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Sometimes printing multiple copies of a design can make it much more affordable. Shapeways prices depend on many factors, including how much space is taken up in the printers, how much material is used, and other processing considerations. Understanding pricing and then designing to optimize price can make ordering your own prints more affordable, and allow your store products to be more accessible and attractive to customers. In this article we’ll compare the cost of printing items individually and in bulk, and show how to efficiently stack and loop objects for inexpensive bulk printing.

Printing single copies in Versatile Plastic

The cost of printing a model in Versatile Plastic depends on material volume, machine volume, production costs, and, most importantly for this article, number of parts. It costs time, labor, and money to process and handle each printed part, even if it is very small, so Shapeways requires a minimum price of $5.00 per part to print this material in Natural White. For more information about model pricing, including for other materials, check out the Shapeways Help Center article How are Prices Calculated?

Note that per-part minimum costs are not always charged for every part; instead they are minimum costs per part. For a small model, the cost of the printing material and machine space might be less than that minimum per-part price, in which case your design would just cost the minimum cost. Here’s a small pentagon-shaped model with that minimum cost:

It turns out that a model that is essentially six of these small pentagons glued together costs just 15 cents more than the single unit. In this case the printing material and machine space just barely exceeded the minimum cost, so the cost of the object is just based on material and machine space, and there is no need to apply the per-part minimum:

If we had printed the single pentagon six times separately instead of glued together, we would have had to pay the minimum per-part cost for each of those six parts, so this combined unit is much more cost-effective.

Looping multiple copies together with Tinkercad

So let’s say you wanted to print 24 of these pentagons, either with 24 copies of a pentagon, or with 4 copies of a 6-pentagon group. In order to avoid incurring extra per-part charges, we can loop together multiple copies of a model so that it is considered just one part. This makes sense because as one part it it easier and cheaper to handle and process than as lots of different parts.

Prints made with Versatile Plastic are printed on SLS machines that use lasers to fuse thin layers of nylon powder. This means that sets of parts held together with loops are no more expensive to make than non-interlocking parts. The only thing you have to worry about is keeping the parts far enough apart that they don’t get fused together. In the case of Versitile Plastic this means an 0.5mm clearance between pieces:

One of the simplest tools for doing simple design manipulations like duplicating and looping parts is the free in-browser modeling software Tinkercad. First, bring your STL model into Tinkercad by using the “Import” button. Add the Ruler tool so that you can get precise measurements. Then create a stacked pattern with the Control-D tool. To do this, select the model and press Control-D to make a second copy of the model on top of the first one. Then use the black arrow handle above the copy to shift it up far enough to be 0.5mm above the original. After doing this, each time your press Control-D again will create another copy the same distance above the previous one, so it’s really easy to make a tall stack of copies of your model:

To loop the stacks together during the printing process we created a simple loop, using the Soft Box tool in the Featured Shape Generators list, making sure to make the loop wide and tall enough to have 0.5mm clearance on all sides from the object stack. Pro tip: Use the sliders to change the dimensions of the tool instead of the object handles.

We also made sure that the thickness of the loop is at least 1.0mm (this is the Z dimension in our slider window), to satisfy the Minimum Unsupported Wires thickness requirement for Versitile Plastic:

Bulk pricing for the win!

Our 6-pentagon unit required $5.15 to print, but printing four stacked up and looped costs just $17.83:

The loop adds about 10 cents to the cost of the print; on the other hand, printing without the loop would have added $3.00 to the cost, because in addition to the per-part minimum there is also a per-part cost of $1.00.

For the individual pieces we can get a huge amount of savings from stacking. Our original pentagon was $5.00 to print because of the per-part minimum, but twenty-four stacked and looped copies costs less than 4 times the individual price, instead of 24 times!


Finished prints

Here’s what the 24 stacked copies look like after they are printed and shipped; a little crazy and unordered after whatever post-processing this little guy went through, but the loop is holding strong!

And here’s our stack of four large pieces, with a smaller loop still faithfully holding things together:

The loops are easy to cut or break; our two models exploded into all these pieces when the loops were removed (nothing fused together!):

Bulk products in your store

Photos and renders of stacked objects aren’t always the clearest way to show off your product. If you want to use an individual image then you need to make it completely clear what your customers are ordering. I suggest adding a “times” signifier to your image, to make everything obvious even in search results and other views where customers won’t immediately see the model description. The software GraphicConverter (version 9 is free!) is an excellent tool for adding text and other modifications to your images, like this:

This technique results in a very clear featured image for your product. The Shapeways renders will still show the stacked bulk image, because that is what will be printed for each order.

You can read even more about the process of constructing and posting these models in our Hacktastic article Print All The Pentagons. Good luck and happy bulk printing!

The post Stacking 3D Models for Bulk Printing appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

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Photo Credit: Siemens

What would you trust to 3D printing? How about an integral nuclear power plant part? 

In 2017, Siemens AG received a request from the Krško nuclear power plant, located in Slovenia near its border with Croatia, for a replacement part to fit their fire protection pump, which was critical to the plant’s protection system. Normally, replacing a single part would not be an issue. However, the Krško plant, which is the only plant in Slovenia and which provides more than one-quarter of the country’s power plus 15 percent of Croatia’s, became operational in 1981 and had been producing commercial power since 1983; many of its systems were now obsolete and original manufacturers were long out of business. 

When no replacement for the necessary part could be located, Siemens had to consider other options. Traditional manufacturing for the single round disk would have meant a long search for the original 1970s part specifications, then an expensive and long casting and machining process. Instead, Siemens decided to reverse-engineer the part to create a ‘digital twin’ which could then be used as a blueprint to create a new replacement using additive manufacturing. This saved significant time and money. 

The new part is now installed and the plant is expected to be operational until it is decommissioned in 2043. And how is the new part performing? The Krško nuclear plant is one of the most highly rated European nuclear power plants in terms of safety, according to the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group. Vinko Planinc, head of Maintenance at the Krško plant, said “this 3D printed part gave us confidence that we can reach the full life expectancy from our asset.” 

Services like Shapeways that offer additive manufacturing are creating increasingly sophisticated parts like aircraft parts, drones, and car components, as well as designing and fabricating the molds for such parts that can then be produced by a traditional manufacturer. 

3D printing is moving into many manufacturing fields that have traditionally required regulatory oversight and third-party certification. It’s an exciting time when even the jet engines propelling us to and from destinations now rely on 3D printed parts, and our doctors may turn to 3D printing to heal us. Platforms like Shapeways offer high-tech industries the capability to prototype new solutions or to replicate old ones, with the manufacturing agility to integrate changes at a speed traditional manufacturers simply cannot match. One might almost say ‘the sky’s the limit’ on what 3D printing can achieve. But actually, it may be just a little beyond that.

Technology writer Marla Keene works for AXControl.com. In her free time, Marla hikes with her dog Otis or spends time searching for old cameras to add to her ever-growing collection.

The post Repairing a Power Plant With 3D Printing appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

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Shapeways is excited to announce the launch of three new SLA Plastic materials that provide extreme durability, high resolution and detail as well as a smooth surface.

One of the first 3D printing technologies developed, Stereolithography (SLA) has been widely used for creating models, prototypes and patterns. To produce parts using SLA systems, a laser selectively cures liquid resin in a resin bath above it, moving up layer by layer until the part is complete. Using large format SLA technology, you will be able to produce much larger parts than other resin-based technologies while achieving similar fantastic surface quality.

Our SLA Plastic launch includes the following three acrylate-based materials:

Accura® 60

This clear plastic produces rigid and durable parts with similar properties to molded Polycarbonate (PC). It has the ability for fine details making it apt for tough, functional prototypes, lighting components, medical instruments and fluid flow and visualization models.

Accura® Xtreme™

A material with similar physical properties to polypropylene and ABS, Accura® Xtreme is an ultra-tough grey plastic with outstanding durability, accuracy, moisture and thermal resistance and the ability for great detail. It is ideal for snap fit assemblies, enclosures for consumer and electronic products, master patterns for vacuum casting, and general purpose prototyping.

Accura® Xtreme™ 200

This white plastic is the toughest SLA material available and can replace CNC-machined polypropylene and ABS articles. It is perfect for projects that must withstand extreme, harsh conditions making it ideal for challenging functional assemblies. It can be applied to similar projects as Accura Xtreme as well projects that demand the highest durability like automotive parts, drill/tap applications, assemblies with self-tapping screws, enclosures for consumer electronic components, general purpose prototyping, and master silicone molding.

All three of these SLA materials produce rigid, robust parts that resist breakage and are durable enough to create functional parts as well as provide excellent detail and accuracy. SLA Plastics are printed on large format 3D printers which is great for creating more sizable parts for visual prototypes, short-run production and mass customization including specific applications such as:

  • Master patterns for vacuum casting
  • Shell investment casting patterns for metal casting
  • Complex assemblies
  • Wind tunnel models
  • Rapid production of flow test rigs
  • Mass customization production (orthodontic, dental)
  • Custom assembly jigs and fixtures

These materials have a larger build volume than standard SLA technology, which means your projects  will have less limitations. We are excited to see what you create!

The post Introducing Three Tough SLA Plastic Materials appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

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Drones are quickly becoming a standard fixture in skies throughout the world. While most drones are small and portable — akin to the common radio-controlled toy plane — aerospace companies and tech firms are building larger, more robust drones to take on all manner of tasks, from delivery to security.

3D printing stands to play a substantial role in how drones are manufactured and deployed in the future. And if the forecasts are correct, there will be a huge demand for 3D printed drone accessories as the robots become more mainstream and we find new, exciting applications for their technology. Here’s a rundown of the ways you can modify your drones with 3D printing.

3D Printing Drone Parts

If you intend to use 3D printed drones as part of your business, or if you’re merely interested in what it would be like to make one, here are a few of the essential drone parts you can make with even a basic 3D printer:

  • Propellers
  • Drone frames and equipment housing
  • Landing gear
  • Protective guards
  • Exoskeleton attachments
  • Antenna holders
  • Mounts for cameras and other payloads

There are numerous benefits to 3D printing these types of drone parts, aside from the cost. Accidents happen, and if you break a piece of your drone, there’s no need to order a new part if you have a 3D printer available.

If you decide to upgrade your drones with new printable parts, you don’t need to send your drone away to be worked on. Simply print out the latest upgrades and integrate them.

3D Printing Drone Accessories

Of course, there are plenty of other things related to drone use which you can 3D print, aside from the essential components of your drones, including:

  • Carrying cases
  • Radio signal enhancers
  • Targets, landing pads, and cones
  • Tables and displays
  • Repair tools
  • Sun shades for mobile device controllers
  • Remote control unit housings
  • Landing gear extenders

Depending on how you intend to use your drones and what you learn in the field, you can even come up with your own accessories to add to your 3D printing list.

Creating Opportunities with Drone Accessory Production

With so many different types of drones on the market and more coming out all the time, there’s more opportunity than ever for businesses to get a piece of the drone industry. Whether you intend to use drones to deliver services to customers, or if you want to be a drone provider yourself, 3D printing can help you harness the benefits of next-generation automation.

Overall, 3D printing provides five key opportunities:

  • Reduced costs
  • Reduced timelines
  • Reduced errors
  • Agility in the face of competition
  • On-demand production

Whichever way you apply drone technology in your business, you should consider 3D printing options so you can take advantage of these benefits. By tapping into 3D printing early, you’ll have more opportunities to take advantage of the next iteration of this technology.

There’s no better time to deploy new 3D printed drone accessories, whether you intend to sell them yourself or incorporate them into your existing business.

The post What Drone Parts Can You 3D Print? appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

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Joining Creativity and Technology in Early Education

At Southeast of Saline Elementary school in Kansas, art and technology teacher Kinsy McVay challenged the students in his 5th grade art class to design and market their own 3D printed creations. “I believe that 3D printing is a great combination of my two interests that gives students a real-world application for their creativity,” Mr. McVay said.

Last year, Mr. McVay gave his students the opportunity to make their own custom fidget spinners and market them at school. After attending workshops about student entrepreneurship, Mr. McVay decided to take this idea to the next level and teach the students to create and market an object to the world outside of school and family by making their 3D printed designs available for purchase from their very own Shapeways online store, “Trojans Tinker”.

“I think knowing that anyone could order your design is really cool because we are only in the 5th grade and they could be talking about my design all the way in Canada.” said Kelli, a student in Mr. McVay’s class who designed a keychain.

The class decided that 50% of the profits from their shop would go to their classrooms and the other 50% would go to cancer research. 

Exploring Inspiration and New Skills

The students followed tutorials and learned how to use Tinkercad to model their designs. “I feel that using Tinkercad was pretty easy. I liked that I could follow a lesson that would teach me how to do a certain thing.” said Charlotte, another student.

Mr. McVay left it up to the students to chose their final designs, as well as five materials available through Shapeways, and over the course of a few months they prototyped and refined their designs using the school’s 3D printers. The students then made posters and a video commercial to market their website and their Shapeways shop.

The Southeast of Saline students created a wide range of designs including keychains, plaques with positive messages like “Be Yourself” and small statues that include a Space Needle and a Roman Cathedral. They were inspired by their interests, friends and family, as well as causes dear to them.

“I was inspired to make my product for the kids that are getting bullied every day at school,” said Jackson, who designed a “Stop Bullying” keychain.

The Students’ Take on their Adventure into 3D Printing

The students will have a chance to examine their experience in order to provide feedback to next year’s 5th grade class. “My favorite part about 3D printing was just learning how to design things,” said Madison, who designed the Roman Cathedral. “Before we even started this project I had always thought 3D printing was cool. But then I actually had a chance to try it. I ended up picking a really hard lesson, but I still had a lot of fun.”

When asked what advice they would give to future students, many agreed that it was important to take one’s time but mainly to enjoy the process. Suttyn, who designed a cactus, said “It can be hard at times but it is a really fun thing to learn to do and getting to create whatever you want is really cool too.”

The students encourage anyone visiting their Shapeways shop to email them a quick hello so they can see how many people their shop has reached. Stop by the Trojans Tinker page to see these ambitious 5th graders’ designs!

The post Meet the Fifth Grade 3D Designers of Trojan’s Tinker appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

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When Chuck Hall created 3D printing in 1983, he probably never knew just how much it would revolutionize the healthcare industry. 3D printing already has a rich history in the world of medicine, and its influence grows more and more every year. Here’s how 3D printing in the medical field is changing the healthcare industry.

How 3D Printing in the Medical Field is Revolutionizing the Healthcare Industry

3D printing in medicine has provided the healthcare industry with immense opportunities, and the global expansion of technology is only increasing these opportunities. The main broad categories of 3D printing in medicine are:

  • Organoid, organ, and tissue fabrication
  • The development of customized implants, anatomical models, prosthetics, and implants
  • Engineering medical devices
  • Pharmaceutical research into dosage forms, discovery, delivery, and drug fabrication
  • Manufacturing surgical implements

3D printing in medicine has applications ranging from engineering personalized projects to compressing the supply chain to reducing the cost and lead times in various sectors in the healthcare industry.

Less Expensive Production Costs

3D printing allows doctors to print models of patients’ organs from their CTs, MRIs, X-Rays, and ultrasounds. Surgeries cost an estimated $2000, or thereabouts. By practicing on bioprinted models of organs, surgeons can practice complex operations on these models and as a result, reduce surgery times up to 30 percent.

3D printing in medicine is also a cost-effective way to produce surgery tools. Sets can be engineered in mere hours and even modified for a surgeon’s specific needs. The cost is less than other traditional methods of making surgical implements, and they are often more precise because of the technology. Surgeons can also have smaller surgical instruments made for use in tiny spaces in the body.

This also means that poverty-stricken areas can receive the tools that they need. For instance, after the earthquake in Haiti, Field Ready used 3D printing to produce the medical supplies they needed to improve the healthcare available for people residing in remote areas in Nepal.

Organoid, Organ, and Tissue Fabrication

The medical research and laboratory company Organovo is bioprinting intestinal and liver tissues to study organs in vitro and develop new drugs for certain diseases. They’ve already provided pre-clinical information on type 1 tyrosinemia.

Researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid are developing 3D printing of skin for burn victims. Skin grafts are incredibly painful and don’t always provide the best aesthetic results. Other solutions, such as hydrotherapy produce limited results.

3D printed ovaries have also been implanted into mice to find a solution to some of the most distressing medical conditions that women face. In 2016, scientists implanted ovaries made from cells and gelatin into mice.

Biomedical engineers at Pohang University in South Korea used living tissue and a printer in 2017 to develop bio-blood-vessels. This development is crucial for furthering researchers’ endeavors to clone full-sized, complex organs. While scientists estimate that we are still at least a decade away from 3D printing complicated organs such as hearts that can be transplanted, livers and kidneys could be available within six years.

Customized Implants, Anatomical Models, Prosthetics, and Implants

3D printing in medicine has helped make prosthetics and implants less expensive and available to more people. These prosthetics are custom-made for each person so that they feel and fit much better than mass produced prostheses. Doctors can send an image of a patient’s knee, for example, and engineer a knee replacement that matches the patient’s specific measurements and requirements.

As early as 2014, The Centre for Applied Reconstructive Technologies in Surgery (CARTIS) were offering technologically advanced 3D printing services for surgical guides, medical models, and custom prosthetics and implants. In March of 2014, they made headlines with a patient whose face was damaged severely in a motorcycle accident. Titanium facial implants were used to rebuild his face. Others followed suit by implanting printed jaws, hips, and complete skulls.

Additive manufacturing is also used today to create personalized solutions such as orthotic insoles and hearing aids. The healthcare industry makes these products regularly.

Cancer Treatment and Research

Cancer cells and diseased cells are also being printed to study them more effectively. Scientists can study how tumors and abnormal growths develop and grow. 3D printing in medicine has taken a crucial role in analyzing cancer cells and developing cancer treatments, as well as more efficient drug testing. Eventually, bioprinting may help develop a cure for cancer in our lifetime.

Pharmacology and 3D Printing

Many Americans take multiple pills every day, and 3D printing in medicine will enable the personalization of drug treatment to each person. 3D printed capsules can house several drugs inside that release at different times.

Researchers are studying a polypill that holds three medicines, and the preliminary results are promising. Hopefully, this will reduce unpleasant requirements and adverse drug interactions. At the very least, it reduces the number of medications that people will need to take. It allows pharmacologists to have a level of precision like never before.

From medical supplies to transplant organs, bioprinting is beneficial to just about every sector. 3D printed technology such as bone replacement and printed organ technology is evolving every day with many people contributing to its advancements. All eyes are on the future of the healthcare industry and the various offerings of additive manufacturing.

Interested in 3D Printing Medical Parts With Shapeways?

Read case studies from business that have printed with us and learn more about how Shapeways can support your medical business.

The post How 3D Printing in Medicine is Changing the Healthcare Industry appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

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Since we first launched, Shapeways has been passionate about supporting innovation in the robotics industry, developing accessible tools and high-quality, flexible materials that expand what’s possible. With Shapeways, building robots is easy – even non-experts can design and create their own parts and systems, turning their ideas into reality. To help showcase how 3D printing is transforming the robotics industry, we spoke with Shape Robotics about the ways they are using Shapeways to expand their business.

The Story Behind Shape Robotics

It all began in 2011, at the Technical University of Denmark – just outside of Copenhagen. Moises Pacheco partnered with and began collaboration with David Johan Christensen, an Associate Professor and Robot Researcher. It became clear that Moises and David shared the same vision: to develop a robot system that was extremely easy-to-use – even for younger school pupils.

The two developers were inspired by previous projects with modular robots that could repair themselves, as well as a project they had in progress with LEGO®, which was to develop new, digital products. This became Moises’ Ph.D. project, and as the years passed, interest in using the robot system Fable grew ever greater. At the end of 2015, David, Moises and Helene Christensen, a project manager, set up the spin-out company Shape Robotics and Fable was ready for the market. Their mission remains today: to make Fable as widely available as possible to students globally. This has been made possible with funding from the Technical University of Denmark and the Danish Ministry of Education – and they are well on their way. The Fable robotics system has since appeared on the top Microsoft Education Apps list and has also launched successfully with partners in the United Kingdom, USA, Italy, France and Mexico with more being added to the global list at a rapid pace.

Students learning how to build robots. Image by Shape Robotics

How 3D Printing Evolved Our Business

Using 3D printing parts has significantly expanded the usability of our product. Among other things, it gives the students a greater opportunity to use their own imagination to build robots by using the 3D printed parts in their design. Shapeways was the first 3D printing supplier that we discovered. We use the platform for all stages of production, from early stage prototyping to end use products. Now we can easily test different designs, modifying each based on our customers’ feedback and then quickly releasing the update. With Shapeways, we see greater accuracy in the parts we order and we’re able to easily scale up production, ordering any amount we need, no matter how large. For our company, dimensional accuracy is very important; so are aesthetics. Strength is also important, as our products are often being handled by students as early as third grade, which means falling on the floor often.

We’ve tried a number of Shapeways materials, including steel, versatile plastic, and fine detail plastic. The versatile plastic is the best for us, as it is more suitable for the way our products are being used, due to its mechanical properties. The value of versatile plastic and its high quality mechanical properties make this material ideal for our robots. Fable has already come so far but this is only the beginning. We are looking forward to what the future holds for Fable and Education on an even larger, global scale.

Interested in 3D Printing Robots for Your Business?

Find out how Shapeways can help make that happen.

The post How Building Robots Lets Students’ Imaginations Run Wild appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

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3D printed robots are fast becoming the standard in robotic technology, and these exciting and adaptable new robots are lighting the way to the future of robotics. Depending on how the robot is programmed, here are some of the functions these robots are capable of:

  • Walking, running, climbing, or jumping
  • Spatial reasoning
  • Holding or gripping objects
  • Basic problem-solving

If you’re looking to develop a greater understanding of how 3D printing is being applied to building robots, there are some great educational and fun DIY bots you can build now. Most builds are easy enough and can be completed within one weekend.


The PLEN2 robot

The PLEN Project was created by Natsuo Akazawa in Japan, originally as a Kickstarter campaign. Akazawa’s robot design quickly took off, and today there are multiple iterations of this fun humanoid robot.

The PLEN2 robot stands about 8” tall and has 18 different joints, allowing it to move and articulate fluidly. Customers can purchase DIY kits that include everything needed except the 3d printed body, or complete kits that include the body parts for people who don’t have access to a 3D printer.

Once your robot is ready for action, it can walk, dance, and interact with you. It’s a great starting point for those looking to learn more about robotics and 3D printing.

Otto the Biped

Taking inspiration from everyone’s favorite robot pal, Bob the Biped, Otto is a fun and easy-to-make 3D printed robot that anyone can make.

Otto is an open source robot, so you’ll be able to find all the plans you need for printing and building your own robot with ease. The body and limbs of Otto are entirely 3D printed, and Arduino controllers and mini servos are used to control the robot’s movements.

Once the parts are printed, Otto can be assembled in as little as one hour with just a screwdriver, making it one of the easiest robots to build and learn about. Like most small DIY robots, Otto is primarily designed to help children reinforce STEM skills, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t get in on the fun, either.


For those looking for a robot build that they can customize to tackle different tasks, the EEZYbotARM from Italian designer Carlo Franciscone may be perfect for you. This easy to build robotic arm is easy to print and assemble, and it’s capable of tackling a myriad of different tasks you can program yourself.

This robot requires 17 different 3D printed parts along with a controller, servos, and a few nuts and bolts. Once the printing is complete, this robot can be built in just a few hours. Once the basic robot is complete, you can experiment with different grippers to better equip the robot to handle different tasks.

Poppy Project

The Poppy Humanoid

Created by Matthieu Lapeyre, the Poppy Humanoid is one of the most human-like robots we’ve discussed, and with 25 different actuators, large cameras, and an LED screen, it’s also the most human-like robot we’ve covered.

This robot is designed to be fully hacked for whatever purposes you can dream up, so it’s one of the easiest robots available to program and customize. All of the body parts are 3D printable, and it’s fully open source so anyone can create and customize their own Poppy Humanoid.

If you’re looking to tackle a more advanced robot that you’ll be able to program in tons of useful ways, the Poppy Humanoid may be your best bet.

Kame the Quadruped

In addition to being one of the most adorable robots ever, Kame the quadruped is also one of the most advanced walking robots that you can build yourself.

Each piece of the robot’s body is entirely 3D printed, and it can be controlled with a NodeMCU or an Arduino controller. High-speed servos allow Kame to master any movements you program. He can hop, run, jump, or walk with different gaits.

Kame is a great project for more advanced builders as well as anyone looking for a challenge.

How Some of The World’s Most Advanced Robots Utilize 3D Printing

DIY robots are a great way to get acquainted with the application of 3D printing in the robotics industry. For more sophisticated builds, leading corporations across a variety of industries are beginning to harness the power of 3D printed robots. Let’s take a closer look at how advanced robots are using 3D printing.

Shape Robotics

The Fable robot by Shape Robotics

Fable is a modular construction system that students can use to create their own robots. Shape Robotics utilizes 3D printing parts manufactured by Shapeways to expand the usability of their robotic products. Among other things, it gives the students a greater opportunity to use their own imagination to build robots by using the 3D printed parts in their design. Students can assemble modules together in many different configurations to build custom robot bodies, use inbuilt sensors and program the robot’s movements.

KUKA Robotics

As one of the leading automation specialists in the world, KUKA Robotics manufactures robotics for the automotive, aerospace, and general manufacturing industries. Considering that each industry has unique demands, it’s rare that KUKA can employ the same style of robot across multiple industries.

But 3D printing is making it easier for them to adapt to changes, and they presently use 3D printing to produce the end effectors (the component which grips, grabs, or wields) for their robots to enable them to complete their highly specialized task.

Siemen’s Spiders

Siemen’s Spiders (SiSpis) may look like cute quadruped robots at first glance, but these cartoonish robots mean big things for the growing 3D printing industry. One of the largest concerns of 3D printing has been its ability to scale in size. But these little spiders are up to the challenge, and they’re leading the way for large scale additive manufacturing.

These robots can work collaboratively to create structures and surfaces on a scale that was previously unattainable with traditional 3D printing. For larger jobs, hundreds of robots will be able to work collaboratively, using their onboard cameras and lasers to interpret their environment, determine their working area, and begin working on their assigned tasks.


The aptly named BionicANT takes its cues from the humble insect it shares a name with. These robots work together collaboratively to tackle tasks that would be either too large or too complex for a single BionicANT to handle.

This robot looks exactly like an ant, just several times larger. Each component is 3D printed, and MIDs are used to connect individual components. This also adds a very cool visual appeal to these robots beyond its functional purpose. Each robot is equipped with cameras, sensors, and a radio module, which allows it to communicate with other robots.

Working together, these robots can conquer complex tasks with ease, and it’s easy to see how they could play a major role in virtually every industry moving forward.


In the world of consumer robots, InMoov is one of the most impressive 3D printed robots there are. Each component of the robot’s body is entirely 3D printed, and those components are controlled with Arduino microcontrollers. Amazingly, anyone can download the files needed to print their own InMoov robot.

The robot works on the open source MyRobotLab framework, which allows tech-savvy users to customize the robots’ function. InMoov robots can see, hear, speak, and make independent movements. Considering the robot was developed by Gael Langevin, a French sculptor with no prior robotics experience, it’s easy to see the potential for open source robots like this in the future.


The ASPIR robot was developed by John Choi of Choitech, a new robotics startup. This humanoid robot stands just over four feet tall, and every piece of its body is 3D printed. This open-source robot is designed to bridge the gap between prohibitively expensive research-grade robots, and more affordable humanoid robots that anyone can afford.

The robot’s primary purpose is as a positive reinforcement tool and study buddy, and Choi hopes that it will inspire more girls to enter the field of research in robotics, which is currently a primary focus for his team.

3D Print Your Next Robot

3D printing has had a significant impact on the robotics industry. Perhaps best of all, these new technologies are available to everyone, and anyone with a bright idea and some basic robotics knowledge can create their own amazing 3D printed robot.

Ready to get started with your own robot? Find out how Shapeways can help make that happen.

The post 3D Print Your Next Robot appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

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As part of our month-long feature on Multi Jet Fusion Plastic PA12, we’ve asked you, our readers, to submit your questions about this material. Here are the top questions and answers to help you better understand the properties and applications of MJF PA12.

Top Questions Asked

Q. Is PA12 certified non-allergenic?

A. Yes, here is a certification for biocompatability for skin-contact applications, such as jewelry.

Q. Do you have any colored MFJ materials available?

A. Colors for MJF is not in our near-term roadmap, but we will consider this for the future.

Q. I’m curious about the price of printing in this material.

A. Please upload a model through our model upload page, select Multi Jet Fusion Plastic and your desired color and finishing to see the price for your model; or reach out to our sales team and we would be happy to help!

Q. What type of glue is recommended for use with this material?

A. An off-the-shelf epoxy material will work well.

Q. My product has a moveable part. Is PA12 a good material that can withstand constant bending of this moveable part without breakage?

A. PA12 is a good option. PA11 also has great elasticity and may have slightly better long-term wear properties.

More from the Material of the Month Series: PA12

Part One: Material Overview
Part Two: Material Comparison: Nylon Plastics
Part Three: Business Example: PA12 used in the virtual reality industry
Part Four: Tutorial: Post processing PA12

The post Top Questions Answered: Multi Jet Fusion Plastic PA12 appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

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The Shapeways X Etsy E-Commerce Integration is a seamless way for Etsy shop owners to manage their orders and fulfillment directly on Shapeways. This exciting e-commerce integration also gives members of our community who may not be current Etsy users an opportunity to set up their own shop and expand their customer base.

We spoke with one of our creators who is using the Etsy E-commerce Integration to grow her business. Ola Shekhtman is the designer behind Cityscape Rings, a fine jewelry company that turns iconic city skylines into unique statement pieces. Below is her Shapeways story.

The term ‘Etsy’ is a registered trademark of Etsy, Inc. This application uses the Etsy API but is not endorsed or certified by Etsy, Inc. The Freedom of 3D Printing


Cityscape Rings: 3D designing gives me three different kinds of freedom. The first: geographic freedom. I can live where I want, I can travel all year long – the only tool I need to have for my business is my laptop.

Then there is the creative freedom. Because Shapeways’ 3D technology is able to capture and render incredibly fine details, I never have to hold back in what I design. So many jewelers are amazed by the details of my Cityscape rings. Customers adore the miniature columns and statues that I’m able to build into each piece. It’s tricky to carve out windows and yet 3D printing makes it easy.

Finally there’s the freedom of time – it would probably take me about 100 years to produce 1,000 of my rings by hand. It only takes Shapeways 2 to 3 weeks to create and ship the same amount. With 3D modeling, I can design one city’s skyline once and then it is available to order in any quantity, forever. That allows me to pursue endless amounts of new designs.

London Ring by Cityscape Rings

Starting A Business With Shapeways

When I finished my first 3D model, I did some research to see where I could produce it. Shapeways was always the first name that popped up. I signed up easily, uploaded my model, checked the price, chose a material, made a simple payment and received a perfect quality product in the specified time.

One day I bought a large 3D printer with the intention of fulfilling my order by myself. I sold that printer 3 months later. Since I’m the owner of my business and its only employee, I play a lot of roles. I’m the designer, I’m the 24/7 customer service, I’m the marketing and PR specialist, as well as the accountant, analyst, and planner. I’m happy to have Shapeways handle the manufacturing, that way I can at least get some sleep.

Shapeways was my first experience and I still belong to Shapeways. I stay because of the continued quality of the product and the customer service – the customer support is brilliant!

“The Etsy E-Commerce Integration is Magic!”

The Etsy market is giant. It’s the tenth largest online marketplace. Etsy visitors are ready to buy – they’re searching with the intent to purchase. All you need are some high-quality photos, a captivating description, the right title and tags, and your customer will find you.

Before the Etsy integration, it took a while to place orders on Shapeways for my customers. The Etsy E-commerce integration is magic! Now I’m able to place an order without a single click. I have more free time to work on new ideas.

I also have a shop on the Shapeways Marketplace, which is essentially a stream of passive income. All I do is upload models on the website, add some photos and descriptions, and then once a month money immediately appears in my PayPal account. What could be easier?

This year, Cityscape Rings started to appear in some physical gift shops. My next plan is to conquer wholesale.

Connect your Etsy store with Shapeways

You too can have access to seamless order fulfillment for all of your products today.

The post How Our Etsy E-Commerce Integration Helped Grow Cityscape Rings’ Business appeared first on Shapeways Magazine.

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