Niagara Gazette

Web Extra

March 17, 2013

Want to try 3D design? Now you can

Shapeways.com bridges gap between 3D printing and the everyday consumer

Shapeways.com bills itself as the “world’s leading 3D printing marketplace and community.” One thing Shapeways has going for itself is that it’s one of the first Internet companies to jump into the 3D printing industry and offer a way for everyday consumers to take advantage of it.

Quite simply, Shapeways is to designers what websites like KitsyLane.com are to jewelry makers, in that people can sell their own designs over the Internet.

Not just design

Instead of being able to sell just a statement necklace or offer a cool-looking bracelet to someone, you can actually put together just about anything your mind can come up with, as long as it’s under a certain size. From there, you can have it printed and shipped to either yourself or someone who’s willing to pay good money for it.

In case you’re unfamiliar with 3D printing, it’s the concept of taking the blueprints of a design from just about any object and duplicating it through the use of a specially-made 3D printer. We offered a full story on it last year, when the concept was just starting to hit mainstream consumer realms.

The idea behind Shapeways’ approach is to capture people who may be interested in 3D printing, but don’t have the funds or interest in purchasing their own 3D printer, which can easily go for thousands of dollars.

To get started, create an account and then you can pretty much start designing products right away.

If you’re already familiar with 3D printing in terms of what materials to select and how to properly specify the dimensions of an object, you can jump from the signing-in phase to the design phase, and choose to either have your product shipped to you or placed into Shapeways’ store for sale.

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