February 2, 2012
If you’ve ever had the problem of finding a unique gift, 3D printing could be the ultimate solution. Say you’d like to give someone a sculpture of Mt. Rushmore. In green. Maybe you can only find purple Mt. Rushmores. Rather than just grabbing that grape Washington, 3D printing could give you the option of having exactly what you want, and companies like Sculpteo are springing up to make it happen.
Sculpteo’s website offers customers a number of different methods to create unique objects. For those with the know-how, Sculpteo can print out CAD files, just like you’d expect from any number of additive manufacturing services. Unlike other companies, Sculpteo doesn’t stop there, but instead offers a number of services for people who’ve never even heard of CAD.
One of the possibilities is to create unique items based on templates provided by the company. While not quite as satisfying as creating something from scratch, this acts as a kind of gateway to get people thinking about how they might use 3D printing for other projects. Sculpteo offers key rings, 3D text, iPhone cases, rings and 3D pictures that are either based on material uploaded by the customer, or on pre-rendered files. Sculpteo even offers an app that uses a profile picture to create personalized ceramic objects.
Sculpteo’s website also acts as a global marketplace for designs. Vendors upload their designs to the site and are paid for usage through PayPal. You can almost think of this function like an Etsy for 3D printing. Prices range from $8 for simple charms to several hundred dollars for more complex designs.
The future is certain to bring dozens, if not more, sites like Sculpteo, which could change the face of manufacturing. We could see designers that don’t need a manufacturer to make a living and likely become famous for their name in virtually the same way as Armani. As CAD programs are made to be more intuitive and accessible to the average user, individual manufacturing could become an industry all its own.
Below you’ll find a video from CES 2012 discussing the Sculpteo app.
Source: Ars Technica