The first thing Duann Scott does when he arrives at the Shapeways factory in Long Island City, Queens, is check the bins. They are yellow and stacked in an all-white room that resembles the interior of a spaceship, and they contain the latest prints to come out of the machines, which can really stack up.
Shapeways, a 3-D printing service and online marketplace, has been described as the Amazon of 3-D printing for its on-demand model, if not its outsize volume: The machines spit out about 120,000 objects a month, a tidal flow of design that runs from the mundane to the astonishing.
On a recent day, a quick search through the bins revealed a pair of pliable black-frame eyeglasses, a scale model of a biplane, an intricately detailed brass ring, enough plastic train cars to form a miniature railroad and a figurine of two tiny purple women on tiny purple trapezes. To what use any of these things will be put, Mr. Scott usually has not a clue. But that doesn’t diminish the Christmas-morning grin he gets while he is fishing through them….
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