Shapeways, The Community

An Update to the Shapeways Pricing Structure

Over the past three years shapeways has grown from an ambitious idea, to a vibrant community passionate about making their ideas real with 3D printing.  In that time we have introduced 21 new materials, experimented with processes and pricing models.  The time has come to consolidate the pricing structure to be more consistent, and better reflect fabrication, handling and distribution costs.

The basic philosophy

Before going into the details, it is important to state that our goal is to make it possible for everybody to make whatever they want using 3D printing. To enable this, we feel it should not be the case that large models are too expensive and small models are too cheap. The new price structure is based on the true cost Shapeways is incurring to print all the awesome models made by the community. Why is this important? It gives an incentive to behaviors that helps the community. As an example, shipping a $100 order in one shipment is more efficient than doing so in four shipments. In the old system, there was no incentive for this, with a shipping charge there is. If we all behave in a way that makes Shapeways more efficient, Shapeways will give back those efficiencies in lower prices. That in the end will make it possible for all of us to make whatever we want!

What have we learned

Our current system has “free” shipping and in quite a few cases does not charge a handling fee per model. Why is this the case? When we started we wanted to make the pricing system as easy as possible. The result is that small models and small orders are actually costing us money while large parts and large orders are generating a lot of money. This is, we feel, in both cases not right. Everybody should pay what it costs to produce and ship their products, plus some margin for Shapeways. In doing so we do not penalize certain models or subsidize others and in the end this will make it easier for us to lower prices faster, which is our goal.

The cost of 3D printing is made up of 4 major components:

  1. Material (the material used, the support used, cleaning and polishing materials)
  2. Machine cost (the amount of machine time attributed to the production of the product)
  3. Labor (preparing / checking the file, operating the machines, cleaning the product, sorting and packing the product)
  4. Shipping (shipping cost with UPS)

It is quite easy to reflect the material and machine cost of the products made in the cost per volume (and this is how we started). The cost of labor is reasonably constant per product, whether big or small (the handling cost). The cost of shipping is mostly the same whether one or multiple products are ordered. The main difference with shipping is the shipping destination. Currently our cost within certain European countries, the US and Canada are similar, where we have higher cost when shipping to the rest of the world.

Therefore we will introduce new prices based on:

price per product = handling fee per product + cost per volume of product

price per order = price of products + shipping cost

The New Pricing System as of October 1st

Shipping Cost as of October 1st

  • United States, Canada and The Netherlands: $6.50
  • EU Countries: $9.50
  • Rest of the World: $19.99 


    The new pricing provides a sustainable structure to better reflect the true cost of 3D printing.  We are at the same time dramatically improving our fabrication, handling and distribution techniques to make Shapeways more efficient.  Together these actions will enable us to reduce the cost of 3D printing, and pass on those savings to all Shapeways users as soon as possible.   

    This new pricing structure will be effective as of October 1st, until then, take a look at the new pricing structure, see how it affects your models and your shops, then see how you can design to make the most of the new, fairer pricing system.

    About me
    CEO / Co-founder Shapeways
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