3D Printing Pre-Print Checklist
Shapeways Automatic Checks
Upon upload, your model immediately and automatically goes through our initial printability checks:
- Readable file format
Supported file types include STL, OBJ, X3D, DAE, Collada, and VRML97/2 (WRL). See our supported 3D modeling applications.
- Polygon threshold
We accept 3D models up to a 1 million polygon limit. You can use Meshlab to reduce your polygon count.
- Printer bounding box
Your model must fit within at least one of our printers. The minimum and maximum bounding box requirements vary by material and can be found in our Design Guidelines.
- Model integrity
Your model must be watertight/closed, with correct normals, and manifold. Learn more about how to check for model integrity.
If you encounter an error during the upload process, this tutorial on solving upload issues may be helpful.
Your Pre-Print Checklist
Use this checklist as a tool to prepare your model for 3D printing and put your mind at ease.
- Design for your material
Each checklist item applies differently to each material. The material design guidelines are your primary resource for designing 3D printable products.
- Check wall & wire thickness
Every part of your model must be thick enough to be 3D printed, survive post-production, and be safely packed and shipped. Use our automated Wall Thickness Tool to check for areas that may be too thin. You can access this tool from the Model Edit page at any time. Learn more about why wall thickness matters.
- Create escape holes for hollow models
Excess material, such as nylon powder for our Strong & Flexible Plastic, must be able to escape from hollow models. The material guidelines describe the required escape holes for each material—when in doubt, lean towards more and larger escape holes.
- Check balance and weight
A model must be designed for real-world physics. Account for weight distribution and the model's ability to support its own weight.
- Protect vulnerable areas
Outstretched elements, such as wires or appendages on figurines, could snap off during or after printing if the joint is not strong enough. See an example of what we mean.
- Adjust model scale
You likely had to specify the scale of your model (meters, millimeters, inches) before uploading, but when the model is on Shapeways you should check its dimensions one more time and make sure it meets your expectations.
- Ensure clearance for moving parts
Moving parts need clearance between one another to function properly. This is especially important when designing for Strong & Flexible Plastic—without enough clearance, the parts will fuse together during 3D printing. Learn more about designing for mechanical parts.
- Make sure details are large enough
Embossed and engraved details have minimum requirements to ensure they come out clearly. Check the Design Guidelines for your chosen material.
- Compensate for smoothing modifiers (if used)
3D printers do not read smoothing modifiers, so instead, sub-divide your mesh to replicate the effect of smoothing.
- Optimize your colors
If designing for Full Color Sandstone, check that your Shapeways render matches your expectations. CMYK is best at producing bright, well defined colors. Skin tones are particularly difficult to print. Check out our tips on optimizing color.
- Don't forget to read our content policy
We encourage the endless possibilities of your creativity but ask that your designs respect our content policy.
Once your model checks out, you're ready to bring your design to life!
You can upload a new version if needed, and contact us with any questions.