AM IndustryConsumer Products

Shapeways’ system helps beehives, off-roaders and brewers

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Shapeways reached milestones in scaling its manufacturing solutions to meet diverse customer requirements worldwide. The company has produced more than 20 million parts to date using 10 different printing technologies and 90 different materials and finishes.

The company’s latest innovations use Nylon 12, a versatile plastic material, to facilitate the construction of smart beehives, rugged off-roading device mounts, and brewing equipment. Each of these designs required customized solutions to incorporate parts foreign to the AM process into the object.

Protecting bees with 3D printed smart beehives

BeeHero creates smart hives, which 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  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.

Industrial-grade manufacturing for ruggedized 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 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 3D printed parts

Alongside beehives, Shapeways helped produce a smart hydrometer, which is used to measure the amount of sugar or alcohol in a liquid.
Alongside beehives, Shapeways helped produce a smart hydrometer, which is used to measure the amount of sugar or alcohol in a liquid.

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 home brewer’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 ten times 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 home brew 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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Adam Strömbergsson

Adam is a legal researcher and writer with a background in law and literature. Born in Montreal, Canada, he has spent the last decade in Ottawa, Canada, where he has worked in legislative affairs, law, and academia. Adam specializes in his pursuits, most recently in additive manufacturing. He is particularly interested in the coming international and national regulation of additive manufacturing. His past projects include a history of his alma mater, the University of Ottawa. He has also specialized in equity law and its relationship to judicial review. Adam’s current interest in additive manufacturing pairs with his knowledge of historical developments in higher education, copyright and intellectual property protections.

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