Shapeways

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Questions:

  1. Shapeways print a lot of different things for people across the globe. Are some of the designs made by the workers in Shapeways, or are they mostly from clients?
  2. Back in Toronto, there is a company called Hot Pop Factory, which is a start up that prints 3D objects and laser cuts different items. They offer printing and cutting where the client can get their stuff printed and leave. Does Shapeways have that leniency for people to come up and pick up items, or is the process mostly online?
  3. A lot of people use plastics for printing. However on the website, there are various other materials such as metal. How are those made? Would the machines be able to do mix media, meaning print different types of materials at once?

Summary:

The class arrived at Shapeways Factory, and was guided to the lounge area nearby the kitchen to settle our belongings there. Eleanor then introduced herself and talked a bit about Shapeways. Shapeways is a 3D printing company that uses and experiments with a variety of materials, such as nylon, sandstone, cast metal, steel, and porcelain.

IMG_20150318_164250They are a company that started in the Netherlands, which they then opened a branch in New York. The two branches work collaboratively in order to proceed with faster shipping all across the globe. The Netherlands branch covers the Eastern side of the globe, while the New York branch covers the West. Eleanor described that the job they do could possibly for Etsy as well. They print off designs that people could not print themselves, as well as make their own. Some objects include figurines, drone parts, jewellery, iPhone covers, and so on.

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After the introduction, we were brought into the different equipment rooms where we were shown various different types of 3D printers, the process of making each print, and how different material and machines are moved around the factory. We ended the visit with a brief Q&A session with Eleanor, and concluded the day from there.

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Personal Reflection:

Shapeways is a very remarkable factory from any other factory I have seen before. I find it remarkable because there are not a lot of factories out in the world that accepts custom designs to be printed out. Not only do they allow custom printing, they also allow users to sell the made items in a shop. They have an application that allows users to do so. They are one of the first companies to initiate printing in various materials as well, which is not something I have ever encountered before. Eleanor spoke of printing ceramics and printing metal. Normally ceramics are moulded, and metal are melted in order to create a shape. The company brings new materials to light using the new 3D printing systems. It makes me think that soon enough, these printers are not only able to print using a large scale amount of materials, but they will also shrink in size, where people would be able to create their own models and prints within their own homes.

Relevant Links: http://www.shapeways.com/