3D Printing

3D Printing On-Demand: MixeeLabs Mixes It Up

There are certainly a lot of online services for buying and selling 3D-printed designs. At first glance, MixeeLabs would appear to be simply another iteration, but, you soon realize that it’s not just a marketplace at all.

What MixeeLabs offers, instead of a repository for printable digital objects, is a method for customizing them. It was started by two Yale graduates, computer scientist Aaron Barnet and cognitive scientist and former manager of the Materials Product Group at Shapeways Nancy Liang, as a meeting point between designers and consumers. The site allows designers to sell printable models that can be customized by their customers by virtue of some online software.  Through the use of the MixeeLabs Creators, a JavaScript-based platform, consumers can tweak the parameters of a particular design to their liking.

QUARK MixeeLabs

Though users Virtox and Neural Firings have built Creators for customizable rings, earrings, and bracelets, let’s go through the process of using the flagship Mixee Me Figurines Creator so that you have a better sense of what I’m talking about:

First you’re presented with the default Mixee, a boring white guy like me.  Not unlike the Mii characters that you make for the Wii, the Mixee Me Creator let’s you customize every feature on your Mixee Figurine until it truly represents your personality.  On the right-hand side of the page, there are a variety of features that you can select: mouths, eyes, skin color, hair, t-shirts, etc.  Unlike the Wii Miis, with Mixee Me, you have the ability to upload custom images to place on your figure’s t-shirt (or forehead).  Then, thanks to the company’s partnership with Shapeways, you can pay $25 to have Shapeways print out your design and send it to you.

MixeeLabs The Reality Institute 3D Printing IndustryAt the current stage, you have to be able to program your own Creator to start selling your tweakable models, but, soon, even those without any programming skill will be able to sell their wares via MixeeLabs. The team is in the process of developing an easy method for non-coders to set parameters for their designs regardless of familiarity with JavaScript. The company is still in its early stages, but their model definitely has a lot of potential. And I already know that they have great customer service. When I made my 3DPI Mixee, co-founder Nancy Yiang wrote me directly to offer help in redesigning my figure because the text on the 3DPI and The RealityTM Institute logos was too small to be printed. She even provided a clear diagram and suggested an explanation for the look on my figure’s face, saying, “the Mixee you made knows the text is too fine. :D”