Category Archives: Design

Simulation-Based Design for 3D Printing: Special Effects and the Store of the Future

3D Printing Simulation Based Design

In a two-part lecture during the Inside 3D Printing conference in Chicago, artist and designer Isaac Katz of Electronic Art Boutique gave us an overview of the powerful 3D modeling software programs available on the market today.  He considers these programs to be essential creative tools, which he uses to create works of art, jewelry and sculpture in a process he calls “simulation-based design“.

Katz employs sculpting programs like Zbrush and Mudbox, and the more CAD-centered Rhino to create powerful and detailed images which he projects onto canvas, and exports to 3D printers to create sculptures and jewelry casts.  These tools are commonly to create visual effects for 2D media, but can have a broad range of other applications, including architecture, industrial design, jewelry, sculpture and others.  Katz emphasized that programs like Zbrush and Mudbox harness a great deal of mathematical power, and are capable of generating an “incredibly high level of detail” that extends even beyond what current 3D printers are capable of rendering in a physical model.

However, Katz noted, 3D printing capability continues to catch up and is poised to grow exponentially, and the intersection of 3D simulation technology and 3D printing has the power to change our visual experience of the world.

3D Printing Simulation Based Design

For designers, Katz explained that this process presents a completely new way of looking at design and product creation that allows them to both capture more detail and project a range of organic and fluid shapes that may otherwise be difficult or impossible to obtain.  Increasingly, if you can imagine and create a character, you can animate and print that same character using motion capture technology, as well as other non-traditional, non-CAD software, and thanks to 3D printing technology, you can also create a physical model of your character.

For investors and business owners, the combination of simulation technology and 3D printing provides “a glimpse into the design process…and some vision for what’s possible,” both today and in the years to come.

In the second part of his lecture, Katz articulated his vision for the future of retail in a world that continues to trend toward greater personalization.  Katz drew a sharp contrast between the retail store of the present, in which producers and customers alike are forced to transact around pre-designed and pre-fabricated products, and the store of the future, in which customers will be able to purchase clothing and other goods that are uniquely made to their specifications at or after the time of purchase.

Such a world, in Katz’s view, would not only allow retailers to save costs by eliminating the need for complex distribution chains, but it would also invite users into the creative process as part of the retail experience.


Authored by On 3D Printing contributor Lisa M. Pérez, co-founder of Heart Design Inc.


Do The Mutation: 3D Printed Masks Take Art to a New Level of Personal

Collagene Do The Mutation 3D Printed Masks

Incredible Art with 3D Printed Masks

Italian designers exploring generative design have taken 3D printed art to a new level of personal. Design lab Do The Mutation developed software called Collagene to create the exquisite masks you can see in the gallery below. These masks were displayed at Milan Design Week inside the venue [Re]vive in April 2013.

Faces were scanned using a Kinect sensor, and then software generated customized masks for each person. Each mask was produced as a unique piece through 3D printing and Windform materials. The three masks were produced by CRP with their reinforced polyamide-based materials.

The designers provided this perspective on their work:

The creation of a set of masks offers the opportunity of deepening the sensibility throught a research on the relationship between body and dress, imagining the mask as the product of the growth of a virtual organism on the human face. The object keeps its traditional functions of body prosthesis, providing identity alteration and concealment, stimulating viewers’ imagination and visual association.

This project explores the border territory between physical and virtual, connecting computer code’s abstractions with the intimate, visceral dimension of body alteration’s sense brought by the mask theme. The topographic anatomy of the face acts as input for a set of algorithms that under designer’s control generate the fibers that form the object, creating a material formation that after 3d printing perfectly fits its territory, people’s faces.

The set of objects made in Windform LX 2.0, a polyamide-based material reinforced with fibre glass represent a population of differentiated individuals, phenotypes sharing the same genotype. No matter how many masks might be produced, they all will share the same genetic code. The system is then flexible in offering possibilities of formal and diagramatic variation, in creating even highly different objects, customizable on different faces and as expression of different designers.

Watch the video below to see how the masks were made and the amazing use of generative algorithms paired with 3D printing to create truly unique art.

3D Printed Lightclip Lets You Signal Batman With Your iPhone and More

3D Printed Lightclip Batman Signal

3D Printed Lightclip Turns Your iPhone into a Batman Signal, or a Ninja Ghost, and More

This is a review of Lightclip, one of the coolest and most elegantly-designed 3D printed products we’ve come across. We also interview the designer.

(For full disclosure, the designers behind Lightclip sent us a complimentary product to try out.)

The Lightclip is a 3D printed accessory for the iPhone that becomes illuminated when you turn on a flashlight app. A variety of designs were created by Lab02 and are available for sale at Shapeways for $12 to $17 each.

Our Impression of Lightclip

The design is quite a step up from what you would normally expect from 3D printing. Instead of rigid ABS plastic, the Lightclips are 3D printed in White Strong and Flexible (Nylon). As Shapeways said in their own review:

This material is very strong (obviously), affordable and an excellent light diffuser. The Lightclip emits a beautiful ambient light, which is evenly distributed and very easy on the eyes. Use it as a nightlight, at a camping trip or when in need of a superhero!

We loved the different types of Lightclips. Included in the Shapeways store are a traditional light bulb, a ghost, a ninja ghost, and a Batman spotlight. Each one fit perfectly to capture all of the light from the iPhone flash; no leakage. See the gallery below for examples.

Fun for kids. Though not a toy, kids were very attracted to the Lightclip, turning the flashlight on and off repeatedly to see the Lightclip glow.

In summary, the Lightclip is really more about fun and fashion than function, but it’s worth the $15 price point as a conversation piece and perhaps a night light on occasion.

Interview with the Designer of Lightclip

We interviewed Dinos Costanti, the designer of Lightclip. The transcript of our interview is below.

On 3D Printing: Tell us about your organization and your history in 3D printing.

Costanti: My name is Dinos Costanti and i’m a software developer and 3D modeler. Vangelis Hadjiloizou is a painter and the ex Creative Director of the largest advertising agency in Cyprus. We started working together as freelance industrial designers in 2011. Right from the beginning we wanted a way to prototype our designs. We had access to a nice CNC machine locally, but we needed something better. That’s how we started using Shapeways and i.materialise.

We were very impressed with the capabilities of the modern 3D printers, especially with the EOS SLS machines. We even used them for a small production run of 110 small mushrooms that we designed as a giveaway for one of our customers. That was the final proof for us that 3D printers can be used for small scale manufacturing.

So we launched as a place to show and promote our personal designs. That is probably the dream of every designer; A way to make and sell the products that no one is willing to fund and manufacture! And as 3D printing becomes more popular, we’d love to feature the designs of other Cypriot designers.

Over the past 3 years we’ve gained a lot from the 3D printing community. And it is thanks to it that we can now afford our own 3D printer. As our way of giving something back we’ve made the Lightclip available under a Creative Commons license.  This way anyone can download, modify, and print his or her own for free!

On 3D Printing: The designs you have made are very intricate and probably more elegant than what most people would expect when they think of 3D printing. Was it difficult to design?

Costanti: Not at all! The Lightclip went from initial idea to sketching, modeling and prototyping in about 10 working days. That included 5 days for Shapeways to print and ship the prototype.

I think that the 3D design software companies are starting to realize the need to address the amateur or rather the non-engineering crowd. We mainly use Moi3D, a NURBS modeler created by Michael Gibson, the original developer of Rhino. This is probably the easiest and friendliest NURBS modeler on the market and a perfect fit for designing for 3D printing.

On 3D Printing: How do you see these types of 3D printed goods growing in adoption?

Costanti: The production of 3D printed goods is going to explode. As more 3D printers are becoming available, prices are being pushed down. And as 3D printing materials become cheaper we are coming to a point, maybe in a year or so, where 3D printing will be a viable and cost effective solution for small scale manufacturing. Especially so for the 100 – 3000 units production runs which, using traditional injection molding, are currently in kind of a “no man’s land”.  That is mainly due to high molding costs which demand a major investment with traditional methods, but are not required at all with 3D printing.

That is going to have a profound impact on the variety and complexity of available products as more and more designers can simply self-publish their products using their own 3D printer or a 3D printing service.

On 3D Printing: How has your experience with Shapeways been?

Costanti: Our experience with Shapeways has been amazing right from the beginning. Their engineers are very knowledgeable and they were instrumental in our quest to master the basics of designing for 3D printing. Also, their printing times are constantly improving. They will usually ship a lot sooner than the date they quote!

There is little doubt in my mind that these 3D printing services are the prototypes for the factories of the future.

On 3D Printing: Any other creative ideas your working on at the moment?

Costanti: We’ve had another very successful product with i.materialise, the Dragonbite grip which was designed for printing in stainless steel. It is currently the feature of a design competition at i.materialise.

We are also working on the initial sketches of our new project, a water pipe, designed to be printed in ceramic. This is the one material we haven’t used so far and we are very excited about it.  I’m sure that it will present its own challenges but it is something we wanted to try for a long time. We hope it will be available in a month or so.


Thanks for sharing the Lightclip with us!

3D Printed Fashion: Interview with Pioneer Designer Shoes by Bryan

3D Printed Fashion Shoes By Bryan

3D Printed Fashion Hits the Runway

3D printed fashion has literally come into vogue and enabled designers to expand their craft in new ways.

In London this past fall, the critically acclaimed Shoes by Bryan début collection Heavy Metal Series generated buzz in fashion and technology circles at the 3D Print Show as products of more advanced 3D printing technologies are being perfected and refined for the collection’s eventual release to market.

Bryan Oknyansky of Shoes By Bryan continues to push forward and has made a landmark breakthrough in the global pursuit to bring 3D printing into our everyday lives – like 3D printing a pair of shoes from home.

Shoes by Bryan 3D Printing

Says Oknyansky, “The day the 3D Touch 3D printer arrived at the studio I powered it up and immediately started printing prototypes of Split Heels. This is my first design that I could make completely from my studio without outsourcing production. One month later I had 13 cutting-edge high heels ready for the catwalk at a fraction of the cost. It’s a real game-changer and it will soon change how shoes are made and sold.”

Interview with the Designer

We asked Oknyansky for a few updates on his innovative 3D printed fashion business. Here’s a transcript of our interview.

On 3D Printing: What is the latest on your debut collection or other collections since the 3D Print Show in London? Have you been selling in retail or online?

In keeping with the momentum from last season’s Fashion Fringe 2012 winning collaboration, Shoes By Bryan announces the visionary footwear label has initiated its first limited sale direct through the brand. Having kicked off a limited sale of the latest 3D printed design Split Heels at Bloody Gray Press Days SS13, Shoes By Bryan has sold 11 pairs of Split Heels – the world’s first eco-friendly bio-plastic 3D printed high heel shoes that can be worn like traditional shoes, and can almost be printed from home. As Split Heels are composed of three main parts, Oknyansky opened up a number of colour styling options to private buyers of first edition Split Heels and named pairs with unique colour combinations after the buyers who styled them.

Equipped with a Bits From Bytes 3D Touch plastic extrusion 3D printer from 3D Systems, designer Bryan Oknyansky was able to take orders on a limited release of 10 made to measure pairs of Split Heels two months in advance of Christmas. The first 10 pairs were sold to private buyers in the US, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Brazil. With an order placed for Valentine’s Day 2013 and 100% of buyers reporting 100% love for their Split Heels, Oknyansky has committed to extending the first edition of Split Heels to 100 pairs directly through the company.

Shoe lovers and art collectors from around the world can place an order for a numbered edition of the first 100 pairs of first edition Split Heels – complete with a certificate signed by the designer himself – by emailing to receive details on available colours and design options.

On his decision to extend the first edition to 100 made-to-measure pairs, Oknyansky says: “Split Heels are the first of their kind in the world. The process of making Split Heels is on the leading edge of technology, which makes them experimental art works as well as statement shoes. As such, buying a pair of Split Heels is different from buying an ordinary pair of heels. My clients have bought their Split Heels as much because they are amazing and perfectly comfortable statement shoes as they are collectible art works from an emerging artist. They see it as an investment that will make way for more visionary footwear from me and the Shoes By Bryan brand.”

The additional 89 pairs of the extended first edition 100 pair limited release of Split Heels are available to order directly through emailing and will be produced in monthly batches of up to 20 pairs per month beginning Summer 2013. The award-winning designer has set the starting price for these personalised, made-to-measure, collectible art statement shoes at a competitive £390.

On 3D Printing: How do you plan to scale up production to meet demand? Will shoes be 3D printed to a size or personalized for each customer?

Scaling up production of Split Heels requires getting more plastic extruding 3D printers on board. Ultimately, the printing process used to produce Split Heels is not fast enough to sustain long runs of the design. Therefore,the decision was made to release Split Heels in limited runs. Currently all Split Heels can be personalised as any standard shoe size can be ordered and the buyer can choose up to two colours from an assortment of options at the base price of £390 with slight increases in final price if additional colours are chosen.

On 3D Printing: What’s next for Shoes by Bryan?

Next up for Shoes By Bryan is to bring 3D printed fashion and innovative footwear to the world. 3D printing and other digital fabrication tools allowed my brand to hit the world stage in a short space of time, rich only in design. With press exposure begetting more exposure and demand steadily growing, the brand will continue to leverage alternative manufacturing technologies along with current and new industry alliances to grow.

Photo Gallery

Below is a gallery of the 3D printed fashion collection Shoes By Bryan on the runway. Click for larger images.

Follow news and updates on, on and on Twitter @ShoesByBryan. For more information on the technology provided by 3D Systems go to or

Photo credit: Mel Bagshaw Photography used by permission from Shoes By Bryan.

3D Printed Toys: A Profile on Toy Designer Wayne Losey and Modibot

3D Printed Toys Modibot

Wayne Losey designs 3D printed toys. He’s a veteran toy creator, having worked for Hasbro and Kenner for 13 years designing some of the most popular toys in the market that generated over $1 billion in cumulative revenue, including GI Joe, Batman Forever, Superman: Man of Steel, Jurassic Park: The Lost World, Vor-tech, and Micromachines. Today, Losey has his own product called Modibot, a 3D printable system of interlocking parts that lets you build your own fantastical creatures and characters.

Building a 3D Printed Business

As Losey was designing his new toy system, he embraced 3D printing as a way to get to market without the traditional inventory cost. Losey currently has 168 products for sale on 3D printing marketplace Shapeways. You can create spartans, patriots, dinosaurs, and more — toys that young boys love to put together and create. Like many competitors in the marketplace, Modibot comes in kits that kids put together themselves.

3D Printed Toys Shapeways Kidmechano

Losey was recently interviewed by Shapeways about his inspiration.

I like to create tools and toys that help people express their own ideas and creative spirit. The goal is to create things that people connect with in a very personal, hands-on way. ModiBot as a product is really what you make of it, I’m not trying to be the next big, prescriptive, entertainment property, I’m helping people to tell their own story. Mo is something noteworthy that people have sitting around on their desks. Other people take notice, pick it up and have a hard time putting it down. Its way for people to talk about what they love.

I’m inspired by tools, disruptive ideas and whats happening on the fringes of culture. As a professional, I had lost that hands-on relationship to my work. My work reflects a reconnecting with the work and an exploration of what is possible in desktop manufacturing.

Wired interviewed Losey in January about the benefits of 3D printing applied to toy making:

Having been burnt by seeing his creations in the bargain bin, Losey is in love with the print-on-demand nature of 3-D printing. “It’s an extremely sustainable business model. There’s no over-purchase of inventory and subsequent mad rush to sell that inventory and invest it back into the next batch,” he says. “Like many software businesses, it’s a constant beta mentality, where it’s tweaked until it works.”

Promoting and Telling the Story

Losey keeps an active Flickr and Tumblr account to follow the developments of his toy story. Below is a photo of his son with the caption: ”This was what I was looking forward to when we were designing Xevoz. My son enjoying them. Only took 8 years. #TotallyWorthIt”

3D Printed Toys Modibot Kids

Losey’s Modibot sells as a set and is easy to put together as shown in the video below.


How do prices compare? We looked at LEGO, Fisher-Price and Modibot for a dinosaur kit. Modibot is competitive, but not super cheap. The ModiRaptor Dino Kit is $37.05 on Shapeways compared with the Fisher Price Imaginext Dragon for $39.99 and the LEGO Dino Birthday kit for $147.99.

3D Printed Toys Comparison

So is 3D Printing the Future of Toys?

In a word, yes.

Wayne Losey is a veteran toy designer who is bringing best-in-class toys to 3D printing, breaking down the design barrier that one might assume large toy manufacturers have over independent creators.

While prices are Losey’s products are equivalently expensive as mass market products today, 3D printed toys will undoubtedly come down in price as 3D printing becomes more affordable and mainstream. For just $3, you can download the Modibot design and print your own on your home 3D printer.


Modibot photos by KidMechano used under Creative Commons license.