3D Printing Startup Shapeways Raises $5.1 Million, Plans NYC Production Facility

Of all the cool things going on in technology, one of my favorites is 3D printing. It’s got such a futuristic quality to it: input a digital schematic, and you get a physical product custom cut to your exact specifications. You can print bike parts if you want to. How amazing is that?

Sorry, still wrapping my head around it. In any case, I’m not the only one who’s excited: Shapeways — a company looking to bring 3D printing to the masses — just raised an additional $5.1 million from existing investors Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures, and it’s also gotten a loan commitment of $1.2 million from NYC Investment Fund. The company previously raised $5 million last fall.

And there’s also some great news for Shapeways customers: the firm is planning to launch printing facilities in New York City in 2012. Historically goods ordered (and then printed) through Shapeways have been manufactured either through contracted third-parties, or through the company’s own facility in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

Now that it will be able to print stateside, the net result will be faster turnout times for customers, and lower prices. The company hasn’t specified exactly what kind of savings to expect just yet, but I’m told they will be substantial.

For those that haven’t used it, Shapeways is both a service for printing out your 3D designs, and a marketplace for designers to sell their custom-printed wares to customers. The service also has a set of wizards that allow users without any 3D design experience to customize certain objects, like this new Sake Set. Products can be made from a range of materials including a everything from white, strong plastic to stainless steel (you can find a listing of the 25+ materials here).

The company says that its marketplace now has over 300,000 products and 100,000 users. Their New York office now has 19 people.