Shop Owner Holiday Tips Series: #2 Function & Form

We’re back with the second in our series of Shop Owner tips to help you get your shop ready for the holiday season. 

    This week we’ll be sharing suggestions on function and form, namely how to choose the right materials for your products. If you are making a product for yourself, it’s great to have unlimited choice and to be able to experiment with various materials. But if someone is buying your product, you want to help them choose the best material for your product so they have the best experience possible. For example, your customer probably wouldn’t want a ceramic iPhone case or a wedding ring in Frosted Ultra Detail…

    To get started, when you upload your model to your shop, all materials are automatically
    enabled. It is important to check if all the materials are
    appropriate. Ask yourself:

    1. Does my design meet the design rules for this material?
    2. Would this product make sense in this material?
    3. Do I have all materials selected still? If so, can I help customers decide by limiting the choices?

      To select materials for your product, the easiest thing to do is to make a material selection when you are editing your product page for markup, description, or other details.

      Overall, there are three things to keep in mind: design with the material in mind, use images that reflect the material options, and less is more.

      Design with the material in mind

      This is the most
      important rule for 3D modeling. Each material is printed using a different
      process, and often a different 3D Printer. As a result, design rules
      vary!

      Details like minimum wall thickness or whether you can have
      moving or interlocked parts vary among materials. The guidelines can be found in our Materials Hub. Each material has specific advantages that
      make it appropriate for different applications. Ceramics are glazed and food-safe so are perfect for cups and vases, full color sandstone
      is a great option for making toys, steel and silver make great choices
      for jewelry pieces.

      So think about what you want to make, which
      material would be appropriate, check the design rules and get creating!
      Don’t forget. we have a beautiful range of polished color nylon options
      available now and they are a great material for stocking stuffer gifts:
      bright, colorful and cheap.

      Use images that reflect the material options

      Ideally, your
      product page has images of the model printed in the material(s) that you
      want to offer it in. This way, customers will know exactly what to
      expect when they order that model. This is also a great way for you to
      test you product.

      We recommend ordering your model in the materials you would like to
      offer it in and testing the results: Are they what you expected? Does it
      makes sense to offer something in multiple materials?

      Less is more

      Over the holiday season,
      Shapeways sees a lot more customers who are not as familiar with 3D printing and are used to traditional e-commerce sites, where what you see is what you get. They might not be familiar with 3D printing, or might not be aware of all the intricacies of different material options for 3D Printing.

      Research has shown that customers can
      get overwhelmed with too many choices. So use your judgement and prune the material
      choices for your product. It’s
      your design, so you dictate the options. And we’ll do our best to give your customers the right context.

      Best practice example

      For inspiration, check out Museum of Small Things, whose jewelry is offered in all metals to match their form and function.

      Stay tuned for next week’s tip on discovery and getting found in search.

      Any questions or things you’d like to see in the series? Share a note in the comments field below. We’re here to help you!