Phase 1 of the Unique Plastique experiment is over. I’ve explored the potential of using typography and simple 2D linework to create 3D objects, which has worked well. It’s tested the materials, got a feel for tolerances and the way fonts work in 3D. Now it’s time to move on to the next phase - vases, chains and more complex models.
Tests underway! Plus a quick review of Shapeways so far
Finally, two weeks after the Unique Plastique project got started we’ve got the first designs in production… and you can buy one too at our new shiny Shapeways shop http://www.shapeways.com/shops/uniqueplastique
It’s a very simple service. Log-in (I used my Twitter ID @killdozer to log in via Oauth) and upload your model. I used a couple of test STL files I’d created in Illustrator and then modeled in Blender. Within a few minutes they’d checked the files, identified I’d set the sizes too small (duh) and so I fixed the scale and re-uploaded. Then the models are in the system and you can add them to the shopping basket for on-demand printing in a variety of materials.
The dimensions of the model means not every material is available, but it’s easy to configure and order the stuff. Then you can set up a shop (took about five minutes) and now the model is live to the world, for sale. There’s only the “Yummy Mummy” for sale at the moment, which is a pretty niche product for people who like left-field fashion statements, but there will be more added every time a model gets uploaded.
It’s an agile way to test the printing services… originally these designs were never intended for sale, but why not put them out there and see if someone wants one? There’s nothing to lose.
Shapeways is a great automated service. The finished items are due back in mid-Feb when some decent pictures can be taken and we can update the online shop with lots of pics which is the best way to increase the possibilities of someone actually buying them.
The main thing is, Unique Plastique is finally progressing - and two weeks from start to production gives a very encouraging insight into how the 3D process radically changes the way manufacturing can be accessed. These first prototypes were designed by a web designer, in Illustrator and a steep learning curve in Blender (still a long way to go). Next on the project list is to start experimenting with 3D scanning…