By Evan Ackerman
3D printers are not quite home appliances yet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a use for them. Sometimes, objects you want simply don’t exist. Shapeways does the expensive part for you, taking your design and printing it out in 3D and mailing it to your door. They print in durable plastic which can be solid or flexible, or even transparent, and the printing resolution of 1/10 of a millimeter allows you to print things like functional gears and other moving or interlocking parts. Shapeways prices designs by the volume of material used… The candle holder in the picture above, for example, costs $80.
Of course, with the expensive part (the printing) taken care of, we’re still left with the difficult part: making a 3D design. Shapeways accepts all kinds of file formats if you already know what you’re doing with that, but if you don’t, they have an online 3D design creator that makes it easy (as long as you stick to the templates, anyway). And once you get good at it, Shapeways will even sell your designs on their online store.
After the jump, I’ve posted a couple YouTube videos showing how the design and printing processes actually work.
3D printing in 4 steps:
How to design a 3D object online:
[ Shapeways ]