On Tuesday, Shapeways, the world’s largest 3D printing service market place, has raised $30 million in a funding round led by Netherlands-based INKEF Capital along with Andreessen Horowitz, Lux Capital, Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures. Other corporate venture capitalists like Hewlett-Packard Ventures and Presidio Ventures, Sumitomo Corp also took part in the funding.
The New York-based 3D printing service bureaus, Shapeways promotes not only a way for 3D printing enthusiasts to be able to print 3D model with the uploaded image, but also individual creativity and innovation. They serve as platform and outlet for their users through their tips and ideas online, conducting various contests and challenges or even working with the company’s designers. The 3D printing technique of the company can print various physical shapes with materials that are beyond human realization. The company can craft out from stainless steel, silver and bronze. Most commonly created pieces are jewelry, game pieces and home decoration.
With the new funds, the company plans to improve the community, continue work on new features and materials for its platform and improve the company’s production environment and supply chain to next level. The last year’s partnership between HP and Shapeways to pilot new printers to improve on the quality and speed of the output is one of the example. The company also has an eye on Asia to expand their market.
CEO and co-founder of Shapeways Peter Weijmarshausen said, “Shapeways is redefining how products are being made. The partners in this funding round share our vision that manufacturing is moving from analog to digital and as a result it will disrupt product creation and make it more accessible to everyone.” When asked who are the major customers, he replied, “All kinds of people are doing it. It is a hobby , another way to make money, and to become an entrepreneur as you can run your own store. People are really engaged. They are rarely unhappy with their products since the items are custom-made.”
Investor of the funding round Lak Ananth, Managing Director of Hewlett-Packard Ventures said, “Hewlett-Packard Ventures is excited to help Shapeways accelerate their momentum and scale their business around the world. As a strategic partner, we will build upon our existing relationship with Shapeways to help make the vision and promise of 3D printing and additive manufacturing a reality.”
With this new investment, INKEF Capital confirms its strategic move to invest in a Dutch rooted technology companies. “Considering the Dutch roots of the company, as a Netherlands based investor we are especially delighted to support Shapeways in this next stage of development,” said Robert Jan Galema of INKEF Capital.
Despite the support and the name, the Shapeways is not free from hurdles. Its current 3D program can be tricky to use. However, the company has a school under Skillshare, an online class platform that teaches tutorials and crash courses. For someone who is really interested in learning the software just a day or half is enough to get to know the basics. The field is not free from rivals but the founder Weijmarshausen is not worried about them in the 3D printing space. “We are by far the leader in the marketplace community perspective, but competition is good. The more that both they and Shapeways can spread the word about 3D printing, the better.”
Now headquartered in Manhattan, Shapeways also has factories and offices in Eindhoven, Long Island City and Seattle. Since its inception in 2008, the company has been responsible for printing millions of 3D models worldwide.