Almost two months ago I got an email from Shapeways offering me an opportunity to try out their 3D printing. I’ve read about 3D printing (omg the future is NOW! Also, when can I print a pizza?) but never tried it before. Shapeways is cool because you can upload a file and they will print it for you.
The easiest way to start is to choose Create > Easy Creater > 2D to 3D. (Unfortuately they’ve updated their website since I ordered mine so the screen shots are slightly out of date.) The 2D to 3D tool lets you start with a simple black and white JPG image and make it into a 3D object. (More advanced users can upload types like DAE, OBJ, STL, X3D, X3DB, X3DV, WRL, ZIP, whatever those are!)
After you upload your file you can set the dimensions and then Shapeways renders it into a 3D object. They also provide some helpful tips to make sure you get the results you want.
I used the Whimseybox logo because it was handy. First I squashed the letters together in a photo editing program so that they all touched and then I uploaded it. I tried to have it printed in about 5 different materials (they offer lots of materials from steel to plastic to glass!) in the days following my order I got a few emails saying that the file couldn’t be printed in some of the materials I’d chosen because parts were too thin. (The letters in BOX are pretty thin, but it was kind of a bummer.) Nevertheless, a few weeks later I got the two that were able to be printed and they are awesome. The thin parts of my design feel a bit too fragile to be used as a keychain like I’d originally planned, but I’ll figure out how to use them. Right now it’s fun just having them on my desk.