3D designers looking to sell their creations have a new place to do so with Shapeways. The site, which launched in July 2008 as part of Royal Philips Electronics' Lifestyle Incubator formerly acted only as a virtual 3D printing service. Designers could use the service to print out a single design, or a large batch without leaving their house.
Now the service does the dirty work of packaging and shipping out what it creates to people who buy designed items. 3D designers simply put together which items they want in their shop, set the prices, then direct potential purchasers there. Meanwhile, Shapeways gets a small cut based on its end of the production and shipping.
This might be quite appealing for small-time designers who want to sell their creations without having to set up a shipping operation out of the garage. The company is also taking care of the customer service, which keeps designers from having to worry about customer e-mail and phone calls.
This new storefront system goes head to head with Ponoko, which also offers a printing and shipping service for user-designed goods. Where the two differ is that Shapeways lets purchasers tweak a design before ordering, something that gives them a higher level of control over what they're buying.
One designer storefront worth checking out is Woody's Minifig Shop, which supplies tiny costume add-ons for LEGO characters: