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HelpTutorialsFAQ: Making your own products

FAQ: Making your own products

Materials

What materials can I use?

We currently 3D Print in over 30 materials and variations, from plastic to stainless steel, silver to ceramic. See our Materials page for more detailed information.

Are your materials food safe?

Due to the nature of the 3D Printing process, most of our products are not food safe - with the exception of Ceramics. Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information.

Intellectual property

Will I remain the owner of any models that I upload?

Yes absolutely! You, as a designer, retain all the intellectual property rights to your 3D design, including the 3D renders. Copyright protects the creator of the object. Any re-creation, whether it be 3D modeled or sculpted in clay, is a copyright infringement. On the Shapeways website, you can let other people see your work. However, you can control whether you just want to "Display to the public" or "Offer for sale to others". Neither of these settings will mean that any rights you have to this model will be transferred to the people viewing or ordering your model. Please note that by uploading your 3D design, you warrant that it is your original creation and not copied from any third parties. You also agree that your 3D design does not infringe the intellectual property rights of others. For more information, please see our Terms and Conditions and Content Policy.

When I upload a model to Shapeways, is it public or private by default?

Models are always private by default. You can choose to set it to public, or offer it for sale. You can change these settings at any time.

How do you make sure my work remains confidential?

We take your privacy very seriously. When you upload your model, you enter into an NDA (non disclosure agreement) with Shapeways. Besides what we need to process and print your model, we do not share it outside of our manufacturing factories, as long as it is set to "Private." If you set your model to "Private," which is the default, Shapeways will not use, modify, or display your design. If you make your model "Public" and/or for sale, we may use your model in promotions like our newsletter or take it to display at events to help promote you and our awesome Shapeways community.

Can I print or sell copyrighted/trademarked/patented products?

Please make sure any models you upload are your own by uploading only 3D models and designs that consist entirely of content you created yourself or you have the permission and rights to use, as specified in our Terms & Conditions. We expect that the creator of a 3D design holds the copyrights to the content. Hence, please only upload your own original work or work that is freely available through a Creative Commons License.

By clicking "Upload now", you are representing that this 3D model does not violate Shapeways' Terms & Conditions and that you own all copyrights for this 3D model or have authorization to upload and use it. Please do not infringe other people's intellectual property rights - these may include copyright, patent, registered design, design right, trade mark or trade secret.

While we do what we can to ensure that the content on Shapeways is appropriate, we cannot realistically review every model uploaded for a possible copyright infringement. We are also unable to determine whether the user has obtained a license for copyrighted content. As a service provider, our liability is protected by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act under their Safe Harbor provision. (More details can be found here on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act)

What this means is that while Shapeways is protected by the DMCA, individual users, like yourself, are not protected and are thus liable for any penalties resulting from copyright infringement. We do not encourage infringing known copyrights and we are not legally able to provide specific advice on a case by case basis.

Someone is selling a copy of my designs. How can I remove it from Shapeways?

While we do what we can to ensure the content on Shapeways is appropriate, we cannot realistically review every model uploaded for a possible copyright infringement. We are also unable to determine whether the user has obtained a license for copyrighted content. As a service provider, our liability is protected by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act under their Safe Harbor provision. (More details can be found here on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Millennium_Copyright_Act)

What this means is that unless the copyright holder contacts us directly to remove infringing content, we can not remove any models. However, in order to cooperate with and protect intellectual property right owners, we implemented the following notice takedown system, in line with the DMCA.

If you believe that someone is infringing your copyright with their model, please contact them first. Start by send them an email directly, using the "contact designer" button on their product page, politely explaining that you believe they are infringing your copyrighted design. Usually, this is enough to start the conversation and lead them to either remove or modify their model.

If you get no response, and you are indeed the copyright holder, please notify us via email by sending Shapeways an official DMCA Takedown notice. Instructions for sending this document can be found under the section "Procedure for Reporting Copyright Infringement" on our content policy page. If you can show that you are the copyright holder in this way, we will comply and take down the infringing model.

Have more copyright questions? Check out this awesome video from YouTube for a handy overview: http://www.youtube.com/yt/copyright/ or just email us with any questions!

Designing your own products

How do I get started with 3D modeling?

You can check out our Tutorials, and our Forum has lots of info on popular 3D software as well.

Which 3D software can I use with Shapeways?

You can use any 3D software that can export to our supported file formats: STL, OBJ, VRML2, X3D and Collada. If you're just getting started, you may want to try awesome free software like Sketchup, Tinkercad or Blender.

What are the design guidelines for each material?

Each material has a set of Design Guidelines. These are written to help you work with each material, and define acceptable dimensions, shapes etc. These guidelines are part of the material's info page. Select the material you're interested in from the Material Info page, and open the Design Guidelines tab.

What material is right for my project?

See our Material Comparison page to compare price, durability, and minimum wall thickness.

Can you check my design and tell me if it's printable?

Yes! We will check every design upon ordering and you will receive detailed feedback if there's an issue with it.

Uploading your models to Shapeways

What 3D file formats can I use to upload my designs?

STL, Collada, OBJ, X3D(B) and VRML2. For detailed info, see the Upload page. Color models that require textures must be uploaded as a zip archive.

I received an email with an error message. How can I fix my model?

The most common problems with uploaded files are:

  • The file is not in the right format. Remember we support STL, Collada, OBJ, X3D(B) and VRML2. You can export the file to another format, or use the free MeshLab to do it.
  • The file exceeds 1 million triangles. Are you sure you need all these polygons? Try different smoothing settings before exporting, or reduce the polygon count with MeshLab.
  • Full-color models don't include their texture maps. If you did include these files in the .zip file upload, it can help to open the VRML or X3D file in a text editor and find the line that refers to your texture map file. Make sure it doesn't reference any subfolders, eg. '/maps/texture.png'.

If that doesn't help, try asking for advice within our community, or contact our Customer Service team.

Will you fix my model?

We do not provide direct design assistance. You can find lots of helpful people who are expert 3D modelers and designers at our Forum. We also recommend the free software Netfabb for fixing models. You can also see our Tutorial on Netfabb.

Ordering

How does Shapeways calculate the price of a product?

We're trying to make 3D Printing affordable and accessible for everyone, so we work hard to keep prices as low as possible. The printing price of your product depends on the amount of material that we need to produce it. Basically, it's:

Product price = startup fee + product volume + material price per volume

There are three exceptions to this rule:

  • Ceramics are not priced by volume, but by their surface area (due to the fact that the manual glazing process is the primary cost factor, and more complex surfaces take more time to glaze).
  • Density Discount: Products in Strong & Flexible Plastics with a density higher than 10% that are larger than 20cm3 get 50% discount on all volume that exceed the first 20cm3. You can read more about this on the Density Discount Page.
  • Sparse Model Pricing: For models with an overall bounding box of 10,000cm3 or more (for instance, a cube of 20 x 20 x 25 cm) AND that have a density less than or equal to 2.6%, we switch to a new pricing scheme. Instead of a price per material volume, the new price will be based on the total bounding box volume. This will more accurately reflect the actual costs. The price per volume of bounding box will be $0.0385/cc. You can read more about this on the Sparse Model Pricing page.

You will find the exact prices for each material on our Materials page.

What can I do to save costs?

Costs vary widely by the material used, so you can always try a lowest cost material like Full Color Sandstone or White, Strong & Flexible.

If you're designing a product which is relatively ?dense (i.e., not hollow), you can benefit from our Density Discount for White Strong & Flexible for any model that uses more than 20cm3 of material and has a density of 10% or higher.

Are there prohibited products?

We would like Shapeways to be for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, orientation or beliefs. This broad sweep of inclusivity means we create boundaries and guidelines to ensure everyone can enjoy Shapeways equally. We ask that content which could be interpreted by others as inappropriate to be kept private. In case of doubt, choose to keep your model ?private.

Some examples of content that is prohibited and will be removed (private or public) are sexually explicit content and weaponry (we are allowed to make an exception for miniatures - maximum size 10cm). For a full overview, please see our Content Policy and Notice Takedown Procedure.

My model uploaded correctly, but after ordering you cannot print it. Why?

3D Printing is both art and science. Our goal is to help you make anything you can imagine, but sometimes your model cannot be printed in the materials you choose at the quality we strive to achieve.

Once you place your order, one of our production engineers will closely examine your model. They will check for printability, but also if the model will be too fragile within shipping and handling. In some cases, we'll try to print a model but find out that it cannot be 3D Printed with certainty, at the quality level you would expect. In all these cases, we will provide you with detailed information on the issue and how to solve it. We're here to help!

I have another question - how can I contact Shapeways?

We're happy to help! Please use our Contact Page to find the right person and send them your question.

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