz embrace 3D printing as a way to take their designs direct to market we need to discuss what directions are most suitable to be explored in 3D printing fashion.  Jewelry is an easy win when we can 3D print items in materials such as Stainless Steel and Sterling Silver but we are also seeing more and more textile like geometries being 3D printed in Nylon to create digital fabrics

Eyebeam in New York City is hosting a panel discussion on Fashion Innovations in 3D Printing on the 27th of February to explore the intersection between fashion and 3D printing highlighting collaborations between fashion designers, technologists and manufacturers such as Shapeways.

As part of the Computational Fashion program series, Eyebeam presents an exciting event featuring designers and producers using cutting edge 3D printing techniques to push the boundaries of fashion. From the runway to the DIY hackerspace, 3D printing and rapid prototyping have become an increasingly popular and accessible way to produce objects that are both highly complex and easily replicable.  

Presenters include:

Joris Debo, Creative Director (.MGX by Materialise)

Duann Scott, Designer Evangelist (Shapeways)

Bradley Rothenberg, architect & Gabi Asfour, designer (threeASFOUR)

Alexandra Samuel, Dan Selden & Ross Leonardy (Crowd Control)

Date:  27 Feb 2013

Hours:  6:30PM

Cost:  $10 Venue:  

Venue:  Eyebeam, 540 W 21st St  New York, NY 10011

Tickets are now available

Image via Flickr Attribution Some rights reserved by ol slambert