Adventures in space and time

3D printed personalized code rings, from failure to perfection.

Wow, little did I know what I was getting myself into, when I had this simple yet tingling idea last year :
Personally encoded rings using Braille, created using 3d printing.

Enthousiastic start
After gaining plenty of experience with the services at Shapeways, I was eager to try more the new 3d printed polished stainless steel (SS for short, brr, I’ll just call it : PSS)

The material seemed like the ultimate match for the code ring concept. Especially with the co-creation options offered. I got working on the first samples and really dived into it, on my first test run I went all out : Braille, Morse, binary, gray code. As I had no idea what to expect fr0m the PSS, I made them in all sorts and detail levels.

Under pressure
Meanwhile, I made a the idea and a few of the models public; ouch, should not have done that 😉
Almost instantly people contacted me and told me how much they loved the idea. Including Shapeways, who were so inspired they set up a whole Braille gallery ! And everyone kept asking : when are they ready.. show us pictures.. make me one..
OMG the pressure !

Expectation management
I was still waiting for the first batch to arrive myself. Due to all the attention, my expectations had run sky-high. And then it arrived.. Man was I disappointed.. Instead of the uber shiny rings of perfection I had envisioned by now, I got a bunch of metal scraps.. Well.. that’s not really true, but I was really bummed with the mismatch of expectation vs reality 😉

And with all the high hopes around, I was kinda ashamed to show the results..

Batch #1

Code ring Batch #1

This was one of the earlier steel batches, so the process was still highly experimental. The biggest problem was immediate : they hadn’t dared to polish them properly. In hind-sight, not a big surprise, the details (0.25 – 0.5 mm) turned out to be only a little larger than the rough printing resolution of the process, any decent polishing would destroy the surface detail. It’s not supposed to, but with the ring beings so tiny (diameter 18-22 mm, 3 mm wide and only 1.5 mm thick) I couldn’t blame them.
Not all was bad, the Morse through-hole rings came out wonderful 🙂

If at first you don’t succeed..
But I desired more perfection, so while my attention was drawn to other projects, I put this one in the fridge for a while.
Then beginning this year I figured the process had evolved enough to give it another go, but to be safe I tried a batch of 5mm wide 1.5 mm thick rings.

Batch #2 picture will come here 😉

I still was not entirely convinced on the braille ring, but the Morse rings turned out very well.
In the case of surface detail versions, polishing could still be a lot better.

More attention
The through hole version were ready for launch ! It was also a runner up in the co-creator contest !
Happy with at least the viable Morse rings, I put the rest in the fridge again.

Wax on, Wax off
Shapeways had been secretly experimenting (gotta love them) with high res wax materials! And they used the original braille ring as a test sample 🙂
And what made it even better : they send me one of the samples 😀

Braille ring, Wax vs Steel
Code ring Wax
Finally, the ring as it’s supposed to be ! The green wax material captures the true detail of the ring design.

Thank you Shapeways, it was a very nice surprise !

What now ?
Too bad, the material is not wearable, being wax and all. But it would be suited for lost-wax casting. Although I guess the fine detail might be too much. And unfortunately, I have no budget for testing lost-wax yet. But I will guard the wax ring closely until I do ! My precious !

And I was almost finished typing the blog here (took me only 1 month ahum) but then they really did it :


Silver Braille
Picture by Shapeways.

This is done with silver SLS, WOW !
The amount of details is amazing and I love that you can still see the hints of the printing process!

No news on cost yet, but I hope it will be available and affordable soon 🙂



Evolutionary twin-shell pendants in Antique bronze

All four stages of Evolution : Ando, Eno, Eve and Adam

The evolutionary shells, I finally got a complete set 8)

Let me introduce you:

Adam, male, looking sharp

Adam in Matte Bronze

Adam is wearing the latest in Bronze Matte material and is available here:

I want Adam!

Next on the catwalk:

Eve, female, lovely curved

Eve in Glossy Bronze

Eve is elegantly showing of the new Bronze Glossy material and is available here:

I want Eve!

Then evolution continues with:

Ando, male or female but a bit two-faced

Ando in Matte Bronze

Ando decided to go with Matte Bronze and is available here:

I want Ando!


And last, or should I say first:

Eno, the origin of it all, unblemished

Eno in Glossy Bronze

Eno feels at its best in Glossy Bronze and is available here:

I want Eno!


Probably not the last we will see of this elegant family.
Breeding like rabbits, it probably won’t be too long until some amazing new offspring will arrive. And who knows what they will wear?

Thank you for reading ! 🙂


Stijn / Virtox

Gold plated stainless steel at Shapeways !

Wow, they did it again ! The folks at Shapeways added a new material. GOLD !! Well… gold plating actually 😉
It’s on offer temporarily, but they’ve been know to let the more successful materials return.

For only an added $5 you can get any stainless steel 3d-print coated with a robust layer of gold plating !

This means that the “Quarks“, the “Shiral“, the “Eardrops“, the “Adam’s Earshells“, the “Morse Ring” and the “Twiggy Earrings” are now available in gold plating !!!

Go check it out at Shapeways !

Personalized Eardrops

You can order a pair of Personalized Eardrops in my Shapeways shop

While I was still getting my bearings in the blogosphere and slowly finding my way amongst some very good design blogs.
To my great amazement, my design for the Personalized Eardrops got picked up around several of them !
Wow 🙂 My first real steps into publicity !
There are so many amazing designs featured out there, that I feel humbled, yet honored to be featured 🙂
But I would like to thank Duann Scott for picking up on my designs and starting a buzz!
Anyway, check out these blogs for some excellent stuff !
(in no particular order)

“Personalized Eardrops” @ Design Spotter
“3D Printed Personalized Eardrop Earrings by Virtox” @ Design You Trust
“Personalized Eardrops Earrings by Virtox” @ Materialicious
“Personalized Earings, Get Creative with Customizable Virtox 3D Initial Earrings” @ Trend hunter
Eardrops @ Crib Candy
Eardrops @ Current
Eardrops @ Live Modern
Eardrops @ NewsODrome
Eardrops @ The Find Buzz
Eardrops @ Desinflow
Eardrops @ Existing Visual
Eardrops @ Archiblog

Strange Quark

Strange Quark, originally uploaded by virtox.

A stainless steel pendant which folds in on itself with elegant curves, one in a family of six.

Twiggy earrings

Twiggy earrings, originally uploaded by virtox.

Twiggy earrings

A perfect match, two stainless steel earrings.

Available at :

Adam Twin-shell

Adam Twin-shell, originally uploaded by virtox.

A cute double sided decorative bowl, available in WSF and Matte Glass.

One in a family of four.

Gyro the Dodo

When Shapeways introduced Alumide for the first time a few months back, I finalized “Gyro the Dodo”, an Ode to “Gyro the Cube” and its fans 🙂
With a more facetted and yet organic look I had hoped to create something a little sci-fu. (not a typo)
Unfortunately the Alumide proved to be too brittle for that specific design, and I had no time to redesign it before the Alumide trial period was over.
So to test the mechanics, I instead printed it in the White Strong & Flexible material :

One day soon, I hope to dye or paint it in some cool colors. (Anyone know a good place to buy pearl/bi-color paint in spray cans ?)

You can buy the model here in white, black, blue, terra or limestone colored strong & flexible

As for the Alumide.. It was re-introduced recently, a bit more expensive, but I will probably redesign the Dodo to be compatible (read : Larger !)

Thanks for reading !

Gyroid Bones

While re-exploring the mathematics playground, more specifically the gyroid formula, I stumbled upon the Gyroid Bone recently. This structure is either the inside or the outside of the gyroid formula, but with a slight offset.

Using a “Marching Cubes” algorithm and a lot of Meshlab filters I created printable meshes for the 3d-printing services at Shapeways. And in an experiment to see what was possible in the Color Sandstone material they offer, I uploaded a “double gyroid bone” with a double texture map. This object is printed as two mingled but separate parts.

And the result is quite stunning :

You can customize and buy this object in Virtox’s Shapeways Shop.

Thank you for reading and watching !