Shapeways Allows You to Materialize Any 3D Object, Star Trek Style
Shapeways is a spin-off from Philips' Lifestyle Incubator. On one side, it's a website where you can upload your 3D models—which can even have joins—or use an online 3D creator with access to everyday models. The online 3D creator is extremely easy to use, so anyone can modify them without any technical or product design knowledge. With this, anyone can make a candle holder or a fruit bowl out of song lyrics or a personal message by just typing it. Advanced users to access to 3D packages can upload any model they can imagine in a 3D standard format, like STL, Collada or X3D.
On the other side, there are different types of rapid prototyping machines that can create that model using a variety of materials, from nylon to plastic composites, each with different properties. For example, the nylon one results in a semi-flexible object, while a plastic called "Cream Robust" gives you an extremely hard finish. Once you select the material and submit your model to 3D printer, you will get it in your hands in 10 days, with an average cost of $50 to $150, including shipping.