Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Shapeways Raises $30M for 3-D Printing Led by Andreessen Horowitz’s Chris Dixon

The idea of dreaming up a physical object and having a computer help you bring it to life — a.k.a. 3-D printing — is very cool today, but there’s a long way to go. Some of the challenges include faster creation times, more accessible software, a greater variety of materials with which to print, better 3-D scanning, and better ways to help people dream up what’s possible.

ShapewaysdinoNow 3-D printing marketplace Shapeways has some more money to try to solve at least some of those issues. It has raised $30 million in a Series C round that’s the first venture investment for new Andreessen Horowitz partner Chris Dixon, alongside previous investors Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures and Lux Capital.

The New York City-headquartered site allows product designers to upload 3-D designs and sell them to online customers, who can choose a plastic, ceramic or metal material and sometimes also customize or personalize the product. Then Shapeways prints the object in one of its factories in Long Island City, N.Y., or Eindhoven, Netherlands, and mails it to the customer.

Shapeways isn’t the only company that does this, but it’s the largest and most well-known. Some 10,000 people are selling 1,000,000 designs to 150,000 customers so far. Shapeways tells designers how much it will cost to make their products, and then they can mark them up as much as they want.

Dixon said he thought Shapeways was particularly interesting because it combines three traditionally separate businesses — manufacturing, e-commerce and community.

Dixon — who previously was an angel investor, founded SiteAdvisor and Hunch, and became well-known for his blogging — said he expected to make further investments in what he called “fringe technologies” that help bring the physical world online, including 3-D printing, robots, hardware and “the Internet of things.”

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus