Behind the Scenes at Shapeways

Shapeways is a 3D print-on-demand service that allows people to order items to be printed from one of the company’s printers for a fee, and have it shipped to them within 10-15 business days. Shapeways printers can render objects in various kinds of plastic, and in ceramics and metals also. The printers used at Shapeways are more advanced than the consumer-level models that are becoming quite popular for home use, and the company last year hit the mark for producing one million customer orders.

We’ve talked before how 3D printing could become a very significant technology going forward — in fact it already is. The video below shows some of the technology that Shapeways uses, and what they are capable of producing. It also discusses some of the limitations in current current state of 3D printing — specifically the limits on size of objects and speed of production.

We can be sure that over time these printers will become increasingly sophisticated and more widely used, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to one day see the printing of LENR reactors from machines similar to the ones shown in this video.

  • LENR4you

    This year’s Nobel week’s theme is “Exploring the Future of Energy”. http://www.nobelweekdialogue.org/meeting-info/overview/
    What could this tell us?

  • George N

    I agree with you, I’ve been thinking about how tech has the ability to decentralize many aspects of society for over 10+ years. But recently, the decentralization process to the small business economy has severely slowed because now big business and big government have joined forces to pass overly complicated regulations that only big businesses can afford to higher the lawyers/accountants/hr to navigate through. But I don’t think that big business/government can prevent the tech from advancing to allow small businesses/DIY to compete for greater market share in the long run

    • George N

      This was a reply to a post below, not sure why it showed up here

    • AlainCo

      +1
      hidden behind safety, precaution, there is only classic non monetary obstacle to competition established by rent-owners.
      An example is REACH which I know from inside was designed to put chinese out of business.
      The most awful is that the chinese adapted faster than western companies… same in many domain.

      note tha using complexity to take advantage of your own huge size hapened also in finance (I was there), and they clearly said the the goal of complex derivative was to kill the small players unable to compute faster enough, or to exchange bigger enough money to justify their computing and modeling infrastructure.

      you know where it goes finally… fragility and crash.

      about decentralization, one factor I forgot was also desalinization and any local water treatment. water, energy, why not fertilizers and chemicals… produced locally, without the need of huge government, army, police, no need to fight corruption at a big scale. at the city or tribe level.

  • AstralProjectee

    I think seasteading is even bigger than this printing technology. It’s just that there is more skepticism, and it even more new than the printing technology. But still in the end I think it will make a bigger impact on the world. I say that because if 3d printers never came around or if seasteading never was. I think seasteading not being around would be a bigger problem. Perhaps I am comparing apples and oranges here but I it’s still somewhat relevant.

    • Iggy Dalrymple

      SeaSteading is the dream of libertarians but I think residential ships will win out over fixed structures. If they can just get affordable broadband internet on ships.

      • Roger Bird

        And what is the seasteaders plan for pirates. Utopian fantasies never seem include what to do with human evil. At the very least, seasteaders have to include effective defenses against pirates, which cost money and know-how, and possibly having to deal with the shock of killing human beings.

        • Iggy Dalrymple

          “And what is the seasteaders plan for pirates.”

          Simple. Just keep a wide berth from “Religion of Peace” territory. Also, SeaSteaders will not be subject to political correctness and will not hesitate to dispatch the pirates to the “72 virgins”. When this happens, it will be done quietly with no report to main stream media.

          Remember, Roger, it’s already cheap enough to live full time on cruise ships. Imagine how much cheaper when cheap power arrives. I don’t recall pirates attacking cruise ships.
          Cruise ships sail under flag of convenience. They are totally free to profile their customers. SeaSteader ships will be even more independent.

  • Jim

    Household energy use falls 24.7%
    Families are using a quarter less energy than in 2005 as efficiency measures and rising costs take effect

    http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/aug/16/household-energy-use-falls

    That’s a pretty big number!

  • Pekka Janhunen

    3-D printing is especially interesting in connection with asteroid mining because some variation of it might enable one to use asteroid materials to make complex and large parts in far-out space without human presence and without bringing any material from earth except the mining/extraction device and the printer. In this application, the method doesn’t have to be fast to be beneficial.

    • georgehants

      Pekka, may I ask what we could possible mine from asteroids that we need that is more important than developing Cold Fusion.

      • Pekka Janhunen

        There are two main types of asteroid mining: 1) mine something (such as platinum group metals) and bring it to earth, 2) make large space constructions (such as habitats, colonies, large telescopes, large physics experiments) economically feasible by making them partly or completely from asteroid materials – and/or by using asteroid-derived water as their propellant or such. In my comment related to 3-D printing I was thinking of type 2 rather than type 1. I didn’t say or imply anything about CF.

      • Pekka Janhunen

        On motivation of space more generally, I can think of at least two reasons. 1) Planetary defence space technology has the potential to remove the existential threat posed by asteroid impacts. 2) Colonising space would enable our species and life to survive even if earth would be destroyed by some catastrophe.

        • GreenWin

          Since 3D printing is simply another manufacturing process, its plausible to establish a Moon base to build nextgen exploration vehicles. NASA Bushnell’s vision for LENR envisions light weight engines for propulsion.

          Should bulk parts be printed at Moon base, augmented by electronics, optics, sensors, etc – the cost of instrument exploration of solar system would plummet. Without need for liquid fuels – propulsion system weight would be a fraction.

          This would mean exploration of very interesting moons like Titan and Europa would be feasible with today’s materials.

        • Robert Ellefson

          I don’t see how we can expect the human species to survive by colonizing somewhere other than the Earth, when we cannot manage to take care of ourselves and the perfectly-good Spaceship Earth we’ve already been given. Perhaps some subset of the Super-Rich population of humans could manage to form a colony someplace, but the social demands placed on such a population to enable survival in such a fragile, artificial environment will surely warp that population into something much different than what we see today on Earth. I doubt the end result would be desirable for most of those involved.

          • GreenWin

            Robert, agreed, there are huge social discrepancies that need immediate attention. Unfortunately, we see enormous resistance to solutions for these issues from overseers, and industry.

            With LENR cold fusion it is the commercial implications that will finally break this resistance. I suspect NASA and its influential supporters will take LENR public as a matter of survival. To that end NASA’s begrudging acceptance of LENR also empowers its application to social issues, clean water, conservation, poverty, education.

            I would support NASA’s public exploitation of LENR provided it puts LENR in the hands of organizations directly addressing social issues. It’s a potential win win.

            • georgehants

              Would the money and expertise being used on such things as mining asteroids be better spent on Researching and bringing Cold Fusion to the people in need.

              • Roger Bird

                Caring about people is a MOST noble and necessary characteristic, georgehants, and I salute you for it. But also think upon the value to the rest of society when these poor people who are scrabbling for survival can start adding material value to society.

                I just saw a show about forced marriage in Australia. These 4 Afghan girls were being dreadfully brutalized by their horrid father. The state rescued them. Now they are PhDs and MDs and seemed very happy to me. They are now a real asset to society.

          • fortyniner

            A ship full of the rich, trying to escape the mess they have created. That reminds me of Douglas Adams’ account of the ‘B-ark’ of the Golgafrinchams in the ‘The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe’:

            http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Golgafrincham

            Well worth reading a snippet:

            http://www.geoffwilkins.net/fragments/Adams.htm

    • AlainCo

      Your application is on the extreme side, and on long term it is interesting.

      For me the most important on 3D printing, and all form of automatic digital manufacturing, is that it may allow deconcentration of manufacturing.

      the invention of desk/home printers, of home scanner, them e-mail, have great impact on my own capacity to manage administrative procedure, to run small businesses.

      3D printing will allow to decouple the design and the manufacture, and thus to deconcentrate each of that activity.

      few years ago I have found a company which proposed to print “printed circuit board” for prototypes. This could have allowed me to design personal devices for my own specific application (Bicycle lighting, signaling and instrumentation). It is a great tool for “fat tail” application, and ultrasmall niche markets.

      Self-replication of robots is a further stage…

      The most important as I said before would be to kill the model of the big vertical/horizontal corporation, to move toward a networks of tiny enterprises, run by one or few self-entrepreneurs, and quite no workers.

      the model of the big manufacturing company, like the model of the big mining company, is the one which pushed the Marxist vision of class-war, and evil capitalist pressuring workers at the limit of starvation. It happen not to be so real (see in the 60s), but it is only because of slow feedback through social wars.
      Smaller enterprises mean that caring of your employees and your boss interests is a daily survival concern, and durable conflict is not an option. And in that context, regulation is done by failures, and is solved by abundance of small opportunities (jobs and market niche).

      I put 3D printing in the same axis, as home CHP/generator, as peer-to-peer networks, as intensive indoor/garden farm/cattle, as development of independent city-states inside federations and disappearance of nations.
      More freedom to deconcentrate of our human system.

      To make it not “too big to fail”.

      • georgehants

        AlainCo, any idea’s to try and improve the World must be a good thing, unfortunately that does not seem to be the way our masters, who we elect, see things.
        Maybe one day something will mean more to people than Money and Power.

        • AlainCo

          I am more negative and I observe that democracy is turning into demagogy , when our own stupidity , cowardliness, turns into our own suicide, through election.

          I don’t blame who we elect, but who elect them.
          we need a brain.

          • fortyniner

            +1

          • Roger Bird

            We need brains that are well connected to our hearts. Stalin had a brain, but it was not connected to his heart.

        • Roger Bird

          The World will get better ONLY when people get better. And the way that people get better ONLY happens when one tries to make oneself better. There is no other way. Whining and complaining and inventing paranoid delusions about other people will not make one better, and it obviously does not make the people that one might be complaining about any better.

      • Bernie Koppenhofer

        All of the above is interesting and great innovation. I am afraid they all point to, in the aggregate, fewer jobs. We must solve the social upheaval these new innovations generate or we will end up with only ten percent of the population able to purchase them and “Arab Springs” all over the world.

        • Iggy Dalrymple

          Lord, please save me from being Koppenhoffed.

      • fortyniner
        • http://www.e-catworld.com admin

          Thanks for sharing, 49er.

    • Chris I

      Do you think it would be that simple?

  • georgehants

    I wonder why science is it seems trying to Research and advance with this 3D printing thing.
    Have they lost there minds, it must be possible for them to delay and debunk the technology for at least another 24 years.
    Something must have gone wrong with the scientific principle of close your eye’s and scream impossible until the few Rebels doing True science have done all the work for them.
    If this go’s on then we could find the crazy situation of scientists actually doing Science and researching such important Evidence as the Placebo Effect etc. etc.

  • georgehants

    Princeton researchers, using a 3-D printer, have built a bionic ear with integrated electronics.
    By Susan Young on August 12, 2013
    Why It Matters
    By integrating biological tissues with electronics, researchers may be able to create artificial tissues and organs that can monitor health or enhance senses.
    Lab-made organs could do more than just serve as ready options for patients in need: with the right blend of biology and materials science, they might even be able to endow people with superhuman abilities.
    That’s what researchers at Princeton University see as the future of tissue engineering, and they believe 3-D printing is the way there. Michael McAlpine and members of his lab recently reported that a 3-D printer could build a bionic ear capable of detecting frequencies a million times higher than the normal range of hearing.
    http://www.technologyreview.com/demo/517991/cyborg-parts/

    • GreenWin

      Mainstream acceptance of 3D printed bionics is near immediate; whereas 23 years of evidence for a new nuclear reaction is excommunicated. Priorities? Superman, or social progress? Anybody listening??

      • Wes

        I already have my cape into the cleaners. Can’t wait to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

        • GreenWin

          Imagine how much higher you could bound with that mini-CF backpack. 🙂

  • georgehants

    From Vortex
    a fine Cold Fusion paper:
    Peter Gluck Fri, 16 Aug 2013 00:08:43 -0700
    Dear Readers,
    Yiannis Hadjichristos has just called my attention to the following
    paper, a real double rara avis:
    – it is published in a peer reviewed journal;
    – it clearly opts for a multi-stage theory, interdisciplinar approach.
    It is
    “Potential Exploration of Cold Fusion and Its Quantitative
    Theory of Physical-Chemical-Nuclear Multistage Chain
    Reaction Mechanism
    Yi-Fang Chang, Department of Physics, Yunnan University, Kunming, 650091,
    China
    International Journal of Modern Chemistry, 2013, 5(1): 29-43
    Link:
    http://modernscientificpress.com/Journals/ViewArticle.aspx?H86Z5Noa2iKDNvH/0wRKWsOkhiUQ7RBfa/R/b49cNQN2PlFJKdv27fx5aFa7XQKO
    —-
    http:[email protected]/msg85831.html

    • georgehants

      rara avis: A rare or unique person or thing.

    • GreenWin

      Not an easy paper to read due in part to translation. It is amusing to see the continued use of the term “cold fusion” globally. People just seem to like it.

      • eernie1

        Georgehants,
        Thank you for posting this paper. What those crazy Chinese researchers are saying is that if you force an electron(the orbital electron of the D)(electron capture) into the nucleus of a deuterium atom(1 proton 1 neutron ),that little sucker causes a lot of disruption. First it flips one of the quarks that make up the neutron, using the weak force, resulting in transmuting the 2D into 2He. Further there is a Beta electron, a neutrino and a photon created. The entering electron and the Beta are ejected out of the He and take part in further disruptions. The process is exothermic and can lead to excess energy. Normally the orbiting electron wants to stay in its cozy quantum allowed orbit(good for us otherwise we would not be here) but by applying a large enough external negative force(repelling force)you can make the electron move into the nucleus. This can be done with an electrical discharge, a RF pulse, a negative ion etc.The metallic lattice is there to hold the D from moving and to convert the exiting electrons into thermal energy.
        If you look at my theory, I propose the same sequence of events except for the introduction of the electron into the nickel nucleus. I think this is easier because of the influence(negative repulsion) by the outer orbital electrons which can be enhanced by an applied negative external field for one among other effects. Also the LENR system uses H- ions instead of D.
        It seems that the brotherhood of chemo-nuclear investigators continues to increase. Power to the electron, it can be easily pushed around.

        • georgehants

          Morning eernie1, all sounds very Quantum, trouble is the average scientist can’t see anything beyond a steam engine.
          Great to see some more open-minded scientists getting involved in Cold Fusion they will probably lose their jobs next week or maybe China has more brains than most of the West.

    • Job001

      Cool research reference georgehants!

      One cannot object rationally to the overwhelming sophistication of these multi researched onslaughts, chemo-nuclear non-linear multi-path cold fusion is peeking out timidly from the shadows of natures hidden secrets.

      Quantum chaos in the energy Hamiltonian disturbs ones equilibria. Denial reminds one of non-linear ocean waves denied for hundreds of years until our satellite eye in the sky observed, and we concur “Wow, yes indeed, very big non-linear waves do sink little ships.” Pay the insurance boys, these many ship captains were not drunk as per your prior theory!

      • georgehants

        So much wonder in the World denied and debunked until a scientist is standing on the bow of a large ship watching doom approaching.
        Ball lightning, sprites, the Placebo Effect, the mind changes Quantum reality, O no our priests tell us to only believe in their holy church of reductionist Dogma and never lift our eyes above the ground.

        • Job001

          Dogma implies the nasty unquestioned assumptions and little unvoiced unacceptable doubts which are a correlation necessity, the R^2 remainder good scientists, philosophers, and theologians should not discount.
          Otherwise, lacking R^2 wisdom we get stuck with failing dogma, and all dogma does fail sometimes(Re:Kurt Gödel’s proof).

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Gödel Gödel proved in 1931 that all assumptions taken too far result in paradox, fallacy, incompleteness, or undecidability, however you wish to describe it.

  • Tom59

    Shapeways has not many own printers but using suppliers. They help tremendously to spread the technology widely, while in industrial design departments, 3D printing is already commonplace. For mass production of ecats, tradtional manufacturing is way faster and cheaper. 3D printers will come into play strongly when inventors will design thousands of tailored applications around those heaters and manufature them in low numbers. The opportunities arising from 3D printing and the acceleration in development are breathtaking and come right in time with the LENR heaters – which are around the corner.

  • Ecat

    It look like Rossi confirms, that 6 months test has been started.

    Toussaint
    August 15th, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Dear Andrea Rossi,

    Has the 6 months test of the HOTCAT has already started ?

    Thank you

    Regards

    Toussaint
    Andrea Rossi
    August 15th, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    Toussaint:
    I am not able to respond to specific questions regarding the phases of tests and validation in course. Additonal information will be provided when practicable.
    Warm Regards,
    A.R.

    • Andre Blum

      To me it looks like he does not.

    • Roger Bird

      I read it that we got no information, neither an affirmative nor a negative.

    • Joel C.

      Knowing Andrea Rossi, he would have typed a resounding “no” if there wasn’t any test.

      So, this is his way of affirming there is indeed something going on. 🙂