Shapeways: Manufacturing in the Cloud

The Internet dramatically reduced the costs of a number of creative activities. For example, publishing written work used to require a large upfront investment. As a result, publishing was controlled by corporations who acted as creative arbiters. The Internet enabled writers to bypass those corporations, leading to an explosion of creativity and innovation.

Creative activities that involve physical things have mostly resisted this trend. Let’s say you are an entrepreneur who has designed a new line of jewelry. You need to find a factory, commit to a large batch size, and make a significant upfront investment. It is a risky and expensive endeavor.

Shapeways is a startup headquartered in NYC that eliminates the fixed costs of manufacturing. Making use of breakthrough advances in 3D printing, Shapeways manufactures objects in a variety of materials – including metals, ceramics, and plastics – with no upfront costs or minimum batch size. The results are indistinguishable from – and sometimes superior to – objects manufactured using traditional techniques.

Here’s a short video that shows the revolutionary potential of 3D printing:

Today, I’m excited to announce that Andreessen Horowitz is leading a $30M investment in Shapeways along with our friends at Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, and Lux Capital. We believe that technology is at its best when it enables human creativity. The Internet unlocked the world of bits. 3D printing is unlocking the world of atoms.

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