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Shapeways, the startup that lets you print 3D designs, gets a $30 million cash infusion

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The company just scored new funding to help people print in plastic, sandstone, gold-plated steel, and more

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shapeways heart 560
shapeways heart 560

A 3D printed heart made by Shapeways.

We keep hearing about the 3D printing revolution, a new era of manufacturing in which kids print their own toys and anarchists print their own guns, but the technology is still far from mainstream. At least one company, however, is making 3D printing more accessible than ever in a very tangible way: Shapeways, the online community that has amassed a collection of more than a million user-uploaded 3D designs.

Shapeways is possibly the most versatile 3D printing startup out there. The site allows users to upload and download designs, order prints in more than 30 materials, and sell fully fabricated items. It's popular with small craft makers, who can print jewelry parts in metal, iPhone cases in plastic, and full-color figurines in sandstone. The community now has more than 10,000 shop owners and 60,000 new designs are uploaded monthly.

Shapeways is possibly the most versatile 3D printing startup out there

The company also got another big vote of confidence today in the form of a $30 million check from some of the most respected investors in Silicon Valley, bringing its total funding to more than $47 million. The company will use the funding to hire more people and open more factories around the world. "Though many people have heard about 3D printing, we have a ways to come," the company wrote on its blog today. "We will make our service much easier to use. We will explore the frontiers of 3D printing materials, enabling YOU to make and purchase any product imaginable."