Category Archives: Tutorials

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Reach New Customers Through Existing Forums

This is the fifth is series of 10 Shop Owner Bootcamp posts counting down to Black Friday. We’ve covered reputation, photography, market research, tagging your products and today we’ll be talking about engaging with your audience and community on forums.

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Do you want to get more traffic to your shop? Do you wish that everyone in ___ niche, category or community knew about your products? You can tell them yourself by taking part in other existing online communities. Much of our referral traffic comes from community powered forums and message boards like reddit,  PhantomPilots and TheMiniaturePage. The Shapies who engage on these forums often reap the greatest financial benefit from those visits. David Dewey, of d3wey designs, is moderator on PhantomPilots and generously shared his top 10 tips for engaging on forums. Use these to guide you in your quest to grow your audience and evangelists.

    1. Read the “Sticky” Topics: If they have them then, always read a Forum’s ‘sticky’ topics. These will often answer frequently asked questions. Failing to read them and then asking one of the questions answered within can cause some of the less friendly in a forum to be… well less friendly.
    2. Understand and Familiarize Yourself with Forum Terminology: A ‘post’ is an individual bit of writing (a posting) from a user. Posts are found inside a ‘thread’ (also called a topic). A thread is basically a discussion going on between users who’s comments are ‘posted’. When you start your own ‘thread’ it will sometimes be via a rather confusing ‘post new topic’ button (in other words start a new thread).
    3. Google Acronyms: Acronyms are everywhere and Google is your friend! If you see abbreviations or acronyms that you don’t know then Google them. If you can’t find an answer don’t be scared to ask but again you may find a ‘sticky’ that tells you all of them. Then you’ll know your I.M.O (“In my opinion”) from your IIRC (“If I Recall Correctly”)
    4. Use the Forum’s “Search” to Uncover Answers: Learn to use the search tools to answer your questions. Some forums have really good search tools (some are awful). Try where possible to do a ‘search in topic title only’. This will get you much more relevant results than searching all posts. “motor failure” for example could be written in any post in a discussion about the risks of wiring something wrong “careful or it could result in motor failure”. Search for topics with “motor failure” in the title and you are more likely to get a page full of discussion about “Why have I got motor failure?” The search on our forum works great, too!
    5. Post in the right place: Make sure if you are going to start a discussion thread or ask a question, to do so in the correct place. “Why do I have motor failure” in a sub forum called “Classifieds” isn’t going to get you anywhere.
    6. ALL CAPS IS YELLING: Remember that people will read your post based on the mood they are in. If you type in caps you will, rightly or wrongly, be seen as shouting.
    7. Beware the ‘Troll’: Love it or hate it there are people in all forums that that will just be rude, blunt and unhelpful. Ignoring is the best method and while it is noble to step into someone else’s argument it will end in raised blood pressure for little gain. You will never win them over so why waste the time trying.
    8. Forums are a Give and Take: Give back in some of what you take out. If you ask a lot of questions and get a lot of answers to begin with then drop back in from time to time and look at others who might be asking the same. Help them out and point them in the right direction. Forums are only good if the knowledge is shared.
    9. Do as Others Do with Photos: Learn how to post photos in the forum’s preferred methods (usually found in a sticky!). Many forums now allow you (and prefer you) to attach images like you would an email but some require you to post via a linked photo. If this is so Photobucket is a great free place. Create an account, upload your image, click the ‘share links’, copy the [IMG]http://www.linkisinhere.com[/IMG] link and paste it in.
    10. Video, Video, Video: A video says a thousand words. If you have a question with a problem that can be demonstrated then try and video it! Pop it on Youtube (unlisted link if needed) and post it on a thread. People are MUCH more likely to press play on video than read 500 lines of text. Most forums embed the video on the post so people can click play from there. Speaking of video, here’s a fun one David took near Loch Ness: 

Big thanks to David for sharing this awesome tips with us. His shop is full of treats for your DJI Phantom quadcopter, with everything from battery doors to GPS and GoPro mounts. There’s no mystery that the more people who see your products, the more sales you will have. By engaging with people interested in things like your products, you not only show that you’re eager to contribute to the community at-large, but you may also find work & inspiration from those communities.

Our forum is very active here at Shapeways, and is one of the ways we keep in closest touch with our community. Have you visited our forum before? What forums do you wish you were more active in but haven’t had the time or guts to join?


 

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Five Reasons You Should Tag Your 3D Prints

This is the fourth in a 10 part bootcamp series counting down to Black Friday. We’ve covered reputation, photography and market research already and this week we’re talking about tagging.

How is your work currently being discovered? There are now millions of models on Shapeways, and the best way to stand out from the crowd (aside from photographs of your great products and collections) and be discovered by shoppers is by tagging your products properly. Yes, it can be monotonous, but it is literally how we and others discover many of you. Since the tag is a plus sign, there was no more fitting lead image here than Lucas Goossen’s Solid Plus Pendant.

LucasPlusPendant

Here are five reasons taking the time to tag your models is worth it:

Tags Equate to More Sales Through Organic Search (aka SEO) – Tag words help your products get found on and off our site. The more people that find you organically, the more “popular” your products become in our search engine, leading to greater sales. For example, when I search “Drone” Shapie MaikelsDesigns takes the top spot.

Drone copy

Niche Communities Have a Home on Shapeways - the products that are most unique are often the most successful on Shapeways. Products that fulfill needs not met by other markets. The search terms on our site are always very specific. Think about the words your target audiences uses and would use to search for you and be sure to include them. When shoppers view products like yours, they often are served your products in the “related items.” Looking at the Pitch Control Lever of Maikel’s above, Shapie shoppers are served products from four related drone mod designers:

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Trending Tags Lead to New Shopping Hubs- We’ve built awesome features now that allow us to create tag pages. Connect with people who model similar things in our interest groups forum and come up with a shared model tag. Share the tags on social media so shoppers (and us) can easily spot them. You can always post in “feature this” on our forums, include the tag you & others are using, and we’ll direct shoppers looking for products like yours straight to you! Here’s an example of the DJI Phantom Niche Hub:

DronesPage

Tags are Often How We Curate our Newsletter & Homepage- Wonder how we pick the products on our homepage? Aside from catching them in feature this, we find them by searching key terms. Recently we searched “space” for our space themed newsletter and “pumpkin” for fall finds. Thinking about seasons and holidays your work may be popular at is a great way to get extra eyes on your products.

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There is a Higher Chance Your Products Will Get Advertised if They are Tagged Properly- Tags can lead to your products being featured in our retargeting and Ad Words campaigns. Not only does properly tagging benefit you through the promotions we run, the models we feature, and relevant surfacing based on customer searches, it can even get you advertised courtesy of Shapeways.

Bonus: Tagging is also a way to sort through your shop inventory!

The best time to test tags is the holidays. Apply your learnings from google analytics, monitor which of your products get the most hits and optimize your collection’s tags based on that data. It’s great for your sales and makes our curation easier. Remember, we generally only feature products with photos, and tag those beautiful creations so they can be found by the whole Shapie community.

What tags do you wish had a more prominent home on Shapeways?


 

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Building Your 3D Printing Brand & Collection Through Market Research

This is the third in a 10 part Shop Owner Bootcamp series counting down to Black Friday. We’ve covered reputation and photography in our last two posts and are looking at branding and collection building today. This is last post in the polishing your shop for holiday phase, next week we’ll begin talking about building the relationships necessary to optimize your sales over holiday.

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Do you ever wonder what to design next? Or what makes a product sell? Do you have a product in your shop that outsells all the others and wish that you could get more products on that level? This week we’re focused on building your brand story and developing your collection through market research. I know that “market research” sounds boring and stale to the creative mind, but it doesn’t have to be! Shapeways Shop Owner mentor Vijay Paul is back this week to discuss how he became Dotsan, and how walking around Scotland inspired his stag and the “wired life collection” that followed.

Building Your Brand: Why it’s Personal (and Should Be)

Vijay highlights in this video how going from VDesign to Dotsan was a big turning point for his business. It was when he realized that this was going to be more than a hobby, and a place that people could come for products and art that he created for them. Many of you have developed your brands and logos, but are you giving your shoppers all of the story?

Every time someone buys something from your shop you have the opportunity to create a new brand evangelist. If they love your work, they’re going to come back to your shop time and time again, likely referring others who are interested in your products. They will expose your products, and in turn your brand, to their in-real-life communities. Ask yourself, have I highlighted my design process and inspiration in my shop? Have I armed consumers with a story they can tell about the creation of this product and increase the likelihood they’ll send others to my shop? If you have to hesitate, take this opportunity to refresh your shop and product descriptions. Your brand should tell your story.

Many of you have already developed great brands, so I challenge you to think about how that can be illustrated through out your shop. Perhaps watermarking your photos or integrating your brand into your avatar. People see your designer cards on every product page now, use that opportunity to remind them how awesome it is to buy from you.

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Market Research: It’s as Easy as Going to Look at Beautiful Things

Every successful business has conducted market research at some point in their growth; and if they’re smart, likely multiple times at regular intervals. Vijay knew he wanted to design something that would appeal to a lot of people, and wandering around Scotland he noticed there were Stags everywhere. He saw them in museums, on signs, buildings and iconic Scottish settings. This observation drove his design decisions and gave birth to the Stag, which originally was a 3D render meant to live in 2D. After creating the render he was curious to see if it could work as a wireframe 3D print, I think it’s very clear that it did :) .

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Think about your audience: are you trying to sell to people in your region/country or are you trying to sell to people who like a specific category of things? What is popular in the culture your products speak to? For example, if you are making masks, you should always be up on the latest cosplay fashions. If you’re doing household products, keeping up with industrial design trends can be clutch. If you’re modeling drone accessories, you should pay attention to what drones people are buying. I don’t believe Vijay ever expected to sell as many stags across as many countries as he has, but he went into designing it with the confidence that at least locally, he would receive some interest.

Build Your Collection: Your Best Customer is One Who Buys Again

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There’s a famous marketing stat that 20% of your customers will be responsible for 80% of your future business; and Shapeways is no exception. Our marketplace is full of passion, and folks who have a great buying experience from you once are likely to brag about it. How can you keep them coming back? Ask yourself, what other types of things to people interested in your subject matter like? Have you ever asked your customers what other products they think would compliment the one they already purchased from you? Think about ways you can expand the collection and have multiple top-selling products. Our Interest Group forums are a great place to get the conversation going.

Sets are very appealing during the holiday season. Think about which of your products could go together and that could expand the story of your work/brand.

Alright everyone, we’re now just 7 weeks from Black Friday- we’ll be focused on building digital and physical relationships that will help your holiday sales in the coming weeks, so take advantage of the opportunity now to ‘dust the shelves’ and put a fresh coat of paint on your ‘open’ sign.

What brands and designers on Shapeways do you look up to?


 

Shop Owner Bootcamp: The Importance of Taking Photos of 3D Printed Products

Shop Owner Bootcamp is a 10 week series aimed to help Shop Owners prepare for holiday. Week 9 is focused on product photography and the importance thereof.

Have you been thinking about taking photos of your products but been making excuses for why you don’t need to? Keeping your shop up is no easy task, but a little effort upfront leads to significantly greater sales. If sales aren’t enough, we are constantly looking for great models to feature on Shapeways and promote through our press and media opportunities. Most publications won’t print renders, and there is nothing more disappointing than not being able to feature a Shop Owner because we don’t have any photos of their great products. Plus, photos help build your reputation too, as Vijay discussed last week.dragonfly-shapeways-paul-liaw

I was a very late adopter of iPhoneography, despite having been a smartphone user for nearly a decade. Admittedly, I’m not sure I would have felt 100% genuine telling you to shoot your holiday collection on your phone before last week. Paul Liaw, the designer behind NeoNouveau is a legend; an award winning digital artist, a Adobe showcased 3D Printing designer, and is this week’s Shop Owner mentor. When not 3D modeling, he brings the lucky community team at Shapeways cheesecake!

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This week’s challenge is to take photos. Products that have sold, sell 10x more when they are photographed. It is impossible to stress enough how much photos can make a difference in your sales. Use these quick tips to make your products sing:

  • Use a single tone background – while white is classic, any solid color can do. Don’t have a plain table or desk? Lay down some 2D Printer Paper or a bed sheet. It’s amazing how far you can get with resources around the house.paul-bracelet-alligator
  • Stabilize your camera or smartphone; books, tables and trees work in a pinch – the easiest way to screw up a great shot is to blur it. I always shoot products here at HQ on our white Ikea desks, with my iPhone in landscape mode, resting on the table.
  • Shoot multiple angles – without the ability hold your product in their hands, customers want to see every angle. Pretend you’re taking it out of the Shapeways box for the first time and capture the angles you examined first. Even if you feel silly taking the photo, it could be the one that makes the sale. No need to hold back with the shutter, thanks to our smartphones, a tap is all it takes to discard extras. Paul-Liaw-Fish-Side-Shapeways
  • Always shoot in landscape – our product photos are 625 x 465 and its much easier to crop them when you’re shooting horizontal. In fact, if you’re shooting in landscape, you’re likely already framing your products in this ratio.
  • Show Scale – The average consumer can’t visualize millimeters the way we all can. People, pets, currency, common household items, even fingers cad add crucial context for your consumers.fish-coin-paul-liaw-shapeways
  • Tag materials in your photos – this is the easiest way to set customer expectations. When the material in the image matches the swatch the price reflects, the anxiety surrounding a first time buy is eased. It’s easy to forget this important step; and yet we see it convert to sales, and with material filters, it really helps surface your great products. Click the camera icon in the upper right hand of your product photos to check and set the material tagged in each.
  • Compare Materials and Finishes - Not everyone is as familiar with our materials as we are, showing the difference makes a difference. For example, here are Raw Brass (top) and Raw Bronze (bottom) version’s of NeoN0uveau‘s wheat bracelet. Paul-Liaw-Wheat-Bracelet-Shapeways
  • Have fun! Customers will be drawn to your personalities and you can tell a lot about yourself and your brand through your photos. We encourage you to upload as many photos as you want, invite friends over and get creative with your product shoot.

What’s the greatest barrier between you and great photographs? How can we help?


 

HOW TO: Create a Rubber Prototype Using a 3D Printed Mold in 14 Easy Steps

Will Harris at Design That Matters has posted a fun tutorial on HOW TO: Create a Rubber Prototype Using a 3D Printed Mold that is a step by step process that is easy to follow and looks like the kind of fun that will have you pouring liquid rubber into 3D printed molds for months.

how to 3D print a rubber mold

You can flex your industrial design skills in software such as Solidworks or Inventor which both have great tools to help you boolean and split a mold from your designed part.  Will also includes practical design tips such as including registration pins and escape vents into your mold to ensure bubbles do not form and you can add extra material to your 3D printed mold if required.  (or you can mix colors and/or materials if you want to get a little more experimental).

The best materials for 3D printed molds are usually polished Nylon or Acrylic if you want to do smaller, higher detail molds from your 3D prints.  Some people also spray the molds with silicone as a mold release to ensure you do not end up simply gluing your mold together with the filler material.

Why stop at rubber, you can use your 3D printed molds for many materials, soap, crayons, wax, ice, jello, or even, mature cheddar cheese.

NOTE: 3D Printed materials may not be food safe, mature cheddar cheese molded from 3D prints are for decorative use only.

 

Help with 3D Printing directly from Photoshop CC

You may recall back in January, we announced our partnership with Adobe, who enabled 3D printing directly through Photoshop Creative Cloud to Shapeways.

Using this feature, artists, photographers, designers, and other Photoshop users can create and prepare designs for 3D printing.

Adobe has created two custom video tutorials to help you use Photoshop CC for 3D printing:

Designer Paul Trani, Adobe’s Senior Creative Cloud Evangelist, shows you how he made a custom iPhone case directly from Photoshop with a personalized message: “Create Now”!

Custom iPhone case designed by Paul Trani

Custom iPhone case designed by Paul Trani

To get more hands-on, this Photoshop Creative Cloud Tutorial on 3D Printing is a three-part video course that takes you through an entire design-to-print project in Photoshop.

Source: Adobe HelpX

Source: Adobe HelpX

No matter what your level of design experience, we encourage you to check out the tutorials and give it a shot because they’re super informative and easy to follow.


 

How to convert 2D images into 3D models with our 2d to 3D app

Posted by in Tutorials

If want to get started creating models for 3D printing quickly and easily, our 2D to 3D app easily enables you to convert a 2D image or drawing to a 3D design. In our latest video tutorial, Laurie from our Customer Service team walks you through how to use our 2D to 3D app, complete with expert tips and tricks. 

In this tutorial, you will learn:

  • What images work best for 2D to 3D app
  • How to create depth in your design with grayscale
  • How to extrude and scale your design in 3D
  • How to review your model’s printability

Looking for more inspiration for 2D to 3D design? Check out Aimee’s video on how she made her personalized #icant necklace!  


 

Adapting and Designing your Character Model or Animation for 3D Printing

Posted by in Tutorials

In case you missed the Design Tips for Preparing your Render/Animation Model for 3D Printing tutorial, here it is. And now it’s time for Part 2, a video tutorial!

This step by step tutorial will take you through adapting your character models and animation designs for 3D printing.

We start with the process of selecting a Shapeways material, and go through relevant design guideline means. In the example portrayed in the video, the designer is working with Full Color Sandstone

Key video takeaways—what to keep in mind when preparing your design for 3D print:

  • Maxing bounding box—how large your 3D model can be printed
  • Wall thickness
  • Wire thickness
  • Clearance—especially if you want interlocking parts
  • Material Traits—if an appendage is too thin, it could snap
  • Sandcastle Rule—If you made your model out of sand, would it collapse?
  • Positioning of model—Can it stay in tact through handling?
  • Color shades—Do you have too many browns and skintones in your model?

Now you can bring your animations and geometries to life with 3D printing! Start by uploading your design today.


 

Design Tips for 3D printing in Stainless Steel

Posted by in Tutorials

Thinking of creating jewelry, a mechanical part, prototype, or small sculpture in Steel? No matter what you plan on crafting in Steel, we’ve got your design guide here.

When it comes to designing for Steel, there are five tips you should keep in mind:
  • Support geometries during the green state
  • Support walls during the green state
  • Round any external edges
  • Round any internal edges
  • Provide adequate surface area at connection points
Because of the unique production process for Steel, it’s important to keep this design tips top of mind. It’ll help ensure you get a consistent, stronger print and round edges.
Read the entire tutorial here for more about design guidelines for 3D printing in Steel. And don’t forget to keep in mind the Steel material guidelines.
Think you got it? We don’t take up any more of your time — start uploading your design here.

 

How I Made 3D Printed Earrings from a Drawing with Shapeways

Posted by in Tutorials

If you are looking for inspiration, design advice and ideas for how you can use 3D Printing to realize your creative vision, we are excited to share a new series in our tutorials section: “How I Made,” written by designers in the Shapeways community to share their unique perspectives, design processes, tips, tricks, and tools.

The first in the series features artist Megan Sawyer, a Carnegie Mellon graduate who works at a software company and is a fan of bats. Megan says, “I love bats, and thought bat wings would be such a cute and spooky alternative to the normal angel wing designs for earrings. But, I was disappointed by the selection of spooky earrings for people with stretched/gauged ears!”

She decided to make her own custom earrings and signed up for the Intro to 3D Printing Skillshare class taught by Lauren Slowik, Shapeways Designer Evangelist.

Megan’s tutorial walks readers through the design process from sketch, importing to 3D modeling software, preparing the model for 3D printing, uploading and ordering from Shapeways, and refining and improving on her design. 

Read the full tutorial here and learn more about how you create 3D Printed earrings and can bring your own ideas from sketch to finished product with Shapeways.

Let us know what else you’d like to see and learn from your fellow community members or inspire others with your own “How I Made” tutorial by reaching out to us at education@shapeways.com!

 

Managing your Shapeways Shop Facebook Fan page Best Practices

Posted by in Tutorials

Savannah here, just popping in to introduce you to our latest series of Shop Owner Tips & Tricks. The glorious signs of spring are everywhere, and that means it’s time for Spring Shop Cleaning! You all did such an impressive job with the Fall Shop Owner Challenge, we wanted to follow up and help you have your biggest Summer of sales yet! Many members of the staff and community are pitching in with inspiring stories and ways to make your Shapeways Shop more successful. Today, Eric, our Social Media Manager is letting you in on some Facebook pro tips! 

Ready to get more eyes on your designs? Time to tap the largest social network on Earth. If you currently have shop open on Shapeways or are thinking about opening one, Facebook is a great platform for establishing your brand and engaging your customers. Today we will highlight basic best practices for managing your shops Facebook Fan page so that you can use all the tools the platform has to offer to your best advantage. 


1) Have eye catching fan page profile and cover photos that highlight your brand

As you can see above, Joy Complex does a great job having a beautiful cover photo that aligns with their shop’s profile image. You can find the photo dimensions for Facebook pages here

2) Post Fun, Engaging, and Visual Content 

Content is king on social media and every second you’re competing for eyeballs on your followers Newsfeed. The best way to get the attention of your audience is through engaging content that includes catchy visuals like pictures or video. Keep your posts short, include a photo, have a call to action, and always link back to your shop. Try to keep your content relevant, have a sense of humor, be fun, inspiring, and open with your fans. 

3) Post at the best times and optimizing your content for Facebook Newsfeed algorithm

The organic reach of your pages Facebook posts gets seen by fewer people due to the frequent changes in the Facebook Newsfeed algorithm. Here’s how to optimize your content posts without having to pay to pay to sponsor your posts

  • Including multiple photos in a post and create visual rich Facebook photo albums
  • Looking at your page analytics and posting at the times where people online and are more likely to see your post. 
  • Post on weekends
  • Sharing news content, blog posts, articles relevant to your work
  • Post 3-4 times throughout the day 

4) Engage, Interact, and Listen to your audience

Get social with your fans! Initiate conversation, join the conversation, and recognize your top evangelist. What counts as an “engagement” on Facebook is a Like, Comment, or share. When someone comments on your Fan page, reply or ‘Like’ their post to acknowledge their feedback. 

Spread the love: By liking and engaging by other artists, designers and makers you further enrich the community we’re all apart of. Conversation karma goes a long way. Be sure and check your page daily.

5) Check Your Page Insights and Analytics 

Use the the page analytics section on your Facebook fan page to track your audience growth, reach from your content posts, along with fan page engagement metrics. It’s important to monitor which content performs the best according to the data which you can use to influence your decision making. 

6) Run Contest and Promotions 

People love contest, giveaways, and promotions. Most importantly, everyone loves free stuff. Give your fans an incentive to come back to your page and engage with your content. This can be something as simple getting users to ‘Like’ your fan page, share their email address, commenting on your page posts. 

7) Use Facebook as your Fan page instead of as ‘You’ 

By using Facebook as your fan page, you’re able to filter out your personal newsfeed and insights from your fan page’s. Your fan page can also ‘Like” other fan pages and you can follow their updates. 

8) Create scheduled content / Use a social media management application 

We don’t always have time to sit in front of a computer and post content real time. That’s why it’s important to schedule content to post during time’s you’re not online using Facebook’s schedule post feature or through a free social media content management application like Buffer or Hootsuite

9) Manage Facebook on mobile with the Facebook Pages Manager app

Mobile devices play a big part in our everyday lives so being able to manage your social media presence via mobile will give you an advantage. You can download the free Facebook Pages Manager App on itunes and on Google Play to help you manage your brand’s Facebook page on the go. 

10) Think like a creative consumer 

Ask yourself “What am I doing to make my content grab the attention of my audience?”. Is it a catchy tagline? Or maybe a funny photo? It could even be something that triggers an emotional response. The goal is to think like a creative consumer. If you were scrolling down your news feed ask yourself if your content engaging enough for someone’s attention. 

While maintaining a Facebook fan page takes some advance planning and energy to upkeep, it’s a great way to actively engage your customers and keep them personally involved and updated about your brand’s activities and the products you are creating. Do you have a fan page for your Shapeways shop? What are strategies you have found work for you?  


 

Shapeways Ask an Engineer #2: Strength and Structure (VIDEO)

In the second episode of Shapeways Ask an Engineer, we demonstrate how slight modifications to your models can double their strength.

With the help of good old Diet Coke, we see how many cans we can stack on two different cube structures before they break. The first is a basic cube composed of squares, while the second is a little more complicated and composed of triangles. Our test reveals that the addition of a few more lines allows a structure to withstand two Diet Coke cans before snapping, while the basic cube snaps almost immediately after a can is placed on top of it. The difference in price between the two models is only fifteen cents — definitely worth the extra money!

What would you like us to break next time? If you have any 3D printing questions you would like answered by our
3D printing engineer Matthew Hagan please email
askanengineer@shapeways.com

For more information on Shapeways 3D printed materials visit our materials hub and and more design tips take a look at our Design for 3D Printing 101


 

Shop Owner Holiday Tips Series: #9: Pay to Play

Once your shop is set up for holiday sales, you’re well on your way to being optimized for selling into the new year. These last few tips are going to help you set up a longer term strategy for maintaining a good shop.
By now you’ve hopefully been running a successful shop, your friends and family flock to it, bloggers are driving traffic, and you’ve got good data from google analytics to show you whats happening and how to adjust it. 
The next step is advertising. A quick and easy introduction to advertising is by using Google AdWords.
You create ads and choose keywords, which are words or phrases related to your products. Your ads appear on Google and when people search on Google using one of your keywords, your ad may appear next to or above the search results. This means you’re advertising to an audience that’s already interested in you. Read more and get started
Why bother with advertising you ask? Shapeways designer Seth Alexander of Masterworks shares his story:
I have a different ad with different keywords for each set of dice and more general ads for related products such as DND. I’m currently running 8 ads, each with 5 or more keywords.

For my Steampunk Dice ad I use these keywords:
Steampunk, steampunk shop, steampunk gear, steampunk theme, steampunk dice, steam punk shop, steam punk gear, steam punk dice, steam punk theme
Generally, you want to avoid very general keywords such as ‘dice’ or ‘Shapeways’ since these tend to draw a high click-through rate but no sales. This means you will be paying a cost per click but getting nothing in return. The keyword ‘Steampunk’ is debatable because it’s so general but I decided to leave it because Steampunk itself is a niche market.

AdWords has doubled my sales from approximately 25 sales/month to 50 sales/month. It costs me approximately 25% of the monthly Shapeways income at my current settings. So the net profit is a 50% gain from AdWords. I would need more time to study the statistics as this is only a 3 month analysis, but I believe it is worth it! 

As you probably already know, getting linked on major news sites and blogs has the largest effect and AdWords will add visibility, so those stories are more likely to appear.
What an inspiring story, thank you Seth!
And there you have it, our top tips for your shop. Happy shaping and wishing you lots of sales!

 

Shop Owner Holiday Tips Series: #8 Data is Your Friend

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

Once your shop is set up for holiday sales, you’re well on your way to being optimized for selling into the new year. These last few tips are going to help you set up a longer term strategy for maintaining a good shop.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know if all the things you were doing to improve your shop were actually working? Data to the rescue! While scary at first (to me at least!) data really can be your friend by letting you:

1. Keep track of sales

2. See where traffic is coming from

3. Use it to your advantage

1. Keep track of Sales

As a Shapeways shop owner, you have a great tool at your disposal: The Sales Overview Download located on your My Shop page. The Sales Overview Download (XLS) allows you to see exactly what models you’re selling in which material, when they have shipped, and which country they were shipped to. With this data you will be able to create your own shop analytics which can help you improve the performance of your shop. This great blog post dives into the details.

How is this helpful? If you see that you make most of your sales in silver, you can tailor your designs to sell even more. If you see most of your sales coming from Japan, you could think about what items might appeal to that specific market. You don’t  know what you don’t know until you experiment and measure!

2. See where traffic is coming from

Ever wanted to know exactly how many hits you get in your shop on any given day? Where they come from? What keywords they used to find you? How long they stayed on your page?

Google Analytics can tell you all those things! Check out this handy tutorial for setting up Google Analytics in your shop. It’s as easy as pasting a quick code and unleashes a lot of data you can use to improve your marketing efforts.

3. Use it to your advantage!

Using the data, you discover how to tailor your shop to your customers. For example, if you see a lot of traffic coming from Twitter, (like we do!) you might consider tweeting more often about your products. If you tag @shapeways with it, we’ll often re-tweet it or favorite it, exposing your product to all of Shapeways followers (10,000 and counting!). Read more about it in this handy Shapeways guide to Twitter.

Alternatively, you might find that a lot of the traffic to your page is coming from search, in which case you would want to consider AdWords or optimizing your descriptions for search even further.

So dive into data, you might be surprised by what you find. Next week we’ll take a look at advertising, and using those AdWords that Google may send your way just for signing up for Analytics!


 

Shop Owner Holiday Tips Series: #7 Fan Engagement

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

Once your shop is set up for holiday sales, you’re well on your way to being optimized for selling into the new year. These last few tips are going to help you set up a longer term strategy for maintaining a good shop.
One of the great things about 3D printing is the ability to quickly iterate a design.  You make a product, say a pair of earrings, and after wearing them for a few days, you realize they are actually a bit long, and catch in your hair. It’s easy to go back to the computer and modify the design. Similarly, if your customers give you feedback, you can incorporate it into the design, like adding popular colors or different sizes.

While advertising and promotion is important to get your products known out there, having a conversation with your customers is often more powerful than just broadcasting a message. Customers feel like they get input into a product they are buying, just the same way you feel when you design something for 3D printing! Best of all, they get to tell a cool story, like this one from Pete, our CEO:

“I saw this cup on Shapeways so I bought it to use in the office…
I like to have a little milk and one sugar cube in my espresso. I found that once I added the sugar cube, my coffee would overflow, so I emailed the designer Kostika Spaho, to make the cup just 10% bigger. He modified the design, I ordered it and now I have a perfect cup for the way I like my coffee.”
Something we introduced at Shapeways that should make conversations easier is @mentions!  When your username is @mentioned in a model comment, you will receive a notification. If you @mention someone’s username they will also receive a notification. It’s the best way to have a conversation with a designer or to recommend a product to someone else in the Shapeways community. (You can view your most recent mentions by clicking on the @ notifications icon next to your profile image in the top navigation bar.) So if a customer is shopping on the site and sees a product they wish could be customized, they can @mention you and start a conversation. You can also see who has favorited your products, and @mention them in the comments.
Here’s a great example of a conversation about this Peep Pendant by RustyLab

So what are you waiting for! Get chatting to your customers, and see how much customer engagement drives sales.