Category Archives: Shop Owner Tips

Five tactics to help you decide your next design idea

For some people finding new design ideas is as easy as looking at their surroundings and finding inspiration, for other’s it can be challenging finding that creative spark. An even more difficult challenge is designing a product that has the potential to sell and do well on the Shapeways marketplace. Here are some of the tactics that you can use to come up with new ideas for product designs.

1) Google Trends

Designing products around what’s trending online is a great way to make a design that is fresh and relevant in people’s minds. One way to find what’s trending is by using Google Trends. With Google Trends you can filter out what’s trending by many category options by demographic and subject matter (science, sports, animals, etc). This is based on top stories and search terms people are searching for. You can even do a search on Google Trends for specific keywords and see how strong they come up in Google search. Here is an example of a search I did to see how popular the Tardigrade was. Here you can see how popular the keyword was and the demographic that are searching for it.

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2) Instagram Hashtags / Explore

Instagram recently launched a new updated discovery tab which allows users to easily discover trending hashtags and photos based on the type of photos you post and like. This is a great feature to see a curated stream of photos based on the photos you’ve already liked and give you a visual inspiration for your next product design idea.

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Searching various terms on Instagram shows you how relevant and popular a subject can be.

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3) Collaborations

Collaborations amongst other designers and artist have been a growing trend in the Shapeways community. A fantastic way to bring a new product to the marketplace is to get together with a designer or artist whose designs inspire you. If they’re on Shapeways you can send them a private message, you can tweet at them on Twitter, or send them a direct message of a mock up 3D model to that artist on Instagram letting them know you’re an admirer of their work and if they’d be interested in collaborating with you on bringing that design to market on Shapeways. Here is an example of a collaboration done between Gabriel Prero and Bathsheba.

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4) Ask your existing audience / Do a Q&A

Do you have an existing audience or following? Ask you audience on social media. Make a post on Twitter or Facebook asking your followers what’d they like to see you design next and listen to their feedback. You can also experiment with Reddit’s r/IAmA, here is an example of one done by Kostika Spaho and Christopher Carter.

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5) Modify An Existing Product

Take a look at your existing products and see if you can modify it or manipulated it into a whole new product all together. For example here is a 3D printed Grumpy Cat and  a Santa themed grumpy cat created by designer Manuel Poehlau.

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Designer Corretta Singer of the Shapeways shop CS1 turned her mech heart pendant into a mech heart ring.

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Give these tactics a try and you just might come up with your next hit product. What does your creative design process look like? Let us know in a comment below!

Five Tactics To Use On Instagram To Promote Your Shapeways Products

My favorite social media platform that I’ve been using in 2015 has been Instagram. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, the attention graph and organic reach of Instagram is the highest amongst all of the social media platforms out there. There are very few Ads, no ridiculous newsfeed algorithm, and it’s completely mobile.

Instagram has emerged as a leading platform for small businesses and niche communities to promote their products and generate visual awareness around their content. Instagram posts receive over 50% more engagement per follower (likes, comments) than Facebook and Twitter.  The engagement rate on average for brands is 4-5% on Instagram, much higher than the <1% we see on Facebook and Twitter per post.

In this post I want to highlight five specific tactics that I use on Instagram to promote my Shapeways shop and that you should be using as well.

1. Search Key hashtags and Engage

When promoting my products on Instagram I choose not to play defense and expect users to discover my Instagram account and content, instead I play offense and actively search potential customers and consumers who are sharing relevant posts. I do this by searching the specific hashtags that my product targets and begin liking, and commenting on their content making them aware I have a product that they might be interested in. For example I’ll search all the photos that have the hashtag #Tardigrade, filter through relevant photos of Tardigrades, read their photo descriptions and identify if they express interest in Tardigrades with keywords in their photos that say “I want one”, or “I love Tardigrades”. Then I’ll follow up with comments on their photo saying “You love Tardigrades? I have a 3D printed one on my page”.

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2. Link to your website on the location section of your post

Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links on post, no problem. Just add the link to your website on the location section by creating a “custom location” and just type the link to your website instead of an actual location. This will add visibility to your website for consumers. You can also direct users to the link on your bio which is clickable as an alternative. Either method works.

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3. Utilize Repost and Regram apps

Once I began selling a large quantity of my 3D printed products I began reusing customer photos that were shared on Instagram to promote them again with the Respost app. It essentially allows me to repost their photo, thank them for being a customer, and promote that product again. The respost app is essentially Instagram’s way for “retweeting” and “sharing” another users content on Instagram.

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4. Instagram Direct Messaging

Instagram launched photo direct messaging to users back in 2013. It’s a useful way to send direct photos to individual users and start a conversation. This feature has been very useful for getting in touch with influencers and other users who have a larger audience and reach than you. You can get in touch with them and ask them if they can cross promote your content. I would recommend the best course of action is to not go after big celebrities but instead go after relevant accounts. I first found success of this by DMing photos of my Thorgi figurine to niche Instagram users in the Corgi community. The reception was welcoming and I got quiet a few accounts to post and link back to my account and promote my product the lead to a increase in sales.

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5. Share Creative Video Content 

These are several content creation techniques and applications you can use to get creative with your content creation instead of just sharing static photos. Videos and short form micro content like slow-motion action videos, stop motion, slideshows, and Hyperlapse videos are a great way to get your audience hooked and wanting more.


Incorporate these tactics into your Instagram strategy and you’ll begin seeing better conversation and engagement. Are you currently promoting your Shapeways products on Instagram? If so be sure to incorporate #Shapeways in your photos so we can help discover and surface your work.

What I learned from exhibiting at my first Maker Faire

By Vicky Somma, a Shapeways Crew member and owner of the shop TGAW. This piece was first published on Vicky’s blog TGAW

Earlier in March 2015 I had a booth at my very first Maker Faire! The Nova Mini Maker Faire in Reston, Virginia. My booth focused on my 3D Prints made with Blender (for 3D Modeling) and Shapeways (for 3D Printing).

Vicky Somma at the NoVa Mini Maker Faire

Vicky Somma at the NoVa Mini Maker Faire

I was interested in knowledge sharing, so I had a monitor displaying a Giant Prezi of Death of screenshots of my modeling techniques in Blender. I also had on hand a variety of prints I had done through Shapeways:

Shapeways prints ready to go to the faire

Shapeways prints ready to go to the faire

Since I was giving a speech on “3D Printing without Owning a 3D Printer” in the afternoon, I also had a small section of my table dedicated to compliment that speech and to let people know that they could 3D print that day without owning a printer or knowing a thing about modeling.

Small “3D Printing without Owning a Printer -OR- Knowing Modeling” Section

Small “3D Printing without Owning a Printer -OR- Knowing Modeling” Section

Giving my talk at Nova Mini Maker Faire

Giving my talk at Nova Mini Maker Faire

It was an absolutely fantastic time and as with all first experiences, I learned a little along the way. Here are a couple of Do’s and Don’ts I came away with.

DON’T Be Intimidated!
At the informational meeting, the organizers stressed that they want Makers of all levels. You didn’t have to be an expert or a professional. Reinforcing that concept, the NoVa Mini Maker Faire kept posting a badge saying, “We are All Makers” and they mean it.

I was somewhat nervous about the other 3D modelers. I’m still relatively new to 3D modeling, so at times leading up to the event I had a wee bit of “imposter syndrome.” I was mentally preparing myself for someone coming up, sniffing arrogantly, and saying, “Oh, I see you are using the Boolean Modifier. Don’t you know that makes messy meshes?” : )

But the environment of the Maker Faire isn’t like that at all. People are enthusiastic, people are curious, and people are very very very nice. It’s like the Comment thread of Instructables.

Speaking of Instructables, there’s actually an Instructables out there for “Your Own Booth at the Maker Faire“. A great resource for knowing what to expect! : )

DON’T Be Afraid to Reach Out to Related Vendors
Leading up to the Faire, I emailed Shapeways to let them know what I was doing and they sent me giveaways for my booth! So I had some nice stickers and postcards for people to take!

And then get this! The Community Advocate from Shapeways, Michael, came down to our faire and helped with the booth. As busy as the faire was, it was great to have an extra voice there. He brought a good sampling of products as well which only further showcased the capabilities of Shapeways and 3D Printing!

Community Advocate Michael Williams at Nova Mini Maker Faire

Community Advocate Michael Williams at Nova Mini Maker Faire

Similarly, I had a great experience prepping for the “3D Printing without Owning a 3D Printer” speech. I found everyone to be very generous with questions I had. FromNovaLabs to the Virginia Tech Northern Virginia Center MakerLabClub to Ara’s Hub (through 3DHubs) to PrintedSolid, everyone was happy to help me with information. Don’t be afraid of looking like an idiot. If you have questions, ask!

DO Stage Your Items Ahead of Time
We staged everything ahead of time on my Mom’s dining room table. This made it very easy for us to know what else to pack (extension cord, monitor cables, mounting goo, tablecloths, signs, packing tape, etc).

DO Ask for Help
My forte doesn’t lie with decoration, so I recruited my Mom. She instantly had suggestions for tablecloths, how to display the Christmas ornaments (a metal tree she had in her room) and a little dark cove to showcase the glowing Cthulhu Jack-O-Lanterns (a collapsible grocery crate she had in her car). Not only that, she was a key supply gatherer. I mentioned I needed something to sticky to mount my signs. The very next morning, I woke up and found some sticky goo in my staging area. My Mom was a big help.

My mom makes a puppy through Pupworkshop

My mom makes a puppy through Pupworkshop

I also recruited my friends Britt and Chris to help with the booth during my speech. With that, I really underestimated their work load. I pitched it as warm bodies watching the booth, but pretty much everyone that assisted me that day (my husband, Michael from Shapeways, my Mom, Britt and Chris) was busy the whole day. Chris, Ryan, and Michael did a lot of talking and question answering. Britt and Mom did a lot of kid-wrangling. : )

I also recruited people to help me with some first hand research for the “3D Printing without a 3D Printer” talk. My Mom designed a puppy through Pupworkshop. My sister-in-law drew an angel we printed via the Shapeways’ 2D to 3D App. Finally, my three year old even accrued a personalized 3D object by making a Color Me Teddy.

My three year old designs a Color Me Teddy

My three year old designs a Color Me Teddy

DO Enjoy the Free Feedback
Like most Shapeways shop owners, I have Google Analytics enabled gathering data about my referrals and traffic. But you know what is even better? Watching people’s eyes light up. Watching people revel in how beautiful the Library of Congress ornament is or laughing when they get Schrodinger’s Cat. You get instant feedback on how people are responding to your designs.

And some of the lessons may be surprising. Over the holiday break, I was playing with Python scripting for Blender to make customized Cancer Ribbons. I was thinking people would like an interface to order ribbons “In Honor Of” or “In Memory Of” their loved ones sort of like Relay for Life Luminaries. But watching the response at the Faire, if I do put time towards automating something through code, I may want to focus on faces for the Dial-O-Lantern. That got an overwhelmingly larger response at the faire.

Vicky works the booth with Dyson

Vicky works the booth with Dyson

DO Know the Event is Family Friendly
The Maker Faire is family friendly, which meant we were able to bring our boys. At times, I had a cute accessory as I worked my booth.

DO Have An Activity for Kids
Related to the Family Friendly aspect of the event, do have an activity for kids. In my case, I went with a contest for the Dial-O-Lantern! My faces actually started as drawings, so we invited kids to draw faces for a new Dial-O-Lantern. We’re picking six winning faces and sending each winning child a print that includes their face. This turned out to be a good activity. The amount of entries exceeded our expectations (and makes selecting the winners a tough task).

Working on a Dial-O-Lantern face

Working on a Dial-O-Lantern face

DO Check Twitter
Although you are getting first hand feedback from your booth visitors, be sure to keep an eye on Social Media as well. I got a HUGE thrill walking between buildings when I saw that the Editor-in-Chief of Geek Dad appreciated and tweeted my Schrodinger’s Cat. Geek Dad! We have Geek Dad books on our bookshelf!

DO Have Business Cards / Contact Info
The day before the faire, I actually picked up some quickie business cards from Staples. And here’s the thing. I designed those cards assuming there would be a lot of leftovers. At the top and bottom I included lines for every millimeter. Why? When I’m designing 3D models, I am constantly measuring things and getting out rulers to gauge how big I want to make something. But rulers are also popular with my boys, so it seems they are frequently misplaced.

So I figured if I was going to have a bunch of unused business cards around, I might as well make them handy. And although I do have a few I can use for measurement, I don’t have nearly as much leftover business cards as I expected! I was very surprised by how many business cards people snatched up.

DO Make It Easy For People To Learn More
I printed QR codes for pretty much everything. My presentations were both put online (Prezi and SlideShare respectively). I used BufferApp to “live tweet” links during my talk (Hat Tip, Jess Hedstrom). I coordinated with the Nova Mini Maker Faire so all the links from my PowerPoint were easy to find on their blog. You want people to learn more– make it as easy as possible!

Those are my take-aways from my very first Maker Faire. It was an absolutely fantastic time. I can hardly wait for next year!

You can read more about the NoVa Mini Maker Faire on their blog at

More of our photos from the event are on Flickr.



Share your Shapeways products anywhere with our new Product Widget

The Shapeways widget is an easy way to share your Shop and favorite products outside of Shapeways. We are excited to add a brand new embeddable widget to showcase a single product, as well as an update to our existing Shop Section & Favorites Widget.

Embeddable widgets are a tool for sharing products outside of Shapeways and are a great way to grow your shop’s presence online and drive more traffic to your shop on Shapeways. You can use them to showcase your shop and designs on your own website, or to share products that you love on forums or other sites that you are involved in. Pretty much any site that allows you to add your own custom html is ripe for sharing your Shapeways products!

New: Product Embeddable Widget

We have a new embeddable widget showcasing a single product. It is simple to find the link to embed a product: a link has been added on the product page for each product.

The embed code for your product underneath the Buy Now button on each product.


You can also find it on the Product Details page for each product that you have.

We have made it easy for you to update the dimensions and remove the Buy Now button to make the widget fit perfectly wherever you want to use it, you can learn more about customizing the new widget in this tutorial.

Updated: Shops & Favorites Widget

We’ve also updated our existing Shop and Favorites Widget to keep it up to date and resolve some issues it had in the past.  If you are new to the shop widget, you can use it to embed a widget of your whole shop or a specific shop section, or your favorites or wishlist. You can learn more about how to set up and use the Shop, Shop Section and Favorites Widgets here.

We are excited to see how you use these new and updated widgets, but we are also eager to add more customization options based on your feedback! Feel free to give us suggestions for future versions in our feedback form here and please share your examples with us in the comments or on Twitter.

Build Your Business with 3D Printing: Video from our Small Business Bootcamp

Shapeways now has over 22,000 shop owners who are building their businesses using 3D printing. The ability to build a 3D printing powered business is very new and we are proud that it is our community at Shapeways who are leading the way in developing best practices for these creative, small business owners. To further support and celebrate our shop owners we organized our first ever Small Business Bootcamp on October 24th, 2014 in New York City. It was a day of entrepreneurial and design inspiration that offered concrete advice on business planning, marketing and designing 3D printed products from Shapeways shop owners with support from Shapeways staff members.

3D printing small business conference

3D printing offers the opportunity of mass customization and making products you want, not just what is available. As Wayne Losey of Modio and creator of Modibot said as he discussed his discovery of 3D printing and possibility for customization after working in the toy industry, “We don’t live in a world where everyone loves Elvis. We have choices now.”

Wayne was just one of the speakers who shared ideas and resources the Bootcamp and you can find videos of the full sessions from the Small Business Bootcamp on our YouTube channel. We hear a lot from our community of shop owners and designers about where you feel you need extra information, guidance and inspiration as you build your business. We worked to highlight shop owners in our community that stand out as examples of marketing, branding, product development and their ability to create a unique business and audience.

The morning of the Bootcamp focused on business basics from a 3D printing perspective. We kicked it off with a keynote talk from David Gillespie, Shapeways Vice President for Manufacturing, about how 3D printing is driving the future of manufacturing and why he is excited to be working to solve the design and business challenges our community presents encounters. He was followed by Susan Taing, founder of bhold, who discussed her process of product development and iteration and how to choose a “winning” product. Melissa Ng, of Lumecluster, discussed her business planning process and how she finds and shares inspiration as an entrepreneur. Kacie Hultgren of Pretty Small Things and Jeremy Burnich of Joy Complex discussed how they brand and market their shops with Global Community Manager Savannah Peterson.

In the afternoon we focused on practical tips for designing and maximizing the potential of Shapeways and 3D printing in your business. Thomas Ellison, Customer Service Team Lead, about the basics of intellectual property for 3D printing. Design Evangelist for Education Lauren Slowik moderated a panel with 3D printed metal sculptor Bathsheba Grossman, artist Ashley Zelinskie, and Wayne Losey about how they have found a niche and established themselves in their fields using 3D printing. The day ended with a panel on how to optimize your designs for the materials Shapeways offers and featured presentations from Rob from Gotham Smith and Christian Brock of Wulong Toys along with Raphael Stargrove and Gabe Leader-Rose, Shapeways Physical Product Managers.

3D printing small business materials

While 3D printing is a great way to create custom products, when you are launching a business there is always more to do to market and present your products to the world. In the spirit of the day, Bathsheba remarked, “The plain object, or the art, doesn’t sell itself – it’s the aura around it. 3D printing helps that, although it was easier 10 years ago. It’s starting to go away.” This also raises a challenge: as 3D printing becomes more widespread, what new challenges will arise for small business owners?

What do you think will the future of 3D printed business will hold? We plan to make this conference an annual event and look forward to your suggestions of what additional topics you would like to cover or delve into more deeply, and speakers you would like to hear from.

If you are in New York and would like to talk more about the small business of the future and how new technology is empowering small business owners, please join us for a Small Business Saturday Brunch at Wix Lounge on Saturday November 29 from 1 to 2:30 pm. You can find more details and RSVP on the Wix website!

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Quick Email Marketing to Boost Sales of Your 3D Prints


This is the ninth in a 10 part Shop Owner Bootcamp series counting down to black friday. Last week we focused on Supercharing Your SEO and this week we’re talking Email. Pictured above is Love Letter: Square by Target. Learn more about our partnership with them here

Are you beginning to feel the heat of Holiday Season yet? If you’re not, let me be the first to tell you, it’s go time, Shapies! We just released our holiday gift guide are in full-steam-ahead holiday mode. If you do no other marketing for your Shapeways shop today, do this: remind your friends, family and former customers that you make awesome products through 3D printing and that just about anything can be personalized through your skills and the technology. If you’re concerned that it will come off as spammy, we are happy to take a look in our Holiday Messaging Help forum. I also ask that you trust me when I say, your network will be interested. While it’s no longer new to us, 3D Printing, especially in our unique material portfolio, is still very cool and new to most folks outside the Shapie universe.

The email can be simple: 

Hi friends, 

2014 has been a great year, and I’m grateful you were a part of mine. I just wanted to share the 3D printed products I’ve created this year, and let you know that if you’d like any of them or any other custom products for holidays I’m here to help. 3D Printing is very cool and personal, and it’s not just plastic. Shapeways prints in Steel, Brass, Silver, Gold and even Platinum, too. Holiday season is fast approaching.  

(Insert a few photos of your work)

(link to your shop) 


I bet you’ll be surprised how few people are aware of what you’re truly capable of, and what’s more fun than supporting a friends business and also giving a great gift? We see so many touching stories and personalized products come through our factories, I can’t help but encourage you to let your network know you’re there.

For those of you with Existing Email Newsletters:

I get many of your independent newsletters each month and enjoy them all. The one thing that all Shapies have in common is how genuine your passion is. This comes through in your communications and in your work. Keep it up! And don’t worry, if you don’t have an email list yet, Holiday is a great time to make one. Just add a link to a google form (or whatever signup mechanism you prefer) in your shop description and watch it grow!

Two Emails You Should Send:

  1. Next week, ideally Tues-Thurs (higher open rate): Holiday preview and/or reminder about your shop including top sellers & latest creations. You can even offer design services.
  2. Small Business Saturday: A holiday mostly celebrated in the US, but one worth letting your customers know about. Black Friday is historically retail centric, Cyber Monday (a great day to send an email as well) is all about digital, but SMB Saturday offers a different unique opportunity to showcase how 3D Printing is enabling your Small Business and say thank you to those contributing to it’s growth.

Here’s a great example from Somersault 18:24‘s Monthly Newsletter:

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Their message goes on to include links to their shop and updates about the science and 3D printing world. It’s helped grow them to one of the most successful shops and collections on Shapeways.

Would it be helpful if included easy to share news stories you could include in your emails in our Shop Owner Newsletter? What emails that we send do you like best? And worst? Be honest with us the way you want your customers to be honest with you :) .

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Five Easy Ways to Supercharge Your SEO

This is the eight post in a 10 week series leading up to our busiest sales weekend of the year. We’ve covered everything from getting press for your 3D printed products to how to promote your products on social media and much in our Shop Owner bootcamp series. This week’s post comes from our performance marketing pro, Jeanne, we’re focused on SEO.


Scottish Shapie Shop Owner MyGadgetLife has some of the best product descriptions on Shapeways. Check out his eggbot (above) and his moon mobius to get inspired for your shop!

5 Easy Ways (Under 5 Minutes) to Get Your Products Picked Up by Google

We’ve already talked about various ways to get customers to your shop, but today we’re going to dive even deeper and talk about the importance of search engine results (SEO). Currently, organic search results are one of the top drivers to Shapeways. The more you can get your products in search engine results, the more likely a potential customer will visit your product page and make a purchase. Below are five tips to get your products search engine optimized in minutes.

#1 Use Specific Keywords in Your Product Titles & Descriptions

Your model titles and descriptions are used not only on your model page on Shapeways, but in search engine search results – a two for one! So, titles and descriptions with specific, relevant keywords will help your products appear in and get people to click (which helps it to surface even more frequently).

Action: You can spend a lot of time on keyword optimization, but here are two easy ways to get started:

  • If you were to search for your product, what would you type in a search engine? Make sure those keywords are in both your title and description

  • Be as specific as possible with your description, including all the peripheral search terms that might be relevant (synonyms, the category that your product belongs in, types of customization or personalization, etc.)

For example, if I title my product “Holiday Ornament,” the likelihood that my product will show up on the first few pages of Google is very low (there are a total of 22.8m search results). Sucks, I know. But if I title it “Custom holiday ornament with initial,” I’m competing against 8.7m search results. And in my description, I’ll write “Christmas or holiday ornament can be customized with initials, monograms, names, images, and is a great unique gift for your loved ones.” Sounds wordy, but it works.

#2 Update Titles & Descriptions to a Certain Length

Anything too long or too short is suspected by search engines to be of low quality. There is a min and approximate max, and you are penalized with less opportunity to turn up in search results for it.

Action: Titles should be about 6 to 8 words (55 characters), with the most important words in the beginning. Descriptions should be at least 15 words (160 characters) with keywords described above in it, as that’s the snippet that gets viewed in search results so you want it to be enticing! Use natural language (the way you would normally talk or write) in your descriptions, including facts and statements to help viewers see the value of your product immediately.


#3 Give Your Images Captions with Keywords

A picture is worth a thousand words. More and more people are finding Shapeways products through image searches on search engines (i.e. Google, Bing, etc). Including a photo and a description with keywords will increase the likelihood it will get picked up in image searches (known as an “Alt text”).

Action: In the Details tab of your model, fill in the image caption with keywords, starting with the ones most relevant to your product. For example, for this ornament I created with Shapeways ornament creator, my caption is “Custom Christmas holiday ornament with organic design”

Image caption

#4 Every Product is Unique, so its Title and Description Should Be Too!

Every model should have a unique title and description. Duplications are penalized by search engines because it assumes the viewer won’t have a good experience if there’s a lot of too-similar content.  Unique titles and descriptions will help your products get shown by search engines.

Action: Give your product titles and descriptions. Your products are unique and their titles and descriptions should be too.  little bit different is better than no difference at all.

#5 Your Shop Description is Prime for SEO Opportunity

Your shop page is full of opportunities for search engines to pick up, with your product and their titles, image alt text, and the robust area to write in a shop description.

Action: Update your Shop Description in your Shapeways Shop Settings with examples of your products types, your background and your expertise designing them. Feel free to elaborate on your designs and products, as the more relevant keywords on the page compared to non-relevant keywords, the better.

Bonus: Also add an extended description for your shop page.

Shop Description

Search engine optimization is a time-intensive and ever evolving process, but the key tenets are consistent: quality content, natural descriptions, and following basic guidelines will go a long way.

What keyword search do you wish you were the #1 result for?

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Make Each Social Media Platform Work For You

Hello Shapeways designers and shop owners! My name is Eric Ho and I am the Social Media Specialist here at Shapeways and in this blog post I’ll be teaching you how to promote your business on social media and how to make each social media platform work for you. The four big social media platforms we will be focusing on will be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

In the world of social media there is no one social strategy fits all, there is only one social media strategy tailored to you. The better you understand the tools, function, and advantages of each social platform the better you will be able to develop a social media presence catered to your business. One rule that everyone should follow on social media is that content is King and distribution is Queen. Tailoring your messaging to your audience with eye catching visuals and thought provoking text will increase the likelihood of people sharing and engaging with the content you’re sharing on social media. Mastering how to tell stories and tailoring your messaging specifically for each of these four major social media platforms will allow you get attention and increase your chances of you acquiring new audiences.


The largest social media platform on the internet means there is the most demand for attention to be sought after on ones newsfeed. Make sure you have a business fan page on Facebook and most of your posts should include a highly engaging image. especially a high quality image that visually showcases the product. Keep the text short, straightforward, and include the information readers care about. Don’t be afraid to include a call to action which can include “learn more, shop now, get started”. Facebook posts with photos included get at least 2X more engagement (likes, shares, comments) than text posts alone, and including a video in your post can lead to 4X more engagement. For more information on managing your Shapeways Shop Facebook fan page go here.

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(embedding a video to the Facebook post instead of linking to a YouTube video increase views of that Facebook post by 3X, Learn how to upload a video to Facebook here.)


Twitter is like one giant cocktail party and anyone is invited. If you are going to use Twitter for one purpose I recommend you take advantage of Twitter search, whether that’s searching a keyword or a specific hashtag. For example if you’re a jewelry designer and want to jump into a conversation about Jewelry, just search #Jewelry on Twitter and you can begin tweeting at people talking about Jewelry, following those people, or you can tweet about #Jewelry to anyone else looking to join in on the conversation about Jewelry.  Learn more about how to how to best compose tweets here.

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People come to Pinterest for visual discovery, creative inspiration, and sharing and collecting those discoveries and inspirations. The Pinterest platform is made up of 80% females, It is no coincidence that many businesses are using this platform to attract shoppers. Just like with Facebook, keep the text short and post  visually attractive images of your products. Make sure to Pin to various categories which your designs may overlap. Also similar to Twitter, you can search various categories and comment on other people’s pins to increase the chance of pinners discovering you. Interested in having your own Pinterest board on the Shapeways Pinterest page? Learn how you can have your own Pinterest board on the Shapeways Pinterest page here.


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Think of a photo snapped from your phone straight to Instagram. Instagram is one of the most personal and human ways you can engage with your customers on social media. Often times photos on Facebook and Pinterest are touched up to look pretty but with Instagram you have the option to make photos and video up close and personal, whether that’s with products or behind the scenes of your business. When it comes to sharing products I find that utilizing videos and photos that show the products out in the open and in the wild are very effective. Share photos of people engaging with your products and ask yourself what does my customer look like? And what use case scenario can can they use my product in? If you’re making sculptures, share photos of your your sculptures on someone’s bookshelf. If you’re making jewelry share a photo of someone wearing your jewelry trailered to a specific occasion or outfit. Get creative with Instagram and you’ll make it work.

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The best way to find success on social media is to jump right in it, experiment, learn, and get better based on results you are looking for whether that’s growing your followers, increasing engagement, driving sales, or driving traffic. There is no one method fits all when it comes to creating a social media plan for your business but if you’re looking to get more active on any of these four major social media platforms, the information above is a good starting point.

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Seven Steps to Get Press for Your 3D Printed Products

This is the sixth edition of our ten week series counting down to Black Friday. Previously covered topics include engaging forums, tagging products, photography, market research, and reputation.

press-dcyaleRadial Drill Press HO Scale by Dave’s Model Railway Stuff

Have you dreamed of seeing your products on your favorite website, blog or media outlet? Are you ready to expand your audience? Believe it or not, it’s easier than you think. Getting promoted on Shapeways is always a great start; and by targeting publications and outlets with audiences that align with your target customer base, you can really see your sales go through the roof. Write out the checklist below and seek holiday press, one article can make you thousands of dollars; really.

Seven Steps to PR Success:

1) List Your Dream Publications to be Featured in: Where have you always wanted to have been featured? What would validate your company or give you bragging rights amongst those less familiar with how great your business is. Make the wishlist of publications you want to be featured it, you’ll check them off over time, I promise. Plus, visualizing where you want to be helps make it happen.

2) Identify the Reporters that Cover Your Niche: Almost all reporters have topics or “beats” that they cover. Make a list of 1-2 journalists at the publications that you want to be featured in to target for coverage of your work. Communicating with the right people at a media outlet is essential to you getting featured and saves everyone time.

3) Find and Document Ways to Reach Reporters: Twitter handles, news tip forms, and individual emails are all great ways to get in touch with journalists. I have found that twitter handles are often the fastest way to get in touch with someone, followed by email. Platforms that journalists check in real-time are always best. Make a list or spreadsheet of these.

4) Engage with Reporters BEFORE you Ask for Coverage: In order to get what you want (coverage) you need to give (engage). Follow those journalists online and interact with the content they create.  Comment on their articles, share those you and your audience will find relevant and make yourself known on their radar before you ask for a feature.

5) Ask for Attention: The notion that if you model it the journalists will come is naive. Everyone is overwhelmed by the amount of content online, and the best way to stand out is to contact writers directly. For example, if you design camera parts, tagging the reporter at Engadget that reviews cameras and saying “Hi John, loved your article on DLSR’s last week, I made this mod for my Canon,” etc. are great ways to get the conversation about you started.

6) Post Your Products on Platforms Journalists Often Search: You may not get a journalists attention the first time you reach out, but since what you’re creating is so cool, they’ll notice the buzz you stir up. Getting an existing online community excited about your work, like we discussed in last week’s forum tips, can really boost the exposure of your products to journalists and potential shoppers alike.

7) If at First You Don’t Succeed: Try, try again! Journalists are busy and on tight deadlines. Just because they don’t cover you today, doesn’t mean they won’t cover you next week. Share your latest creations with them, reminding the writer why their audience will love to hear about what you’ve done.

There are Shop Owners already doing a great job with this, and you can too! Some great recent examples include:



Remember, both your products and your story as a 3D designer are noteworthy. Don’t be bashful, start growing your audience today!

Bonus challenge: Share your list of target outlets and reporters in our Marketing Your Shapeways Shop forum thread – the more we all work towards getting exposure for our work, the more journalistic interest there will be in all of us. One lucky list sharer will get $25 Shapeways credit.

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.


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:


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: 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!


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
  • 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?

Shop Owner Bootcamp: Build Your 3D Printing Reputation

This is the first in our new series, Shop Owner Bootcamp: 10 week countdown to Black Friday. Every week we will be discussing advanced tips and tricks for optimizing your holiday sales. This week’s focus is reputation. 

Can you feel it? The churn of excitement that only comes with Holiday season and sales? We are just 10 weeks away from Black Friday and it’s time to whip our Shops into shape.


Wired Life Stag by Dotsan

This week we’re focused on Reputation. Customer trust is the single most important factor when it come to repeat business. Knowing that they can get something unique, custom, and awesome from you that works as expected is crucial to the growth of your business. How do you build this customer trust? Back when I was on the UK roadshow, Vijay Paul of Dotsan, one of the most trusted designers on Shapeways, was kind enough to discuss reputation and tips for building it with us.  He’ll be guiding us all as we ramp up to holiday with our new Shop Owner Series.

Video produced by Stephen Greenwood, with help from yours truly

Consider this checklist your challenge for the week:

  • Print Your Models- Much of what we create has never been done before, and unexpected things happen to even the best designs from the best designers. The only way you can ensure form and function will be as you hope and expect for your customer, is to print it for yourself first. We know that with nearly 50 materials offered now, from plastic to platinum, that printing in all of them may not be an option. That’s okay, focus on ways you can paint the best picture for your customers. For example, even if its not possible to print a product of yours in a premium alloy like gold or silver, our stainless steel finishes can give the customer a very good idea of what to expect.
  • Document Your Process- One of the most compelling things about Shapeways is that every product has a story. Taking photos of the iterations that didn’t make the cut and illustrating how you’ve improved a design over time lets customers know you care about your products. It gives them the confidence that you’re not selling something you wouldn’t try yourself, and shows them your keen design eye.
  • Engage With Your Customers- Shapeways now shares the user name of a customer if they made the purchased logged in. Make a note to check back with them after the product should have shipped and see what they thought! Encourage them to post their photos in the comments on your product page, letting others browsing know how great your work is. Be open to updating your design based on their feedback, these early adopters can give you great UX advice!
  • Be Yourself- In your brand, in the products you design, in the product descriptions you write. This is your business, your baby, and the more it aligns with who you are, the more it will sing. Talk about your inspiration for the piece in the product description, upload photos to your personal and shop profile; and make the Shapeways Shopping experience personal!
  • Complete your Profile- Seeing a face and lineup of great products instills confidence in any consumer. Knowing who is behind the brand encourages people to try it out. Uploading your avatar is more critical than ever, now that your designer card shows up on every product page. Include your twitter handle so shoppers can chat with you easily on the go. Make a sweet shop banner. Invest in this now, so when traffic floods your shop around holiday, you like the reputable, fabulous business you are.

Next week we’ll be talking about the importance of photography and tagging in the getting your products discovered. Feel free to get a head start!

What help do you need to take your shop to the next level? Feel free to ask for guidance here or in our Marketing Your Shapeways Shop thread on our forums.

Refining the presentation of products in your Shapeways shop

by William Seligman

From Eleanor: William Seligman is a jewelry designer who creates pagan and Wiccan themed Jewelry on Shapeways for his Kickin’ Wiccan shop. He posted a version of this entry on his blog and we enjoyed his thoughts about how to effectively edit, curate and present products in your Shapeways shop so much we wanted to share them with the broader Shapeways community.

The three Kickin' Wiccan styles of triquetra ring in raw bronze.

The three Kickin’ Wiccan styles of triquetra ring in raw bronze.

On my 53rd birthday, I lost an intricately-designed custom-made ring that was precious to me. The ring was made 15 years ago; the original jeweler no longer had the molds. So I started looking into ways to recreate the ring from photographs. I discovered Shapeways in the
process. After months of experimentation with 3D software and many test prints, I finally had my ring again.

I emerged with a self-taught skill set in 3D design and printing. I decided to put those skills to use in a market I knew well from being a consumer: Wiccan and pagan jewelry. It’s my first experience with setting up a storefront on-line.

Recently, I consulted with the talented artist Vann Godfrey about Kickin’ Wiccan, my jewelry shop on Shapeways. I’ve spent the past few days putting his advice into practice. Vann’s advice was similar to that of Shapeways’ advice to its shop owners. Here’s what I’ve figured out, both from Vann and from my own investigations:


No more plastic or renders for shop images

Plastic models, no matter well I photograph them, will never look as good as pictures of metal jewelry. Plastic models of metal jewelry detract from the look of the shop. A single plastic photo will drag down all the other pictures, no matter good those other photos are.

This has two corollaries:

  • I’ve had to pull items from my shop because the only pictures I have of them are of my plastic test prints.
  • I can also create rendered scenes from the same 3D graphics program I use to design the rings. I’ve reached the point where my scenes are slightly better than the photographs of plastic, but they still look artificial. They’re not good enough to put on my storefront. Even if I did, Shapeways frowns on rendered scenes; if I used them, Shapeways would not consider my store for promotional purposes.  Eleanor’s note: We now feature material renders, which you can read about here, but still encourage actual product photography as the best way to show off your designs. 


So some of my designs will have to wait until I get metal prints and take pictures of them. I won’t add a new design to the shop until I can print it, or arrange for someone else to print and photograph it for me. Eleanor’s note: we also encourage designers to try out Beta products for this purpose. 

This can happen: I designed a heptagram ring for a friend. To my surprise, the response was so positive that I was encouraged to make it available for purchase even though all I had was a rendered image. I’ve asked the buyers to send me photos. This is nice reinforcement. It tells me that maybe, just maybe, I know what I’m doing.


No more plastic jewelry

I’ve stopped selling plastic versions of my designs. For one thing, it helps the shoppers if they have fewer options to choose from. For another, I have to value my time and skill in creating the jewelry.

Most of my designs are rings. When the shopper buys a ring, they have to specify the ring size. I customize the design for that particular size. This takes time. It’s barely worth doing for the stainless-steel versions of the rings; for me it’s not worth doing for cheap plastic versions.

In general, there many good reasons to work in plastic, but the jewelry I am making is not suited to it.

What choices have you made to edit the products you sell on Shapeways? How do you decide which designs to offer and in what materials?

Tweet Your Best Tweet Forward

We recently added Twitter to your Shop Owner profiles to allow you to share updates with your followers. You can have a shop/brand handle on your Shop page and your personal handle on your profile page. As the social media specialist at Shapeways, I believe that Twitter is an exciting platform for Shapeways Shop Owners and users to showcase work, market products, and generate conversation around your Shapeways Shop.

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If you’re already on Twitter and follow @Shapeways, I’m often the eyes that get to see all of your tweets. My favorite part about Twitter is that it’s only 140 characters and it’s a great way to provide frequent updates to your followers. If you’re a Shop Owner or designer looking to tweet about your work, following these best practices for composing a tweet will significantly increase the likelihood of engagement (retweets, favorites, mentions, replies).

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Here’s an example of a quality tweet by Brandon George, the owner of the Shapeways Shop 3by3D. Let’s breakdown what makes this tweet a great tweet in my opinion.

1) It includes a quality photo relevant to his tweet. Everyone is competing for eyeballs on your Twitterfeed so having a attractive visual image in your tweet gets twice the response rate than a tweet without a photo.

2) The tweet uses hashtags like #Flower #mensfashion #Style which relate to the product being promoted, and using popular hashtags increases the chance of exposure of your for people searching for that hashtag.

3) The tweet includes a shortened URL linking back to his Shapeways Shop where interested followers seeing the tweet can be directed to find his shop.

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(Shop Owner Jeremy Mallin tweets about his Mobius Cinquefoil Knot Pendant)

I plan to continue to share more social media tips and tricks to help the Shapeways community win on social. In the meantime I can be reached at if anyone needs any advice on social media strategy.

Remember to tweet your best tweets forward and you can engage with us on all of our other social media channels below!

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Sneak Peek into new ways to design products on Shapeways: First To Try & Beta Products

Here at Shapeways, we’re changing 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. No matter what they’re making, though, we know how involved the creative process can be. Taking a great idea and making it real takes a lot of hard work and iteration before amazing products come to life.

With 3D printing, designers are not alone in the creative process. They don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get the form and function just right, and they don’t have to wait to go to market until they’ve undergone extensive testing. With the support of their friends and fans, they can share their products with the world and get the feedback they need — wherever they are in the product development process.  We’re committed to helping you create great products, by embracing iteration and encouraging your customers to actively participate in earlier stages of product development. Step one is setting the right expectations, and step two is opening up the conversation around products.

Today, we are excited to give our community and particularly Shop Owners a sneak peek into two new ways to get support and feedback on early stage products that we’ll release later this summer: First to Try and Beta.

Shop Owners, you can see all of the new tools on your model edit page today and preview what your products will look like when this is released to shoppers later in the summer.



Design is becoming far more collaborative across companies big and small, and we’ve already seen thousands of examples on Shapeways in which designers and customers work together to tweak products and make them more personal. We want to make it easier for Shapeways Shop Owners to tap into this trend and develop deeper, ongoing connections with their customers.

The first way we’re fueling this kind of collaboration is called Beta. Products in Beta are in active development and are being improved upon through product iteration.  As a Shop Owner, you will be able to invite your friends, fans, and communities to support you in the product development process and get feedback to improve the design. You can ask for feedback on how it fits, whether they like the design, or anything else you need to get your product over the finish line. More and more, people want to be a part of the creative process — we’re excited to help open up the doors with you.

How will this work?

The purchase area on your product page will prominently announce that this product is in Beta, and has space for you to briefly explain to customers your goals and what you’re looking for in the Beta testing. You can opt to make your product a Beta Product or to move it out of Beta at any time.

Beta Materials

By positioning your product in Beta, you will have a private comment stream to collaborate with your customers and solicit their feedback. We see a lot of this happening in comment streams today on Shapeways, but we also want a private place to encourage honest feedback and collaboration on products. Elaborate on your goals, ask specific questions, and keep customers up to date on the progress of your product and new versions you’re working on. We’ll be encouraging customers who buy a product in Beta to come back here after they receive their product to share photos and let you know what they think.

Learn more about how to use Beta Products


First To Try
First To Try Product

3D printing a model in every material finish you’d like to offer for sale can be quite expensive. We’re working hard to reduce the barriers to entry and we don’t ever want to make you 3D print a model in every finish yourself unless you prefer to. However, because 3D printing is still new, some customers don’t understand the risks subtleties involved with 3D printing and can be disappointed if their product doesn’t turn out the way they were expecting — or especially disappointed if it can’t be printed at all.

As a part of our efforts to increase transparency about the manufacturing process with designers, including the Print Success Rate

we are also going to provide more information to shoppers by showing the “First To Try” label on any product that hasn’t been printed before in that material. This helps shoppers understand our level of confidence that we can successfully create the product that they are looking to buy.

How does this work?

When your product has First To Try materials enabled, your customers will see a different set of choices on your product page. We’re also investing in beautiful material renders that match the color and finish of all of our materials, so you can show a shopper exactly what the product will look like, while also helping them understand that they are one of the first to 3D print it in that material and are seeing a computer-generated render, not a photo.

Once you or your customers have successfully printed your product in each material you’re offering for sale, the First To Try label won’t apply any longer. There are a few ways to progress through First To Try:

  • You can enlist your friends, fans and community to buy your product and share a photo, which will be important for your long term product success
  • You can print the product in your preferred materials and ensure you meet the Print Success Rate before you launch your product
  • You can disable the materials that haven’t been successfully printed before

Learn more about how to use First To Try


Beta vs First To Try

When you are really hoping to get feedback on your product — from fit to form to function and everything in between — we recommend using Beta. It’s a great way to solicit feedback and build a community around your products and ideas.

If you’ve already tested your product and are trying to understand whether you product can be successfully made in a given material, First To Try is your best bet. It sets the right expectations for your customers and helps you enlist support.


The Future of Product Development at Shapeways

With a process as new and rapidly-changing as 3D printing, expectation setting is critical. But we know there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We’ll continue to build more tools to help you solicit support from the community and help them understand how the process works. We’re really excited about these new additions to our marketplace, and would love for you to join the discussion here in comments and the forum to let us know what you think!

Learn more about Product Development at Shapeways, or jump into the tutorials on how to use Beta Products & First To Try in your shop today.