The Future Will Be Downloaded: Shapeways Raises $30 Million C Round


Looking for a Super Mario Mobius strip, birds’ nest eggcups, headphone cufflinks or a hyphae lamp?  Shapeways has all this and more, at just a click away, and considering that the 6 year old company just announced a whopping $30 million Series C led by Andreessen-Horowitz, expect to see a lot more innovation from these New York-based innovators.


3d printing shapeways

Previous investors Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures and Lux Capital also participated in the round.

Shapeways is a 3D printing service that provides access to cutting-edge technology to anyone, worldwide.  For a fee, Shapeways will take the designs uploaded by clients to create 3D models.  Innovators and hobbyists can then hold their ideas in their hands, create personal collections and even sell the finished product to consumers, thanks to the high level of detail and craftsmanship included in each printed model –and Shapeways’ business model itself. Right now, materials include sterling silver, bronze, ceramic, stainless steel, full-colored sandstone and several forms of plastic.

For designers and innovators, “Shapeways eliminates the fixed costs of manufacturing and makes use of breakthrough advances in 3D printing,” said Chris Dixon, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz.  Dixon will also join Shapeways’ executive board.

Shapeways got their start in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, as part of the lifestyle incubator Royal Philips Electronics, and relocated to New York in 2010.

What sets Shapeways apart from other 3D printing innovators is that they are highly scalable: Shapeways has invested in manufacturing facilities in New York, Eindhoven and Seattle that produce batches of products simultaneously in large, industrial-sized printers, each dedicated to a different material. They currently list 9 materials and 7 different printing methods. And the objects can be quite large, especially compared to those produced by “desktop” 3D printers.

Shapeways is also among the largest online marketplaces for custom products. On shapeways.com, individuals can make, buy, and sell custom products ranging from iPhone cases and jewelry to functional parts. The site is currently home to 10,000 shops run by independent designers who sell their products to customers around the world, with over a million printed products and 60,000 designs added monthly.  Products range from gadgets to games to miniatures to home furnishings.  Customers can even make their next fashion statement through the website with pieces like Colleen Jordan’s wearable planters.

Clients like Jonathan Bobrow, creator of the MagSafe adapter key ring, are now raising funds on Kickstarter. Bobrow did his initial product launch on shapeways.com.

This latest round of funding will help the company build more factories, hire more employees and allow for more advancement in terms of ease of use and expansion of product materials.

“We are encouraged by how far we have come,” said Shapeways founder  Peter Weijmarshausen. “But we are even more excited for the incredible journey ahead.”

About the author: Jennifer Mottola

Jennifer recently received her MFA in creative writing from Manhattanville College, where she was fiction editor of the school’s literary journal, Inkwell.  She is currently a copy-editing intern for AlleyWatch.

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