It’s rare to see a company that is so established yet as cutting-edge as Shapeways. The company, founded in 2007 as a spin-off of Royal Philips Electronics, began as a one-off 3D printing service that offered basic plastic items for sale online. Over the years, however, the company has branched off into some amazing materials – steel, ceramic, and even sandstone – and they’ve already been able to support full color printing in 3D.
Now the company is opening a series of facilities in the US and they invited us to their first print shop in Long Island City, New York. In this massive, warehouse-like space, the company has set up a number of acrylic printers as well as a small customer service team. They plan on expanding further, adding more machines to an already impressive array. The goal is to offer 3D print shops close to major US metropolitan areas to reduce wait-times and to spread out the manufacturing process among different factories. The company will have 30 to 50 printers in the LIC location once it is complete.
I spoke with co-founder Peter Weijmarshausen about the Shapeways process, the printers, and what it takes to become a 3D-printing powerhouse in a nascent market. It’s great to see such a cool company expand and it’s even more fun to get to tour the facilities even before the machines, printers, and staff becomes fully operational. Enjoy the tour and tune in next time for another TechCrunch Makers!