Author Archives: Lisa Perez

Startups Stand Out During 3D Printing Pitch Event in New York

Continuing our coverage of the ongoing Inside 3D Printing conference in New York, conference organizer Mediabistro closed out yesterday’s session with an inaugural startup company showcase, allowing five standout early stage companies in the 3D printing space to present a five-minute pitch to investors.

Tyler Benster, Program Chair for Mediabistro and moderator of the Maker Summit during the conference, emceed the startup program using a competition format.  Zach Schildhorn, Vice President and Director of Operations of Lux Capital, an investor in Shapeways and highly knowledgeable about the 3D printing space, evaluated the merits of each concept from a venture capital standpoint and gave immediate feedback to each presenter.  The presenters represented the following five startups:  3D Hubs, Feetz, 3Discovered, 3D United Corporation, and iSenCore.

3D Printing Startup Session

Bram de Zwart, co-founder of 3D Hubs, delivered a standout presentation about his emerging business, an online platform designed to connect available desktop print capability with people who want to print 3D designs within the same geographic area.  The site offers would-be makers the advantage of obtaining their 3D printed products within 1-2 days versus the typical two-week timeframe offered by centralized printing services, and having the option to demo the technology as the product is being printed.  3D Hubs, according to de Zwart, has developed a network of 4,300 3D printer owners and successfully built a community of makers through a network of designated Mayors as part of the site network.  In this way, de Zwart explained, 3D Hubs is fulfilling the promise of localized manufacturing through 3D printing by connecting users and building communities within a decentralized, localized network.  These makers have banded together all over the world to celebrate the spirit of localized manufacturing through Maker Day celebrations throughout the world.

Lucy Beard of Feetz also delivered a clear and concise presentation of her company’s use case for custom fitted 3D printed footwear.  Noting that Nike ID made over $100 million in giving customers the option to choose their color pattern on standard size footwear, Feetz seeks to tackle the challenge of penetrating the $180 billion dollar footwear market and easing the pain in our feet by delivering 3D printed footwear featuring fully custom fitting foot beds.  The Feetz 3 step process includes custom imaging and sizing through 3D scanning technology, personalization in style selection, and fully 3D printed construction using desktop 3D printer models.  Feetz is currently Beta testing its process on 600 individuals.

Feetz SizeMe Startup

Peer Munck made the case for a better 3D design hub on behalf of his company 3Discovered, a dedicated marketplace designed to serve designers, users and 3D printing service bureaus by addressing several perceived core challenges to the mass commercialization of 3D printed designs.  3Discovered seeks to aid designers and design owners avoid intellectual property theft through rights management.  They also aim to improve the user experience by ensuring printed objects will work through authentication and quality control mechanisms, as well as to enhance the site interface experience through improved and consistent search and discovery features.  3Discovered also seeks to clarify pricing issues for key stakeholders.

Michael Weaver of United Corporation delivered an overview of his team’s innovative laser sintering technology, which seeks to provide a reliable and enhanced experience in metal 3D printing, by addressing porosity challenges and surface issues users currently encounter with existing models.  Weaver noted that his team’s expertise in the field positioned United Corporation at a unique advantage in delivering a better quality metal printer – an area that Weaver mentioned is of interest to the Chinese government, which has already invested in United’s R&D.

Finally, Zouya Zarei of iSenCore introduced the audience to his company’s software application, designed to alleviate the cost of prototyping and of testing 3D printed designs by harnessing the power of digital simulation.  ISenCore’s platform is premised on the idea of “letting the cloud do the work” through digital stress testing via simulation.  The process, from the user’s standpoint, consists of uploading the design file, choosing the applicable stress test/simulation, and then running the test against the design.  Zarei emphasized that his company’s product is easy to use, and delivers value to users by providing informative visualizations that enable them to iterate constantly and make decisions faster.  ISenCore currently has a public beta available at


This article was written by Lisa Perez, a regular contributor to On 3D Printing.

Neri Oxman Showcases the Power of Biomimicry in 3D Printing Design

During a well-attended afternoon presentation held on Day 1 of Inside 3D Printing New York titled “Printing to the Nth Dimension,” the internationally lauded architect, designer and head of MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter Group Prof. Neri Oxman discussed her groundbreaking work in harnessing the power of additive manufacturing and showcasing its potential to help us build and make things as nature does.

Prof. Oxman began her talk by drawing a sharp contrast between humanity’s current design and production processes, which require a multiplicity of single-use parts to build complex machines, and the highly integrated, multi-functional, multi-material approach to creation found in the natural world.

A Volkswagen sedan, for example, is made up of 14,000 individual parts, whereas the human skin is comprised of only one “part” with properties that vary throughout it’s structure and perform multiple functions.

Volkswagon Car Parts

Emphasizing that her Mediated Matter Group’s goal at MIT is to develop “products without parts” and “processes without partitions,” Prof. Oxman went on to describe several of her team’s notable projects.  These include, among others, a 3D printed glove that integrates the multiple functionalities found in a carpal tunnel brace within a single print and using a single material. In describing the principles behind the success of the carpal tunnel “skin” project, Prof. Oxman emphasized that her team looked to nature in developing  its computational approach, stating that “every design we take on in the lab begins with a phenomenon that exists within the natural world.”

Neri Oxman Design

Prof. Oxman has famously leveraged this approach in developing many other successful projects and exhibitions that have been featured throughout the world.  Her 2012 exhibit in Paris at the Centre Pompidou titled “Imaginary Beings – Mythologies of the Not Yet,” for example, showcased the capability and potential of 3D printing technology to create multi-functional objects using multiple materials embedded within the same build or “skin” and exhibiting different properties.  A “Minotaur” helmet, for example, was printed using harder material properties around certain areas of the head requiring greater protection and softer materials in areas closer to the face.

Neri Oxman Inside 3D Printing

Most recently, Professor Oxman presented the Gemini lounge chair at an exhibition in Paris, as part of a two-part, multi-material sleeping pod design.  The chaise was printed using the Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 Color multi-material printer and CNC milling by Le Laboratoire.

The lounger is innovative in that it incorporates varying material properties to create softer surfaces around the areas that will be exposed to the body, and harder materials in areas intended to sustain the structural integrity of the chair away from the body.  When combined with its upper portion, to be displayed this coming October, the Gemini Chair will turn into an acoustic sleeping pod designed for comfort.

Additionally, Professor Oxman shared that the Mediated Matter Group will be unveiling it’s silk pavilion exhibit this spring.

Having set out to explore the relationship between digital fabrication and biological fabrication at an architectural scale, Prof. Oxman’s team happily discovered the first purely biological additive manufacturing process by redirecting the cocoon-making path of 6,500 silk worms using light, heat and geometric spatial conditions.  In the silk worm, Prof. Oxman emphasizes, her team found a helpful model for transcending the three principal challenges we face in the development of additive manufacturing:  software, materials and print scale.  The silk pavilion will be displayed in the atrium of the MIT Media Lab building.


This article was written by Lisa Perez, a regular contributor to On 3D Printing.

What to Expect at Inside 3D Printing NYC 2014

Hi Folks!

Here at On 3D Printing, we are gearing up to bring you first-hand coverage of this week’s Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo to be held Thursday and Friday at New York’s Javits Convention Center and hosted by Media Bistro.

We are looking forward to the conference, which now features an additional instructional day at the outset of the conference dedicated exclusively to workshops in addition to its traditional keynote and dual-track breakout panel format.

In addition to the conference and expo, there is also a designated workshop day on April 2 for industry practioners. The Media Bistro site shows that three out of four workshops are already sold out.

We look forward to bringing you coverage on these discussions.  Several topics from the workshop day include:  ”From CAD to Scanning:  Introduction to  Design,” which will feature a “soup to nuts” introduction to the fundamentals of real-time imaging and 3D CAD design software; and “Tools of Creation and the Future of Retail,” in which Isaac Katz will expand upon his account of how 3D printing will change the retail experience and provide a preview of his Interactive Design customer co-design interface.

Another new feature announced by Media Bistro for this iteration of Inside 3D Printing is the new Maker Summit & Pavilion, a special section of the trade show floor dedicated to makers, DIY enthusiasts, consumers and so-called “prosumers.”

This feature appears to be designed to provide unique exhibition and collaboration opportunities to makers, tinkerers and DIY enthusiasts.  Additionally, the Maker Summit and Pavilion will showcase the recent work of artists such as Ioan Florea, who developed a unique “liquid metal finish” process he used to create a highly reflective 3D printed metal car body appliqué which he fused to a traditionally manufactured Ford Taurino to create a unique look.

Inside 3D Printing

At On 3D Printing, we are interested to see how the Maker Summit and Pavilion expands the reach of prior conference expos and workshops, particularly in terms of facilitating practical applications for makers and new businesses.

In terms of the Keynote offerings, we also noticed a broadening range of industries represented, with the speakers including major players in the areas of 3D design software and industrial application.

Notable among these are Carl Bass, President and CEO of Autodesk, who will deliver a keynote on April 4 titled “the Future of Manufacturing: 3D Printing and Beyond,” which seems poised to cover the general landscape for the rapid prototyping industry and the broader manufacturing sector as a whole.

Other keynote headliners include Christine Furstoss, Global Technology Director of Manufacturing & Materials Technologies at GE, and Curtis Carson, Head of Systems Integration for Centre of Competence Manufacturing Engineering at Airbus, will be discussing specific applications of rapid prototyping technology in aircraft production, medical devices and other manufacturing sectors.

Industry heavyweights and innovators like Avi Reichental of 3D Systems and Maxim Lobovsky of Formlabs will also be delivering keynotes set to address innovation and the overall impact of 3D printing technology.

Inside 3D Printing

In a sign of the industry’s growing awareness of the investment landscape, Industry analyst Terry Wohlers will share his perspective on investments in the 3D printing industry following a debut year for 3D printing IPOs.  Wohlers predicts that the industry will top $6 billion by 2017 and top $10.8 billion by 2021.

Prospective attendees and industry enthusiasts can visit the Inside 3D Printing website for an agenda and further information.


This article was written by Lisa Perez, a regular contributor to On 3D Printing.

Captured Dimensions 3D Photo Booth Takes Center Stage at Smithsonian X3D Launch Expo

This article was written by Lisa Perez, a regular contributor to On 3D Printing.

As part of the Smithsonian’s X 3D launch, the museum hosted a two-day conference this past week to discuss its 3D initiatives and showcase the work of its Digitization Program Office and outside partners.  Among these, the Dallas-based Captured Dimensions team proved itself to be a leader in 3D photo imaging with a pop-up studio that delighted attendees and rendered 3D captures in extremely high fidelity.

The Captured Dimensions pop-up studio was located in the Smithsonian Castle and featured approximately 80 digital cameras arranged in a dome formation, all connected to 3D imaging software.  By triggering the cameras simultaneously, the Captured Dimensions is able to capture live subjects in 3D virtually instantly and in 360 degrees. The experience is as quick and easy for the subject as taking a picture, and action shots are definitely an option.

Smithsonian X 3D Pop-Up SetSmithsonian X 3D Pop-Up Setup

Captured Dimensions CEO Jordan Williams explained during the X 3D expo that “the general process gives you the ability to capture living subjects that are difficult to scan using other methods and to capture other objects that are outside of a traditional scale.”

The Smithsonian’s X 3D Expo attendees made full use of this capability, by posing for a range of 3D captures that included yoga poses, head stands, ballet moves and jump shots.

On Wednesday morning, the Captured Dimensions team kicked off the expo by taking an official 3D portrait of Secretary of the Smithsonian Dr. G. Wayne Clough which was processed and digitally imaged that day, and then 3D printed into a scaled full color replica the next day by fellow exhibitor 3D Systems.

The Smithsonian subsequently confirmed that this portrait marks the first official 3D capture and rendering of a sitting Smithsonian Secretary.

Indeed, at the time of this writing, it appears that the official 3D printed portrait of Secretary Clough is the first of its kind for a federal secretary, and could even present a potential solution to recent debates over the high cost of traditional portraits of government officials.  Currently, a scaled full body figurine from Captured Dimensions can be obtained for as little as $399 for a 1/12 scaled print, and $199 for reprints, while a recent oil on canvas portrait of Air Force Secretary Michael Donnelly is reported to have cost $41,200.

With the growing popularity of 3D imaging and portraiture, even Queen Elizabeth II is getting in on the action, so it stands to reason that a new tradition of 3D portraiture among high ranking US government officials can’t be too far behind.

For Captured Dimensions, the opportunity to take Secretary Clough’s portrait comes on the heels of exciting collaborations with Abilene Christian University’s Maker Lab (ACU Maker Lab), and New York-based fashion innovator Francis Bitonti.

The ACU Maker Lab project consisted of scanning and digitizing an 8-foot maquette of ACU’s 34-foot Centennial Celebration statue entitled Jacob’s Dream.  From this scan, the Captured Dimensions team produced a 27-inch scaled bronze-coated replica by printing it in 8 different sections on a MakerBot Replicator 2.

The team then assembled the replica using custom 3D printed dowels, applied a bronze coating and attached it to a weighted base.  The final result is an extremely precise facsimile of the original statue that can provide a lasting memento for the artist and for other lovers of the work.

Representatives from ACU’s Maker Lab and Department of Art & Design, including Jacob’s Dream sculptor Jack Maxwell, also attended the Smithsonian X 3D expo to share their work and their experience in digitizing the Jacob’s Dream statue.

Captured Dimensions was also recently called upon by the groundbreaking New York designer Francis Bitonti to scan several butterflies used to develop the world’s first 3D printed paper dress.  Mr. Bitonti developed his ”butterfly dress” in partnership with MCor Technologies and expects to unveil the design in the near future.

Smithsonian X 3D Pop-Up Cameras

In addition to Captured Dimensions, 3D Systems and ACU’s Maker Lab, the Smithsonian Castle also hosted other exhibitors highlighting 3D capture and 3D printing resources available to researchers and members of the public.  These included, among others, the Digital Commons team at DC’s own MLK Library, and Anderson Ta of the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Digital Fabrication Studio.

For those interested in learning more about the Smithsonian’s 3D initiatives and the X 3D launch event, the institution has made a webcast available on UStream.

Smithsonian X 3D Pop-Up Team

Smithsonian X 3D Launches with Emphasis on Outreach and Digital Preservation

Introducing the Smithsonian X 3D Project

This article was written by Lisa Perez, a regular contributor to On 3D Printing.

In an exciting development for all things 3D, this past Wednesday the Smithsonian Institution unveiled Smithsonian X 3D, an online 3D viewer and digital collection that allows anyone to explore digitally and 3D print some of the museum’s most iconic objects in detail.

The X 3D initiative is the centerpiece of a comprehensive effort by the Smithsonian Institution to enhance the preservation and accessibility of its collections through the use of 3D scanning, 3D imaging, and 3D printing.  The Smithsonian’s bold foray into the realms of digital preservation and 3D printing with X 3D is an encouraging sign for observers who are eager to see these technologies applied in a real world setting and an important step forward in their evolutionary cycle.

“The Smithsonian is a leader in using 3D technology to make museum collections and scientific specimens more widely available for anyone to use and study,” said Günter Waibel, the director of the Institution’s Digitization Program Office. “The Smithsonian X 3D explorer and the initial objects we scanned are the first step in showing how this technology will transform the work of the Smithsonian and other museums and research institutions.”

Smithsonian Secretary Dr. G. Wayne Clough has made digital preservation and outreach a priority during his tenure, emphasizing that since 2008, the institution began to explore ways to “let the public in“ through digital technology.  Dr. Clough has also authored an e-book on this subject titled Best of Both Worlds: Museums, Libraries, and Archives in a Digital Age, which was published by the Smithsonian earlier this year.

Leading up to the unveiling of X 3D, the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office has led the Institution’s digital outreach effort by testing a range of 3D scanning methods and technologies on iconic objects in the collection and engaging with outside partners.

The end product of these efforts has been an inaugural Smithsonian X 3D collection that includes highly detailed digital renderings of such well known artifacts as Amelia Earhart’s flight suit, a cast of Abraham Lincoln’s face taken during the Civil War, and the world’s first airplane, the Wright Flyer.

Lincoln LifeMasks Smithsonian X 3D

Pictured above: 3D rendering of Abraham Lincolnís life mask, held at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Credit: Smithsonian Institution.

The Smithsonian anticipates that 3D renderings and 3D printed models generated from these scans will serve as valuable learning tools for researchers, educators and the general public alike.

Another exciting aspect of the initiative, spearheaded by the Digitization Program Office, is the 3D capture and virtual reality mapping of archaeological sites and artifacts.

For example, the archaeological objects scanned as part of the Smithsonian X 3D beta launch include fossil whale skeletons from the Cerro Ballena, an archaeological site in the Atacama region of Chile.

Cerro Ballena Smithsonian X 3D

Pictured above: 3D scanning whale skeletons from Cerro Ballena. Credit: Smithsonian Institution.

During the X3D launch, the Smithsonian’s own 3D Data Wrangler Jonathan Blundell, led visitors through an Oculus Rift virtual reality tour of the fascinating Liang Bua cave on the island of Flores, Indonesia, where the Homo floresiensis­­––the so-called ‘hobbits’ of human evolution––were first discovered in 2003.  This fascinating digital experience is also showcased as one of the available tours on the Smithsonian X 3D viewer, proving that state-of-the-art 3D scanning technology can extend far beyond objects to include even the sites of their discovery.

LiangBua Smithsonian X 3D

Pictured above: Liang Bua. Credit: Smithsonian Institution.


Learn more at about Smithsonian X 3D at