Archive for April, 2012

The Month of April in 3D printing

Without a doubt it was a busy month in the world of 3D printing. Big companies started spending their money again. This continues to enforce the trend that we’re on a road towards a future of a handful of big 3D printing players.

We also saw the continued rise of crowd funding projects in the world of 3D printing and as often happens… more new 3D printers for us to get our hands on. Let’s have a look at the news items in detail…

First, the business news… It seems that 3D Systems got back into its spending habit of last year by acquiring My Robot Nation and Paramount Industries. Could it be the beginning of another spending spree this year? Only time will tell… On the other hand, they also got to present the new Z Printer 850. It promises higher print volume, greater productivity and vibrant full color that empowers designers, engineers, and architects to create more and larger parts faster.

The New Z Printer 850 by 3D Systems

At the same time we can’t really say that the other 3D Printing giant called Stratasys has been quiet. They recently announced the merger with the Israeli 3D printing company Objet and saw their stock value rise from $34 on April to $51 around the time this is being written. This an increase of a third! So for all you guys out there that want to earn some fast money, this is how you can. It might also be interested to mention that Stratasys is clearly up to something big as they have a countdown timer on their main website with the message “The magic begins on May 8. Check back to see what’s new in the world of 3D printing.” I wonder what they’ve got up their sleeve?

Then, onto another 3D printer that recently went on sale… the world famous chocolate printer by Choc Edge. It’s still a bit on the pricey side for me, but for the true chocolate lover it’s a nice investment. On a side note, we also had this 3D printer at the Materialise World Conference. I can confirm that the chocolate was indeed still yummy.

A picture from the Materialise World Conference Fashion Show

That brings us to the actual Materialise World Conference itself… It ran from April 18th until April 20th and attracted grand guests such as President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy. Materialise itself hosted a wonderful 3D Printed Fashion Show. We’ve extensively covered this event on our blog, facebook, google +  and twitter accounts and got to expose the Top 20 of the Hats off to 3D printing Design Challenge.


Another interesting crowd funding project on Indiegogo is one by Anarkik 3D who would like to take their creative solution called Cloud 9 to the next level. They are in search of $120,000, have managed to get $2,900 so far and still have 63 days to go so if Cloud 9 is your cup of tea, show the people at Anarkik 3D some love by supporting their cause.

And then of course there is the crowd funding project of the Scrappies by Ulrich Schwanitz which we featured on our blog. Our friend Ulrich is in search of $1,000 on Indiegogo in the name of uniting the wonderful theme of love and the modern technology of 3D printing. He has passed the halfway mark and has 31 days left. Do you know someone special and would like to give him/her a customized 3D printed gift? Then Ulrich’s project might be something for you.

On our side we brought you a very nice and new pricing model for all laser sintered models that fit within a bounding box of 125cm3. The great thing about it is that half price is guaranteed and it only gets better the more copies you order. Definitely worth a look if you’re interested in a large order of small 3D printed works of art.

At the same time we introduced the ability to turn your polyamide designs into colorful fluffy works of art by adding colored fibers onto your model (we call it adding velvet fur). The results were quite nice and its feel lovely in your hands. We covered it in this blog post.

The many different options from the iPhone covers of KEES

We also saw the launch of KEES, one of our partners.  You can order  customized 3D printed iPhone covers which was also covered on our blog and where we also offer the ability to add velvet fur as a nice finish. Are your looking for a 3D printpartner for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us or make use of our API.

Another fellow designer PeLi Design started offering his impressive door handle collection that i.materialise 3D prints at izé.

And last but not least, one of our designers got his work shown on WIRED with his 3D Printed Pulsar.

i.materialise student discount

Worldwide, students 3D print concept cars, architectural models, functional models, prototypes, and all sorts of other things with us. We really love working on those projects. So, if you’re a student at a College or University and want to use 3D printing for a school related project, we’re giving you a 20% discount if you 3D print with us. We’re especially interested in Design Academy students, engineering students, product design graduates, and fashion students. Nevertheless, feel free to surprise us with your work from any other discipline.

However, there are some rules and remarks to get the 20% STUDENT DISCOUNT.

  • You have to be enrolled at a College, University or Technical school.
  • You must contact us using an .edu or other university/school email address to verify this (sorry about this but someone always will play unfair even though virtually all are fair). In case you didn’t know yet, get in touch with us through contact (@) (just to be clear, leave out the brackets and the spaces when you use it).
  • The 3D print(s) you order are for a school or school related project.
  • When your project is finished, you provide us with images to show your work. We love seeing the result of your hard work. If we’d like to show them on our blog, we will ask for your permission first.
  • Enter the promo code MASTER3DPRINT2012 (quite a mouthful, isn’t it) during the checkout process.
  • We have the right to refuse selected orders in some cases. We probably won’t ever but we thought we’d put that in to be sure. Now, we wouldn’t want other 3D printing services ordering from us would we.
  • As always, free shipping is applied above a $99/99€ order value.
  •  The 20% discount is valid on all of our non-metal materials: polyamide, alumide, multicolor, high detail resin, paintable resin, transparent resin, prime gray and ABS. The offer also applies for dyed and velvet polyamide AND for the polyamide priority service. We know this can particularly come in handy as deadlines approach.
  • Don’t worry about pricing too much. Our 3D print lab is, without any doubt, the quickest and most straight forward way to get an instant price for your model (with the exception of transparent resin though). No login required, upload your model, select different materials, and see which one suits your project best.
  • The most popular material for student projects is by far polyamide. And as not everyone needs make big things, prices for small models in polyamide and alumide were recently cut in half. Just remember this is a temporary offer ending at the end of May. Read more about the price drop.
  • Don’t forget about the production time of your model (generally between 5-15 working days) and the actual delivery time (1-2 days). Sending in your project in time will save you (and us) a lot of stress. That’s a promise!
  • The 20% student discount is valid only until the end of this school year, meaning the 30th of June 2012.

We hope to see a lot more of your inspiring work in the future. And don’t forget we have a great Customer Service team with talented support engineers to help you in getting a wonderful result.

Ula Miami Concept Car by Josh Henry

Transportation Design student at The University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA.
Material: transparent resin


Mars lamp by Pieter-Jan Debuyust and Laurens Dekeyser

Civil Engineering and Architecture students at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.
Material: polyamide


Movementor by Kiran Gangadharan

Postgraduate in Arts, Media and Design at Transmedia (Sint -Lukas Brussels University College of Art and Design), Belgium.
Material: polyamide


Soft Surface by Jung Woo Yeo and Wonshok Lee

Coursework for ‘Saturated Models’ Seminar GSAPP, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University
Instructors: Alistair Gill and Veronika Schmid
Photo courtesy of Julie Jira –

Material: polyamide

3D print your mom something special

The Appear Lamp with a Happy Mother's Day message

Mother’s Day is just around the corner in a great numbers of countries. How cool would it be to get your mom a customizable 3D printed Lamp or some nice 3D printed jewelry? We’ve made a list of polyamide based 3D printed gifts that you might want to look at as a starting point. Alternatively you might want to tell your mother a special something through our Appear Lamp? I’d say, have a browse through our options and make sure to select that perfect gift for that special mother of yours. Below you’ll find two examples from our Mother’s Day Selection.

Stone by Dario Scapitta

Heart of Time (Talisman) by André Greiner-Petter

The Top 20 from the Hats off to 3D Printing in all their glory

Last week we brought you our pictures, stories and a wonderful interview with Mark Bloomfield from the Materialise World Conference. Today, we proudly bring you the video of the actual Top 20 Designs on the runway. Enjoy!

Of course you can also view the video in 720p on our Vimeo account.

Our lasers are cutting your prices in half

Are you the type of designer that likes to work in small sizes and large numbers? Or maybe a student that wants to try out 3D printing on a smaller scale? Then you’re at the right place, at the right time because we’ve just launched a new temporary pricing model for pieces that undergo laser sintering (This affects the polyamide and alumide materials).

So what are the facts?

  • For any design that fits within a bounding box of 125cm3, you will always pay a standard price of 12 euros
  • If you decide to 3D print multiples of that same design, you simply add 4 euros per copy on top of the start-up price of 12 euros (this means that if you want your design 3D printed four times, you’ll pay the following: 12+4+4+4=24 euros for 4 copies)
  • This is a temporary action that lasts until the end of May
  • All of the above does NOT include VAT

What’s the difference with before?

Well with the traditional laser sintering pricing model a bounding box of 125cm3 would have cost you around 24 euros and each copy of that would have been a lot more than 4 euros a piece. With the pricing model of today all 4 copies combined would have cost you only 24 euros which is the same price you would have paid for one copy before!

So in simple words:

Half the price is guaranteed! The more copies you order, the more money you save up!

So what can I design in polyamide or alumide that would fit within a bounding box of 12cm3? Let us give you some examples from some of our wonderful designers who have placed their work in our gallery to inspire you…

Tendril Earrings by Dan Yeffet

myKEES LACE by Studio-ePosh

Holly Ball by Michaella Janse van Vuuren

Now that your brain has had some inspirational food, get your pens out and start designing! The price is right and so is the time!

Meet Mark Bloomfield – A Man with a Winning Spirit

As promised yesterday, we present you with the winner of the Hats off to 3D Printing Design Challenge… Mr. Mark Bloomfield. Below you’ll find the interview we took with him after the 3D printed fashion show of the Materialise World Conference.

And for those of you that like pictures… here are some of Mark Bloomfield’s winning masterpiece: Daisy.

Mark Bloomfield's Daisy on a standard head model

A close-up of Mark's amazing work

Mark Bloomfield's Daisy on the Materialise Runway

A closer look at Mark's work of art

The Daisy worn by Belgian Fashion Model Angela Bitonti

The Daisy worn by Belgian Fashion Model Angela Bitonti



Stories from the Materialise World Conference

The highlight of the Materialise World Conference - The 3D Printed Fashion Show

The Materialise World Conference has kicked off with a bang and we’re here to tell you our stories. As you might have seen on our constant tweets, yesterday on April 18th, the Materialise World Conference finally opened the doors to its many guests. Amongst them were European President Herman Van Rompuy, countless world famous 3D printing companies and fashion icons like the master milliner Elvis Pompilio himself.

A quick snapshot of the conference room during a speech by Wim Michiels of Materialise

European President Herman Van Rompuy giving his speech at the Materialise World Conference

Together with its many successful clients, Materialise CEO Wilfried Vancraen showcased the current state of 3D Printing technology and did this through an extensive program that touches many different industries.

Of course we at i.materialise were also present and had the wonderful opportunity to be accompanied by some of our most dearest friends and designers. Amongst them were also some of the participants of the Hats off to 3D Printing Design Challenge. It was a grand pleasure to see them arrive from places as far as Australia as was the case for design challenge participant Jennifer Loy.

Taking a tour of Leuven with our dear i.materialise friends and designers

So as the day progressed, we gathered our honored guests and took them to a nice restaurant followed by a guided tour of the city Leuven. It was a great way to get to know each other in a much more personal way. Once our stomachs were filled and our brains fed with cultural Leuven, we head back to Materialise Headquarters to let our designers speak about their experience with i.materialise. Here we were delighted to hear from our speakers:

Eric van Straaten
About the production methods behind his magnificent art

Ulrich Schwanitz
About his wonderful Scrappies project that is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo

Jennifer Hoes
About her amazing stainless steel medallions and her path towards making them a reality

Ilse Vermeulen
About how 3D printing has played an important role in the creation of her art like the adorable Mr. Collodi

Jonas Samson
About how i.materialise plays an important role in the realization of the iPhone covers from KEES

Kai Backman – CEO of Tinkercad
About how the wonderful Tinkercad allows anyone the opportunity to create and 3D print their ideas while having tons of fun

This was then followed by a guided tour of our facilities which now also includes our third new and biggest building.

One of the conference rooms of our new building (notice all the Quins.MGX lamps?)

And then… as the sun began to set, the excitement grew for the highlight of the day, the 3D Printed Fashion Show. With our guests in place and the runway ready, Materialise was about to provide us all an unforgettable night. Wonderful designs from Elvis Pompilio, Nicolo Casas and our Top 20 participants of the Hats off to 3D Printing Design Challenge walked the runway.

A dazzling show with amazing 3D printed works of art

In this picture, the magnicifent craftsmanship of Elvis Pompilio

And of course, amazing pieces by Nicolo Casas

After the magnificent show, the winners were announced:



And finally, the winning hat of the Hats off to 3D Printing Design Challenge - Designed by Mark Bloomfield

Mark Bloomfield and Materialise CEO Wilfried Vancraen with the award winning Daisy.

Runner-up Dario Scapitta with his wonderful work of art - The Butterfly Hat

Today we have also managed to process a big part of the wonderful footage taken yesterday and we have made sure to put the results on our facebook and flickr accounts. You can see more of the preview pictures below through these new picture sets we have created: Hats off to 3D Printing & Hats off to 3D Printing Fashion Show. Furthermore, we would like to thank Belgian fashion model Angela Bitonti for her wonderful contribution to showcasing these grand 3D printed hats.

Cornices by runner-up Song Bowen from our flickr collection: Hats off to 3D Printing

Belgian fashion model Angela Bitonti takes her 3D printed hat off for Kiran Gangadharan - designer of this great work of art

As you can see, it was an unforgettable event that we enjoyed very much. We were very fortunate to and honored to have our dear friends and designers by our side and even more so to see how they participate in pushing the world of 3D printing forward one step at a time. Please don’t hesitate to visit our blog tomorrow again to get a look of the interview we took with Mark Bloomfield, winner of the Hats off to 3D Printing Design Challenge.

Exclusive video interview with winner Mark Bloomfield coming tomorrow!

Also please remember that we’re doing our best to provide you with a video of the actual show as soon as possible. In the meantime, please enjoy the following video (in Dutch) as a preview that has been broadcasted on Belgian National Television.

Because we love to touch fluffy things

Recently we gave you the possibility to add some color to your polyamide designs. We loved the results and saw it was good. Today we bring you something that looks just as great and feels even better. It’s the ability to turn your polyamide designs into colorful fluffy works of art by adding colored fibers onto your model (we call it adding velvet fur). We tried it out, took some pictures and again… we saw it was good. Considering this will be offered as a trial during a period of about two months, we look forward to your feedback to turn our good results into great ones.

An example of velvet fur on iPhone covers by KEES


A detailed shot of all the great fluff


We even got better scores at Angry Birds when feeling the lovely fur in our hands

So, how can you add fluffiness to your polyamide you might ask? By simply selecting it in the finishing tab in the 3D print lab as shown below.

Easy as 1,2,3... just select it as a finish after choosing the polyamide material

Ok… so now that you know how that works, let’s take a look at some of the facts about adding velvet fur at i.materialise:

  • The ability to fur up your polyamide designs will be launched as a trial that ends on June 17th
  • The minimum bounding box measurements during this trial period are 50x50x10 mm
  • The maximum bounding box measurements during this trial period are 150x150x150 mm
  • We offer velvet fur in five colors: PINK, YELLOW, BLACK, BLUE & GREEN (note that the pink one is some kind of a fluorescent pink)
  • A-Side models are preferred, more info about it after this list
  • It’s complicated to add velvet fur to the inside of your models
  • Keep in mind that velvet fur and moving parts are not best of friends
  • The hair pieces are about 1 mm in length
  • It’s pretty resistant against friction
  • If you decide to add velvet fur to your designs, expect an additional two days before we’ll be able to ship the finished product

Another very important point to remember when you add this great fluffiness to your designs is that we can only add velvet fur to the A side of your models. By this we mean the side of the model that is facing outwards. See the images below for reference.

Notice how the velvet fur is only attached to the outer side of the surface

When we add the velvet fur, it's done in a similar manner as shown in this picture

Again, as a result you shall see that the inside of the model does not contain any velvet fur

So… now that you know all there is to know about this fluffy business, let’s talk pricing… we’ll it’s actually quite simple… when you decide to add a velvet fur to your design, just add an additional 10 euros on top of your existing price during the trial period. After this period, we will re-evaluate all results and provide you with more concrete pricing and data.

Want to know more? Why not have a look at our polyamide material page where velvet fur is further explained and by the way… did I mention that it feels oh so lovely and furry in your hands?

Getting Ready for the Materialise World Conference

As mentioned on our blog before… this year will see the rise of another Materialise World Conference. As it’s just around the corner we thought it would be a great idea to remind you guys of the awesomeness that it will bring. Are you curious to know who will win the Hats off to 3D Printing Design Challenge? Then definitely stay tuned on our twitter account on Wednesday April 18th as we will be announcing it through there as soon as it’s revealed to us. We also plan to tweet some pictures of the event as the day progresses to keep you up to date on the latest 3D Printing news.

The following day we’ll finally showcase all the Top 20 3D printed hats on our blog and on our flickr account + if possible provide you guys with inside information from some of the participants who will be present at the event themselves.

We’ll keep you updated so stay tuned!

Meet the Designer: Ulrich Schwanitz

Today I’d like to introduce you to our beloved friend and designer Ulrich Schwanitz. A man that continued a vision of his son through 3D printing and managed to bring adorable stainless steel characters to life in the name of love. He also just started an interesting funding campaign on Indiegogo (see video below) where you too can play a part in the realization of 3D printed love.

So for this lovely occasion we thought it would be interesting for our readers to get to know Dr. Ulrich Schwanitz a bit more ans the ideas and thoughts behind his latest project, The Scrappies. Here’s his story…

Tell us a bit about yourself… Who is Ulrich Schwanitz?
I am everything but a typical designer. I grew up as a scientist in the 1970′s and 80′s, and I still remember the times when computers were controlled by punch cards, typewriters and without undo buttons. I have worked in the IT departments of multinational manufacturing companies in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. During that time, we raised three children who are now all living in the UK.

For the last 10 years, I am working independently on my own projects. The creation of real, tangible objects from virtual design is one of my latest passions.

The Scrappies look very much in love indeed

Where did you find the inspiration for the Scrappies?
Almost 10 years ago, our son Nils welded a few garden-sized sculptures from real scrap metal and I have to credit him for the original idea. But much to our dismay, he has now found other interests and will not continue along that path. The old garden sculptures are slowly, but surely rusting away and we often dreamed about how to preserve them and make them available to an interested audience.

In the end, I had to step into Nils’ footsteps to carry the idea forward, and the rise of additive manufacturing and 3D printing came to our advantage. Since I am a lot more into computer applications than into drills and wrenches and welding gear, my natural choice was to try to start off with some digital models and to work from there. And that’s what I did.

I have to admit it wasn’t an easy start. Despite the various success stories and glossy brochures praying the potential and capabilities of 3D printing, I found it difficult, sometimes disillusioning and often frustrating to master the numerous steps from idea to final outcome, be it the odds-and-ends of the computer software, the limitations of the available fabrication methods and materials, or not to the least, the cost of manufacturing.

But meanwhile, the project has gained some momentum and I have just set up a funding campaign on Indiegogo, in an attempt to present one of my latest creations to a larger audience.

Just like when love is meant to be, the scrappies connect together like a perfect puzzle

What made you choose 3D printing over other techniques for these lovely little beings?
I am always inclined to new technologies and to a certain extend, I see myself and my objects as ambassadors for the possibilities of an evolving technology.

Other people have asked why we would not just cheaply weld and solder the figurines together, but that’s not the point. Especially with the Scrappies figurines, there is also an intentional twist in the design: You first see the supposedly worthless components and only on second sight, you become aware that they are manufactured in one single piece.

I had looked into having the objects cast in bronze, but the complexity of the Scrappies did not allow that in a cost-effective manner, at least at their current size. The casting process is also less flexible in respect to the desired customizations. And last not least, it’s not an option to have them assembled by a kid in China…

Just like the people you love, the Scrappies also look adorable.

What software packages did you use to create your design?
I am using a variety of CAD and 3D graphics applications and utility programs, but I cannot really pray one, since I am not really satisfied with any of them. The current state of 3D software constantly reminds my of the early days of of Word and WordPerfect. On screen, everything looks gorgeous and more than perfect, but beware when you send it to a printer. Yes, it may produce something, but not what you intended. The entrire thing may even crash at you altogether.

I think I am not the only one who spend more time fixing STL files than anything else. I may be a little biased since I am also doing quite a bit of textured models which appears to provide an extra hurdle in the process. The 3D service providers are going great lengths to provide us with automatic repair tools, but that’s nothing more than an ugly workaround. What we really need is 3D application software which does not only produce impressive screen renders, but also the correct instruction sets for printing.

The Scrappies on a keyboard

Have you 3D printed anything else besides the Scrappies?
I am working to further extend our collection of bronze figurines and sculptures with original designs beyond the Scrappies family. We already received some positive feedback on the Bubble Men series and you may see others coming up in the future.

We also have developed a method to convert ordinary 2D photos of people or animals into three-dimensional photo-reliefs and have them printed in full-color or monochrome materials. As with any of the other projects, I have found the team at i.materialise to be extremely flexible and helpful with our trial-runs.

Bubblemen by Ulrich Schwanitz

More Bubblemen by Ulrich Schwanitz

What can we expect you to 3D print next?
I am personally fascinated by the possibilities of metal printing. Of course I hope for a fantastic response from the current funding campaign at Indiegogo. If the »You & Me« project becomes overwhelmingly successful, I plan to bundle some of the processing into larger runs and should be able to make some profit from the project. This would certainly help to bring similar future projects along.

Where can we find more about you and your work?
You are invited to visit our site at . Not everything is always available in every language, but we try our best. I apologize for being little old-fashioned and not overly active on social media, but you may give it a try on Facebook.

Finally we at i.materialise would like to thank Dr. Ulrich Schwanitz for bringing a universal theme such as love to 3D printing and sharing his wonderful story with our community. As always we’ll continue to offer our support and services to our beloved friend and designer of 3D printed love in stainless steel and we wish him the best of luck with his Indiegogo campaign.