All posts by Joris Peels


I’m saddened to announce that I’m leaving i.materialise. I had a wonderful time at Materialise and I’ll really miss the great and fun team here. I loved working at a place where you were surrounded by such expertise in 3D printing. I also loved walking around and seeing entire car bumpers, bobsleds and prostheses emerge from the many 3D printers here. The knowledge and skill that the staff here use to finish these things still amazes me.

I can only hope that in my time here I’ve been able to transfer some of my knowledge and skills to the people here. I do believe that if we look at the i.materialise website now we have been able to build a solid foundation for continued and future growth. I also know that the guys have a lot of fun surprises and new things in store for you in the coming months! I want to thank you, the community, for all your efforts in helping us improve the site and all the fantastic designs that you have had made with us. It has been truly inspiring to work with so many talented designers and artists!

For me it is now time to move on and take the big step in starting my own company. I’ll be working with a friend to start something that will hopefully make a significant impact in moving 3D printing forward. It’s been my dream for several years now to let anyone make anything. By letting people design and make whatever it is they want exactly as they see fit we can 3D print a better world. One that has a lower impact on the environment and where the products suit us. Currently, heavily marketed products with millions of copies predominate. They are not made for us, not suited to us. Mass production is a deception, and a dangerously wasteful one at that. My next venture is a bit of a gamble and it’s going to be more difficult than anything I’ve ever done. But, knock on wood, it might just be another nice little pinprick that will help deflate mass production. More news on that will follow next week.

If you’re curious as to what I”ll be up to next follow me on Twitter or read my personal blog here. You can also email me at joris (dot) peels (at)
For any i.materialise related questions you can email contact (at)
I’ll miss you guys! Love, Joris

Image is Creative Commons Attribution, AntwerpenR.

3D Printing versus Mass Production Part V Wish Fulfillment

This is the last part of a five part series on 3D Printing versus Mass Production. This is a part of a series of posts on 3D printing versus Mass Production. The other parts are: The Power of Unique, Manufacturing Complexity and Marketing Promise, Everything you own Sucks and More Beautiful Landfill.

3D printing is a wish fulfillment technology

At its most abstract 3D printing is a wish fulfillment technology, a Santa industry and all of us are its elves. But, in order for 3D printing to be able to equal the manufacturing capability of mass produced cameras would take many years and might never be possible. Better to hack and work with those technologies to use them as Lego blocks to build what you need, right now. Better to be the parasite on the cancer that is mass production. Instead of a Santa that would truly let anyone make anything all the time at home with their own tools and printers it would be a selective Santa. For those who take their time and investigate it can make just the things that they need. For others it will be too much of a hassle. In this way a particular type of person will be attracted to 3D printing. This person will either be interested in the technology itself or in the things people can make with this technology.

It is this small group perhaps numbering less than 100,000 today that is pushing the technology forward. These are the elves, the vanguard. They come to 3D printing to fulfill their own wishes but some are finding out that it is as a vehicle for another person”s wishes 3D printing can make money for them.It is by understanding 3D printing and its constraints that elves can make money by anticipating the products and processes that will entice others to join the 3D printing camp. These elves and the existing 1 billion dollar revenue Business to Business 3D printing industry will create both the demand and technology needed to fulfill these wishes while attempting to predict the wishes people will have.

In this manner 3D printing will bloom in mass production”s shadow. Meanwhile mass market 3D printing services and 3D printers will be launched and they will drag in more people. The fanfare will be focused on these projects but the real action will be the babbling brook of individuals deciding that they need perfection for that one thing. Gradually, slowly and surely mass production”s power users will amble over to 3D printing. The Engadget addicts, Apple fanboys, Wallpaper junkies, those most interested in better and best. It is they that will make 1% of all things with 3D printing. 1% of everything doesn”t sound like much. It seems a lot less exciting than “distributed manufacturing”. a superabundance of goods, a 3D printer on every desktop, everyone in the world making everything they want, tea earl grey, hot. I do however believe it to be a realistic estimation of the annual revenue of the entire 3D printing industry by 2020. 1% of the 17% of world GDP that is manufacturing would amount to a $100 billion a year market. Just a tiny sliver of that will go a long way to supporting a whole lot of elves and help defeat the rapacious bane of our world that is mass production.

Image, Creative Commons, Attribution

Winner announced of i.materialise Machine Man Human Augmentation Challenge

The i.materialise Machine Man Human Augmentation Challenge was inspired by Sci Fi author Max Barry’s book Machine Man. Max, together with other judges, Fab@Home founder and Cornell bio-robotics professor Hod Lipson and 3D printed prosthetic designer Scott Summit have evaluated the submitted designs. They were looking for a design and concept that augmented the human body using 3D printing. They wanted people to imagine a future where human elective implants would be accessible. We wanted a design and a 3D print that would inspire people to be able to imagine such a world. This is the most difficult and ambitious Challenge we”ve ever done and we’re glad that we are able to now announce the winners.

In third place is the iNose by Miel Wellens

According to the judges:

“In this concept, a titanium, subsurface implant lives on the bridge of the nose, allowing eyewear to attach without the need for earpieces. Presumably, the implanted part would be created based on the unique morphology of each user, speaking to the versatility of this technology. As a practical solution, it makes sense and solves its proposed problem elegantly.”

“This is a simple concept with wide application and great potential for future upgrades. It requires only minimal invasion of the body with no major drawbacks (such as loss of sensation) and thus could be suitable as a consumer-level product, as the Better Future corporation seeks in “Machine Man.” One can easily imagine a range of enhanced glasses that could interface with the eyeNose implant (or a future version thereof) to provide in-eye display of data, for example.”

The Second Placed winner is with Ex-DRA is Aaron Trocola.


“This concept speaks to the exciting future of osseointegration as it applies to amputees. The value of a prosthetic that integrates directly to the bone structure is immense, both in its potential for comfort and usability, as well as in how it stands to return to the user a sense of wholeness and physicality that an adjunct limb may never quite achieve.This concept is especially intriguing in that it not only replaces lost functionality – as an osseointegrated femur or tibia does – but it also returns to the user one of the forearm’s degrees of motion, by re-enabling pronation and supination.”

In first place, is Osteo Augmentation by HinesDibrova Studio and Ben Klein

“Beautiful design that takes advantage of the fabrication technology in printing complex geometry that cannot be made any other way.”

“This concept extrapolates on the current maxillofacial implants that are currently being used, but takes the technology considerably further. Instead of simply adding mechanical and volume replacement, as current implants do, this concept proposes to recreate the complex contours of the sinus cavity, taking full advantage of the vast flexibility offered by this technology. The designers depict beautifully the complex trebecular structure of the implant, which would invite the bone ingrowth needed to fully integrate the implant with the body. I especially appreciate that they considered the vital role that the sense of smell plays in our quality of living, and have created a concept where such a seemingly unlikely technology as additive fabrication could stand to return something so significant to the individual in need.”

Congratulations to the winners and thank you so much for all your entries. Thank you so much also to the judges for their insights and time.

3D printing vs Mass Production: Part IV More beautiful landfill

This is a part of a series of posts on 3D printing versus Mass Production.The other parts are: The Power of Unique, Manufacturing Complexity and Marketing Promise, Everything you own Sucks and Wish Fulfillment.

IV. More Beautiful Landfill

Mass Production will bring us a world where our landfill is ever more beautiful. We will just keep throwing away prettier, newer & more complex things at ever accelerating rates. We will in fact be hoovering the world’s resources into a self defeating search for happiness through consumption. As marketing and disposable income spread around the world many more people will want and be able to buy mass manufactured goods. The current negative impact on our environment is already noticeable but is only being created by a small segment of the world”s population.

If we look at OECD statistics we can see the Domestic Material Consumption of the OECD countries (under Environment Material Resources). This is the sum total of all materials extracted and used in an economy from biomass and metals to construction materials. It excludes all exports. Per capita material consumption for the OECD countries is 17.9 tonnes. In 22 of the richest countries in the world 17.9 tonnes of stuff each year is used. Per person. Per year. Portugal, a country that saw great economic gains over the period 1980 to 2005 (the period the study covers) saw its per capita Domestic Material Consumption increase 118% over the period. Similar growth in developing nations would put an inordinate burden on our planet.

But, even without such increases the path mass production is on is clearly unsustainable. The OECD has 1.1 billion citizens and for every one turns 17,900 kilos of this earth into things each year. A passenger car such as the Toyota Corolla weighs 1270 kilo. Per person we use up 14 passenger cars worth of material per year. The earth has a surface area of 510,000,000 square kilometers. Each year 14 billion Toyota Corolla”s worth of material is used. That comes out to 27 Toyotas worth of material for every square kilometer of the Earth’s surface per year. Every single square kilometer of the earth’s surface.

And that’s just the impact of the OECD countries, the rich people, that calculation does not include countries such as….China for example. It does not include the other 6 billion people on this planet. My fear is that eventually mass production could lead to mass extinction.

This scares me, scares me like nothing else does. I really believe we”re headed to the path to extinction. I’ve really, really, really tried to avoid coming to this conclusion but finally have to accept it. Like the Easter Islander”s we’re also going to cut down the last tree. Only we won’t turn it into a moai but rather some brushed aluminium gadget with a screen on it. You know, so we can look at pretty things.

3D printing will combat this but it would be foolish to try to compete head on with such an established destructive system. Rather, 3D printing should seek to “hoover up” all tho se consumers that seek to create better and more perfect products and give them an outlet in 3D printing. This will slow the growth of Mass Production by diminishing some of the time and attention given it. It will also cause 3D printing to bloom while in Mass Production’s shadow. The supreme irony of course is that it is precisely those most powering the unsustainable steam roller of Mass Production that will flock to 3D printing. Your neighbor, the one with the gold speaker cables, he has these giant beechwood sarcophagi  in his living room. They’re speakers and cost $5000. It is this kind of person that finances the expansion of mass production into ever more complex goods. So with each new convert 3D printing wins an extra person while Mass Production loses one of its most strident adherents and financiers.

3D printing will in fact slowly deflate the bubble that is Mass Production. Not deflate it entirely, mind you. Just make it stop growing and shrivel a bit, like a day old party balloon.

But, wait a minute…

Is 3D printing even better for the environment? As a process 3D printing has several intrinsic advantages that make it more environmentally friendly than mass production. By producing close to the consumer less carbon is emitted. By using less material because it is an additive process we harm the earth less in creating things. By producing locally or in the home 3D printing could be coupled with a recyclebot that would offer closed loop recycling and cradle to cradle within the home. Tired of your plate? Toss it in the recyclebot and make a new one. Potentially fewer higher utility things could replace many mass produced ones.

But, 3D printing’s greatest environmental benefits lie in the way that it simplifies manufacturing. A camera supply chain comprises of thousands of individually motivated suppliers in many countries and it would be complex and difficult for a company to, even if it wanted to, audit and reduce its impact on the environment. Spot markets and tiered distributors obscure how camera parts are made and what impact individual parts, processes and their raw materials have. In mass production previous investments in tooling, factories and processes will make less environmentally friendly production the norm for a long time regardless of technological advances. Locked into a low cost production paradigm mass production companies could also find themselves unwilling or unable to adopt newer greener technologies.

Compare this with a 3D printed part. This has one company making the central input: a 3D printing material. If a strong and useful biodegradable material would emerge for one 3D printing process it could in one fell swoop make anything made with this process environmentally friendly. Without a plethora of suppliers pressure could be brought to 3D printer manufacturers and material manufacturers to make more environmentally friendly materials. It would be easier for them to comply since their own material supply chains are relatively very short. In this way any gains in materials would translate into huge efficiency gains for the entire 3D printing market. Even if the 3D printer manufacturers would not play ball, people could hack their own 3D printers to take newer and more environmentally friendly materials. Several material innovations could in this way transform 3D printing into a green process and with it make everything made with 3D printing environmentally sustainable. I don’t think a comparable innovation could happen within mass production. Check back tomorrow for the final part

Creative Commons Attribution, D”Arcy Norman & BSFMan

Winners of the 3D printed jewlery contest

We”ve evaluated all the designs and chosen the winners of the 3D printed jewlery contest. We were very impressed with the quality and creativity of the works and it was tough work evaluating them, but here are the winners.

In 3rd place is Unellenu with Chain Necklace.

In second place is Dario Scapitta Design with Stone.

In first place is Nexus Chocker by Igor Knezevic.

Each of these designers wins a 3D print of their piece as well as a place in the .MGX Shop. Igor also wins a personal workshop by Elvis Pompilio. In addition to the top 3 we have selected other designs that will also become a part of the Summer 2011 .MGX Jewel Collection. We hope that this serves to not only be a good commercial opportunity for the winning designers but also a great step in their carreers. Thank you so much for all your entries!

Wavelet bracelet & Guilloche Necklace  bij Igor Knezevic

Diamond inside by Cunicode

Star Grafitti pendant  & Chandelier earrings by Unellenu

Pocket Amulet concept by Sid Kumpurinne

Discover.Jewelry by Liam Ward.

i.materialise 3D printed jewelry workshop by Karen Wuytens

In September we will be organizing a workshop in contemporary 3D printed jewelry design at the .MGX flagship store in the Sablon area in Brussels. The 3 day workshop by Karen Wuytens will take place on the 8th, 9th and 16th of September. Participation is free of charge, but limited to ten participants.

Karen is a jewelry designer and PhD-researcher at MAD-Hasselt, who uses 3D printing in her designs. For this she works closely with us here at i.materialise. Karen will share her experience in 3D printed jewelry and take you through the creation of a 3D printed jewelry piece. Karen would like to, “let designers taste the spatial possibilities of this innovative new technology as well as the acompanying production and design process.” Noted hat designer Elvis Pompilio will also attend and help give you some insight into his work. Fabien Franzen will also be there in order to give you guidance of the 3D modeling aspects of the workshop. The attending designers will also be given the opportunity to make their own pieces and visit the world’s largest 3D printing facility, Materialise in Leuven. We think this is an excellent opportunity for you to understand, learn and begin exploring contemporary 3D printed jewelry design and get a head start in the field.

If you are interested in attending please send an email outlining why you would like to attend to contact at with “Jewelry Workshop” in the subject line.

3D printing vs mass production: Part III Everything you own sucks…

This is the third installment of a series of blog posts on 3D printing vs mass production. The other parts are: The Power of Unique, Manufacturing Complexity and Marketing Promise and Wish Fulfillment.

Everything you own sucks…

There has been a widening credibility gap between the promises marketing makes and what is actually being delivered for years now.  And even though some marketeers struggle with the underpinnings of their industry they also need to keep telling us lies.  They can not admit that they”ve been lying to us for so long. They can not just come out and say, “buying a new toothpaste will never make you happy.” Also they”ve been obscuring an even darker deeper secret. That secret is that Mass Production is by design unable to give us the “best of anything.” Mass production can provide us with wonderfully complex things and cheap things but it can not give you the best shoe, camera or shirt. Mass production is bound to making millions or thousands of things for the largest identifiable group. They have to make things for many people for their model to be viable. This standardization means that by design everything you own is mediocre. Its meant for the many, not for you. All mass produced things suck. All mass produced things are in fact designed to suck. Conceived to appeal to the largest identifiable group they can not meet the precise needs of any one individual. They are OK for all and perfect for none. Once someone realizes this he will be on his way towards 3D printing, inexorably.  And who will these disaffected  people be? The early adapters/adopters, this Bleeding edge.

Cost gap

Simultaneously mass produced good”s high margins  are narrowing the costs between mass produced things and 3D printed things. Even though the unit cost of 3D printed things is much higher, the increase in the specificity of the design and the corresponding higher utility of this design to its designer more than offsets this price difference. Furthermore, other things like limitations in materials will be waved away initially in light of the consumer seeing themselves as a pioneer. After all, these people aren”t just any consumers, these are the people that bought the first DVD players, the first BluRay players both for $1000 each. These Bleeding edge consumers have been continually exposed to the worst of the high promises, teething problems and failed initiatives. They”re a hardy lot.

Once they have nestled itself in a comfortable nook of 3D printing the long drawn out deflating of Mass Production will really begin. The loss of this Bleeding edge group of consumers, this small percentage of people who actively seek out “the best” and “the new” in all fields, deprives mass production of its vanguard.  Slowly much of the cutting edge will lose its shine and the creativity, innovation and effort will be directed to 3D printing. Mass production will continue to exist but not be a store of much new value and hopefully as the years go on its rapacious appetite for more and more of the world”s resources in name of higher resolution and other false dreams will diminish.

Images are of the Creation Lamp by Xander Clerkx. Part IV: Ever more beautiful landfill will come out next week.

Columbia GSAPP 3D printed designs Watercolor

Alistair Gill and Veronika Schmid held a Saturated Models seminar at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. During the seminar the Master’s students explored 3D printing and created 3D printed objects. i.materialise made the resulting 3D prints. This is the second interview with a team of participating architecture students. The first one is here.

1. Who are you? We are Kasey Josephs and Kurt Rodrigo both originally from the Western United States, hailing from Arizona and California, respectively.  We are recent graduates of Columbia University”s Master of Advanced Architectural Design program and are passionate about architecture, music, and cake. 

2. What is Watercolor? Watercolor as a medium blends color to blur the boundary between hues and tones.  The Watercolor Wall is a prototype for a wall paneling system that uses this similar technique to create dynamic space around the wall.  The relationship between the user and the wall is ever-changing based on the time of day and the nature of the interaction. 

3. Why did you make it? We made this object with two intentions.  One, we are interested in going beyond our preconceptions of what an architectural model should be and two, we want to push the limits of the rapid prototyping capabilities. 

4. What software did you use to make it? We used a mixture of top-down and bottom-up logic with Rhinoceros and Grasshopper.  What this means is we allowed the computer to generate a base form and then manually manipulated this form in order to produce a new outcome. 

5. What was the process by which you came to your design? The process we used to create the Watercolor Wall involved layering various techniques such as puncturing, twisting, scaling, and blending.  These operations were then re-ordered and re-applied at various stages of the process, yielding original, innovative form. 

6. Will you be using 3D printing more often in the future? We are definitely interested in using 3D printing more often in the future.  We are very impressed with the machines” capabilities and the turn-around time.

Photos are by Julie Jira.

A new i.materialise 3D printing material: Prime Gray

Today we”re introducing a new 3D printing material on i.materialise, Prime Gray. We”ve been listening and trying to determine what designers and 3D modelers need and want from their 3D printing materials. A lot of people we”re looking for highly detailed materials, smoother materials and also wanted visually appealing 3D prints. Internally people were smitten by the Prime Gray material, originally developed and used  for high quality visual prototypes for consumer electronics. Some of us (OK, me) we”re skeptical about the gray color. But, we evaluated it and it turned out to also be a very nice and classy looking material for design and art pieces as well as character models. Today we”re introducing this material temporarily for one month.

Prime Gray is sterolithography material that is Air Force Gray. The color gives designs a much “tighter” and well defined overall look. The material is feels luxurious to the touch and is very smooth. Flat surfaces are shiny and gleam in the light. For some reason the color and surface texture makes a lot of pieces look much more “finished” & valuable than other 3D printing materials do. Parts made with this material often look done, as a finished product should.

The material is fairly strong and the heat deflection temperature is 62 Celsius. We would not recommend it for functional parts such as car exhausts. The material is a part of the Resin family and we recommend using the Paintable Resin instead should you wish to paint your model.  The maximum size is 250 x 250 x 235 mm, wall thickness is 1mm and minimum level of detail is 0.3mm. The material costs 1.60 Euro per cubic CM. You can check what your design will cost in this material by uploading it here.

Prime Gray is made on Stereolithography machines where lasers build up your object in a bath of resin.  The images on this page are all of models that come with the Basic Finish. This is a finishing level whereby we remove the support structures that are 3D printed along with your design by hand. Because of these supports other materials such as polyamide would give you more design freedom. Should you need a higher level of finish whereby we sand more of your model by hand or primer it you can email us and request it. You can find the materials page for Prime Gray here. Here is our Flickr set where you can view and download higher quality (1024 PX) images of this material so you can evaluate them at your leisure.

The top design is of a GLaDOS Portal Turret from the Valve games Portal and Portal 2, done by Steve Brand. We saw it on GrabCAD, we had to make it. We”re going to give it to Valve once we can tear our eyes away from it long enough to put it in a box. High quality images are here. The Skater and Frog designs are courtesy of  Howest Campus Kortrijk, Digital Arts & Entertainment. High quality images are here and here.

The Google SketchUp and i.materialise Pimp your Vehicle Challenge


We’re asking you to come up with a SketchUp design that would be 3D printed. This product would improve your car, boat, bike, Segway, pogo stick, unicycle or any other vehicle. Your design should show what could be possible if you were allowed to improve the vehicles that you drive. You should design whatever it is that you desire. We’d like your design to be a product that you believe would work in the real world. We’re looking for creativity and a product that would be an eye opener. It could be something for everyone or it could be something for a tiny group of people. Or it could be just for you. You can submit your entry and a short explanation here . The contest starts today and you have until the 14th of July (12PM CET) to Pimp your Vehicle. You can enter here.

 The Google SketchUp team and i.materialise will carefully examine your designs and select the winning entries. You can use the handy new i.materialise SketchUp plugin to easily make your SketchUp design 3D printable.   Each design must be original and must be one object only. We will 3D print the winning designs in multicolor Zcorp. Our judging criteria will be: “the most innovative and original pimp your vehicle design.”  

There will be 3 winners for the contest. The third placed winner receives $250 in 3D printing. The second placed winner wins $250 in 3D printing and a free Sketchup Pro license. The first placed winner wins their product 3D printed and a free SketchUp Pro license.

In addition we will work with the overall winner after the competition. Our engineers and product development staff will do what we can to help you turn your 3D print into a realistic product. Our business development staff will then attempt to work with a vehicle manufacturer in order to get them to evaluate and hopefully adopt your product. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to do this. Realistically, the chances of us turning this into a fully fledged product made by a major vehicle manufacturer are small. The process will take many months and will have many pitfalls. At one point we might both be forced to admit that it is simply not going to work. We want to be as clear and open about this from the get go. But, we are willing to use our experience, contacts and knowledge to do what we can to get your pimped product into vehicles. You Pimp your Vehicle and we’ll drive your idea into the boardroom.

The initial 3D print will be 3D printed in color. This material is fragile but will be the best way to show off your idea.  If we manage to commercialize your idea it will probably be 3D printed in plastic or steel. An example of a steel product are these door handles. A full set of door handles would cost $199. This means that if you’d like to make a similar object in steel it would have the be a high value or customizable thing to justify the price. This plastic 3D printed TomTom bicycle GPS holder is a good example of a very unique idea that was turned into a product. Large 3D printed things are expensive and even something this size, would with painting set you back $100. A titanium ring such as this one would cost $110. A similar sized ring in plastic would cost $5 or so. When working with the plastics please remember that they have relatively low melting temperatures of 180 Celsius for example. You can make painted things such as this Cell Phone holder but the painting is done by hand so would make your product more expensive. So as far as your imagination goes, think big. But, if you’d like to make the best commercial idea, think small and think practical.