Shapeways lets artists print 3-D models of their creations

Getting a vision from an artist’s head to the physical world isn’t always easy. But Shapeways, a spinoff of Dutch electronics giant Philips Electronics, has figured out a way for artists and ordinary consumers to print 3-D models of their creations for a mere $50 to $150.

The Eindhoven, Netherlands-based company is launching its private beta today for the service. The tool allows budding artists, product designers and amateurs to use their own familiar tools to create 3-D models of their designs. Then they can order 3-D physical models of the designs. The company will deliver the molded plastic models in 10 days or less.

The technology uses a similar kind of prototype printing technology as companies such as FigurePrints, which makes custom figurines (with color) based on World of Warcraft characters. It accepts formats such as STL, Collada and X3D. The designs can be “white, strong and flexible,” “cream robust,” “white detail” and “transparent detail.” Color and other materials will come later.

The service brings Web 2.0 user-generated content to prototyping, says Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO of Shapeways. The company runs a community where artists can comment on each other’s work.  Users can request an invitation for beta access at http://www.shapeways.com/beta.


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