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With $30 Million, Shapeways Will Push 3D Printing Frontiers

Peter Weijmarshausen believes that 3D printing “is fundamentally changing the manufacturing ecosystem in its entirety.” Several deep-pocketed investorsShapewaysInfographic_3DPrintingforEveryone_April2013_full agree.

Weijmarshausen announced today that Shapeways, the 3D printing marketplace he heads, has raised $30 million in a series C financing led by Andreessen Horowitz. Existing investors Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, and Lux Capital also participated in the round.

Since its founding in 2007, Weijmarshausen says Shapeways has seen a drop in 3D printing prices, an expansion of printable materials, and users upload over 1 million designs. There are now more than 10,000 Shapeways Shops worldwide.

In a blog post today, Weijmarshausen writes:

“For the last century, big companies were in charge: they determined what consumers wanted and made those products in large quantities using mass manufacturing. Now, thanks to 3D printing, those days are over. This technology enables everyone to create unique products on demand, putting the customer in control and localizing the manufacturing process.”

He says the company will use the cash infusion to hire, build more factories, and solve technology problems. “Though many people have heard about 3D printing, we have a ways to come,” he writes. “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.”

In October, Weijmarshausen described Shapeways’ Factory of the Future in Queens, NY: “We’re doing something that’s never been done before. We are manufacturing, post-processing, cleaning, sorting, and shipping thousands of unique items on a daily basis right here in New York.”

In a 3D printing white paper he issued today, Shapeways investor Zack Schildhorn at Lux Capital puts the value of the industry “in the billions,” and says: “We don’t support the belief that 3D printing will replace mass manufacturing – there are still many situations where you’d like to make lots of goods inexpensively. Rather, we contend this technology opens up countless possibilities and entirely new markets where traditional manufacturing wasn’t even an option before.”

Chris Dixon at Andreessen Horowitz, who led the round and will join the Shapeways board, wrote in his own blog post today, “The Internet unlocked the world of bits. 3D printing is unlocking the world of atoms.”

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