The Washington Times-Herald

Community News Network

March 13, 2013

Want to try 3D design? Now you can

Shapeways.com bridges gap between 3D printing and the everyday consumer

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The company will determine a price for your object based on design, size, materials and shipping costs, all included in the price, which will be listed next to your design once it’s available for purchase.

User-friendly

In terms of the general Internet reviews about Shapeways and how easy it is to create things, most people have given the site good ratings for being user-friendly for people who know about 3D printing and for those who don’t.

As far as the quality of the objects you’re designing, they seem to be well-made and sturdy according to some who have received products through the mail.

For those who are 3D printing novices, Shapeways has a bunch of tutorial links that users can click on for help. You can also post your questions in the community forum and other users will be able to give you instruction. And if you would rather have another Shapeway user actually create a design for you, you can do that too.

In addition, the site suggests a handful of 3D modeling packages like Rhino, Blender and Maya, which can help walk you through the process of 3D printing from A to Z.

Some of the previous reviewers of the site complained about how long it takes to get finished products shipped, which can be anywhere from 10 to 21 days, depending on the type of material you use for your object.

And although people are now making a lot of things via 3D printing, users aren’t allowed to print any weaponry or distasteful material of a sexual nature. Doing so will get your design automatically removed by the company.

Next big thing

A lot of experts say that 3D printing is the next big thing that will dramatically shift manufacturing, commerce and trade in the very near future. If you’ve been paying attention during the last couple of years, you’ve probably noticed more and more people talking about this huge shift in technology.

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