My top three 3D printed items on Shapeways

As with almost everything in life, there is always a line between business and hobby, sometimes obvious and sometimes blurred. 3D printing definitely sits on the blurred end of the scale for me, because no matter who you are, what you are doing or your reason for doing it, endless possibilities make it difficult to not have a little fun.

Having a tool in front of you capable of almost anything your imagination can create must be the same feeling a graphic designer or photographer gets when stepping back from client work to focus on their own art. Not only is 3D printing making a huge impact on the world of industrial production (a recent Economist piece went as far as predicting it the 3rd industrial revolution), but it is gathering momentum for hobbyists and would-be inventors alike.

Shapeways is one of the 3D printing communities I’ve had a close eye on over the last year. Although not the only community of 3D creators and designers uploading their blueprints and patents for production to be printed and purchased by others, the quality and innovative thought gone into many of the items on Shapeways has given it a certain status that amateur and new 3D designers can set as the bar to aim for.

Whether it be art or practicality, The items on Shapeways never fail to impress. here are three of my favorite items available to buy on Shapeways and why I rate them highly.

Pod à Porter

pod a porter

Sometimes all it takes is a simple problem to spark an idea for a great invention, and I get the feeling the Pod à Porter was one of these. The great thing about 3D printing is all it takes is some correct calculations (in this case the size of a 4th generation iPod Shuffle) incorporated into a blueprint and your idea can be ready to make then and there for a lesser cost than outsourcing a manufacturer to build it for you. What’S more, it also makes the development process quicker to make tweaks and changes to a design. The Pod à Porter takes inspiration from your typical earphone design to create a compact item that keeps your headphone wires manageable and out of the way, along with easy iPod storage and access!

Product page: Pod à Porter

Stainless Steel QR tag

qr steel tag

There are several jewelry stores offering these up with printed pictures of your custom QR tag online, but this 3D printed version is engraved and a much quicker process. Why is this handy? I can see it being developed into a service like tagging your possessions with a UV security pen to help return stolen items. Having the QR tag printed into a material or object would also make it harder for thieves to damage or remove the mark.

Product page: Stainless Steel QR tag

Solo E Sola Expresso & Cigarette Cup

Although an item like this would struggle to make any impact somewhere like the UK where the smoking ban is in place, this is a great idea for anywhere that it isn’t! Novelty to a full time smoker who would already have cigarettes on them maybe, but I feel that reason is also a strong bulk to its appeal. For any tourist smokers visiting from non-smoking countries the Solo E Sola could become one of those little tourist must dos like drinking a Guinness in Ireland.

Product page: Solo E Sola Expresso & Cigarette Cup

What’s your Favorite?

As with every “favorite” or “best of” piece, this is only the opinion of one person and not intended as a be-all-and-end-all decided list. If you think I’ve missed anything out from the Shapeways gallery worth talking about let me know in the comments below!

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  • http://bathsheba.com Bathsheba Grossman

    The comment above is not by me. I consider that I have a solid business relationship with Shapeways. I do not believe that they’re stealing from their vendors or customers.

    • http://www.3dprinter.net Mark Fleming

      Thanks for alerting us. I was just checking the validity of it, and then saw your comment. We’ve removed the malicious comment impersonating you.

      Ah, the internet! :(

    • http://www.emco.co.uk Pete Reynolds

      Hello Bathsheba, are you the person they interviewed back in 2009 (I googled after seeing the comment)? Me and Mark (who runs this site) seem to be having a bit of a mystery with the comment via email chat!

      To disclose what I said to Mark in email in reply to my thoughts on the comment and if it was true/fair or not:

      “I couldn’t say, as it could be anything from a competitor or a disgruntled member to a genuine concern. Their anonymity and lack of credentials/evidence beyond a thread on the website in questions makes me doubt claims as most the threads are staff members addressing the problem. I’ve never read any other negative press about Shapeways and I read a lot of blogs/articles talking about them. If they were up to no good I would imagine the last thing they’d be doing is opening themselves up to scrutiny on their own doorstep for all to see.”

      As a non-user just commenting on what I know of the site on the outside and no affiliation with the company just writing a piece about them I’m in no place to say, but I’m glad the matter has been cleared up!

  • http://www.3dprinter.net Mark Fleming

    Since Bathsheba was wronged by the poser commenter, I’d like to tell everyone to go over to her site and check out her beautiful 3D-printed work:

    http://www.bathsheba.com/