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3D Printing Pioneer Marleen Vogelaar, Co-founder of Shapeways, Gets $30 Million in Funding

Vogelaar and her fellow founders made the smart call that people will be more likely to invest in 3D printing if they don’t have to buy printers.

By Rachel Lehmann-Haupt (Editor, Women 2.0)

Everyone’s been skeptical about whether 3D printing is really going to hit. Female founder Marleen Vogelaar, COO of Shapeways, seems to have found the secret sauce. This week Chris Dixon made his first investment as a partner in Andreeson Horowitz, announcing that they are giving $30 million to Shapeways, a 3D printing market place that lets designers upload and print their 3D creations. Dixon is also joining Shapeways board of directors.

“3D printing is important because so much of what we’ve done over the last 20 years has been moving bits around,” Dixon told VentureBeat. “Now we’re starting to see tech impact the physical world.”

He also explained that the reason they’re excited about the company is because Shapeways has built a strong community as well as built a strong service model and a factory in Long Island City, New York that will house 50 3D Printers. Dixon said that’s like building three companies at once. Currently 300 users upload 60,000 products a month.

Vogelaar and her fellow founders made the smart call that people will be more likely to invest in 3D printing if they don’t have to buy printers. She oversees production out of New York and the Netherlands, and she’s not only bringing serious operational chops to the company, but a woman’s touch. She told the New York Observer’s BetaBeat that it’s important that her operations team “treats everyone of those single objects as the personal dream of the person who bought it.” A tall order for one of the first companies to do futuristic fabrication, but now she’s got the backing to make it happen.

Women 2.0 readers: How do you see 3D Printing changing your life and business?

Rachel is an editor at Women 2.0 and author, essayist, and journalist interested in gender politics, work-life issues, working motherhood and the influence of science and technology on culture. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Daily Beast, New York, Vogue, Self, Outside, Wired, The New York Observer, and MSN Money. She is the author of In Her Own Sweet Time: Unexpected Adventures in Finding Love, Commitment and Motherhood (Basic Books, 2009). Follow her on Twitter at @rlehmannhaupt.

Photo credit: Miriam Berkley