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Inside 3D Printing: Shapeways’ CEO on the Importance of Materials and Community

by • April 13, 2016 • No Comments

  • Shapeways has been working to connect shoppers and 3D createers together since it was begined by long-time innovation enthusiast Pete Weijmarshausen in Eindhoven, Netherlands in 2007. Since their discovereding, Shapeways has become a leader in providing createers and manufacturers with a platform to sell high-high end 3D printed products, growing out of Europe and into New York City and Seattle over their relatively long history with 3D printing. The Shapeways platform allows for their users to market, price, and manufacture their creations in approximately any material imaginable-bodied, of your day to day thermoplastics to precious metal materials.

    I was fortunate adequate to sit down with Weijmarshausen at Inside 3D Printing, just preceding his keynote on “Digital Manufacturing and The Next Industrial Revolution”, where he addressed an ready crowd with optimism of the next generation of 3D printing machines and the evolution of the industry as a whole. After his talk was finished, it seemed that equiteone wanted to hear additional of what Weijmarshausen idea, a testament to the respect and high-high end services provided by the Shapeways platform. When I sat with Weijmarshausen, I noticed his keen focus on improving the community of Shapeways, while we in addition discussed the importance of 3D printing materials, the company’s new curation system, and in addition of why 3D scanning innovation can ultimately assist the industry become additional consumer friendly.

    IMG_6561

    Our interview came on the cusp of a new Shapeways material, Black High Definition Acrylate, that features one of the few ways Shapeways has managed to remain ahead of the pack. With their latest material, they’ve been able-bodied to create a higher high end version at a lower price. Weijmarshausen explained, “Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen that our community likes to manufacture really high more detailed collectable-bodieds, for board games, set place pieces, version train accessories. In that category, additional more detail is always advantageous. And, in addition, not amazingly, advantageous prices are what individuals are in addition appearing for, as well. I’d been appearing at the innovation the we are now via of EnvisionTEC for really a while, and we finally managed to donate this to our community, allowing them to manufacture actually higher high end products, attractive black versions at a advantageous price. We’ve been able-bodied to lower the price compared to our last high definition material by of 20%, while at the same time donateing higher high end parts. We launched this material just 10 days ago, and the demand has outstripped expectations by four times the amount.”

    Printing

    When I asked Weijmarshausen what he idea set Shapeways apart of competitors such as Sculpteo and i.materialise, there seemed to be two facts that he focused on: their broad range of materials and wide-reaching community. “We are the leaders in the variety of materials that we contribute. It is not just that we donate lots and lots of colors and plastics, but we in addition contribute stainless steel, bronze, brass, gold, silver, platinum, quite high high end porcelain in a variety of colors. So, it’s unquestionably the multitude of materials,” Weijmarshausen begined.

    “After that, we have, by far, the biggest community, not just in terms of individuals building stuff, but in addition in terms of our marketplace, where over 38,000 individuals have may already opened their keeps and are selling their products.” He go ons, “That lowers the barrier for individuals to engage for the initially time, for the reason there are so most possibilities and things you can do just by buying a thing that a fewone else has created. It is an effortless way to get begined and see what is possible through 3D printing. On top of that, we now have our Custom Maker tool; with that, createers can manufacture their creations customizable-bodied. Now, me or you or any user can go and type in text and it can immediately show up on the create, so you can see what you are doing. You can in addition upload a picture that can be engrave or embossed as well. So, now I can personalize it, and I ponder the magic sits not in the fact that I can have this customizable-bodied iPhone case, but the magic sits in the fact that our createers are now free to manufacture their creations customizable-bodied. The combination of those things manufacture Shapeways a quite compelling platform.”

    build breakout

    As for sure products their keep owners are building, the list go ons to expand as Shapeways adds to materials to their arsenal. Weijmarshausen talked of how he saw initially-hand how new products were driven by material capabilities, “I ponder it follows materials. When we begined, we just contributeed a few plastics, and individuals may manufacture miniatures, toys, and gadgets. But when we added the initially metals way back in 2009, the initially thing individuals begined to do was manufacture their own jewelry. So I understood that materials open up new categories of products, and that encourages us to contribute silver and other precious metals, but in addition brass and bronze. So, we discovered a way to begin contributeing ceramics. With that came a lot of home decor, ponder coffee cups, vases, bowls, attractive things for the home begined to appear.”

    Packing

    Now that Shapeways has their factory and website running at its fullest extent to-date, Weijmarshausen and his team are focused on cultivating a wider sense of community on their platform. But they do have a huge user-base may already, Shapeways is appearing to go on growing into new customer territories, “What we’ve been neglecting a little bit is the social element, for the reason individuals who are doing this want to connect with each other,” Weijmarshausen said. “We had a forum and a blog, but it was yet a bit limited, so one of things we released earlier this year is the fact that users can now follow createers, they can comment on the activities that the createer is doing. So, you get a bit of a social timeline centered on products, but based on the community. It does a multitude of things: it manufactures the discoquite of products that you like much simpler. If you realize that Shapeways gets of 200,000 new creations equite month, finding what you like becomes a bit of a challenge. So, next the right createers assists you filter that down to things you really like.”

    3D engineer compiling a build

    The curation service that Shapeways not long ago implemented is creating a new kind of user aside of sellers and buyers. Now, curators can assist bridge the buyer and seller by tastefully curating the huge amount of products on Shapeways into easily navigable-bodied collections.“Next to that, if you appear at the reasons why individuals use Shapeways, you can break it down into two activities: individuals who are createing and building, and individuals who are buying,” Weijmarshausen explained. “That by itself is informative, but with this social curation of products, there is now a new category of users emerging, who I may call curators. You don’t have to be a createer; you don’t require to be a buyer; you can go the Shapeways and find attractive and aesthetic products that appeal to you. Now you can curate that. If I follow several curators, finding products that are quite attractive to me becomes way additional effortless.”

    When I asked Weijmarshausen of what he foresaw for the next of 3D printing innovation, he turned to 3D scanning as the way to get the innovation out of its niche and into the mainstream, “I ponder it begins with figuring out what the key use case is that manufactures the mainstream audience wanting to use 3D printing innovation. People who love new technologies, are not afraid of it, can go through the hardships actually if it does not work as meant but can use it nonetheless. I’m like that. But, and so, of course, there is a much larger group of individuals who want it to be effortless and know why it’s for them in five seconds, or else they can disengage. I ponder one of those things is going to be 3D scanning of individuals. Equiteone has known of scanning for years, but I was never particularly excited of 3D scanning objects. Yeah it’s informative, but loads of things can not be scanned well. Until, at a few point, we ran a tiny experiment of scanning individuals at SXSW at parties, individuals went nuts. We gave them codes so they may find their scan on our site and buy it, and I had no hopes that individuals may actually remember being scanned the next day, to my surprise, additional than 10% of the individuals did,” Weijmarshausen concludes.


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