Feb. 20, 2015 | By Simon

As more 3D printing enthusiasts learn how to create their own 3D models (rather than simply downloading already-made models), the rise of 3D printing-based marketplaces have also been growing steadily.  No longer are makers confined to just monetizing their designs on original platforms such as Shapeways - new methods of selling goods including the recently-announced Retail Renderables from Amazon have opened the doors for different types of markets and those ultimately wanting to sell prints based off of their 3D models.  Among the more recent companies to enter the landscape is San Francisco-based StuffHub.

Founded in August of 2014 by four close friends who share a passion for technology, design, and online shopping, Stuffhub provides a platform for connecting 3D model designers with consumers who want to purchase customized 3D prints.  

One of the company’s more interesting approaches to the 3D printing marketplace however, lies in their motto “Everyone can be a designer”.  Their goal is to open up their marketplace for 3D modelers of all skills rather than exclusively only providing a platform for those with extensive 3D modeling experience.  Although they are still in their early stages for the company, the friends are hoping that consumers will catch wind of StuffHub and use the platform as their online shopping hub for instant online printing.

Among one of the more the exciting products that consumers can currently purchase off of the online 3D print sharing platform are customized lollipops using molds made from 3D prints.  

"The idea of customized candy making using a 3DP design germinated during our brainstorming session for the Valentine's Day promotion," Joe Lin of Stuffhub tells 3ders.org. "Since we cannot print something sweet for valentine's, we decided to use the 3d printing of parts to make a customized mold. The beauty of a customized mold is that it not only can make something personal and special for Valentine's, but it can be used for many other occasions, like company promotion events or baby shower parties."

Because there are plenty of 3D printers in existence for creating custom chocolate, the StuffHub team wanted to focus on lollipops for creating one-of-a-kind DIY candy makers.  For this, they teamed up with Papabubble San Francisco to create custom color, flavor and shape options for the company’s hard candies.    

To test their concept, StuffHub started by prototyping the candy mold-making process by using a collection of logos on the lollipops to test the graphical integrity.  Once they had determined that their Stratasys uPrint SE 3D printer was capable of delivering the results they had desired, they opened up the platform for others to create their own unique lollipop designs.    

To customize a lollipop, a user simply navigates to the lollipop item on the StuffHub website and uploads their own own design or logo.  Once the graphic has been uploaded, they have the option to select a shape, color, flavor and desired quantity.  Once the order has been established, StuffHub prints the design to create a custom silicone mold, which is then sent to Papabubble to make the lollipops and package them for shipping back to the user.

Because the molds are used to food, special food-grade silicone must be used to cast the mold. to make sure the candy are safe to eat. Is the candy safe to eat? "Yes! We use food grade silicone to cast the mold for the candy production." Lin tells us. "Food grade silicone is a nontoxic silicone which frequently being used for food mold casting. We surveyed several kinds of food grade silicones, factored in the epoxy curing time, finished mold quality, and ease of handling."

"And the lollipop is made by one of San Francisco’s best hand-made hard candy store, papabubble. So there is no doubt the quality and safety of these lollipops are the best."

Although the finished ‘product’ may not necessarily be a 3D print similar to what you might find on other 3D printing marketplace platforms, what could be more fun than sharing lollipops with friends and telling them that they were made thanks to 3D printing?

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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