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Shape of the Future: Make Your Own Products to Sell with Shapeways
By Julia Wilkinson
June 12, 2011
Many online merchants sell products that other people have already made. But a new breed of seller is cropping up; one who designs and makes their own products through a process known as 3D printing. A company called Shapeways allows creators to upload their designs so they can be manufactured and then sold on various sites such as Etsy.com, and even from Shapeways' own Shops. And in May, the company, which started in the Lifestyle Incubator of Philips Electronics in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, announced it is now possible to create dishes and other tableware in a material that is "food safe."
"We currently have over 2,000 shop owners who are regularly making in excess of $1,000 a month," says Shapeways Founder and CEO Peter Weijmarshausen. With creative names like "Wide Mind Eyez," "Gang War Miniatures," and "Smug Jewelry," the shops offer a wide range of products in intriguing designs, from geometric rings to miniature figures like "Exo Loader," a small model of a robot in a sci-fi film.
The most used material for products is plastic, because "it is the most affordable, and also the most versatile," said Weijmarshausen. "We call it "White, Strong and Flexible."" Some pieces in metal are also very popular, like Ceramicwombat's "Thorn Dice," he said.