Despite the pandemic of 2020, additive manufacturing service providers are reporting a range of successes. For example, Shapeways, reports it has produced more than 20 million parts using 10 different printing technologies and 90 different materials and finishes.

More than a million customers have worked with Shapeways to produce products from personal protective equipment (PPE) to combat COVID-19 to 3D-printed prosthetics as well as unique, one-of-a-kind products.

Here’s a look at a few recent projects

Protecting bees with 3D printed smart beehives

For BeeHero, smart hives are the key to ensuring that bees thrive while optimizing hive productivity. To that end, the company relies on sensors and data science to help beekeepers and farmers quickly predict and prevent problems. The sensors in the BeeHero smart system are housed in two 3D-printed halves produced by Shapeways using Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] material and selective laser sintering (SLS) technology for added flexibility, durability and strength.

By leveraging Shapeways’ design-for-additive, product development and digital manufacturing capabilities, BeeHero benefits from manufacturing and delivery speed, improved product quality as well as simple assembly and installation. Moreover, the materials used were accepted by the bees, which has contributed to successful deployments and promising results, as real-time pollination monitoring has proven to increase crop yields by up to 30% on average.

Rugged off-road device mounts

When it comes to sturdy device mounts that withstand the rigors of off-roading, 67 Designs has delivered tens of thousands of quality systems all over the world. The idea for a highly durable iPad mounting device came from the realization that existing solutions were unwieldy, unrealistic and aesthetically unappealing.

67 Designs designed and Shapeways then test-printed prototype iterations, which ultimately led to the creation of the production MagMount G3. This high-end device features a magnet array for better iPad alignment and attachment during off-road adventures. The collaboration with Shapeways encompasses the use of Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] material and industrial-grade additive manufacturing to produce a top-quality solution. The teamwork also supports 67 Designs’ desire to bring a greener product to market while bolstering “made in America” goals with avenues for production in local markets.

Brewing better beer requires lightweight, durable 3Dprinted parts

When it comes to brewing craft beers at home or professionally, there’s a lot of different techniques, fermenters and equipment for improving quality and taste. At Tilt Hydrometer, what started as a homebrewer’s vision has evolved into a game-changing device that monitors beer gravity and temperature in real-time for instant adjustments to the fermentation process.

After experimenting with expensive plastic milling technology, the company enlisted Shapeways to produce prototypes and final parts at a 10x cost savings. Using additive manufacturing, Tilt Hydrometer successfully encased sensitive electronics in lightweight, flexible and durable plastic material available from Shapeways in a rainbow of colors for easy multiple-batch monitoring. As a result, tens of thousands of homebrew and professional brewery customers around the world now rely on the Tilt Hydrometer and its intuitive mobile app to create ideal brewing conditions.


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