Shapeways is spinning-out from the Lifestyle Incubator of Royal Philips Electronics, located in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The site can be seen in the lines of Ponoko, Zapfab and other user manufacturing sites allowing users to create and manufacture their own design with a large freedom of design.
- A 3D model library
- An easy-to-operate 3D-design toolkit (well, not at this stage yet)
- A flexile manufacturing system producing the users' design (more or less) rapidely
Utilizing a 3D model library, (starting with a lamp and a bowl), consumers can manipulate the structure, look and feel of their own products. Users can twist, mash, and create their own 3D objects which then are being produced within 10-days or less. Shapeways then verifies objects to ensure printability and provides a real-time cost estimate. Within 10 working days, a tangible 3D product will be produced and arrive at the consumer's home globally.
Browsing over the site, it still looks a bit beta, and their co-design toolkits is an external Java-based software that demands quite some time to download and install separately. Using it then however was easy (despite some annoying comments that I should create a profile). But it is a start ...
Anyway, Shapeways takes a major step towards the next generation of consumer co-creation and mass customization. Consumers without 3D modeling skills can shape, mash, imprint and design their own 3D products at Shapeways.com. Products are produced with a rapid manufacturing system, and in the moment they all still have this white prototyping look :-)
From lamps with a personal message to fruit bowls linking back to memorable moments, the Shapeways Creator Engine has a beta library of predesigned product templates which the company will grow rapidly over 2009.
"We recognize the desire of consumers who want to own or give something that is unique and has their special, personal touch," Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO of Shapeways, is quoted in a press release.
"With the Creator Engine, now anyone can participate in the artistic process and create something that is truly a reflection of their own needs and tastes. With the Creator Engine, we have broken the currently existingtrade-off between freedom of design and the complexity of the design process."
Shapeways can be seen as a new application of rapid manufacturing in the consumer space. I recently attended the Rapid Manufacturing Conference at Loughborough University. While a posting on this event is overdue since weeks (especially after Jochen Krisch invited one publicly), I refer you to Matt Sinclairs's great report about this conference which also provides you much more insights in the kind of products we can expect in the future on platforms of Shapeways.
- Matt Sinclair's report on the 3rd RM Conference