Shapeways

Questions

1)Are there any possibilities for food-safe materials to be 3D printed and offered by Shapeways?

2)In what ways does Shapeways highlight its community members’ work?

3)Do you envision Shapeways building more facilities worldwide as the company continues to grow, or expanding the two existing spaces to accommodate for that growth?


Visit

When we arrived at Shapeways’s location in Queens we were introduced to community and outreach manager Eleanor Whitney. Eleanor gave us a tour, first showing us the office space where a team of designers were working on prepping user submitted files for printing. Eleanor gave us an overview of the tools the team uses and the process from user submission request to final shippable product. We then toured the factory first seeing the industrial grade nylon and plastic 3D printers. Eleanor discussed the ways in which desktop 3D printers differ from the industrial grade printers found at Shapeways. We then moved on to a larger room with more 3D printers and got to see the machines working up close. After that Eleanor directed us to the next room where finished batches were taken apart, cleaned off, and organized for either shipping or dying. Finally we returned to the office space and lounge area to further discuss how the company has evolved over the years as well as Eleanor’s own responsibilities as community and outreach manager.

 

IMG_2554

Samples of 3D printed materials from Shapeways

 

Reflection

What I found personally interesting about Shapeways was their growth and evolution as a business. As Eleanor Whitney explained the company started in the Netherlands. Very recently the company expanded by acquiring its factory space in New York by attracting investors looking to create manufacturing and tech jobs locally. In that way it was interesting to learn about a startup that was able to expand internationally yet still keep a small ecosystem of under 60 employees. It was encouraging to hear that a creative/tech company could gain the kind of attention Shapeways did to help invest in the growth of their company.

Links

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/23/shapeways-raises-30-million-to-bring-3-d-printing-mainstream/?_r=0

http://www.fastcompany.com/3002303/shapewayss-new-3-d-printing-factory-brings-manufacturing-jobs-tech-scene