Some models are really, really difficult to print on a filament-based 3D printer, and my “Fidget Cube” is one of the worst: it has enclosed hinges that point in every direction, and pieces that have to somehow print floating right above other pieces. In this post, we’ll track the evolution of this fidgety design over the past five years, from an assembly model to print-in-place, to multicolor variants, and finally all the way to an SLS print of a fully-functioning Yoshimoto cube! // Guest post on the Shapeways Blog

Where can you go when you need help with a model or mesh? The Shapeways Forums! They’re a great place to ask for advice, check out what community members are working on, and help other other people with their questions. The Shapeways forum community is super active, and many contributors are more than willing to lend a helping hand. This week, we’ll talk about our favorite forum groups for designers and modelers. // Column on the Shapeways Blog

If you want to make an organic-looking sculpted character head or body, and you want to do it for free, then you’ll want to know how to use Sculptris. Sculptris is a free beginner 3D digital sculpting program made available by Pixologic, the company that produces the professional-grade sculpting software ZBrush. It’s very easy to learn how to use Sculptris to create complex 3D models by pushing, pulling, and stretching a digital ball of clay. // Column at the Shapeways Blog

What design software should I use to create a 3D model? The answer: Everything you can. Each program has its own unique personality, and different programs are good at different parts of the design process. While creating one 3D model, you might utilize multiple programs, depending on what you need at various stages. This week we’ll talk about five examples of designs that together use over a dozen different 3D modeling programs. Buckle up! // Column at the Shapeways Blog

Today, we’ll learn how to turn one snowflake design into multiple products in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. We’ll start with simple low-res 3D prints and prototypes on desktop FDM machines, and eventually level up to printing in Nylon and Plated Rhodium at Shapeways. The snowflake design we’ll be working with was created with code in OpenSCAD, and can procedurally generate over a billion unique snowflakes. Let it snow! // Guest post at the Shapeways Blog

One of the most powerful things about 3D printing is the ability to create customized, one-of-a-kind objects. You could choose to make many different personalized jewelry pieces from one ring or pendant design by making modifications on a case-by-case basis in your own design software. Or, you can use Shapeways’ CustomMaker tool to add text or images that turn your designs into personalizable, one-of-a-kind pieces with just the click of a mouse. // Column at the Shapeways Blog

This week we’ll discuss three methods for modifying 3D meshes with the free software MeshLab. When you export a 3D file to STL format, what you’re doing is creating a file that describes the surface of an object with a mesh of tiny triangles. We’ll focus on the top three issues that can arise with meshes: having too many triangles (too fine a mesh), having triangles that are oriented incorrectly or inconsistently, and having triangles that intersect with bad geometry. // Column at the Shapeways Blog

Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday! This week, we speak to the geeks. Did you know that you can create 3D-printable designs with code — no 3D modeling required? OpenSCAD is a programming language for solid modeling, specifically built for creating designs that are exportable as triangular meshes for 3D printing. In this post, we’ll walk you through the basics and show off some Shapeways designs created with this powerful parametric modeling software. // Column at the Shapeways Blog

This week, Tutorial Tuesday is for beginners. If you’ve never designed a 3D model before, then this post will show you how to get started. We’ll start with showing you how to design simple 3D models with a free program called Tinkercad, and then how to send those models to Shapeways for 3D printing. It’s easier than you might think! Get a cup of coffee and join us. You’ll have designed and ordered your first 3D design before you’re done with your coffee. // Column at the Shapeways Blog

Welcome to the second Tutorial Tuesday! There’s a lot of 3D printing and design information on the internet, and it’s our job to sort it out. We’ll pick up where we left off last time, with a second round of design and printing tutorials from right here at Shapeways. This time we’ll get technical, focusing on some of the more specialized issues that arise when designing, exporting, and printing designs and animations for 3D printing. // Column at the Shapeways Blog

This week we kick off our new "Tutorial Tuesday" column at Shapeways! If you’ve tried looking for 3D printing and design tutorials online, then you’ve probably noticed that there are already a lot of tutorials out there. The hard part isn’t finding them, it’s figuring out which ones are worth reading or watching! On Tutorial Tuesdays, we’ll be curating and discussing the best existing tutorials so that you can focus on designing and printing cool things. // Column at the Shapeways Blog

It's hard to find a better test print than the Ultimaker robot; it has insets, embossings, overhangs, bridges, posts, and fine features, all wrapped up in a model that's less than an inch and a half tall. Plus, it's cute. This robot is small and prints quickly, but... on an Ultimaker with standard Cura settings, not quickly enough! The Dutch print for quality but I want to print for SPEED. Time to put theory into practice and turn the Ultimaker into a speed racer, by diving into Cura and printing lots of testbots.

Over the last four years, the JMU 3SPACE classroom has supported 3D printing across the curriculum by hosting general education classes, courses in mathematics and art, projects in history and biology, workshops for local K-12 school groups, faculty workshops, and even a 3D printing club. We’ll walk through how 3SPACE went from ideas to equipment to curriculum, and provide advice for other schools that want to establish their own 3D printing classrooms. // Guest post at Ultimaker Education

For the past three years we've made a holiday snowflake design: In 2013 it was Snowflake Ornaments, created by extruding an SVG image of snowflakes. In 2014 it was the Snowflake Cutter, which leveraged Customizer sketching functionality to mimic the way snowflakes are cut out of folded paper. In 2015 it was the Snowflake Machine, which could generate over a billion unique snowflakes in different styles. What could we possibly make this year to top that?

At this year’s UnKnot conference, Lew Ludwig and Chris Faur set up two 3D printers from their lab: one Ultimaker 2 Extended+ filament printer and one Formlabs 2 resin printer, including a UV-light drying station with a solar rotating stand inside for curing the printed Formlabs knots. During the conference, mathematicians designed and 3D printed original models of pretzel knots, hyperboloid stick conformations of torus knots, hexagonal mosaic tiles, and rolling trefoils. // Guest post at Ultimaker Education

This year at Maker Faire Bay Area we hung out at the Ultimaker booth and offered a challenge: Solve one of these 3D-printed Cube Puzzles and you get to keep it! The 3D-printed pieces of each Cube Puzzle can be printed without support and all four puzzles and the box container can be downloaded from the Cube Puzzle Quartet model on Thingiverse, or from YouMagine. All four of them are classic, known puzzles that you can read about in Stewart Coffin's excellent book Geometric Puzzle Design.

Girih tiles are used in Islamic art and architecture to create intricate woven strapwork patterns. The underlying periodic patterns that create these designs are related to Penrose tilings and predate the formal mathematical discoveries of such tilings by at least 500 years. On the left side of the photo are the basic colorful tile shapes; towards the middle we have started to add the overlaid strapwork; and on the right the strapwork pattern is revealed by concealing the colorful tiles with gray tiles.

Time to level up! This is the first in a series of posts about converting desktop 3D printer models into designs optimized for printing on industrial-level 3D printers. Shapeways is basically a personal remote factory where you upload 3D designs and choose the materials you want, and then Shapeways prints the models and mails them to you for a fee. That sounds easy, and basically it is, except for one catch: designing for industrial-level 3D printing is not the same thing as designing for desktop 3D printing.

This post was written by 11-year-old Calvin Riley, with only minimal editing and help from his mom, mathgrrl. This post will walk you through what it was like to unbox and set up an Ultimaker 2Go. But what this post is really about is that when you are 3D printing something, errors happen. A lot. Sometimes those errors are from your design, and sometimes they are from the filament or something you forgot when printing. We had all of these kinds of errors happen to us. Here's how it went.

I think I may have been waiting my whole life to write that title. For the littlebits bitWars Challenge we teamed up with fellow Minecraft adventurers rileypb and cgreyninja to re-create the Trash Compactor Scene from Star Wars. The walls of the trash compactor were controlled by redstone and pistons activated by a cloudBit that allowed real-world interaction with the scene. We also included an automatic silverfish generator, a lot of random leaves and item trash, and a villager to play Chewie.