Shapeways, 3D printing company, officially released the Shapeways API to inspire new apps specifically aimed at the 3D printing space. Shapeways hopes that the API (and accompanying developer portal) will help bring 3D printing into everyday use. Although 3D printing has developed into a profitable business for many 3D printer owners, it has yet to become mainstream. Shapeways representative, Elisa Richardson, commented on the app-based approach:
“Apps are now a first-class entity on Shapeways...[with new focus on] marketplace and manufacturing platform.”
More than 8,000 Shapeways' shop owners made over half a million in profits last year, and Shapeways' expects the first Shapeways millionaire to arise soon. However, while in beta, the API proved a tremendous opportunity beyond brick and mortar, and Shapeways expects quick adoption. MixeeMe and TinkerCad represent two of the early API adopters that developed intriguing apps with the Shapeways API.
The Shapeways API uses REST protocol and returns calls in an XML data format. Users can submit 3D models to the Shapeways marketplace where community members can purchase the physical print. Developers choose markup pricing and streamline checkout. Those interested can find out more at the developer site.
3D printing has disrupted many markets over the past few years (from medical research to weapons control). Expense and lack of access has presented a major barrier to mainstream adoption. API access to printing facilities and marketplaces could be the catalyst for increased adoption and a slew of new developments.