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Do you play Minecraft? Then you’ve been spending countless hours designing amazing structures. They look awesome on-screen, but did you know it’s easy and affordable to get them 3D printed so they can sit on your desk?

Here’s a quick overview of three free tools and services that will export your design to files that you can 3D print here at 3DHubs.

The easiest option: Printcraft

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By far the easiest way to get started is by logging on to of Printcraft’s servers. They give you a plot of land to build on and an in-world control panel that lets you export or print your work. It’s build-click-print, very cool. 

If you already have a design on your own server, then read on:

Exporting your existing work with Mineways

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Mineways is a free app for Windows and OS X. It can export any part of your world for 3D printing. Just load your map, drag the area that you want to export and it will save a VRML file with all the required texture maps for 3D printing.

On top of all that, Mineways is clever enough to remove unnecessary geometry to save you money!

Printing in full-color at 3D Hubs

Of course your models will look best if you 3D print them in full color. We currently have over 160 hubs that offer ZCorp or VisiJet printers and they will make your print look amazing.

Of course, you can only upload (monochrome) STL files to 3DHubs. 3D Printing a full color, texture mapped models requires a trick. First upload an STL file of your model and select the right Hub and printer. The Hub will contact you so you can email him the full-color files. We’ll make that easier in the future, promise ;-)

Some cool examples made by our Hubs

Minechess

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Source: 3DBox Voudas’s Hub 

TNT and Creeper Cake toppers

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Source: Armen’s Hub

And of course the somewhat obligatory sword ;-)

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Source: EC 3D Printing’s Hub

How easy it is to start a local 3D printing business and what can such businesses mean for the future of making? We spoke with Jan-Willem Wirtz, one of our early adopters, to find out. “I was in between jobs and was looking for something new,” says Jan-Willem, a visual artist by profession. “Buying a printer to test the possibilities and see what could be achieved seemed like an interesting idea.”

His first printer, a second-hand Thing-o-matic, allowed him to experiment with simple prints. The machine is fairly small (12 cm high) and its printing quality was not good enough to offer it as a service. He quickly realized that he needed to invest in a bigger and better machine if he wanted to go beyond the research stage. In August 2013, he purchased a MakerBot Replicator 2 and listed himself as a hub owner on our platform, joining a growing community of printer owners.

Ready for business

Jan-Willem received his first order through 3D Hubs in a matter of days and was able to earn back his initial printer investment in 4 months. In a good month, he receives between 12 and 16 assignments. He reviews the 3D designs that Makers submit using free tools, carries out complimentary test prints and sometimes helps customers adjust their models or customize open-source designs.

But Jan-Willem’s venture into 3D printing is not fueled only by potential monetary gain. He’s also in it to be a part of something bigger. For him, 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize manufacturing and spark a new era in which personalized products, designed by and for the user, become the norm.

Empowering Makers

Prototypes commissioned by students and businesses are the most common types of orders, but he also sees an increase in the amount of consumers that are interested in ordering customized products. He once helped a customer print several parts for a coffee grinder - a story that we covered last year in our Maker Talk series

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Another Maker was able to put his own set of lamps together with some recycled bowls and 3D printed mounting parts.

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Jan-Willem has also helped Makers print bike lamps, GoPro accessories and a variety of replacement parts. “I once had a customer who asked me to print a replacement for his Wacom pen button. Replacement parts for these pens are not easy to come by, and a new pen will cost you around $70. 3D printing offers an interesting alternative.”

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“These are perfect examples of how consumers will be able to produce, repurpose and customize their own products in the future,” says Jan-Willem. “It feels great to help people create stuff. You really get a sense that you’re part of something bigger than yourself. It’s also rewarding to see people bring their own ideas to life.”

A vision going forward

According to Jan-Willem, a lot needs to change before 3D printing becomes a viable, if not standard, manufacturing technology for everyday objects. “Despite the hype, it’s not easy for large audiences to grasp the full potential of 3D print technology yet,” he says. “We need more choice of material, better resolution, and the error margin needs to be considerably reduced. You shouldn’t be able to tell if an object was 3D printed or produced in a traditional factory. Speed also needs to improve.”

But it’s getting easier to envision a time when people will be able to get their own personalized goods printed around the corner - instead of mass-produced in a factory that is thousands of miles away. “People will start to catch on as printing becomes cheaper, faster and more accessible. I for one make it my task to spread the word and show people what’s possible, and it’s working quite nicely so far.”

Since New York City has become our #1 community in the world, we decided to open an office here.  Well, to be fair, we were planning on opening the New York office anyways in order take part in America’s 3D printing revolution. Marvin was also getting a little claustrophobic in Amsterdam and expressed interest in the Big Apple.  

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We landed in the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s New Lab.  A former US Naval shipyard with a history as long as the battleships that were once produced here, the Navy Yard is owned by New York City and is currently undergoing its largest expansion since World War II to make way for the companies which will shape the future.  With views from our office of the entire Manhattan skyline and a city beneath us that may be the center of 3d printing for decades to come, we are stoked to be up and running in New York.

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Our trusty co-founder, Bram de Zwart, will be in NYC for meetings over the next few months, so if you have any jet lag advice, he would love to hear it. We’ve expanded the team by bringing on Zach, the company’s first business development member and Alex, for community support in the US. We are looking for our US Marketing and Community Manager as we speak (or write), so if you know anybody great, we would love to hear from them.

We’re kicking things off right by hosting an event at the office this Friday with one of New York’s brightest companies, Quirky, and are heading off to the Maker Faire this weekend to showcase everything 3D Hubs has to offer.

Office - Edited.jpgStop by and say hello anytime.

“I want to be a part of it…New York, New York” - Frank Sinatra

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Students of the ENSCI, L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle in France, have been developing a 3D printer. Not your average FDM printer, but one that can make you a tattoo!

The brains behind this ingenious project are Pierre Emm, Piotr Widelka and Johan Da Silveira. Their hope is that one day it will become the standard for tattoo salons. We caught up with the gang to discuss the future of their concept.

How did you get the idea for such a machine?

We were just cycling when it came to us! Of course, the idea didn’t come out of thin air, we all have a close relationship with the tattoo community.

How has the tattoo community reacted to the printer?

We are thrilled each time we receive a mail from a tattooist: they seem to really enjoy the idea of having a new tool to bring their ideas into physical reality. The funny thing is that the machine can inspire people to get tattooed. Because our printer helps bringing two different worlds together, tattooing and 3D printing, art and making, more people are attracted to it.

How does your printer work?

We use a Makerbot as a ‘base’ for our creation!

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Instead of the extruder, we place a dermograph.

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The movements of the dermograph are determined by a 2D drawing that is converted into a 3D surface, as vectors.

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We haven’t built a ‘one time finished printer’. The machine always evolves, even if we use the same elements to build it.

What is the main difficulty?

Keeping things simple. Tattooing is a real science, there are a lot of different techniques, skin textures, and ink types available. All those factors are obstacles for making our machine usable by anyone. The road to launch might still be long, but it’s exciting to keep evolving. In a sense it’s actually quite similar to the RepRap project.

What is your best memory with your printer?

Definitely the first time someone got tattooed. It was amazing to see the printer mark a perfect circle on someone’s arm! And there are more to come: we’ll soon be at Saint Petersbourg to present our project! 

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After 9 hours, 8 hands building and a few finger-nails left, the 3D Hubs stand is up and looking great and ready for the event day.

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We had a great time at the print show, so we thought it would be good to fill everyone on journey from the canals of Amsterdam to the hussle and bussle of Old Billingsgate, London. The chance to meet so many of our Hubs from all around the world and showcasing the amazingly talented London Hubs on our stand was wonderful to see. There was the Google Campus Meet-up with inspiring talks from both Colorfabb and UltimakerGB and introducing the new well informed public as to what our vision for the future is not to be forgetting one award nomination and one award win. Overall, a jam-packed weekend full of fun!

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When designing the stand we were trying to come up with ways of showing the true core of 3D Hubs, so we decided what better way than giving the opportunity to our Hubs based in London the chance to be on the stand with us? Not only did this mean the Hubs got exposure,  but if someone had questions in regards to what being a Hub was like who better to hear it from than a Hub themselves. We had some truly skilled Hubs with us on the stand with a variety of prints from a wide breadth of printers, talking to them allowed us to gain insightful feedback about the platform to takeaway after the show. So thank you Joe’s HubMakersAffairTrupti (it is 3D)Z-axis PrintingJameshsxCinter2052Marc’s Hub and Philip’s Hub

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The first section we instantly were attracted to was the food printing area, we saw Choc Edge’s amazing new printer which not only prints chocolate amazingly well, but actually tastes better than most on the market. Further down the line we encountered something even more space age that we now call the reverse blender - the Dovetail Food 3D Printer takes fruit-juice-like material and converts it into berry structures, so you can put strawberries and cream in and produce a raspberry shaped fruit with that flavour.

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The Manufacturers section really opened our eyes even further at the innovative ways manufacturers are now mixing it up technically. Z-morph had a revolutionary interchangeable printer head idea working extremely well that combines the ability to print ceramic, plastic, cake mixture, milling/laser engraving options; truly showing the possibilities are endless. BigRep had brought in their hulk of a machine that prints on a print bed of over 1 meter with uses in engineering to interior design. Meeting Printrbot CEO and 3D Printing guru Brook Drumm was a delight, as we talked over 3D Printing and his journey from his first Printrbot to what we have today.

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Awards night allowed some down time from all the craziness (good craziness) we got to talk to lots of different people from the industry who all had interesting ideas for the future. We were nominated for Best Online Service and graciously lost out to TinkerCad, but we love their software so could not complain. Then suddenly to our surprise we were announced as the Best In Show thanks to our stand design and Hub involvement. So we would like to dedicate our award to all those that helped design, build and man the stand for making it what it was at the show. After we received the award we were taken to a scanning booth and scanned with the award which then would be printed and would be our real award which we are excited about receiving.

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In conclusion we had a great time and enjoyed engaging with the 3D Printing community on another level, but more than that the ability to appreciate all the activities of our users all around the world really touched us. To see the look of surprise on a New Zealanders face when he saw a Hub on a farm in a remote network of islands off the coast of New Zealand he recognised or seeing the Hubs being able to showcase their talents was worth the trip alone.