There was a day when designers, artists and other creatives were limited to the Zazzle and CafePress marketplaces to offer their creations on demand. But today, previously unattainable production processes have now become available for many types of designs. Technology is to thank again for providing multiple online avenues on which the designers can sell a whole new category of goods, such as items made in 2D laser cuts or in 3D manufacturing with materials such as steel, felt, wood, acrylic or fabric.
With on-demand marketplaces such as Shapeways , Ponoko and Spoonflower , designers can design, manufacture and sell some pretty intricate creations on demand, without mortgaging their homes or wiping out their life savings. And the rest of us can buy these "custom", independently designed goods or, even better, we can get creative ourselves. I'm thinking of things like creating personalized centerpieces and table décor for an important event, wedding or celebration; redecorating the bedroom with a fabric that exists only in my mind; creating a custom trophy for the association awards… Endless possibilities.
Shapeways custom cufflinksShapeways: allows users to design and print objects using a 3D printing technique which up to now had been prohibitively expensive. But no longer… . Objects can be 3D-printed in silver, glass, plastic, steel and unique composite that allows to print objects in color. This is a great platform for those who design in 3D. No worries for those who don't though. There is a Co-Creator program that will team you up with a designer to bring your project to 3D reality.
Shapeways also has a marketplace, (though I find it limited and hard to navigate) where one can shop by designer or by category. Jewelry is a popular category though I'd love to see more functional items in the home accessories category.
Great for custom work, such as creating those custom napkin rings for the upcoming wedding… Or replacing that missing dangle on the antique chandelier. Or that custom pendant to thank the volunteers. Oh, and…
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