Check out this snippet of Andrew Mazotta‘s Shapeways tour and an interview with Bart Veldhuizen about the history of Shapeways — and a little piece of the history of Blender as a bonus, via 3Ders.org:
Andrew talked with Bart Veldhuizen, Shapeway’s Community Manager about how Shapeways was started, the production and the available materials for designers. What does Shapeways think about desktop 3D printers? Shapeways keeps a good relationship with desktop 3D printer manufacturers, said Veldhuizen, Shapeways’ production scale is different, and they serve different markets so Shapeways doesn’t see them as competitors. On the contrary, desktop 3D printers are more closer to consumers, and they could help people to understand the principle of 3D printing.
For people who design something at home, Shapeways helps them to expand the complexity of their design, providing more choices for shapes and materials. “Lots of customer models are virtually assembled like Tetris pieces into a printer’s known X, Y, Z “chamber limits”.” explains Andrew.
“The amount of materials to print is endless and expanding. Nylons are everywhere, silver models are contracted out but the initial steps are printed at Shapeways, and waste materials are being stored to be recycled in the future when technology allows.” added Andrew, and designers could also just order small production runs after home prototyping….