Author Archives: Erik de Bruijn

About Erik de Bruijn

Erik is founder of YouMagine. Erik also co-founded Ultimaker, the affordable but high performance 3D printer company. He hopes to bring powerful technologies to the masses, enabling them to create anything they can imagine.

A new phase for YouMagine

The short version:
We’re looking for people to help out, taking YouMagine into the next phase. To support its continued development, we’ll experiment with various revenue models, including advertising and our just launched Patreon page.

Longer version:
Back in 2013, together with a small team at Ultimaker, we launched YouMagine. The dream was to create a place for people to share and find digital designs for making real objects. Thanks to the amazing Ultimaker and broader 3D printing community, today there are close to 20 000 designs shared on YouMagine, and many more produced objects used by people across the world! This would’ve been impossible without so many amazing contributors!

One of the goals was to create a platform and community that was technology neutral, e.g. not exclusive to customers of Ultimaker. Everyone should feel welcome to use it and contribute to it. In 2017 this was taken a step further. There was no need for Ultimaker to “own” YouMagine, because it considered it a free service to the general public anyway. Ultimaker as the single “sponsor”, didn’t make sense. That’s why Martijn Elserman and I (co-founders of Ultimaker) decided to give YouMagine true independence. As of 2017 it is no longer affiliated with any manufacturer.

For the next 5 years YouMagine was run by me and sponsored by Martijn and myself. During COVID, we invested heavily in making the website more robust to handle the heavy traffic and we improved features for collaboration. For instance, we added file version numbers and better ways to attribute original designers. We got the support of Luis Cordoba, an amazing designer who’s helping to moderate the site. Luis was full of interesting ideas and we realized YouMagine wasn’t given the attention and funding that it deserves. We always figured YouMagine should evolve and stand on its own feet, also financially.

This is why we’re opening up YouMagine for more people and organizations to sponsor it. It should do more than cover the hosting and maintenance cost. We’d love to see experimentation and evolutions of the platform. If you or your organization would like to play a role in this, please reach out!

While I still deeply care about the fate of the platform, my passion for creating new concepts and businesses has taken me to new adventures and a new eco-startup: Because it takes dedication, focus, perseverance and passion to turn ideas into something of value, I can no longer give YouMagine what it deserves. I will continue to be a sponsor of the platform for as long as needed, but I’m looking for a new “steward” with the passion to take YouMagine to the next level! If you’re that person, please reach out! YouMagine has remained the same for too long, even though there’s so much potential value left untapped.

As of today, we’re starting to experiment with advertising on YouMagine. We also launched a Patreon page, that you can find here. If we end up getting enough income, there’s no need for advertising, which is personally my preference. But it’s up to the next steward(s) to figure out something more appropriate that works well. Whether from advertising or another source, the plan is to let revenues (after costs) go to those who contribute to the platform.

Note: for now, if you’re signed in to the website, you won’t see any ads. So it should be easy to not see them if you’re an active user of the website.

We believe in an exciting future for YouMagine and we welcome you to be part of it!

Erik de Bruijn

Founder and current steward of YouMagine

Survey summary: Makers who improve 3D printers

Joris van Tubergen - designer, inventor and 3D printing innovator
Joris van Tubergen – designer, inventor and 3D printing innovator.

Prof. dr. Jeroen de Jong and Max Mulhuijzen surveyed YouMagine community members to learn about the motivations of makers and their reasons to share what they made.

Below is a summary of their findings:

  • An interesting trend is that Makers increasingly develop designs that benefit producer products. At YouMagine, we observe that users upload designs that serve as inspiration for the next generation of Ultimaker printers.
  • We aim to find out: what are the characteristics of Makers improving 3D printers?
  • With a response rate of 33% (N = 122), we find an engaging Maker community in the YouMagine platform.
  • Although 40% of the respondents are also occupied with 3D printing in a business environment, only a few report being driven by commercial motives.
  • Respondents are driven because they want to help others, learn, satisfy a personal need, or out of enjoyment.
  • On average, we find that the respondents spend 10 hours on 3D printing per week and have 7 years of experience working with 5 different printers.
  • Designs that are created to overcome a personal problem show higher scores of online adoption on YouMagine.
  • This is well-reflected by the designs ‘Yet Another Ultimaker 2 Feeder’ and ‘Ultimaker 2 Cable Chain’. These are uploaded by Makers who essentially created these designs to solve their personal problems.

How to get your design featured

I personally look at every single design that is posted on YouMagine. Occasionally I will feature something that stands out, but this is a small portion of the designs posted on YouMagine. So, if your design does gets featured, it might be considered quite an honour to be on the front page for a while. But, how do you get your design featured?

The following recommendations you definitely increase the likelihood of getting your design featured:

  • Valuable: At least interesting or useful to some other users. The design doesn’t have to be for everyone. That’s the beauty of the internet: there can be MANY, MANY obscure items, each one having value to someone who comes across it. The beauty is that thing are 3D printed on demand, so every thing that gets made has value to someone.
  • Originality / innovation: The design should be your own or be a derivative or improvement over something someone has shared before. So: not a direct clone or files taken from another designer, it has to be developed at least a bit further.
  • Reproducible: It should be possible to reproduce what you have made (if you include rare items that you can’t find nor print, it is hard to reproduce for others)
  • Open source: As much as possible, allows for modification or improvements to be made. Set wiki-mode to enabled to allow registered members to contribute or update files and descriptions. Make sure you choose a license that allows derivatives. Also, include the native design files so people can build on top of your work. Parametric files are easily adjusted, so that’s also a plus, but definitely not required since it mostly applies to functional objects that have varying parameters.
  • Attribution: If the design builds on the work of someone else, give credit to that person (e.g. username, to the design that inspired you).
  • Ready to print files: even though source files are useful if someone wants to adjust something.
  • Images: A great photo makes your design stand out! Showcase it nicely with images of the printed thing and also the context in which it can or should be used. A video is often the best format to show the latter.
  • Documentation: Graphical assembly instructions (when assembly is required) are a big plus, so are instructions for use (unless that’s obvious)

Items that don’t become featured because they don’t meet these criteria still might be valued by other members. So don’t hesitate to share what you have! It’s also appreciated if you interact with people who provide feedback on your design, for instance by responding to “Issues” that people have opened and closing them when they’re resolved. You can also simply respond in the Comments section.

If you design many things and become followed by other YouMagine members, that will also increase the number of times your design is collected or voted “Favorite”. These stats also are factored in when deciding to feature a design.

Good luck and thank you for sharing!

Erik de Bruijn
Entrepreneur and software and hardware developer
(Co-)founder of Ultimaker, YouMagine and

YouMagine updates, scrum & agile.

We’ve learned a lot about what our community needs and would like to see changed at YouMagine. We have gotten direct feedback from you and reached out to you in our YouMagine 3D Printing community survey. Based on that we’ve expanded our team and already done some significant changes to the design of the home page. We’re going to be doing a lot more and I’d like to give you an update on the most recent changes.


We’ve adopted Scrum which is a process whereby you continually improve websites or applications. This lets us plan Sprints, two week development periods, whereby we can home in on your needs and build what you wish for us to build. We didn’t adopt scrum because it was hip but rather because it lets us act more directly based on your feedback and ideas. We’ve also switched to doing continuos deployments which means that we release bugfixes and updates several times each day. We also wrote a lot of unit tests that should trigger if we break something important. We do test before releasing and we have a continuous integration server where we deploy to first.


We also internally do demos where we show the team and people like Joris our Community Manager and Ronald who does our educational outreach what the development team has built. They can then give feedback and be your voice in the demo. We’ve found that this method eases issues that arrive when there is a disconnect between expectations and reality.

First Demo

I’m going to share with you our first demo.


We fixed a bug whereby the dropdown menu in the “I’ve created this design” view. It now shows designs you’ve created. So you can now add your design as a solution to a challenge. You cannot just add any design, which used to be possible. This means that the drop down will be smaller and load a lot faster.

We’ve created a dashboard so we can monitor and visualize our own development work and the site.

We added an updated Notice and Takedown policy to the footer of the site.

We’ve altered the main navigation and improved its performance & design for mobile devices.


We’ve been trying to improve our search significantly based on your suggestions that it needs to be improved. At the same time, we realize search is a core function that should never break. We found a solution to enable fast development without breaking searchIf there is a bug or issue with the search it automatically runs a Google query (with YouMagine as a site filter), this means that we have the time to fix our search without you really waiting for it to be fixed.

A lot of people like our messaging system but we had a bug whereby you were not able to search for users, we fixed this.

We’ve added a functionality whereby you get an email notification as soon as someone adds your model to their collection. You can turn this off in your profile if you find it annoying.

We’ve also added an automatic email should you get a new follower. Both these suggestions are in response for people requesting greater interaction on the site.

An email also is generated if someone prints your design and uploads a contribution to it in the site.

We’ve deployed Mixpanel in order to better analyze what you are doing on the site and what could be broken or needs to be improved.

Your photograph is now visible on the link to your profile and we made the message notifications much more obvious.




Out-of-the-box upgrades: Z-Unlimited

Projects and 3D printing companies like Ultimaker and Printrbot who share their design files online (1, 2) allow anyone, without having to ask, to think of improvements and actually implement them. Whether it’s a little tweak or something that turns the whole printing experience upside-down is up to you.

Joris van Tubergen is someone who does exactly that, on a regular basis.

Printing bigger, faster, in a different way and with sweet new materials or new appearances has always been Joris’ trademark. He started experimenting with an existing Ultimaker allowing it to print huge objects, like this elephant:


Z-Unlimited – now on Kickstarter – allows you to print much bigger things than the 3D printer that makes it. How? Joris van Tubergen an out-of-the box thinker with a mentality that an Ultimaker is a device that can be changed to do exactly what you want it to do. He put the Ultimaker upside down, pointed the printhead outward again and let it lift itself up while printing.

You might ask, who is Joris, how does it work and how can I start printing like this? We will have to make it happen together, because Joris needs your support! You can back it through Kickstarter and get your own Z-Unlimited:

Print tall with Joris' Z-Unlimited!

Print tall with Joris’ Z-Unlimited!

Want to know more about Joris? Did you know that he…

  • makes regular appearances on Dutch TV?
  • played a pivotal role in creating the Kamermaker with DUS Architects and Ultimaker,
  • prints challenging prints more easily because he’s not afraid to hack some GCode parsing scripts together with programming Blender, even though he’s not a programmer by education?
  • the 3D printed elephant actually had tiny names inscribed into the surface, part of the huge 3D model?
  • works for the legendary FabLab “Protospace” in Utrecht, as the first Lab manager on site. Joris helped make the first RepRap and Ultimaker workshops possible, even before Ultimaker existed.
  • made the Fairphone + 3DHubs Phone covers possible?
  • has published most of his 3D creations on YouMagine? Check out his profile here.
  • applied Augmented Reality with QR codes to his 3D printing (yes, lots of buzz words!)
  • embedded the source code of a 3D object into an RFID chip, physically embedded into the printed object. Source code inside!
  • And even more about Joris here

It’s not secret: We’re big fans of Joris and all other makers that are redefining what 3D printing is! We’d love to see what he comes up with next!

e-NABLE the future conference & Hand-O-Matic 3D printed prosthetics tool

Last week at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, there was an amazing community event, the Prosthetists meet 3D Printers conference. Currently at 1600 volunteers and rapidly expanding, this community is “Enabling The Future.”  E-Nable is collaboratively designing, printing and assembling 3D printed prosthetics for children and other underserved populations.

Awesome new hands!

The e-nable conference was an amazing combination of children, parents, physicians, prosthetist, 3D modelers, software developers and many amazing volunteers. Ultimaker has been a big supporter of this event through a donation of $10.000 worth of printers and YouMagine is supporting it by providing infrastructure for sharing and collaborating 3D designs for prosthetics. Everybody is dedicated to make this work and the mix of people all “joining hands” towards a common goal.

272 hands were created by the community and made into kits by 3DUniverse, ready to be built at the event!

Within the community so much progress was made. Many people met in real life for the first time, because e-NABLE operates globally and online. Contributions come from across the globe and are available for use, study, modification and production anywhere. While global, 3D production can be as localised as the home of a prosthetic user on the family’s 3D printer or a relative or someone neighborhood who has one.

Click here for more photo’s that were taken at the event.

The 3D models for the latest design called the “Raptor Hand” were released just before the event. Yuo can find the official files hosted here on YouMagine. It contains the best design elements from several designs that had been made up to that point. Literally, the designers “joined hands” and made it better! Anyone can contribute and anyone can benefit.

The great thing about 3D printing is that it puts no premium on printing something different every time or making something completely customized. The exact measurements of the body can be used to create a perfectly fitting hand, taking into account the amount of padding material to make it comfortable. YouMagine works with the e-NABLE community to deliver a next generation of model customisation tools, starting with the Hand-O-Matic, which is available at This makes generating a tailored prosthetic hand radically easier, because you only need to provide your measurements. We’re proud to be able to support the e-NABLE community.

Hand-o-Matic: Easily create customized 3D printable prosthetics

Hand-o-Matic: Easily create customized 3D printable prosthetics

I also gave a talk at the event. I explored the question of what defines us as humans. Since we differentiated from the apes, our hands have allowed us to create powerful tools which have become a major part of our society. We shape our own tools and our tools are in turn shaping us. Which tools we use and how we evolve them is what defines us. Our perception of the world changes as soon as we realize that we can be a creator of the physical objects around us. This is not new, we’ve just lost touch with the process of making physical things. We can awaken our maker DNA, but now with more powerful tools. The fact that you can collaborate with people around the world to create real objects that matter, that’s a game changer.

Now we’re using collaborative online tools and desktop 3D to provide hands to people who need them. e-NABLE is about community, sharing, giving, collaboration, making, open source and 3D printing. It’s the ultimate example of humanity enabled by powerful tools.