Geo Week News

June 22, 2012

Shapeways lands $6.2m in new funding

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NEW YORK – Shapeways, the online service that allows artists to upload designs that consumers can order for 3D print on demand, announced this week a $6.2 million funding round, led by Lux Capital. Existing investors Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures also participated in the round.

Writing on the company’s blog, company co-founder and CEO Pete Weijmarshausen, said, “We plan to use these additional funds to help the Shapeways team grow and bring creative commerce and 3D printing to everyone.” He said there are now more than 6,000 designers who have uploaded their designs to the site, and more than one million products have been ordered by consumers, printed, and shipped by Shapeways.

The additional funding comes on the heels of an announcement late last year that the company is building out a production facility here in New York – what they call their “factory of the future” – to complement the company’s headquarters here. Originally, products were printed in a facility in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The company hopes to keep shipping costs lower by having diverse printing facilities.

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This sculpture began with 123D Catch.

Shapeways now offers 30 different printing material options, including a new Elasto Plastic, which is the company’s first non-rigid material offering.

In a statement, Lux co-founder and managing partner Josh Wolfe was bullish on Shapeways’ future: “We seek investment opportunities to help turn technical breakthroughs into world-changing businesses,” he said, “and we see Shapeways at the forefront of bringing the magic of 3D printing to everyday consumers.”

Already, the worlds of Shapeways and 3D data capture are intersecting every day. It’s not difficult to find designs that are available for print created with 3D data capture. For example, this stone sculpture, which can be ordered for $40.66, was created using the free programs 123D Catch and Blender. This tea set was created by laser scanning diverse antique cups and saucers and then modifying them to create a like set.

You can even see that users are building nude models of real people using home scanners and loading them to Shapeways (it’s not for sale, though…).

For the time being, the vast majority of the designs uploaded are created from scratch using CAD programs, but this reporter feels it will be interesting to watch how designs begun with data capture grow in number.

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