Tag Archives: Shapeways

Shapeways and Shaping The Way to Our Project

We had the privilege of hearing from an employee at Shapeways and even got to get an inside view of the company! While we set up to have a presentation, the employee showed us around the company and the different things they were working on. It was really amazing to see people working with 3D printing in so many ways and different methods of coming up with the same product. She mentioned how there is an efficient way to print multiple projects at the same time using some sort of 3D printing using compression and cohesion of some sort of dust or powder using the Binder Jetting Technology available.

Its great to find out that improvements are still being made within the 3D making industry that can make things more efficient and faster and waste less of our resources that make it more of a possibility for future projects and developments to make use of 3D printing!

After the presentation from Shapeways, we went into our groups to begin the actual specific blueprinting for our project! We began with the base design which we intend to be a sort of 3 part design for the pour over coffee project we are working on that will ease the process of making pour over coffee as well as making it a lot more time efficient. Once we got the base design we started thinking of modifications and improvements for the design that include resizable base legs for different sized cups and mugs as well as screens that we can slide into the design that will help control the speed at which the hot water from the pour-over coffee contraption is falling through to the actual coffee and mug.

After designing our device, we went to discuss with Vishal more specifics including the issue of using hot water with the PLA material we have in class. He gave us the idea of using thin sheets of metal to use inside of the PLA printed structure to withhold the heat of the water. We are planning on meeting with people from the FAB lab to help us with our design as well as with the idea of using the thin metal sheets in our design!

Shapeways & Prototyping!

Guest Speaker

This week we had an amazing speaker share insights about Shapeways, an innovative company that created their business as a 3D printing manufacturer run online, and advices with prototyping. Shapeways allows users to upload files to their site, choose the material to print and they will print, finish and ship the item to you! There are also many items designed by people around the world on the shapeways site you can order and they will ship you such as jewelry, pottery, home décor items and even tech devices. At the beginning of the talk,  Lauren gave us a virtual tour of the Shapeways space showing us each of the machines they use to print in and for different mediums. When deciding what material and machine to use to print she discussed knowing your needs. This includes:

  • Scale of the item
  • Strength & rigidity
  • Budget
  • Accuracy of design

After deciding on these 4 aspects, you can move to prototyping. At Shapeways they often say “All products are prototypes, but not all prototypes are products”. This put the idea of prototyping into perspective. With products, there is always something that can be improved upon therefore why it is okay to call it a prototype, however conversely, some prototypes need further iterations and improvements to become a working product.

Prototyping our Project

The second half of the class we spent within our groups working on the prototype of our project idea. Our group, 3Dream has met a few times in the last week to make sure we are all on the same page with our design since we have gone through several ideas for a final project. The last 2 weeks we spent further researching hydroponics, the systems and the feasibility of creating a smart vertical hydroponics garden. During class, our team looked into the details of the structure, where we would place the plants and how they would be held up. We drew inspiration from both a coat rack in the classroom and a Christmas tree stand. For a hydroponic system, there needs to be a large basin of water to pump through the system so we spent time thinking of the best solution to incorporate a tub of water into the system. At the same time, we needed to come up with a base for the structure that would be stable enough not to easily tip over and kill the plants. A combined solution to instability and where to put the water led to incorporating the tub of water into the stand as a way to weight the system down while also concealing the tub making it aesthetically more appealing.


Week 10 Reflection: The First Prototype

This week in class we were back in the MakerLab after three consecutive weeks in the UIUC FabLab. In this class session, we got to speak with an employee of Shapeways. Shapeways is an independent firm that executes 3D printing projects for consumers. Our guest lecturer spoke to us a bit about the process the projects go through before bringing us on a tour. Although she started in an office setting, we were quickly brought to the printing area which looked more like a laboratory or warehouse. She gave us a lot of great insights on the 3D printing process that I look forward to implementing in our final group project.

This was the first week we got a chance to work on our final projects. Working alongside Maddi, we etched out three quick designs on paper. We abandoned the convoluted idea of having the solar panel trace the sun across the sky due to lack of programming experience and starting capital. Thus, our three designs featured a static solar panel. We settled on a figure eight design for the base. One loop would have the warming plate with an induction coil and the other the solar panel. Upon consultation with Professor Sachdev and the class, we are entertaining the idea of adding a nine-volt battery to provide power even when the sun is not out. If we obtain a rectangular solar panel, we will adjust the sketches as need be. We are currently in contact with the FabLab to obtain a solar panel we can work with for the remainder of the project. Although none of our group members have experience in wiring or solar technology, I am highly confident in our ability to produce a functional, ergonomic, and effective creation. In the coming weeks, we hope to build a few more prototypes before building the working model with working coils, wiring, and solar panel.

In 2001, David Kelley, CEO of IDEO, gave a speech pertaining to the iterative process of designing an innovative product. Kelley stressed the importance of reducing the time of each phase in the making process. Kelley advises the listener to make a lot of poor renditions when starting the making process and then consult with people of different backgrounds to gain unique perspectives on your creations. Kelley values the constructive criticism he receives and tries to reduce the problems with the prototype every iteration. This process can help identify core competencies and strategic advantages of your product while also highlighting the potential shortcomings.

Arduino, PIR Sensors and more! (Week 10)

Hello all!


This week, we had a guest speaker from Shapeways, a 3D printing service and marketplace company. She took us around the facility and showed us their printers and office space. You can print with anything from ceramic to precious metals! The link to the website is here. I will be attempting to design a necklace for my mom – I’ll post the results in the next blog!

Darwin's Silver Cladogram Tree 3d printed

Our Project

My group is making an Arduino/IR sensor that will count the number of people moving in and out of a building. Our idea is that this product will be a low-cost option for local restaurants, shops, and even places like homeless shelters to count how many customers are in their establishment at a time, as well as store that information and build up historical data that will be useful in predicting foot traffic and demand in the future.

This week, we took a full inventory of the parts Vishal and the FabLab have given us – we have almost everything we need! Believe it or not, our counter requires a lot of tiny senors, lasers, and other parts that are easy to lose (fingers crossed we can keep everything in one place). A large part of our meeting this week consisted of actually understanding what each of these parts do and where they will connect. I was able to teach my group members a few things I learned from my ECE course, but we still had a lot to look up! We are following a rough Instructables outline of the project which I’m infinitely grateful to have. Below are a few pictures of parts.


Above is a 7-segment display and a PIR sensor. The display will work just like that of a digital alarm clock – it will show the number of people present in the building at any time. The PIR sensor measures infrared radiation emitted from a field of view. This is what will “measure” how many people walk in and out. 


Above we have a light dependent resistor (LDR) and a voltage regulator. The LDR has a variable resistance that will change when different lighting falls over it. The voltage regulator will allow us to maintain the proper voltage level when the product is up and running. We will be using a 9-volt battery to run the counter, so we need to make sure the electricity running through it is monitored. 

This is the main part of our project – the Arduino! This is what will make all the parts work. Arduino is an open-source hardware (& accompanying software) company which makes this little, single-board microprocessor you see above. In simple terms, you can code commands in a special software, connect this board to your computer, download the commands you’ve written onto it, then take the board and put it on any project you like! I’ve used it before to makes LEDs flicker and blink in specific patterns.  For our project, we will command it to count every time the lighting (detected by the PIRs and LDRs) changes.

These are not all the components of our project – just a few of the most interesting. I am trying to get some of the coding some this weekend, so we will see if it works next week!