Shapeways: 3D printing for the masses

Shapeways - lightpoem_1249848448744

Shapeways is a Philips spin-off company focused on bringing 3D rapid manufacturing technologies to main-stream consumers.  Although they don’t sell any actual lighting fixtures, Shapeways offers an intriguing glimpse into the future of the lighting industry.

Shapeways website is designed to enable non-3D-cad-savvy people to share in the possibilities of the technology.  Shapeways has developed a series of “Creators“, small applets that allow people to design and order their own customized 3D printed objects, by simply adjusting the parameters or entering information, such as a string of text in the votive candle holder they call the “Light Poem.”

Shapeways has also created a forum where designers can easily post their designs for sale, along with simple web-based technology to allow people to view and manipulate 3D content right on the website — without having to learn some complex and expensive 3D modeling software.

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For example, check out the artist Bathsheba‘s stunning designs (above and below).  My high school geometry teacher clearly missed this part of my education.  And the best part?  Anybody can order these pieces, which in small sizes are relatively inexpensive.

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Shapeways is  a glimpse into the future of the lighting industry.  Fixtures will be quickly customized right on a manufacturer’s website in live 3D view, with all prices (including upgrades) immediately visible and ready for purchase.  Just click “Buy Now” to have it printed and shipped straight to the construction site.

And if the architect shares the design with others, they can monetize their creation and make a profit when other designers purchase that fixture.

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About Brad Koerner

Director of Experience Design - Philips Lighting

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