Motorola Mobility, a Google company, is building a 3D printed modular phone, and has partnered with 3D Systems for commercial fulfillment. More »

The Captured Dimensions pop-up studio was located in the Smithsonian Castle and featured approximately 80 digital cameras all connected to 3D software. More »

Microsoft expanded their support for 3D printing by launching a Windows 8 app called 3D Builder. It includes a library of objects you can edit and 3D print. More »

3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) announced the availability of the Sense 3D scanner, the first 3D scanner designed for the consumer and optimized for 3D printing. More »

With rumors circling that 3D Systems will be purchased by IBM, the stock soars. We look at why IBM might be interested in the 3D printing giant. More »


How 3D Printing Could Revolutionise Product Packaging

This is a guest post by Jonny Rowntree, whose bio is at the end of this article.

As one of the corporate and creative world’s most booming industries, product packaging and printing is constantly changing its nature, becoming more innovative and diverse with each advancement.

With printing processes such as offset, flexo, and digital printing, manufacturers and businesses are able to design a package print which is durable, protective, and visually appealing for a relatively substantial cost which sees positive results.

But what about experimenting with technologies like 3D printing?

3D Printed Product Packaging

Does this highly sophisticated and versatile development of the printing process have the potential to revolutionise the product packaging world, or at least one stage of the process? Critics may argue that until the technology becomes more mainstream, the method may be a little too mad – at least, cost-wise. But it’s also a technology which could be worth looking at for businesses.

The World of 3D

It’s not just riveting cinema action anymore – 3D has ventured into the homes and businesses of aspiring designers and developers, with some even patenting their own economical version of the printer, and leading national institutions holding their own exhibits on the technology. But how exactly does 3D printing work?

The technique itself is fairly straightforward, creating a solid image by process of accumulation or additive process, whereby differently shaped layers of material are laid down on top of one another. This varies from the subtractive processes of traditional printing methods which rely on cutting or drilling to reduce the material. The 3 main types are extrusion, granular, and light polymerised.

3D Printed Product Packaging

Beginning with virtual blueprints in STL, PLY, VRML or WRL file formats, which are created with software such as computer aided design (CAD) or animation modelling software, the images are divided into cross-sections and the machine binds these successive layers together on a build bed or platform. These are laid down using liquid, powder, paper or sheet material components which are then fused together to create the desired shape and size (determined by printer and X-Y resolution in dpi – dots per inch – or micrometers).

The time taken to print the model can range from hours to days, dependent on the project, with addictive systems resulting in greater versatility and quickest production time vs. injection moulding which provides a more economical method. During the final stages, sometimes additive processes are combined with subtractive processes which remove additional material creating a higher level of accuracy.

Due its incredibly adaptable nature and capability to print not only various shapes and sizes but print several colour combinations at once, 3D printing is quickly becoming the new alternative for businesses across the globe, commonly used for prototyping and distributed manufacturing in:

  • Architecture and construction (AEC)
  • Industrial design
  • Art and sculpture
  • Automotive and mechanics
  • Aerospace
  • Military
  • Engineering (most specifically civil)
  • Medical industries
  • Biotech
  • Education
  • Geographic information
  • Food industry
  • Fashion, footwear, and jewellery as well as several others.

With increasing accessibility to 3D printers and the freedom of open source 3D printing, more customers are able to effectively reduce costs in their business due to saving money on not using other printing techniques which may require several different machines and processes to produce one type of object, as well as the ability to print out solid objects which would otherwise be expensive to purchase.

Re-energizing the Art of Packaging

Inevitably, 3D printing provides the perfect venue for the creation of packaging, particularly flexible packaging. This field alone hails a large number of companies which specialise in developing software toolkits for businesses that use flexible packaging blueprints, modules and templates. A business can benefit from not having to combine traditional printing techniques, maintaining machines, or contracting printers, as well as saving on labour and resulting in a quicker turnaround time and more profit.

3D Printed Product Packaging

Businesses might question the quality of the product, asking whether the product will be safe and durable, as well as aesthetically appealing and marketable. These demands are met by customising 3D printers themselves as well as incorporating the concerns of a 3D printer into the initial design process.

There is a massive selection on the market which specialises in 3D printing machines, ranging from entry-level basic functionality to high-end, state of the art technology, catered to industry leaders and designers with new prototypes frequently developed. Though initially high in price, supply and demand is bringing it down gradually and as more packaging design is integrated into its function, more improvements will be made and will become accessible to businesses of varying sizes. In fact, this technology could eventually replace flexographic and offset printing in the future, if not make a considerable impact in the competition.

Eco-friendly? Getting there.

Like much of the new technology which is making waves across the packaging industry, 3D printing is becoming one of the more sustainable practices by reducing carbon footprint and using recycled materials and components which are treated carefully and meet regulation standard. By being able to produce an entire package, it saves the amount of resources which would typically go into the traditional printing techniques due to its ability to replicate other material, as well as eliminating the need to acquire and transfer materials between two different printing styles.

Most impressively, it also places considerably more capabilities into the hands of small businesses, who can produce their own packaging and in turn make a profit – a viable investment for years to come.


About the author: Jonny Rowntree is a freelance writer based in the North of England working with worldwide printing partner, Elanders UK.

3D Printing Week: Leonardo DiCaprio, Bulgaria, Design, Dollhouses

Here’s the top 3D printing news from last week.

Although Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t win an Oscar, there’s still a chance for him to take home his own golden statue thanks to 3D printing. The designer community at 3D printing marketplace CGTrader came up with a number of designs for Leonardo DiCaprio Oscar statues, paying homage to his role Jordan Belford in Wolf of Wall Street.

Figurine for Leo Oscar

Artec Group has announced a partnership with ScanSource, a value-added distribution company with more than $4 billion in sales.  Artec Group and ScanSource have signed a Master Distribution Agreement naming ScanSource as the main distributor for Artec Group in the USA.

3D printing marketplace Threeding has announced a partnership with the regional historical museum of Pernik, Bulgaria. Under the agreement, will 3D scan museum exhibits and sell the digital models on its website

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. To further his research, Terrell is reaching out to the design community in an open questionnaire called Motivations in Online 3D Communities.

If you are at SXSW this year, try to find Shapeways. 3D printing marketplace Shapeways announced that they will be offering selfie scans at SXSW so you can 3D print your own mini-me.

Designers often look for inspiration from classic methods. A guest post profiles the latest bioprinting technique called “Block Cell Printing” which is inspired by centuries’ old Chinese woodblock printing.

Digital Dollhouse Acquired by 3D Systems

3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) 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. This 3D printed dollhouse maker was profiled at CES 2014.

Artec Group launched Shapify.Pro – a new version of its 3D-selfie technology designed for Microsoft Kinect owners – and a way to monetize 3D prints. The figurines are exact replicas of what is scanned by Kinect, 3D printed in monochrome or color plastic at 1/20th actual height.

Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Honorary 3D Printed Oscar

Despite being an accomplished and highly popular actor, Leonardo DiCaprio struck out at the Oscars again this year, losing the Best Actor award to Matthew McConaughey. This was his 5th nomination, and he has taken home no hardware to place on the mantel.

And there was no shortage of Internet frenzy over the non-win.

Well, thanks to 3D printing, a technology that lets you make (almost) anything, Leo can perhaps create his own Oscar statue, and so can you.

The designer community at 3D printing marketplace CGTrader came up with a number of designs for Leonardo DiCaprio Oscar statues, paying homage to his role Jordan Belford in Wolf of Wall Street.

Here are some of the best designs.

Leonardo DiCaprio Oscar Figurine

Leonardo Award Figurine 3D Model by Daniel

Figurine for Leo Oscar

Dicaprio’s Figurine Award 3D Model by Mridul Sen

Leo DiCaprio Figurine Oscar

Figurine for Leo Oscar 3D Model by Sajid Diaz


Good luck next year Leo! We’ll be rooting for you.

Artec Group Selects ScanSource for US Distribution of 3D Scanners

Increasing hand-held 3D technology sales in the North America market

Artec Group has announced a new major partnership with ScanSource, a value-added distribution company with more than $4 billion in sales.  Artec Group and ScanSource have signed a Master Distribution Agreement naming ScanSource as the main distributor for Artec Group in the USA.

“This partnership will enable fast, exponential sales growth in Artec 3D products and solutions thanks to ScanSource’s years of experience in the North American market, one of Artec’s priority regions,” said a company spokesperson.

In addition to the new partnership with ScanSource, Artec continues to sell its products through a wide network of official partners in more than 40 countries.

Artec’s mission is to unleash the 3D revolution and bring this technology to everyone, everywhere. For a hardware and software company, Artec has been in the public eye mixing with celebrities, recently producing 3D scans of the cast of the Big Bang Theory and the Royal family.

Read: Artec 3D Scanners Used for Big Bang Theory Cast and the Royal Family

Artec 3D Scan Prince Andrew

Founded in 2007, the company is headquartered in Luxembourg, with offices in the USA and Russia, and includes a team of high-caliber specialists who have worked together for over 10 years.  Artec’s leading experts work on capturing/processing 3D surfaces for personal and professional usage, as well as biometric security and 3D face recognition.

Today, Artec has over 100 employees, 60% of which are 3D engineers.

2013 scanner sales increased by 150% in 2012, with 45% of sales are to the Asian market, with Japan as the largest market. The company has sold over 2,000 hand-held high-precision 3D scanners sold since its founding.

Artec’s 3D solutions are used in aeronautics, medicine, industry, media and design, heritage preservation, art, criminology and insurance.

Bulgarian 3D Printing Marketplace Teams Up with Regional Museum

3D printing marketplace Threeding has announced a partnership with the regional historical museum of Pernik, Bulgaria. Under the agreement, will 3D scan museum exhibits and sell the digital models on its website

“This agreement will give us an opportunity to add into our portfolio of 3D printable models, unique historical artifacts from the Prehistoric times, Antiquity, Middle Ages and Early Modern Period,” said Tony Kitipov, founder of Bulgaria-based

The Regional Historical Museum of Pernik will collect a royalty for each sale on, providing much needed revenue to the museum. Furthermore, it is expected that this cooperation will increase the popularity of the museum and the region.

Threeding Design Sense

Threeding Builds a Foothold in Eastern Europe

Threeding is a Bulgarian startup founded Kitipov and students of the Bulgarian National Academy of Art, Cveta-Maria Partaleva and Stan Partalev.

“We were inspired by the 3D printing industry after several visits of the United States where we saw couple of 3D printing facilities,” said Founder Tony Kitipov in an exclusive interview with On 3D Printing.

Cveta 3D Scan Threeding

Threeding has modeled itself after successful online marketplaces, such us eBay, by creating a two-sided network of sellers – in this case designers – and buyers.

“We are certainly not the first one globally in this niche but we are definitely the first platform for 3D file sharing in Central and Eastern Europe,” explained Kitipov.

About The Regional History Museum of Pernik

The Regional History Museum of Pernik is located in the town of Pernik, Western Bulgaria. The region has a rich history dating back to antiquity. In different periods the town was part of the territory of the Thracians, part of the Roman Empire, the Byzantines Empire, the Bulgarian Kingdom, the Ottoman Empire and nowadays part of Bulgaria.

The museum was established in 1953 as a town museum and shortly after, it grew into Regional National Museum. Currently, the museum has a  fund of almost 55,000 objects from different periods of the history.