Industry Directory - Shapeways
One of the leading providers of 3D printing services, Shapeways was spun out of Royal Philips Electronics in the Netherlands. There, it began as a concept for a customer-oriented additive manufacturing service in the Philips design department before it was cultivated through the Philips Lifestyle Incubator. Marleen Vogelaar and Peter Weijmarshausen, along with co-founder Robert Schouwenburg established it as its own company in in Eindhoven in 2007.
In 2008, the Dutch startup began allowing users to upload and sell their own 3D objects through an online 3D printing marketplace. That way, if a user didn’t have their own 3D printer, they could still upload a 3D design to sell on the e-commerce site. The firm would take care of everything from the transaction to the production and shipping of the physical products while the user retained a percentage of the profit. In 2012, it launched a 3D printing factory in Queens, New York that maintained some 50 industrial 3D printers.
Over time, the 3D printing company expanded its materials and printing options, beginning with basic materials and growing to include polymers such as nylon to metals, like stainless steel. Now, Shapeways 3D printing offers over 55 materials and finishes, ranging from plastics and precious metals to porcelain. By 2019, it had sold over 10 million user-created objects. The company has partnered with such notable companies as Hasbro to create licensed designs. Customers have ranged from ordinary consumers and entrepreneurs to engineers engaged in prototyping and end part manufacturers in industries ranging from healthcare to aerospace.
Key to the company’s success is its proprietary software, which is meant to allow users without expertise in CAD modeling to sell their 3D printable products. Using online automation tools, users can perform optimization of mechanical properties or check for thin layers. Apps called Creators, allow users to add text or images to their models. Co-Creator tools make it possible for consumers and designers to collaborate on designs, as well. Some features include social media integrations, as well. 3D printing technology offered by the firm includes: direct metal laser sintering (in which a layer of powder is fused with a laser), photopolymer resin printing, fused deposition modeling, and other manufacturing capabilities.
Like many 3D printing companies, Shapeways had to shift its focus after the 2014 consumer 3D printing hype bubble. With a renewed focus on digital manufacturing, the firm took on a new CEO, Greg Kress, in 2018. It now provides full-color PolyJet 3D printing from Stratasys, has adopted BASF’s 3D printing materials, and partnered with ZVerse to provide CAD as a Service.
Through a SPAC merger with special purpose acquisition company Galileo Acquisition Corp., which traded under the symbol “GLEO”, the company set its eyes on going public. The company’s investors have included Desktop Metal, Lux Capital, and Union Square Ventures. On September 30, 2021, Shapeways began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol SHPW.