Shapeways Presents 3D Printing for the Masses
Whether you’re a 3D printer pro or just starting out, Shapeways has got your number.
While Dutch 3D printing service Shapeways caters primarily to the consumer market, it still possesses some appeal to those more versed with 3D modeling. Registered users can upload and print their own designs, and advanced users can even set up their own shops to sell their designs to other customers. Once you’ve nailed down the design you want, you can have it fabricated from 25 available colors and materials, ranging from plastics and metals, to ceramics and glass. Shapeways’ site offers some handy tutorials which benefit beginners as well as intermediate 3D designers. For casual users—or even those completely clueless about 3D modeling—Shapeways features an Easy Creator which allows you to customize your own projects based on easy to use templates.
All you have to do to get started is sign up for an account. Shapeways uses Objet and Stratsys 3D printers, both of which are commercially available. Pricing is proportional to size and material and ranges from 18 cents per cubic centimeter for ceramics to $20.00 for sterling silver. Shapeways promises delivery between 10 to 21 business days depending on materials used.
A Brief History
Shapeways began under the auspices of Philips Electronics’ Lifestyle Incubator program back in March of 2007. After having raised some $5 million in venture capital, Shapeways was then spun-off to form an independent company in 2010, shortly after which it moved its headquarters from the Netherlands to New York City. The company recently announced plans to launch a printing facility in the U.S. sometime in 2012.
Why Should You Go With Shapeways?
Shapeways manages to appeal to a broad range of users in terms of their experience with 3D modeling applications. The completely uninitiated will have fun with the Easy Creator and tutorials, while the jaded pro can call attention to his designs and make a buck doing it. And for customers in the U.S. it only gets better, as the new printing facility launch will both lower prices and reduce turnaround time. Whether you’re ready to sign up and start working today, or you just want to learn more about it, have a look at Shapeways’ website at www.shapeways.com.
What Else Is Out There?
Shapeways is only one of a growing number of 3D printer services which cater to clienteles ranging from engineers and inventors to designers and artists, even to hobbyists and enthusiasts. See our comparison grid for a detailed look at the Web’s top 3D Printing Services.