Jun.26, 2012

GigaOM recently interviewed Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO of Shapeways, after their announcement of $6.2 million new round funding and more than one million objects being 3D printed.

The Shapeways platform consists 6,000 shops and 150,000 users inside its community. It is said the company projects users will double over the next 6-8 months and Shapeways needs to double the printing capacity in the next 4-5 months.

In the early days 3D printing was used to make prototypes to test parts or components before manufacturing. Nowadays with a platform like Shapeways, designers, customers could make customization of any product.

"Mass production has given us everything we want and then some but it's all standardized and based on the lowest common denominator. But the trend you see on the web and everywhere is people are making things by hand and there are artisans again and where 3-D printing comes in is the need for people to get exactly what they want," Weijmarshausen said.

One of the impressive personalization is to reintroduce the use of materials and symbolism using 3D printing technology. Emergency Medical Alert (EMA) jewelry, for example, can be used to provide information to health professionals that someone suffers from a medical condition. An EMA jewelry can be a bracelet, a sports band or a pendant, but unfortunately most of them in the market often have a clinical appearance that people don't really like to wear.

Dougie Kinnear has been working on creating EMA jewelry with nice design but still particular - they are organic in form either with completely hiding the RFID tag or being pierced to allow the RFID tag to be seen within. Emerging technologies such as QR code technology and passive RFID have been used in this conceptual designs to produce prototypes of jewelry and then they are produced by Shapeways. Such a jewelry can be personalized to any individual with their lifestyle and an RFID tag could identify them and allows the secure, rapid recovery of patient information by health professionals.

(images credit: Dougie Kinnear)

"Shapeways offers printing in 30 materials and finishes such as plastics, ceramics and metals such as steel and silver."


"A product can go through any number of evolutions, based on the requests or feedback of users. There's the potential for an iterative production process, similar to what happens in agile software development, in which a product can be shaped over time." said Weijmarshausen.

Be sure to watch the interview below. Though 3D printing is facing challenges such as too difficult 3D modeling tools, a limited number of materials and high pricing of 3D printing, Weijmarshausen believes over time, software will be improved, and "as 3D printing gets more efficient, the savings will get passed on to consumers as well." Read the full article from GigaOm here.

Posted in 3D Printing Services



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Chris Norman wrote at 7/20/2012 6:36:01 AM:

Great explanation Peter...looks like we are on the same path...www.kraftwurx.com

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