Originally from Canada, Shapeshift 3D is a startup that has developed an integrated platform to customize medical and sports equipment. The company facilitates digital transformation, digitization and 3D printing. The company’s software solution is powered by artificial intelligence and allows you to effectively customize your product, whether it’s an orthotic, prosthesis or bicycle helmet. When using the Shapeshift 3D software, the user uploads his 3D scan to the platform, the latter reconstitutes the scans and defines benchmarks; the software rectifies the file and customizes it in terms of form, function and fit. We caught up with the startup’s founder and CEO, Jonathan Borduas, to learn more about how this solution works.
3DN: Can you introduce yourself and your link with additive manufacturing?
My journey in additive manufacturing began during my bachelor’s degree in engineering physics. Inspired and activated by the RepRap project, I was one of the first to have a 3D printer at home in Canada and have used it in a variety of projects. What fueled my passion are the many advantages offered: freedom of design, speed of manufacture and the ability to materialize one’s creativity.
I consider myself a generalist of science – my interests and skills are vast and I wish to impact society in various ways. Additive manufacturing is a great way to do this, as its applications span a wide range of disciplines and promise to transform society as a whole. After I got my bachelor’s degree and thought about what I wanted to do, I thought 3D printing would be perfect for me.
Seeing the potential of this technology to drive a paradigm shift in manufacturing, I then thought about how I could improve the industry and facilitate its mass adoption.
Ultimately, what drew me to additive manufacturing was its contrast to previous manufacturing technologies in terms of the ability to optimize the functionality of products by creating complex structures and mechanisms, to create beautiful differentiated, unique and tailored to the wearer – here we touch on function, form and fit.
3DN: How did the Shapeshift 3D adventure start?
In 2014, I started a 3D printing consulting company and quickly saw the opportunity to use this technology for the manufacture of knee pads. Our team realized that the biggest obstacle in this process was the customization software; CAD tools are great for designing buildings, airplanes, etc., but not for configuring the model to fit organic shapes.
While working in the 3D printing industry, we discovered the existence of the âbarrier of subtletiesâ – the difficulty of optimizing function, form and fit without compromise. Personalization costs increase exponentially with the level of detail, often limiting the commercial viability of a product – thus preventing its full potential. The ideal scenario is to have a product optimized for functionality and form, while still keeping the custom fit viable.
We realized that CAD was not the ideal solution and developed our own solution for custom knee pads. We took inspiration from the morphing capabilities of video game algorithms and applied them to our situation. We then combined it with engineering constraints to make sure the result would work. Shapeshift 3D is a spinoff from this original project; We are now applying it to the customization of a wide range of projects described below.
3DN: How does the platform work?
Our platform is hybrid; It works both on the desktop and in the cloud. We use our patent pending paradigm called âConstrained Model Morphingâ. We do B2B and deal with manufacturers, brands and manufacturing centers for medical, sports or protective equipment. We serve technicians who receive an order and the user’s 3D file. They then upload it to our platform (either via API or manually), where automatic scan correction and custom adjustment take place. Whenever a technician’s intervention is required to create the bespoke product, our algorithms learn and gradually eliminate the need for manual intervention.
The ultimate utility is the reduction of time consuming steps, while leaving important steps and decision making to the professional.
Manual file settings are performed on the desktop platform for speed, but are out of sync with the cloud. The end result is a 3D printable file ready to be manufactured by one of our partner service centers. We also work with 3D scanning companies to offer the entire sequence of solutions necessary for a digital transformation to 3D printing, from scan to print.
3DN: Which sectors is Shapeshift 3D targeting? Can you give us some examples of applications?
Our target sector is the medical equipment industry and more particularly orthotics and prostheses. Plantar orthotics protect the knee and wrist, our range of orthopedic orthotics applications expands widely to encompass any medical device laptop that supports human movement. When it comes to implants, we can facilitate the fabrication of artificial limbs, ranging from the fingers to the arms of the complete prosthesis.
We also have a growing demand from sports equipment manufacturers, we have ongoing projects for hockey, football and even speed skating.
3DN: In your opinion, what role can 3D technologies play in mass personalization?
With unprecedented capabilities to manufacture bespoke products on demand, it is the main catalyst for this paradigm shift. However, this revolution requires new design technologies to facilitate the scanning and printing process. Our platform is therefore the bridge that will facilitate the design process necessary to adopt mass customization.
3DN: What are the future projects of Shapeshift 3D?
Our goal is to become the preferred supplier of bespoke software and to promote the economy of mass customization, we are developing the necessary tools to achieve this. Thanks to them, we will eliminate the need for compromise between function, form and adaptation.
We are working on an algorithm as a service platform, We3D, which allows the use of different functionalities available in our current software, depending on the needs. For example, those who wish to use our tools in reconstructing the scan will be able to do so without having to use our end-to-end solution. We are also developing a marketplace that will centralize the products of our customers who choose to participate, and through which their customers can purchase products and download scans.
3DN: A final word for our readers?
We are constantly recruiting and attracting incredible talent. We have several new projects with different clients and we are very happy to share our news in the coming weeks. Stay tuned and feel free to visit our website to find out more!
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