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The Hive

Gifts of jewelry, from the heart and a 3-D printer

A one-of-a kind pendant, thanks to 3-D printing.

A one-of-a kind pendant, thanks to 3-D printing.

Highlights from boston.com/hive, Boston’s source for innovation news.

Valentine’s Day is coming, gents, so it’s time for all you engineering types to step away from the 3-D design software for a sec and visit your lady’s favorite jewelry store.

Or maybe not. The Cambridge startup Matter.io can help you put those computer skills to romantic use by creating custom jewelry with a 3-D printer.

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“Look, we’re four nerdy dudes — we don’t know much about jewelry,” said chief executive Dylan Reid. “We wanted to help dudes like us who have to buy jewelry do something that would be unique.”

Reid isn’t talking about cheap pieces of plastic here (although, you can go that route). He’s talking about jewelry made from real metals: brass, steel, bronze, and sterling silver. The high-end printers employed by Matter.io use thin layers of powdered metals that are zapped by lasers. The heating and cooling of metal filaments creates solid shapes. Layer after layer of laser-zapped powder produces a piece of jewelry.

You can submit an original design or pick a template of various rings and necklaces at Dyo, the startup’s new online store. Either way, you’ll end up with a one-of-a-kind piece, because the digital nature of 3-D printing makes customization easy.

“We’ve had to make do since the Industrial Revolution with stuff that’s right off the shelf. You’re forced to derive meaning from it, but you don’t play any role in designing it,” Reid said. “Now, by actually doing something creative to make jewelry, it kind of gives us all a leg up.”

Callum Borchers

Going ‘where the cool kids live’

We all think our local innovation scene is pretty awesome but, for a reality check, it’s always good to get an outsider’s perspective. So I was eager to hear what Avecto cofounder Paul Kenyon had to say about the decision by his Manchester technology company — Manchester, England, that is — to open an office in Cambridge last week.

“We decided on Cambridge,” Kenyon told me, “because this is where the cool kids live.”

No argument here. Except, Avecto’s new digs at 125 Cambridge Park Drive, near the Alewife T station, are as far down the Red Line as you can get from the mecca of Kendall Square. So has Avecto really moved in with the cool kids?

Kenyon said he got the sense during the company’s office search that the cool neighborhood is expanding. He’s right, of course, especially along the Red Line. Promising startups are decamping to Porter, Davis and, yes, even Alewife. Avecto’s neighbors include Pfizer, Voxware, and Vertica Systems.

“I love Kendall Square. I would’ve liked to have been there,” Kenyon said. “But this seems like a reasonable compromise.”

One that will save Avecto 25 percent on its rent, by the way.

Avecto moved in with a team of about 10 and has room for 20 more hires. It helps companies set tailored computer access levels for employee groups.

Callum Borchers

Reinventing the business card

Is it really 2014 and we’re still handing each other rectangular scraps of paper to exchange contact information? Remember the PalmPilot? The Bump app? QR codes on the back of cards?

An MIT startup, TouchBase Technologies, is proposing a better solution. Its product looks like a business card, but when tapped to an iPhone screen it pulls up the individual’s photo, contact info, Twitter handle, and a LinkedIn option. The cards can also make a video clip, slide show, or company website appear.

TouchBase has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $30,000, offering a trial package of 36 cards for $25. Chief executive Sai To Yeung is on leave from the MBA program at MIT’s Sloan School; chief technology officer Jonathan Warneke is enrolled as an undergrad.

With a few sample cards I navigated on my iPhone to the TouchBase website and tapped a card with my name on it to the screen. Nothing. So I heeded instructions to remove the phone case and in a few seconds my photo and contact info showed up.

SCOTT KIRSNER

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