Shapeways uses 3D printing to allow anyone to create custom-designed products. The New York company's creations include art, jewelry, iPhone cases, trinkets, toys, cufflinks, mugs, and just about anything else you can imagine.
If you really like how your 3D-printed creation turns out, you can use Shapeways to sell it to anyone you like. Think of it as Etsy for people who make their stuff using 3D printers.
The company just raised $30 million, so that it can bring its 3D printing business more mainstream. Shapeways plans to use the cash to grow its team, build more factories, and continue to overcome technological challenges that come with 3D printing.
"Our vision is big,” says co-founder and CEO Peter Weijmarshausen. “We want to make 3D printing affordable and accessible for everyone worldwide. This funding will help us realize our vision at an even faster rate.”
Shapeways has been around since 2007, and since then, it has produced more than 1 million 3D printed products, with 60,000 new designs uploaded each month.
Weijmarshausen sees Shapeways as more of an innovative manufacturing company rather than just a 3D printer. "We enable people to basically open up their own little company,” Weijmarshausen says. “They can design and test their products and bring them mainstream.”
It's surprising that with more than 6 billion product variations, Shapeways' production process isn't all that complicated.
In fact, the way Shapeways works is pretty simple. The company sets a production cost, which you can mark up as much as you want, and that sets the final price. Depending on the material, customers will receive their items within 10 to 15 business days. Shapeways even ships your product to customers for you, and at the end of the month, you get all the profits your item made. Shapeways will always charge you the same price, whether you want to sell your item or not.
The amount of users already taking advantage of Shapeways is a testament to the business model. "We are enabling almost a quarter of a million people to make their own products,” Weijmarshausen says. “We are definitely growing quickly.”
Photos: Courtesy of Shapeways