Shapeways

Website Update: New Volume Calculation

We’re about to change some calculations in our 3D upload and pricing software. As it may impact the pricing of your objects, it’s important that you spare a few minutes to read this article.

Internally we call this change ‘multiple shell merging’. What this means is that we fuse loose parts (or ‘shells’) into single objects wherever possible (for the techies: we do a Boolean union operation).

Change 1: Overlapping parts are no longer charged double.
An easy way to attach two objects is to make them overlap. In the old situation, our software would calculate the printing costs of each part and add them. This meant that the overlapping region would be charged twice. In the new situation, our software sees only one volume and it’s priced more accurately. See the 2D image below for an illustration.

Change 2: Hollow objects without a hole are now regarded as solid
A common trick to create hollow objects (one that we even suggested!) was to create a smaller object inside and flip it’s normals. This would often lead to a closed space on the inside, where excess material would remain trapped.

Because of the shell merging, these ‘negative’ objects are now discarded.

This can be easily avoided by creating a small hole in the object’s wall. This will cause our software to see the ‘inside’ properly as ’empty volume’, and will subtract it from the printing price.

Tip: The hole doesn’t actually need to be large enough so that we can extract the excess material. 

Will these changes influence my existing models on the site?

Everything that you have already uploaded will keep it’s old price, and only new uploads will be affected by this change.  In the future we might recalculate everything, but in that case we will contact you if there is a negative impact on specific models you own.

When will you guys change this?

The new software should be released later this week next week. We’ll announce the release on the forum.

Why are we changing these calculations?

We did not have the software before! This is also fairer we charge closer to the cost.

With everything we do, we work towards lowering our printing prices. In the old situation, our operators had to merge the parts manually before printing. By removing this step we can make the printing process faster and therefore cheaper.

On top of that, we’re glad to have resolved the issue with pricing of overlapping volumes. This can directly influence (and improve!) your printing price.

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