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Behind the scenes at Shapeways' New York 3D-printing facility (pictures)

Every day, the company's Queens production center turns out thousands of individual items from its nine industrial-size 3D printers. It's a lot of fun to watch.

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Daniel Terdiman
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Before and after skulls

NEW YORK -- Shapeways has become one of the biggest players in the growing field of 3D-printing services. The company, which allows anyone to open a store and sell his or her wares, then 3D prints each item and ships it to the buyer.

At its Queens production facility, Shapeways turns out thousands of items a day, all of which emerge from one of nine industrial-strength 3D printers in a white nylon. But Shapeways can dye the products a number of other colors, such as blue, seen here.

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Adding a new layer

A look inside one of the nine EOS 3D printers in Shapeways' Queens facility shows how a print job is done. Each pass of the arm lays down another layer of nylon powder. The machine applies heat where necessary for the creation of an item.
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Open front

A look at the open front of an EOS 3D printer, one of nine in Shapeways' Queens production facility. The company hopes to expand to between 30 and 50 at the facility within a year.
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Top of tray

At the top of the tray is a layer of nylon powder.
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3D printer

This is one of nine EOS 3D printers that Shapeways has at its Queens production facility. The machines cost between $1 million and $3 million each and can turn out dozens or even hundreds of items per print run.
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Dyed black

Though items emerge from the machine in white, Shapeways can add dyes in several other colors.
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Dyeing area

The area of the production facility where Shapeways applies colored dyes to the items that emerge from the 3D printers. This facility uses blue, red, black, purple, and pink.
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8 of 11 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Breaking products apart

After each print run, the machines turn out a stack of dozens or hundreds of items that are jammed together for peak efficiency. During postproduction, a team member carefully breaks them apart, using the diagrams as a guide.
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Bins

Hundreds of bins are filled with small Shapeways products that are ready to be shipped out to customers.
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Sample kit

One of the best-selling Shapeways product is this sample materials kit, which showcases several of the materials the company prints with.
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Shapeways logo

On the front door of Shapeways' production facility in Queens is this logo, which the company 3D printed.

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