|Industry||3D Printing, e-Commerce, Marketplace|
|Founder||Peter Weijmarshausen, Robert Schouwenburg, Marleen Vogelaar|
Shapeways is a Dutch-founded, New York-based 3D printing marketplace and service, startup company. Users design and upload 3D printable files, and Shapeways prints the objects for them or others. Users can have objects printed from a variety of materials, which included food-safe ceramics, which were discontinued and are being replaced by porcelain materials.
As of June 20, 2012, Shapeways printed and sold more than one million user-created objects.
In 2009, Shapeways employed over 90 people. The headquarters is located in New York with offices in Eindhoven and Seattle. Shapeways is a spin-out of the lifestyle incubator of Royal Philips Electronics. Investors include Lux Capital, Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz in New York and Index Ventures in London.
Shapeways began as a spin-off of Royal Philips Electronics, the Netherlands in 2007. It was founded by Peter Weijmarshausen, Robert Schouwenburg and Marleen Vogelaar and the idea came forth at the Philips design department. It achieved further development under the `Philips Lifestyle Incubator` program which offers support for start-up companies with innovative ideas.
In 2008 a service was launched that allowed customers to design their own 3-dimensional products through rapid prototyping by sending a CAD-file to the Shapeways website to 3D print. Designers can also sell their own designs to be 3D printed on demand for customers, Shapeways handles the financial transaction, manufacture, distribution and customer service, profits go to the designer.
Originally the rapid prototyping could only print using simple materials. Later nylon was added as a possibility. In 2009 it was made public that they succeeded in also manufacturing stainless steel. As of 2012 the scale and possible materials have been further expanded to include sterling silver, acrylic, full color 3D printing and food safe ceramics.
The option now exist for consumers to adapt designs without prior knowledge of 3D design programming. There are models which can be adapted real-time by uploading new text or pictures: so-called 'Creators'. There is also the possibility of participating in Co-Creator platforms in which consumers and designers work together to achieve optimal results. In July 2014, Shapeways announced a partnership program with Hasbro, Inc. to produce 3D printed models of characters from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic based on designs created by the adult fan artists from the show and approved by Hasbro. The approach has been seen as a way to lead into other licensed media productions from Hasbro and other Hollywood companies.
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