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Shopify will enable sellers to offer on-demand 3D-printed goods via an integration with Shapeways.
Shapeways, for the uninitiated, is a 3D printing platform for designing, creating, and selling all kinds of goods — it allows designers to upload their own 3D model designs, with support available from professional designers, and creators can choose their preferred materials. The company recently raised $30 million, taking its total funding to the $110 million mark.
Through its integration with ecommerce giant Shopify, Shapeways effectively allows sellers to offer products for sale that are manufactured after the point-of-sale, meaning that they don’t have to create goods in bulk with the risk of some not being sold. When a sale is made, the order is automatically channeled through to Shapeways, which takes care of the printing and dispatch directly.
This actually feeds into a broader trend where we’re seeing a bigger push toward cutting waste and creating more sustainable manufacturing methods.
Last month, London-based Unmade raised $4 million for a software platform that allows fashion brands to make customizable fashion — clothes are not created in bulk before demand is established, which reduces waste, while customers can fine-tune their garment at the point of ordering it because, well, it hasn’t yet been made.
Last year, Amazon was awarded a patent for a system that’s capable of producing different kinds of products, including garments, after an order is placed.
Shapeways enables similar functionality to sellers on Shopify, as is evidenced by one jewelry maker that is already making use of this integration — buyers can personalize every item they buy.
This news comes five months after 3D printing company Voodoo Manufacturing announced a new “Fulfilled by Voodoo” plug-n-play manufacturing service for online stores, and Shopify is evidently one of the companies it’s targeting — though nothing yet has come to fruition yet on that front.
Shapeways has created one-off “customized configurators” for a number of brands in the past, including one last year in partnership with Valve to allow fans to create 3D-printed custom toys of characters in games, but this latest integration is the first time it has permanently opened up to a major ecommerce platform for any seller to use.
“As leading ecommerce platforms like Shopify have grown, we learned that many of our most successful customers are selling on them,” noted Shapeways CEO Greg Kress. “We want to enable businesses for success wherever they sell, on or off our platform. Shopify is the perfect place for us to start this expansion.”
This integration represents a notable benefit for smaller merchants who operate only online, as it means they can not only build and promote their ecommerce stores, but also gain easier access to the manufacturing process, which is crucial to any physical product.
Any business wishing to integrate its Shopify store with Shapeways can do so through installing a plug-in via the Shopify app store, which will be rolled out in the next week. Until then, Shopify integration will be made available immediately via a separate “holiday business bundle” that gives merchants access to a bunch of tools and services, including promotion, order processing, fulfillment, and shipping — the total package is available to sellers for $1,500.
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