We are getting many really cool designs in silver. One current issue we have is trying to balance enabling our community to create things, no matter how challenging they are and ensuring that the amazing designs actually can be printed. Sometimes, this means adding or changing design rules, sometimes, this means modifying our methods of production to accommodate.
For silver, one issue we often run into is that very thin designs do not survive the wax process. For example, if you have a thin bar (like a pin, an earring hook, or a necklace hoop) attached to a thicker object (like an earring stud), handling the wax can be quite difficult and often results in having the pin snap. Of course, we do not want to say "no more earrings or pins" because that would just be too limiting. To solve this, for some parts, we may print the pieces separately and then weld them together after they've been cast. We have worked with our supplier to ensure that the end result is indiscernible. For example...
The left side is a picture of the computer generated model, the right side is the hoop welded on.
We have received customers informing us that the welded parts do not conform to their original designs. We have worked with our supplier to ensure that we do not use stock items, but will print the pieces of the actual design. We have also stepped up our quality check in our Netherlands distribution center to catch these prints if they still come through. For the long term, we are investing in more advanced machine that can produce stronger wax models, which will eliminate much of the need for welding altogether!
We hope with this technique, we will simultaneously maintain the integrity of the design while enabling more interesting and "fragile" designs. If you have any questions, or you feel like the welding was done improperly, please e-mail our lovely Customer Service department at service (at) shapeways (dot) com and they will take care of you.
I hope you are enjoying the 3D printed Glazed Ceramics so far. Along with my goal to give Shapeways more smooth and shiny products, we've also been working with our 3D printed Stainless Steel production partners to come up with some tips on how to ensure your pieces gets a better polished feel.
See above for polished (left) and unpolished (right)
So you have some awesome designs you have uploaded your design, you have set up your Shapeways Shop, you have shown your parents and the neighbors kid to their vacant amazement, so now what are you going to do?
Time to start promoting designs, and what better way than the Shapeways Widget. The Shapeways Widget allows you to embed your shop, or your favorites, or both into almost any website. It is relatively easy to use, you can customize the number of columns and rows, and it is a great way to drive traffic to your shop. We do have one widget that consistently currently drives around 5,000 hits per month to the Shapeways site. Now imagine if a similar widget was part of your website, or a forum you frequent or anywhere that people may be interested in your product, your sales could go through the roof.
Using the widget also really shows how important it is to take some decent photos of your items and ensure they are in 450x324 or 700x519 format to ensure they sit right in the frames.
Below is a widget based on some of the items Cory Doctorow has featured on Boing Boing from the Shapeways community. A simple window that could sit along side your blog, Tumblr page or anywhere.
Here is the code used to generate a list of your favorites with Your Shop Name to replace YourShopName