Category Archives: News

Researcher Seeks to Understand the Motivations of 3D Model Designers

Matthew Terrell is a member of the Horizon research department at the University of Nottingham in the UK.

Terrell is interested in the motivations of designers, animators and users of 3D modeling communities, inspired by the work of MIT Professor Eric von Hippel on lead-user theory.

Matthew Terrell Designers 3D Printing

To further his research, Terrell is reaching out to the design community in an open questionnaire called Motivations in Online 3D Communities. He is offering a £50 voucher to one randomly selected participant.

We caught up with Matthew Terrell to learn more about his research and goals.

On 3D Printing: Tell us about your research. What are you looking at in the field of 3D Printing?

Matthew Terrell: I am researching the motivations for choosing different 3D communities – more specifically if the choice is based on economic, social, individual or professional motivations. The research is developed on the lead-user theory developed by Eric von Hippel at MIT, which investigates small groups of users which are almost perfectly suited to new product development, due to a combination of their knowledge, industry position and engagement in the community.

On 3D Printing: What do you hope to accomplish with this questionnaire?

Matthew Terrell: As only a few research project built on this theory have investigated the users of online communities, the aims of the study are twofold: firstly, to understand more about the behaviour of individuals, specifically the motivations of 3D modellers who operate in online communities. Secondly to gain a better understanding of the different environments individuals self-select into, based on their motivations, and the motivational systems in each environment.

On 3D Printing: What trends are you seeing in the 3D printing design and 3D modeling communities?

Matthew Terrell: Interestingly that many 3D modellers prefer to operate ‘offline’. I assumed that being online provided us all with more opportunities to diffuse our work and knowledge, however many modellers appear to work in physical environments like Hackspaces or fab labs.


If you are a 3D modeler or designer, please participate in Matthew Terrell’s online questionnaire

Shapeways to Bring 3D Printing Back to SXSW

Last year, 3D printing was a hot topic at SXSW, the Austin, TX conference promoting music and technology innovation.

And we are already seeing 3D printing companies stepping up their game for this year.

SXSW Future of 3D Printing

3D printing marketplace Shapeways announced that they will be offering selfie scans at SXSW so you can 3D print your own mini-me.

Also, company representatives will be speaking on two panels. Read the descriptions below to learn more.

3D Printing: Fueling the Manufacturing Renaissance
Sunday, March 9
3:30 – 4:30 pm
This talk will feature the leaders of two of the world’s largest 3D Design and Printing communities in the world, Shapeways CEO, Pete Weijmarshausen (@weijmarshausen), along with Carl Bass (@carlbass), CEO of Autodesk (@Autodesk) 3D Software. Hear an exhilarating discussion on how 3D printing is disrupting traditional manufacturing, and why it might be time to quit your day job and design the product of your dreams. Pete and Carl will discuss the future of 3D Printing, how our communities are pushing the boundaries of product design and more! These two pioneers in the field will certainly have some incredible perspective on what lies ahead.

Brands Driven by Artistic Communities
Sunday, March 9
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Sit in on a discussion with Shapeways Designer Evangelist Duann Scott, Bailey Richardson, Community at Instagram, and Josh Karpf, Global Head of Social for Spotify. They’ll share insights into how artistic communities are transforming imagery, music, and the maker movement.

Latest 3D Bioprinting Technique Inspired by Chinese Woodblock Printing

This is a guest post by Abdul Rehman, whose bio is at the end of the article.

Throughout history, the simplest, most mundane things have inspired great scientific breakthroughs.

Isaac Newton saw an apple falling to the ground and put forward his theory of gravity. Albert Einstein imagined a man falling off a building and formed his theory of relativity.

Perhaps the latest bioprinting technique called “Block Cell Printing” falls into the same category as it is inspired by centuries’ old Chinese woodblock printing.

Block-Cell Printing

Developed by researchers in Houston, “block-cell printing” or “BloC printing” is a technique for making single layered patterns of living cells. It uses microfluidic physics to guide living cells into small hook-like traps. Cells flow down columns in a mold and assume definite positions according to predefined criteria. When the mold is lifted, the cells remain behind on a substrate retaining the same predefined pattern.

Block Cell 3D Printing

This technique is quite similar to the Chinese woodblock printing technique through which they printed text, images or patterns using wooden blocks and ink. Lidong Qin, the head of the research team, says: “It’s essentially the same as the ancient woodblock printing.”

So, in block cell printing, the mold is the wooden block, the cells form the ink and the substrate is the paper.

Comparison with Contemporary Techniques

Presently, bioprinting companies like Organovo, use a technique called inkjet printing. When compared to it, block cell printing:

Lidong Qin Bioprinting

  1. Keeps More Cells Alive: One problem with the inkjet technique is that many cells (20-50%) die during the process. In contrast, in block cell printing, almost all the cells survive. Qin says: “A survival rate of 50 to 80 percent is typical as cells exit the inkjet nozzles. By comparison, we are seeing close to 100 percent of cells in BloC-Printing survive the printing process.”
  2. Is More Economical: Another big advantage that block cell printing enjoys over the traditional techniques is that it is far more affordable. Each BloC mold costs around $1 to produce. In comparison, an inkjet printer costs anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000. So, research companies can cut down their costs by utilizing block cell printing.
  3. Is Unable to Produce Three-Dimensional Structures Yet: Although it is revolutionary in many aspects, till now, block cell printing hasn’t been able to produce three-dimensional structures like tissues and organs. This is what the researchers are focusing on next.

Possible Uses of BloC Printing

Qin says that this technique is especially useful for two purposes:

Cancer Diagnosis and Research

The first is cancer diagnosis and research. By studying the behavior and characteristics of cells of cancer patients in the mold, such as how they move in the columns of the mold, BloC printing can be used to diagnose the stage of the cancer. This can then be used for treatment and research purposes.

Neuron Research

Another thing for which block cell printing is especially useful is neuron research. This technique can print neurons as close as 5 micrometers. So, it can be used to study their interactions with one another. Qin states: “Such work could be helpful in understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.”

Chinese Woodblock 3D Printing bioprinting

Old Technique, New Technology

3D bioprinting has recently become popular as it has the capability to revolutionize the drug and organ industries. It provides a ray of hope for many patients with terminal diseases. However, many concerns have been raised because of its high cost and complexity. Block cell printing has changed that concept and proven that bioprinting can be achieved economically and simply. Once it is able to form 3D tissues, perhaps this millennia-old technique will become the latest and greatest technology!


About the author: Abdul Rehman is a medical student with a keen interest in all things technology. Computers, graphic cards, mobiles, tablets, 3d printing and tissue engineering are just a few of the things he’s been following for years. A regular author at for a year, he’s written on dozens of 3D printing topics from aviation to fashion.

3D Systems Buys 3D Printed Dollhouse Maker for Cubify Business

3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) has continued its acquisition path with the purchase of Digital PlaySpace (DPS), a proprietary, innovative and immersive digital play platform that connects brands, retailers and consumers to 3D printable play activities.

Through its two leading digital play properties, and Dreamhouse Designer Facebook app, the DPS platform combines home design, gaming, and community sharing to deliver a vivid 3D create-and-make experience for children and their parents. Compelling content creation, capture and customization features make it quick, easy and fun to personalize and 3D print incredible creations at home on a Cube® 3D printer, or have them cloud printed using 3DS’ fulfillment service, available on its consumer destination site Cubify™.

Digital Dollhouse Acquired by 3D Systems

Jesyca Durchin, DPS founder and CEO said, “We are thrilled to integrate our virtual and actual play experiences directly into the 3DS Cubify platform. Our vision is to deliver a ‘3D PlaySpace’ for everyone. The immersiveness and fun of our PlaySpace experience enhances brand recall and loyalty, enabling brands and retailers to connect with consumers in a whole new way. We designed Digital PlaySpace from the bottom-up for publishing flexibility and scalability, and 3DS is the perfect home for our growth.”

“We are excited to have Jesyca and her entire Digital PlaySpace team join our Cubify platform, enabling millions of new users to connect with family, friends and favorite brands in more immersive and socially creative ways,” said Cathy Lewis, Chief Marketing Officer, 3DS. “Digital PlaySpace’s ability to customize and rapidly publish mobile and web 3D printable content provides a differentiated value proposition for brands and consumers alike.”

Durchin is a leading developer of interactive and filmed entertainment for girls since 1994. She is an award-winning producer of both interactive and 3D animated films for Mattel, and has been a key advisor to Disney Theme Parks regarding brand-sponsored exhibitions targeting women. As a producer, Jesyca has created and produced games, films and rides for leading brands such as Mattel Entertainment, Buena Vista Games, Walt Disney Imagineering, Walt Disney Home Video, and Mattel Interactive.

Learn more about the 3D printed lifestyle at 3DS’ consumer destination Cubify.

Build a 3D Printing Business with Shapify.Pro Kit from Artec Group

Artec Group is launching Shapify.Pro – a new version of its 3D-selfie technology designed for Microsoft Kinect owners – and a way to monetize 3D prints. Shapify.Pro will debut at the 3D Printshow in New York, February 13-15.

The figurines are exact replicas of what is scanned by Kinect, 3D printed in monochrome or color plastic at 1/20th actual height.

Related: See how Artec scanned the Big Bang Theory cast and the Royal Family

Big Bang Theory Kinect 3D Scanner

All you need to become an official “3D-Shapifizer”, is a Shapify.Pro kit: an account at, a Shapify branded backpack and scanning pad, and a discount for 3D printing of your figurines at Shapify partner printshops.

With Shapify.Pro, Artec is giving users a chance to make money with 3D scanning and printing. ”Just follow the voice instructions to quickly scan your customer with a Kinect sensor and order the 3D figurine at a Shapify printshop at a special low price,” explains Artec. “The figurine will be delivered to your home in several days. Sell your 3D scanning and printing service wherever you want: at parties and sports events, forums and conferences, corporate events… your only limit is your imagination.”

You need the following to scan customers using Shapify.Pro:

  • Microsoft Kinect for Windows
  • Windows 7 (x64) or Windows 8
  • Intel Core I3 or later with at least 4 GB RAM
  • Audio Speakers and USB 2.0
  • Internet connection

The Shapify.Pro kit costs $999, and Artec is offering $999 of credit on your Shapify.Pro account for printing your orders when you buy the kit.

Shapify.Pro kits will be for sale at the Shapify.Pro booth A28 at the 3D Printshow in New York and on the official website starting February 13.