Dutch Design Competition
TCT + Personalize caught up with Savannah Peterson and Duann Scott at International CES 2014 in Las Vegas last week to talk design, hype and what the irrepressibly enthusiastic and engaging Shapeways team has planned for the coming months. We found one of the few quiet spots away from the 3D Printing TechZone on the final day of the show to chat.
"The final consumer product"
When asked how they thought the hive of activity surrounding the 3D printing booths at CES reflected the wider industry, Savannah said: "It's really interesting to see how big it's got. There are now so many new layers to the industry and the quality has accelerated too over the course of the years. A lot of new companies are now dedicated to creating new materials and exploiting high-end quality consumer products."
"It's more about the final consumer product now," Duann added. "Not so much the tinkering. I mean, the machines and the materials are getting to such a good level now, like the FDM machines and the things the software companies are bringing out. In 3D printing terms, the likes of MakieLabs are producing awesome stuff and we're really happy to see what they produce. That and the fashion industry so the products coming out of Victoria's Secret, the sportswear, custom features..."
"Seeing people developing their own accessories too," Savannah noted.
"It's really fun seeing products Shapeways has been involved in on the [CES] show floor too," Duann said. "This may be the year people realise they can do a lot more unique stuff using Shapeways. Being here you see it's really about creating consumer products. That's something I am starting to feel the big brands are really getting down to.
"We work with big brands and we can engage directly with them, giving people new way of expressing themselves with technology. 2014 is going to be a big year for Shapeways and 3D printing - we are super excited about some of the new apps we are about to launch, we have more products in place than ever before. In December we had 80,000 designs and we've launched the Dutch Design Competition."
The Dutch Design Competition is a project formed from the partnership between Shapeways, Kikkerland Design and the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), and the Netherlands Embassy in Washington and the Consulate General in New York. It was inspired by the Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital exhibition at MAD and the Dutch government is looking to distribute a giveaway in the US, inviting designers to submit their quirky ideas for a functional, affordable consumer item inspired by Dutch Design. More information can be found here.
"We're about enabling design," Savannah said. "I mean, in 2014, we are planning more and more things and a lot of different generations are getting involved. Some of the most successful guys on Shapeways are actually teenagers, but then we get old ladies who are designing too.
"It's so much fun seeing how this technology is enabling people. It’s like taking down a barrier and that barrier is going to be even lower in 2014 allowing more people to use their creativity."
Apps, apps, apps
One of the ways Shapeways sees this mass creative enablement to continue is through the development of innovative apps, allowing people to approach design and 3D printing from a new perspective.
"We could see some really interesting apps in 2014. I would encourage everybody who wants to do something innovative to develop and app," Savannah said.
"Designing apps is great. It's a scalable business model," Duann added. "Currently, there is only a very small population of the world that can create 3D-printed objects, but if you can make a great app you could empower more people. You would be surprised how fertile that ground is."
"A lot of people create things we've seen before," Savannah explained. "So how do you enable people to make something different? You need an algorithm or something to push it and see what happens - to continue to push those boundaries. It’s the users who are eventually going to change things and I think it's fascinating.
"Ultimately, Shapeways enables people with a business venture. There are a lot of first-time businesses on Shapeways. It's a very experimental space and we are really just happy to do it."
"Most fantastic feeling in the world"
Shapeways is entering its seventh year but enthusiasm for 3D printing is alive and well within the company's New York-based headquarters.
"It's hard not to feel excited," Savannah said. "It's magic. It's the most fantastic feeling in the world when you model something and then have it in your hand - it's like Christmas. We get that excited about it and we are still just as excited about it."
Duann added: "I love it when somebody is admiring a product and then you tell them part of it was 3D printed and they never even knew - that's really great."