You probably think of 3D printers as niche devices for DIY enthusiasts to create plastic objects that are a little rough around the edges. Shapeways is different. They use industrial machines to bring high resolution 3D printing to the masses. Peter Weijmarshausen cofounded Shapeways back in 2007 with Robert Schouwenburg and Marleen Vogelaar as a spin-off of Philips, the electronics company. They wanted to create a way for normal customers to create rapid prototypes by submitting CAD files to be printed. Of course, when they launched in 2008, the nascent market for 3D printing was much more limited; it's since become a common solution for hobbyists and professionals alike to manufacture customised objects, and a variety of free 3D modelling apps have also democratised the process. But it's not just about prototypes any more — Shapeways hosts a vibrant marketplace for art, jewellery, toys and mechanical parts among other things that are all manufactured on demand.
We spoke with Peter to learn a little about how he rapidly prototypes his workflow, so to speak. Here's how he works.
Location: New York City Current Gig: CEO and Co-Founder of Shapeways One word that best describes how you work: Passion Current mobile device: iPhone 6 Current computer: I use several computers. Two desktops (no-name, self assembled). One Toshiba laptop. I got the laptop because it's super light, it used to last 10 hours on one charge and is pretty powerful. Need to get something different soon because it's four years old.
What apps, software or tools can't you live without?
Google Apps. Enabling me to work anywhere. Reading email and docs on my desktops, laptop, iPad or phone. Slack for real-time interactive chat.
What's your workspace setup like? Coffee shop with laptop and headphones? Home office with a standing desk?
I have a regular desk in the office. No closed office or cubicle; I work in an open office with the rest of the team. At home I do have a study with a desk and my computers.
Printers on the factory floor.
What's your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
Keep your to-do list short. The most important points are on it and get them done ASAP. The less important things are just that, less important.
What's your favourite to-do list manager? Might be plain text, perhaps an app like Todoist or simply pen and paper!
I don't really use a to-do list manager. I make extensive notes in a paper notebook. Writing things down serves as a good way to remember.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget or tool can't you live without and why?
My iPhone cover. It holds my business cards and train card. It's 3D-printed and designed by Noesis.
And of course 3D printers in general. I do not have one at home, but through Shapeways I have access to the best high quality printers that exist!
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else? What's your secret?
I don't like to think I am better at something than everyone else before it is proven. However I do like driving cars and I actually raced them in Europe and still on my computer. None of my friends can seem to get to the same times.
What do you listen to while you work? Got a favourite playlist? Maybe talk radio? Or do you prefer silence?
What are you currently reading? What's a book you might recommend?
I'm very interested in astrophysics. A book I would highly recommend is A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. For leadership I would highly recommend the book Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute.
How do you recharge?
I live outside the city of New York and I recharge by going outside — whether going for a hike or working in the garden. I also love swimming; if I have a chance you'll always find me in the water.
Sorting miniature prints.
What's your sleep routine like? Are you a night owl or early-riser?
I used to be a night owl — going in late and having trouble getting up. We had a daughter three years ago and since then, I get up a bit earlier and typically go to sleep around midnight. I use my iPhone as an alarm clock.
Fill in the blank: I'd love to see ____ answer these same questions.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
So many things. But one of them is: Approach problems like elephants push over trees. Don't rush in and bump your head but slowly walk over, put your head against it and and keep pushing until the problem cracks.
Is there anything else you'd like to add that might be interesting to readers and fans?
My interpretation of life hacking is not accepting status quo. So my advice to readers is to challenge how you do things or how things are being done today, because it might be all wrong. Don't go for a silver bullet, but try to make a small hack first — improving it — and then a second hack. Progress one step at a time.
We've asked heroes, experts and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces and routines. Want to suggest someone we should feature or questions we should ask? Let us know.