Over the past three years shapeways has grown from an ambitious idea, to a vibrant community passionate about making their ideas real with 3D printing. In that time we have introduced 21 new materials, experimented with processes and pricing models. The time has come to consolidate the pricing structure to be more consistent, and better reflect fabrication, handling and distribution costs.
The basic philosophy
Before going into the details, it is important to state that our goal is to make it possible for everybody to make whatever they want using 3D printing. To enable this, we feel it should not be the case that large models are too expensive and small models are too cheap. The new price structure is based on the true cost Shapeways is incurring to print all the awesome models made by the community. Why is this important? It gives an incentive to behaviors that helps the community. As an example, shipping a $100 order in one shipment is more efficient than doing so in four shipments. In the old system, there was no incentive for this, with a shipping charge there is. If we all behave in a way that makes Shapeways more efficient, Shapeways will give back those efficiencies in lower prices. That in the end will make it possible for all of us to make whatever we want!
What have we learned
Our current system has “free” shipping and in quite a few cases does not charge a handling fee per model. Why is this the case? When we started we wanted to make the pricing system as easy as possible. The result is that small models and small orders are actually costing us money while large parts and large orders are generating a lot of money. This is, we feel, in both cases not right. Everybody should pay what it costs to produce and ship their products, plus some margin for Shapeways. In doing so we do not penalize certain models or subsidize others and in the end this will make it easier for us to lower prices faster, which is our goal.
The cost of 3D printing is made up of 4 major components:
Material (the material used, the support used, cleaning and polishing materials)
Machine cost (the amount of machine time attributed to the production of the product)
Labor (preparing / checking the file, operating the machines, cleaning the product, sorting and packing the product)
Shipping (shipping cost with UPS)
It is quite easy to reflect the material and machine cost of the products made in the cost per volume (and this is how we started). The cost of labor is reasonably constant per product, whether big or small (the handling cost). The cost of shipping is mostly the same whether one or multiple products are ordered. The main difference with shipping is the shipping destination. Currently our cost within certain European countries, the US and Canada are similar, where we have higher cost when shipping to the rest of the world.
Therefore we will introduce new prices based on:
price per product = handling fee per product + cost per volume of product
price per order = price of products + shipping cost
The New Pricing System as of October 1st
Shipping Cost as of October 1st
United States, Canada and The Netherlands: $6.50
EU Countries: $9.50
Rest of the World: $19.99
The new pricing provides a sustainable structure to better reflect the true cost of 3D printing. We are at the same time dramatically improving our fabrication, handling and distribution techniques to make Shapeways more efficient. Together these actions will enable us to reduce the cost of 3D printing, and pass on those savings to all Shapeways users as soon as possible.
This new pricing structure will be effective as of October 1st, until then, take a look at the new pricing structure, see how it affects your models and your shops, then see how you can design to make the most of the new, fairer pricing system.
As a fairly regular customer of a number of user-shops, this will unfortunately cause me to cease doing business with Shapeways. The cost for the items I order will simply increase too greatly with the new "handling" fees.
I'm also afraid that a large number of people in a similar situation as mine will greatly reduce their purchases.
These changes will reduce my costs, unless I wanted to explore glass items.
It might be a good idea to include in the price scheme table above those which do not represent changes from current pricing. Calculating the new costs for my models in different materials reveals that not all materials are having their costs changed.
Is it possible for Shapeways to release a tool that allows us to bundle files into one print order online? Going back and adding models to a single file, then doing any error checks that might crop up is pretty time consuming on our end. May be a way to create more orders by making it easier to collect certain models together (understand this would not likely work for Silver or some of the other metals due to additional processing steps).
1. Can there be a tool for us to consolidate separate orders into one shipping package? If not then we'll have to accumulate multiple orders before placing them.
2. Order placed before Oct 1, will the new shipping cost apply if they are shipped after Oct 1?
3. Since we are paying for the shipping, can you specify UPS to delivery package in the morning, i.e. UPS Worldwide Express. I hate waiting all day for the package and do not have any time to process it after receiving.
4. Since we are paying handling charge and shipping, I would expect my future orders received will be better handled, such as WSF cleaned thoroughly without powder residue; better checked so that we won't receive models with print errors. That is only fair. And I don't think we should pay shipping for reprints.
5. I also like the idea (at least for shop owners) having one chance of test printing their creation without the heavy shipping charges. May be a special not so heavy handling charge instead? This test print should reduce future troubles when customer orders the product, and reduce Shapeways' hassles in the long run.
I think one way to do that is apply a discount if the shop owner order one's own model with version = 0 and quantity is 1 X.
"The result is that small models and small orders are actually costing us money while large parts and large orders are generating a lot of money. This is, we feel, in both cases not right."
I concur. Any time a service used by more than 2 people has changes, someone is no going to be happy. But I think these changes are likely necessary. Including shipping, does this increase prices across the board? For most models, yes. *However*, I agree that subsidizing is not a good long-term policy, because it masks realities that lead to good behaviors ("good" here meaning fiscally sustainable for Shapeways and thus beneficial for both users and the company).
Thank you for being up front with your reasoning. It's not easy to expose such things to a mass of people, since not everyone will agree and some arguing is inevitable. You're running a business, and you're entitled to whatever changes are necessary to maintain positive cash flow. But openness is always the best policy for building trust with customers - don't lose that.
ETSY has become very successful with that format... but we do not foresee to do this in the near or mid-long future. What/If it would enable us to lower (shipping or other charges?) It is an excellent point to discuss, but since it is off-topic, let's have that discussion on the forum?
I think the price changes are fair, yet frustrating. It's not a price increase, just a shift int he equation, so there is going to be a sweetspot where models are cheaper and bigger, yet not too expensive to our customers. This price change just shifts that spot. I'll probably just be charging more for the smaller things, and also start designing bigger things. This change will force people like me to be more creative with larger items.
You mentioned in the webcast that we are to honor the gentlemen's agreement of not including multiple items in one file to avoid the handling fee per item.
If we physically attach items together with sprues in one model, does that also cheat the agreement, or is it okay because the handling is actually easier since they're attached?
Regarding spruces as initially stated we had to restructure to have our system better reflect cost. The same is true for spruces. There are 2 main aspects
1) Spruces reduce sorting time. From that perspective we like them
2) Spruces when used incorrectly will greatly increase the amount of volume used in the printer. This makes the use of the printer inefficient and therefor the costs go up.
Conclusion: keep the total volume small and we like them. I think this is a great topic for an advanced blog post.
I would agree with TurtlesAreCool above: not everyone is going to be happy with the changes, me included, since I model a number of small items (jewellery) and prices will increase. However, I can live with that IF we are given another option over UPS as noted a few times before me. I live in Canada and I would MUCH rather wait a week longer for my items to arrive in the post than have to endure that criminal minimum $14 at-the-door charge that UPS insists upon each time: So NOW I have to pay SW $6.50 for shipping and another $14 minimum to UPS on delivery. For small orders this will be a killer!.
How does this affect two piece sterling silver designs? such as a design with 1cm cubed for total volume: (.5cm cubed for the first piece and .5cm cubed for the second). How much would I pay for the first prototype?
Someone please explain why its CHEAPER to send across the atlantic than down the road (EU) from Netherlands ??
Most of my models are between 0.5 and 2/5 cm3, my bulk groups I have used in past not make me feel a bit guilty becuase of the gentlemens agreement I did not even know about.
My orginal thoughts about a bulk was to use as much as a 'single runs' space as possible to save having to setup each time, is this 'wrong' is it better for me to order each model seperately and causing multiple print runs ?
Could do with a defination of 'product', eg if I order 10 models but are all same material, is that 1 product or 10 ?
In my view filling a block to do one run is qiucker than having more runs, it should also be quicker, could be the difference between 1 run and 30 runs.
well this is pretty much the worst news possible... This VASTLY increases the costs of every single one of my models...
this effectively destroys anyone who makes small items..
i was in the process of making a big order .... but now i'm not sure if there is any point in doing so. because the dozens of prototypes i'm ordering won't be priced at a point the market will bear after these insane fees go into effect.
I have a ton of customer interest from people eager to buy my stuff... but when the price doubles (or worse) for almost every item... there is really no point.