Shaping the Future of How We Buy: Introducing Beta & First to Try Products

People are demanding more from the products that they spend their hard earned money on. More and more, they are seeking out products created by people they know and trust, made in the cities and towns they call home. In research we did earlier this year, we found that nearly 50% of Americans know someone who is making and selling their own products. From the friend who quit her day job to create beautiful jewelry to someone who wants to make a better bike helmet, there’s no shortage of innovative products being created by independent designers around the world. In large part, they are enabled by the power of the Internet, which has made it even easier for people to sell their own products over the past 20 years.

Product design is also becoming more collaborative. Entrepreneurs are working with their friends and customers to get the support they need throughout the product development process.

Today, we’re excited to officially announce two big additions to Shapeways that we hope will make it easier (and more fun!) for people to create their own products by inviting friends and fans into the creative process.

Now on Shapeways, you’ll see a two new kinds of products: Beta & First to Try.

What’s Beta?

One of the most critical steps in designing a great product is iteration: tweaking a product to perfection by testing and refining the design. You can be a part of the creative process by giving designers feedback when their products are in Beta. Share your thoughts on the design, the aesthetics, the fit, or anything else you think will help make the product even better. There are already over 500 products in Beta on Shapeways — check them out and start collaborating!

Beta products on Shapeways

What’s First to Try?

If you’re the kind of person who can’t wait to get your hands on the latest gadgets, or if you wait in line for movies on opening night, read on.

In the past, you’d have to wait until a product has gone through months or years of development to try it out. With 3D printing, there’s no need to wait. Help bring a product to life by buying it in “First to Try.” These products are in earlier stages of development, so sometimes there are some kinks (no matter how beautiful the render, the laws of physics still exist. In those cases, not to worry, the refund is on us!). Most of the time, though, they’ve been 3D printed in a few of our materials and it’s your chance to try them out in others. Platinum, anyone?

Here at Shapeways, we’re trying to shake up how products are made and by whom. We have makers and designers from all over the world in our community, some of whom are making their first product and others who have been professional product designers for their whole lives. They’re creating everything from jewelry to rocket ships, GoPro accessories to chess sets. It’s your turn to join them.

Note for all the designers and creators out there!

In the short term, here are a few things you can do to take advantage of these new features:

1. Create Your New Material Renders
For all of the materials that you are offering for sale, you can now create realistic renders of each material. You can pose & generate renders for all of your products, regardless of if they have been printed before. Learn more.

2. Tag Materials in Your Photos
If you have photos for each material you are offering for sale, you can tag them so they show up when shoppers select a material on your product page. Learn more.

3. Explore First to Try & Beta
You can learn more about how you can use these new tools to bring your products to market using 3D printing.

We also shared these features with our community a few weeks ago and got some great feedback, some of which is already implemented in this latest iteration. But it’s not too late to join the discussion! We’re in Beta too :) Sign up for future usability testing here.