Shapeways 2.0: Empowering creators at scale

Zack Schildhorn
Apr 19, 2018 · 4 min read

Announcing Shapeways’ $30 million financing led by Lux Capital

Creation. That sublime act of bringing an idea into existence is part of what makes humans so unique and what drives society forwards.

We’re all born creators — any child can prove it with some crayons or a box of LEGOs. And we’ve all had our own ideas for new inventions. But making ideas come to life is hard.

“Ideas are worth nothing unless executed…execution is worth millions.” — Steve Jobs

Execution can also cost millions. To bring even a simple product to market can require a tremendous input of time and dollars in prototyping and manufacturing. Then you have to deal with supply chains, inventory, distribution, and marketing.

That’s what first captivated us about 3D printing. The promise of easily producing a physical object, on-demand, from just a digital file, seemed nothing short of magic.

In 2011 we spent more than a year investigating the tools, trends, companies and characters driving this nascent industry forward. We uncovered a groundswell of effort to turn a prototyping toolset into a mainstream manufacturing technology.

We became believers that, for the right applications, 3D printing could upend decades of mass manufacturing technique and spawn the creation of entirely new products and industries. And we ultimately discovered Shapeways.

Shapeways wanted to bring the most sophisticated 3D printing technologies to the masses, enabling anyone to be a creator. No tooling. No minimums. No inventory. Just upload your idea, and Shapeways would handle the rest.

One of the first products I made on Shapeways was a ring for my wife. I knew nothing about 3D modeling, silversmithing, or jewelry design. But with some simple 3D design tools, I was able to easily craft a perfectly-sized custom ring. When it arrived on my doorstep 10 days later, I couldn’t wait to open the package. It made for a one-of-a-kind surprise gift, and remains one of her favorite and most frequently-worn pieces today.

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A ring I created for my wife on Shapeways

When we first invested in Shapeways in 2012, we saw a fledgling business well-positioned to take advantage of rapid advances in 3D printing hardware and software. The company would benefit from new machines, new materials, faster speeds, lower costs, and an expanding array of 3D content. Scale would provide advantages in efficiency and awareness, driving the best prices and the best service.

Over the past few years, new entrants, acquisitions, and public market hype and corrections have all drawn a radically different landscape: 3D printing technology is more capable than ever; 3D sensors come standard on the latest phones; additive manufacturing is now a top priority for multinational companies like GE and HP.

Shapeways has grown dramatically. The company recently printed its 10 millionth product and is now the dominant player in consumer 3D printing. Shapeways manages a sophisticated global supply chain that can deliver products on-demand in a manner of days. There is still much more to do.

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Some of the incredible products brought to life by Shapeways

Shapeways’ mission is to be the platform that enables people to bring their product ideas to life. A 3D print is one important step on the path from idea to market, and more is coming.

We’re excited to announce a new $30 million financing led by Lux to further that mission. Going forward, Shapeways will support an array of new services and products as the company expands to become an end-to-end platform helping creators build businesses around their product ideas. Easy design and configuration software, professional and personalized 3D modeling support, and new marketing and distribution tools will help eliminate all of the pain points creators face in making their ideas not just a reality, but a thriving business.

The Shapeways team frequently speaks about the first “Shapeways millionaires” — entrepreneurial creators who build hugely successful businesses on top of the Shapeways platform. As the gap between imagination and realization gets smaller, a world of opportunity expands.

Lux Capital

Early-Stage Venture Capital at the Boundaries of What’s…

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