2,339 crowdsourcing and crowdfunding sites
Shapeways, founded by Peter Weijmarshausen, Robert Schouwenburg, and Marleen Vogelaar, helps people create objects using 3D printing technology. It has printed over one million products in a number of different materials, ranging from “Elasto Plastic” to sterling silver. It also hosts an eCommerce store that allows creators to sell their wares – which include everything from toys to jewelry. To date, over 6,000 creators have set up storefronts, creating tens of thousands of objects per month.
The company plans to use the recently secured funding to grow the staff, expand its operations, and build the “factory of the future” that would enable it to produce objects right in New York City. Currently, the production facility is in Eindhoven, Netherlands, though there is a distribution center in Long Island City, New York.
Shapeways is pioneering the field of “creative commerce,” which it defines as a makerplace in which people create, buy, and sell products. As direct digital manufacturing becomes more prevalent, the product design and manufacturing fields seem ripe for disruption. Simple 3D printers are becoming cheaper, enabling users to print their own basic creations. The high quality of the printing and variety of materials provided by Shapeways and other companies specializing in 3D printing, however, make them preferred destinations for those who want to create lasting, impressionable, and marketable objects.
Shapeways relies on crowd creativity, taking advantage of the benefits crowdsourcing and 3D printing provide. As objects are produced on demand, the risks associated with overproduction are almost nonexistent. Printing costs are low, since printers use only the required amount of materials. Designers are able to alter their creations in hours or minutes, allowing for customer feedback to be incorporated into the creations. The speed of redesign also makes customizing products much easier.
Creative commerce seems ready to take off soon, and Shapeways’ successful round of fundraising positions it to become an early leader for 3D printed creative projects.