3D Printing

The 3D Printed Tardigrade Earns a Tardigrade-A

Chances are, you’ve seen the 3D printed tardigrade at this point, it became a bit of a minor 3D printing viral sensation, making it onto the editor at Popular Science’s Twitter feed and countless science blogs. Well, its creator was Shapeways Social Media Strategist, Eric Ho, who teamed with fellow Shapeways shop owner and designer Kostika Spaho. Ho recently posted an entry on the Shapeways blog detailing how he managed to turn a fun idea into a minor 3D printing success story.

tardigrade_close 3d printed shapeways

If you have no idea what a tardigrade is, don’t worry. Despite it being one of the most abundant life forms on the planet, you have never seen one. At least not with the naked eye. Tardigrades, or ‘water bears’ as they’re often inexplicably called, are microscopic, eight-legged animals that reside in just about every environment on the planet. They are exceptionally hardy creatures, can survive freezing temperatures, boiling water, and, for short periods of time, even the vacuum of space. They also look all kinds of freaky, but, at the same time, kind of adorable. Like Benedict Cumberbatch.

tardigrade_swim 3d printing industryHo was inspired to make a 3D printable tardigrade when he saw the wiggly little thing featured on an episode of Neil Degrasse Tyson’s COSMOS series. Despite being the owner of his own Shapeways shop, Ho did not believe that his 3D modeling skills were capable of doing the tardigrade justice, so he contacted fellow Shapeways designer Kostika Spaho, who sculpted it for him in Zbrush to his exact standards. Once he was happy with the final design he went to work marketing it.

One of the freedoms involved with companies like Shapeways is the ability to create your own small business selling products of your own design with very little initial investment. Shapeways allows designers to create their own shops, and many enterprising users market their wares just as they would if they had their own website. Of course, being part of one of the largest 3D model marketplaces in the world is just an added bonus. But, as with most businesses online, the real work is done on social media.

3d printed tardigrade_fullHo detailed the methods for marketing his tardigrade on his blog post, and it is pretty great story that every Shapeways shop owner should read very closely. This isn’t the first time that Ho has detailed ways to make a shop successful, and he’s proving it regularly with his own personal shop – Raw Legends Collaborations – where he sells products based on currently trending topics. Adorable viral sensations like the Thorgi (A Corgi dressed as Thor) and Bane Cat, which I will just let you Google, are some of his more popular products and it is petty easy to see why. Although, they’re no 3D printed Goatse.