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Shapeways: 3D Printing Service

2 replies [Last post]
Rick-Holzgrafe's picture
Joined: 07/22/2008

I just learned of the existence of Shapeways, a company in the Netherlands that can "print" solid objects in a variety of materials. You choose a pattern from their galleries, or upload your own, select a material and size, and they'll make it for you and ship it anywhere in the world. Since we game designers are forever looking for ways to make custom game pieces, I thought this service would be of interest.

Objects can be printed in a variety of materials, which vary in cost. Some materials are paintable; it is possible to print objects in full color using a "colored sandstone" material.

Creating custom patterns requires 3D modeling software and (I gather) a fair amount of expertise. I know nothing more about this subject so I can't offer advice; perhaps other BGDFers can make suggestions. Shapeways allows their customers to post their designs on their site for others to print, and they have a gallery of "miniatures" that includes, among other things, some spaceship designs, some fantasy figures (even Cthulhu, listed as "Ancient God"!), and some train shapes. They also seem to be able to put you in touch with experienced designers who will create a custom pattern for you, probably at a high price.

Some patterns in their galleries are quite expensive, and in general you're clearly not going to get anything at mass-production prices. But it's cheaper than buying your own 3D printer. :-)

Redcap's picture
Joined: 07/26/2008
I have been keeping my eye on

I have been keeping my eye on this for quite a while and what I am going to try to do (eventually) is make a model, print it on a good material, then make my own mold and mass produce :)

mikedrys's picture
Joined: 11/13/2008
Shapeways is great

I have used Shapeways for a couple pieces for two of my games ( They turned out pretty good. It was my first go and I actually made the poles on the titles a little too thin so some of them were broken. Not too many though. They were great to work with. The sails on the ships were also really thin but I got an email about that before they printed them and was able to make them a little thicker and then they printed them. Great customer service!!

I've also opened my own shop at Shapeways ( This is an option for anyone. You can open your own shop and sell your models. I just finished modeling the Nessie and Yeti for Kirioni and his Mythic Migration game ( I can't wait to see those printed and a part of his game. So, I'm open to modeling things. If anyone's interested just let me know.

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