And the Fate of the Frosted Detail/Ultra Detail is…

Posted by in Shapeways, What's Hot

We are happy to announce that we will be welcoming Frosted Detail and Frosted Ultra Detail permanently to the Shapeways materials family! That is right, designers, the smooth and high detail material you’ve known and loved for the past few months will be here for good.

We’ve spent the past week evaluating the trial period, looking at pricing, design rules, successes and issues. We understand that many of you were expecting news a bit earlier, but we wanted to make sure we spend adequate time discussing how to improve and grow based on what we learned during the trial. With the continuation of this material, you can expect better packaging, more consistent lead time and quality.

We will also be adjusting our price to better reflect our costs. The good news is we are decreasing the cost per cubic centimeter for both Frosted Detail and Frosted Ultra Detail. Frosted Detail will be $2.39/cm3 (17% discount) and Frosted Ultra will be $3.49/cm3 (21% discount)! However, there will be a startup cost of $5.00 for both materials. The new pricing will go into effect next Monday afternoon NYC time. Like all materials, we will be continuously working to give you better pricing, lead time, and quality overtime.

As for design, we learned a lot over the trial as to what kinds of designs are possible and what are not possible. Over the next few weeks, we will be consolidating those learning into tips and guides, and will be announcing them on the blog.

Thank you for your patience and enthusiasm. We look forward to all the amazing designs coming our way for these materials. Have fun creating!


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  1. Dizingof

    Still waiting for my FUD order since May 24th…(!)

    It sure takes the joy of ordering .. :/

  2. chris bense

    Awesome news, now i will have to find time to make somthing again :) been a while.

    Grats shapeways!

  3. Aotrs Commander

    Well, that’s *incredibly* annoying. Because that renders the detail materials utterly useless to me. The $5.00 startup cost is *enormous* in comparison to the models I would (and have already) used it for. A lot of the stuff I’d use FD for is a dollar or less (two or three at the outside; much more than that and it’s cheaper to use SWF), so migitating that start-up cost to any degree per model would require probably ten-twelve models per pack. Which is not only too many for just one type (meaning it becomes more difficult to prototype), but also likely to run smack into TurboCAD’s nebulous I-won’t-convert-to-.dxf-tantrum limits. Hell, I can’t get four cruisers in a pack, I’m *never* going to get eight plus corvettes. (I struggled with my last batch of fricken’ fighters, because they were all curves.) And by that point, it’s become *way* more expensive than SWF. The extra resolution is simply not even *close* to worth paying twice the extra at the very least. (Once painted, you have to look hard to tell the difference between two models I have, one in SWF an one in FD).

    So, have to go back and rest all the default materials I’d set to FD back to TD, then…

    I also either have to re-design the one model I’d done to below TC specs (this being the aforementioned curvy fighters), or switch to SWF (which pretty much doubles the price, as with TCAD’s .dxf issue, I can’t migitate anything, as it barely handles the model as it is).

    It’s really annoying, since the previous price was excellent. Heck, I wouldn’t have minded it going up per cm by a modest amount, but that start-up fee is just way, *way* too much.

    That’s a huge let-down Shapeways. I’m disappointed in you, especially considering the enormous amount of demand for the material.

  4. Jeroen van der Schaaf

    I presume this start-up fee is per order and not per printed model. So I do not understand the fuss. Problem however is, how will this work in the shops? The customer will just see the total price that is based on the cm3 cost and the mark-up. So how will he/she now that extra cost are involved if the model is ordered in FUD … that will be a huge disappointment to customers who don not design the models themselves. So basically our primary customers and your secondary customers. How will you sell that change to them?

    1. Alex Handley

      Unless it’s different to the other materials, the start up cost will likely be per model, not per order.

      If it is per order, then I would retract my former comment, as that would be liveable with. But i don’t think it is.

  5. Stony Smith

    The break-even point is 5.56cm3 of material. Above that volume, the models are cheaper, below that, individual models are more expensive.

    If I read the forum posts correctly, the trouble as I understand it is the handling necessary to clean and package the items. Many many small items consume lots of manhours.

    If someone puts a large number of _loose_ items within a model, then that item will be that much more difficult to process. We’ll need to make sure that items are sprued together properly so that it can be treated as a single object.

    I do wish that the production teams would give us a report about which models were particularly difficult to deal with during the trial period.

  6. tstone

    I’m with Aotrs Commander on this one. I think this will totally kill FUD for me and make the hours I’ve spent on models which contain 0.2mm detail totally useless. Very sad.

  7. Jake Drews

    Very excited to see that this material is staying. Hate to be just another voice trying to explain Shapeways decision, but I think the pricing makes total sense. Especially considering the detail, and the hours spent sorting the models after production.

    Secondly, Shapeways cant exactly just “pick:” a price that works for them, they have to work with the company supplying the actual manufacturing services. So if that company says that they HAVE to charge a certain amount of money, then Shapeways can not really do anything other than choose not to offer the material. Maybe someone from Shapeways can explain this process better, but that is typically the way that contract services work in my experiences.

    Good Job so far Shapeways! Keep up the good work!

  8. fx

    I guess that given the huge demand, they thought they could tweak (read:increase massively) the price for about 70-90% of the models sold on Shapeways in this material (…

    The problem I experienced on Shapeways is that on STL files containing several parts, it is not a rare event that an essential part is missing. It quickly adds a month leadtime to get the missing part(s). How will Shapeways solve this ?

    Directly related: Nobody wants a H0 scale pallet for $6.40 ? really nobody ? I’m wondering why…

    1. Stony Smith

      When you say “several parts”, do you mean interlocking parts that go missing, or loose parts that could have gotten lost in cleaning? Does the part display in the 3d Viewer? I’ve seen a rare case or two where a (loose) shell that has ALL of it’s triangles flipped inward ends up not printing because it was essentially just a ‘hole’ – you can see this if you check it in NetFabb.

    2. fx

      I mean loose parts that are in the file, but are not delivered. Of course, I check every STL with Netfabb before uploading. For instance, in one recent WSF order, a part of approx.20×15 mm was missing. Shapeways great customer service took care of this, but it added some delay.

      There isn’t any other option than put a lot of parts in one STL to somewhat try to absorb the huge increase. The same system than for WSF.

      I hope the Shapeways Team will think again about this change…

  9. Aaron Trocola

    I think the $5 charge is very reasonable. 3D printing is an almost magical solution for manufacturing unique parts, but does not address the logistical realities at the core of commerce. With a little creativity this should not cause a problem at all. I can think of a hundred value-add scenarios that would turn this into an advantage while decreasing the likelihood that you’ll be undercut by people taking lazy shortcuts.

  10. David Mihail

    $5 is eminently UNreasonable. The strength of FD/FUD is in small detail parts with thin walls. This price hike kills any incentive to actually use it. I currently have 21 models available for $5 or less in FUD. Now, not a single one of them will be available in the best material for showing detail. And judging from my sales of these items for the past month, no, raising the prices to account for fee is not a solution.

  11. Paul Burkitt-Gray

    Could anyone from Shapeways clarify whether the $5 startup cost applies to each individual model, or the order overall? And is it a minimum price, or is it added on top of the volume based cost? IE would 10 models priced at $4 each cost
    a)10 x $4 = $40 (Great!)
    b)10 x $4 + $5 = $45 (OK)
    c)10 x ($4 + $5) = $90 (ouch)

    1. Paul Burkitt-Gray

      or option d) 10 x $5 = $50 I suppose.

    2. Stony Smith

      It is PER model, multiplied by the quantity. The $90 option above. WSF has always been priced this way. And, it’s not a ‘minimum charge’.

      Small clarification though.. let’s say that your model is 1cm3 in volume: the old price was $4.39+$0.00=$4.39. the new price will be $3.49+$5.00 = $8.49

      For large models, it’s a price reduction. For small models, this scheme better compensates for the considerable amount of labor involved in chasing down and cleaning really small parts as they come out of the printer, and have to be wrapped for packaging, etc.

      To be fair: this model requires considerable more labor to clean, pack and ship than the $0.31 that it is priced at. The thing is a whole whopping 8mm square! You almost can’t pick it up without breaking it. In this case, Delicate should equal Pricey.

    3. Paul Burkitt-Gray

      The thing about option c)10 x ($4 + $5) = $90 is that there is now an incentive to combine all the models into one, join them up with very thin sprues, and only have to pay $45. It will be just as complex to clean as 10 individual models and even more delicate due to not being intended to be a single model. Plus it will be inconvenient because Shapeways will not be able to arrange the individual models in the most efficient way on the printer bed. I’d be reluctant to do this but for potentially halving printing costs it would be worth it.

    4. Aotrs Comander

      Actually, unless Shapeways stops allowing you more than one part per model altogether (which would upset even more people, as it would people that use things with moving parts, like a lot of the puzzle people), it means a model consisting of ten parts would be exactly as much work as ten seperate models (plus the aforementioned inability to arrange them). In fact, if you stuff enough together bits, you’d get the same amount of work for less money. (If I were to want 50 of my Kunai MPB starships, which at the moment cost $0.63, I’d do a file with 50, which would cost less than 50 seperate models at the old price and be exactly the same amount of work. Of course, the thing is I’d never want 50 (and even if I did, I’d get them in SWF for half the price). The advantage the detail material had (and TD still does) was for small, low-cost bits you only wanted a handful of, where the finer detail was most useful. Anything you want in large numbers, you probably want in SWF anyway. Unless you’re planning on making masters for casting or something (which to me defeats the point of having an otherwise affordable 3D printer in the first place), the difference in finish and the extra 0.2mm wall thickness probably doesn’t matter for anything you’re going to have enmasse.

    5. Rogers

      “”"The advantage the detail material had (and TD still does) was for small, low-cost bits you only wanted a handful of, where the finer detail was most useful. Anything you want in large numbers, you probably want in SWF anyway.”"”

      So get your ships once again in WSF. PROBLEM SOLVED. NO REALLY, PROBLEM SOLVED.

      “”"(and even if I did, I’d get them in SWF for half the price)”"”

      Again, in your own words, PROBLEM SOLVED. Yeah I know, FUD didn’t have the startup that WSF did. Well it does NOW. I guess that comes from basing your expectations/hopes/business model around a TEST material during a TRIAL period. Sounds like excellent business sense!

      “”"Unless you’re planning on making masters for casting or something”"”

      Yeah, I mean who would do that? Just 99.999% of the entire miniature industry which I’ve been part of for 20+ years. But that would be SILLY. Or SOMETHING…

      “”"(which to me defeats the point of having an otherwise affordable 3D printer in the first place),”"”

      So let me get this straight, unless I am selling my minis print on demand, I don’t need an affordable 3d printer like Shapeways? AWESOME! REALLY? Unlike your starships, I actually need the crystal clear detail of FUD. Because last time I checked all the other miniatures in the industry are smooth and don’t have the texture of small grit sand paper. Or at least from the 1000′s of miniatures I have held/seen/bought or played with over the years, I don’t recall any that had the texture of WSF. (Unless the caster used too much powder before pouring the lead)

      I looked around before Shapeways had FUD, tried places like Moddler, they had good prices. 30mm test mini I sent them would only cost about $40. Oh, but my model had multiple shells. They wanted to charge me another $90 to combine them. Nice. You know, what Shapeways does automatically and for free. Checked other places as well that had EQUAL detail to FUD.$85 $90, $120 or MORE on average. Times that by 12 minis and with Shapeways I save a minimum $360. (Imagine my excitement when Shapeways got FUD, no please, take a moment and imagine it) Hey Commander, can you float me $360? No? Well then I guess Shapeways has an awesome purpose for more than what YOU envisiion it for. It’s just that from the amount of complaining I am seeing from you on this topic and another in the forums, it sounds like you just lost your primary/main source of income?

      “”"The advantage the detail material had (and TD still does) was for small, low-cost bits you only wanted a handful of, where the finer detail was most useful.”"”

      Oh, well thank you for telling ME what FUD is good for and not good for. Yet again.

      “”"(If I were to want 50 of my Kunai MPB starships, which at the moment cost $0.63, I’d do a file with 50, which would cost less than 50 seperate models at the old price”"”

      Excellent point! Then you could turn around, start a website for $5 a month at 1and1, make a click and build shop, accept Paypal and sell the minis in FUD for EVEN more profit than Shapeways did before. And I am SURE your customers wouldn’t mind the fact you could ship same day/next day because you already have 50 of them instock rather than waiting WEEKS for Shapeways to print them then ship them. But come on, LOL, who would want that? That would be like uhmmm, 99.1% of online retailers. BUT, that would require you to do something else other than clicking an upload button and receiving a check once a month from Shapeways.

      From the way you are CONSTANTLY jawing on about this, it SOUNDS like you have SO much to lose. If I had that much to lose I would be scrambling to do what was not only best for me but also my customers. So I guess we are going to find out how dedicated you are to your game/miniatures/business. So, is this a hobby to you or a business? I guess we are about to find out.

    6. Aotrs Commander

      I do apologise as I seem to have greivously offended you in some way; but I’m afraid I shall have to say that I am obliged by your opinions, but retain my own. As and when a service provider, business or whatever that I use does something I disagree with, I will let them know about it (else how would anyone know if something was wrong?) The current pricing may be fine you (if so, great), but it obviously does not sit well with myself and a number of others, with varying levels of problems (some far more serious than mine). In the end, Shapeways will do what they think is best, and we shall all have to live with it, like it or lump it. But they will at least make their decision fully informed of people’s opinions (positive and negative), which is enough for me, as they have been very good in the past in this regard.

      And that is all I am willing to say on the subject, as I do not care to engage in a somewhat hostile debate with you on the subject. Good evening.

  12. Duann

    Hi All,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, we really do appreciate your passionate input and we do pay close attention to your comments.

    As many of you have noted, the start up cost is to cover labor which we have attempted to offset with the reduction in material cost.

    We will continue to assess the material, process and pricing to give you the best possible service.

    Thanks again for your input.

  13. MIng-Hua Kao

    For me too the $5 means that this makes direct selling of single piece parts for miniatures uninteresting. They will have to be put together and it will definitely cut into the profit margin. For miniatures which are used as casting this won’t be a problem. Those are larger sized.

    As to designs which create extra work cleaning: how about a regular discussion on the forum on what kind of difficulties you ran into. This makes it possible for designers to learn from it and can give you clarity on the expectations from the designers.

    1. nancyliang

      I like that idea, as Ana mentioned in the forum I am also keeping a close eye on the feedback here. In the future, we will work on getting quicker feedback to you guys through the forum, livecasts etc. so you are also in the loop on these things. As you might imagine, handling really tiny parts does cut into costs. Cleaning aside (the cleaning process is actually more hands-off than our other materials), we need to pick out the parts from the cleaned tray.. imagine cleaning a whole batch of tiny models, then we need somebody to sort which models belong to whom, and count to make sure we have the right quantity. Then QA to make sure pieces are not broken, or there are no weird discoloration, etc. Then repack them, box and ship. Even then, we need to improve our handling and packaging to make sure more parts survive shipping. All that into consideration, when you have pieces that costs under a dollar, it simply does not cover the labor cost.

      I will be brainstorming with our production partner on the best ways to help you guys create the small things–maybe adding sprues is the way to go, or enclosing the models in cages. Both have their ups and downs, and I’m sure there are other ideas as well on how to both save labor AND enable you guys to keep making the things that you love. I’m open to suggestions!

      For others, $5 startup is per model unfortunately. Though the $5 per order idea has got me thinking about ways to perhaps bundle FUDs in orders and save costs for you guys.

      As Duann mentioned above, this is an ongoing project to make materials more affordable, lead time more reliable, and quality more consistent. I understand your frustration and disappointment with this material, and we will work very hard over the next few months to improve on all three of those areas.

  14. Glenn Slingsby

    I don’t think Shapeways will ever be able to please EVERYONE with their pricing (unless they decided to make everything FREE!) but I do have to say that overall their pricing is second to none as far as I’ve been able to tell. Have you all looked at other printing sites? Some of those higher prices were mentioned previously here (see For me personally Silver pricing has put it out of the realm of myself as a re-seller – a $20 start-up with $40 minimum order just won’t let me design and sell small jewellery items. A pendant in s/s costs me $11 but in silver it’s $52.

    We wanted a material that we could print with excellent detail and we got it. I wanted silver and I got it… I just can’t use it…

  15. Eli Curtz

    Would it be possible to designate sprue attachment points in the models somehow? Then the software could automatically combine FUD pieces onto a sprue when ordered without requiring every piece to be combined by hand.

    1. nancyliang

      Hm, I’ll have to think about that. One thing we might be able to do is say FUD models might have sprues inserted on the bottom facing surface. So rather than inserting something into the model, just orient the model differently.

      The other idea is to allow users to download sprue head STLs from Shapeways and insert the sprue heads in the model.

      Another idea is to add a texture file that designate sprue points.

      I think the orientation method might be most easily automated.

    2. Anonymous

      My preference would be a combination of the orientation and sprue head method;

      - Designer attaches the sprue heads to the 3D model and in that way defines what area is best suited for that.
      - Then either have the designer place all parts with the ends of the sprues on the same plane (which can be of interest if the models are delivered with the sprue attached) or have an automatic program arrange this.

      A design option you could offer would be “sprue attached or not”. Attached would mean less work and risk for you when processing the printed parts.

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