Do you see 3D printing becoming a viable production method for larger companies?

Is there anything that Shapeways really likes printing?

Are the majority of Shapeways orders art/design or technology/parts?

In Queens we visited the Shapeways factory. Shapeways is the leading 3D printing marketplace community; basically “the Etsy of 3D printing”. Shapeways gives anybody the ability to turn digital designs into real products. The company was started in the Netherlands in 2009-2010 before being incubated by Phillips and then breaking out on their own. Shapeways prints in over 55 different materials including nylon, gold, porcelain, ceramic, and steel. The facility produces large amounts of various products such as jewelry, figurines, camera parts, etc. At the factory we were given a tour by Eleanor, the community manager for Shapeways. She took us through the factory floor, first showing us were both high detail acrylic and nylon products get printed. Then we were taken to “break out” where nylon products are removed from the blocks of raw material in which they sit and cleaned. Following this we saw the dyeing and sorting areas of the floor, where products are coloured and sorted for shipment, before finally completing the tour.

This visit was really quite novel for me. It was really amazing to see not only such large 3D printers but such a large facility dedicated just to 3D printing. A few years ago I would have never expected 3D printing to be so accessible and on such a large scale. I also really enjoyed being able to see so many different kinds of 3D printed objects; I find anything 3D printed to be automatically really interesting. Additionally the visit gave me a bit more insight into the ease of 3D printing (or lack thereof) and how a start-up company like Shapeways can have a massive overhead budget compared to some smaller or software based start-ups.

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