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Shapeways doubles its 3D printing capacity to encourage more girl coders

Shapeways Made with Code braceletShapeways Made with Code bracelet
3D printed bracelets from Shapeways, as part of the new Google Made with Code initiative.PRNewsFoto—Shapeways

On Thursday, Google won accolades for Made with Code, its new $50 million campaign designed to get more young girls interested in science and technology. The company introduced the initiative weeks after revealing that a mere 30% of its employees are female.

Alongside spokeswomen Chelsea Clinton and Mindy Kaling, Made with Code aims to inspire girls to take up the art of code-writing, through software projects, online resources, and collaborations with groups like Girl Scouts of America and Seventeen magazine. Google (GOOG) will also donate $1 million to fund rewards for girls who complete a coding course on Codecademy and Khan Academy.

One piece of the project comes with physical rewards: Using a programming editor and Shapeways’ 3D printing apps, girls can build a custom bracelet manufactured and shipped for free using Shapeways, the 3D printing startup based in New York.

Shapeways expects the partnership to more than double its current output of 3D printed objects. It has acquired four of the largest 3D printers from printer maker EOS, giving it the capacity to print 8000 bracelets daily. In order to handle all the orders, Shapeways has hired more than 10 new employees. The company has gone from manufacturing during daytime only, to 24-hour operations. “This is a major deal for us,” Shapeways CEO Peter Weijmarshausen says.

A year ago, Shapeways raised $30 million in a round of venture funding led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, bringing its total funds raised to $48.5 million. That money went, in part, to expanding the company’s 25,000 square foot 3D printing factory in Long Island City. The company allows designers to develop 3D designs for anything from drone parts to model trains to 3D press-on finger nails. Designers can upload their designs to Shapeways’ site and sell those objects through their own Shapeways stores.

If all goes as planned, some of the girls may become interested enough in 3D printing and design to create their own Shapeways shops. “The skeptics in the market would say, ‘How is 3D printing relevant?’” says Weijmarshausen. “This is one awesome example where 3d printing is inspirational.”

“I have a lot of hope that they become the software designers and shop owners of the future,” he adds.