HelpTutorialsFAQ: Making your own products

FAQ: Making your own products


Intellectual Property

Designing Your Own Products

Uploading Your Models to Shapeways


Beta Products and First To Try

Shapeways Pilots

CustomMaker Pilot


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 a model to Shapeways, we only store the information we need to process and 3D print your model. As long as your model is set to "Private," we do not share that information outside our factories and our production partners. If you set your model to "Private," which is the default, Shapeways will not use or display your design. If you make your model "Public" and/or for sale, we may use your model and related imagery 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:

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:

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: 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.


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. Our costs vary across materials and processes, so we’ve set our prices to reflect that. Most materials are priced based on a startup fee and the volume of your model. However, some material prices also incorporate the number of parts in your model, or the amount of space it takes up in a printer.

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.

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.

Beta Products and First To Try

What is a Beta Product?

Beta Products are early stage products that customers can buy, test and give feedback on. Designers who are interested in feedback on their products can opt-in to make a specific product in Beta, and are able to opt-out at anytime.

The Beta program gives you the ability to introduce an early stage product and collect feedback from customers on design, fit, workability and more.

Read more about Product Development at Shapeways.

What is First To Try?

If a product is in First To Try it means it has not gone through our printers before, and is a way for shoppers to distinguish items that have been printed and tested from those that have not.

If a product has been printed in some materials, the First To Try label will only show up on materials it has not been printed in. This means one product could have the label under Stainless Steel but not White Strong & Flexible.

We think it's important to communicate to shoppers that products that have not been printed before carry small risks, and if there are kinks or the product does not print we will refund the customer's money.

Learn more about Product Development at Shapeways or How to Use First To Try.

Why are Beta Products and First To Try good for shoppers?

These products give shoppers the ability to be part of the creative process during product development. They will be supporting designers and helping to bring a new product to life as the first to get their hands on a new design. It also separates products that have been printed and bought before so customers who prefer to buy products that have already been tested will be able to differentiate.

With these labels, shoppers are given more insight into product history and whether or not it has been printed successfully before. This allows us to set expectations around the quality of finish and design.

What is the risk/guarantee of buying a First To Try Item?

First To Try means the product has not gone through our printers prior to purchase, so there is a risk the finished product might look different from the render and the product might not turn out as expected. If shoppers are unsure about any aspect of the product, they can contact the designer for questions.

Our standard return policy applies to all products. For First To Try items, if we are not able to print the product successfully we will refund your money but we cannot guarantee that the designer will fix the model so that it will be printable for future iterations.

Why is this good for makers?

Feedback is a crucial aspect of product iteration and we want to provide avenues for designers to connect with and receive feedback from real customers. This will help designers improve fit and design of their product in real-time, while building relationships with their customers and fans.

Can I make myself exempt from First To Try?

No, we cannot allow anyone to be exempt from First to Try as it can undermine trust with customers. It is a vital aspect of the Shapeways marketplace and helps shoppers know the kind of product they are getting when they buy from our site.

The only way to not have First to Try labeled on a product is to print it yourself or encourage shoppers to print it in materials you have not tried yet.

Where can I find (print success/First To Try?)

Model Edit- Model Tab (first tab) and Selling tab (third tab)

Why is my product First To Try even if i've printed it before?

There are a few reasons why a product you've printed before might still be labeled as First To Try. If you upload a new model version after printing that version will be considered First To Try because it has not gone through our printers yet. Products with a low print success rate will also be impacted because we may need more information before we can move it out of First To Try.

Why is my Co-creator always in First To Try?

Co-creators are always a new model so until that specific product is printed it will be in First To Try.

Why doesn’t the Print Success Rate of a product stay the same for new model versions?

Printability is based on the most recent model version that has been printed and is automatically reset when a new version is uploaded. While it may only be a small change to the product, each model has a unique geometry we haven't been able to attempt before.

We understand this can be frustrating but we want to make sure we are setting the right expectations with customers.

Why is my App in First To Try?

Just as with products, they are always a new model that hasn't been printed before so they will be in First To Try.

How can a model be First To Try if it has pictures?

A model with pictures can still be in First To Try if the 3D model used to create the product was changed after being printed. While these updates are usually in response to customer feedback and make the product more functional, they can't be moved out of First To Try until they have gone through our printers.

There are also instances where a product has been printed in one material and then painted or altered or was printed on an at-home 3D printer. If it hasn't gone through our printers it will be in First To Try.

Shapeways Pilots

What are Shapeways Pilots?

These programs are experiments that give us a chance to test things out together. They are not yet ready to become official offerings, but enable us to focus on developing the best experience for our entire community. Pilot features might not work the way you expect and pilot materials may not 3D print consistently. But the more feedback you give, the better equipped we are to figure out what will enable you to create better, and what needs a little more development.

What Pilots are currently happening?

You can find a list of our ongoing pilots here. You can join any open ones or get on the waitlist to join ones that are currently closed.

CustomMaker Pilot

What is CustomMaker?

CustomMaker, under customization options on the Model Edit details tab, enables you to allow your customers to personalize their models with embossed or engraved text or images based on the location, size, and emboss or engrave height that you choose.

How do I use CustomMaker?

Please check out our tutorial.

What is the goal of the CustomMaker pilot?

To get your feedback! We want this to be an easy to use, intuitive experience that expands your possibilities as a Shop Owner and delights your shoppers. Please share feedback via the links in the tool itself.

Something isn’t working. Where can I give feedback?

We appreciate your help in testing and shaping the experience of our pilot. If something isn’t working, please leave feedback via the links in the tool itself.

How do I know how tall or deep an embossing or engraving should be for text and images?

Embossing and Engraving: Since your customization settings apply for all of the materials available for sale, make sure to choose a height or depth of detail that is at least as tall or deep as the minimum detail guideline for all your materials, which can be found in our material guidelines.

  • For example: If I have a ring available for sale in both stainless steel and in 18K gold plated, the minimum embossed detail for 14k gold plated is 0.35mm. The minimum embossed detail for stainless steel however, is 1.0mm. Therefore, the smallest detail I should use for text and images should be at least 1.0mm.
  • For images specifically: We will be encouraging shoppers to upload a simple black and white image, but if they upload a color image - especially one with a lot of detail (think of a picture of someone’s child, pet, or family member), we will be converting that color image to greyscale. The height or depth of the detail throughout the image will then be determined by the shade of grey:
    • Black: the tallest embossed part of the picture or the deepest part of the engraving. This is the value you select in the image settings.
    • White: No emboss or engraving on that part of the image on the model.
    • Grey: Relative height based on how light or dark it is.
    Since this means the height or depth of the detail can vary throughout the whole image, it may be beneficial to err on a slightly higher embossed detail or deeper engraving to try to help ensure the visibility of your customer’s image.

Is the review and rejection process different for this pilot?

The rejection process will be the same for models made with CustomMaker as normally uploaded models. As a Shop Owner, if your shopper does get a rejection, we encourage you to take a look at your customization settings to see if you can adjust them to a better setting.



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