It's That Time Again To Figure Out How Prices Are Calculated!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DoctorOctoroc, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. DoctorOctoroc
    DoctorOctoroc Well-Known Member
    I figured this can be a thread for discussing the new pricing structure. By my initial impressions, it seems so confounded that we'll never be able to figure out specific costs, but we can intuit a general idea of what factors affect different prices and go from there. Additionally, the lack of any pricing information on the models page will make it that much more tedious to do test uploads and check different materials. I believe that the fact that older model prices haven't changed will be helpful in determining some things but my overall prediction here is that the new costs and way they calculate them will result in a lot of people offering only a few different materials, and many will simply stop selling through Shapeways entirely - but only time will tell...

    I'll start the conversation on the versatile plastics.

    First observations made - I re-uploaded two models already used in products from my shop. The first of these models was the least expensive model I have available and the second was the most expensive. These models are a good gauge because I uploaded a 150% and 200% variant of each before the changes, so uploading a new model gives the original model size (100%) to compare to the other two sizes to see what looks to have changed the most..

    For the first model, the original uploads at 150% and 200% scale are $5.11 and $7.88 respectively with +$0.50 for processed and +$1.00 for dyed of both. When I re-uploaded the 100% scale version, it gave me a base cost of $10.00 with no extra cost for processed (odd, right?) and $2.97 for dyed. So the same part at 100% scale in dyed plastic costs $12.97 while the old one costs $8.88 in the same material at double the size. That's a ludicrous jump in price for identical models, let alone one double the size costing that much less. Additionally, the odd $2.97 price for dyed means that they're likely calculating this based on volume, mass, size, etc now, which makes little sense to me.

    Here are comparison shots for all three versions of this first model - new 100% upload followed by old 150% and 200% uploads.

    sw_scaling03.jpg sw_scaling01.jpg sw_scaling02.jpg

    (Don't pay attention to the dimensions of the model in the above examples - they all seem to be showing the original upload dimensions rather than the dimensions after scaling. I've already addressed this in the 'bugs' section.)

    For the second model, the 100% scale new upload costs $12.90 with +$5.37 processed and +$9.54 for dyed while the original 150% and 200% variants cost $22.45 and $42.53 respectively, each with the old +$0.50 price for processed and +$1.00 for dyed. In this case, the base prices better reflect the difference in scales while the extra fee for processed and dyed seem to reflect the larger size, as I suspected. As a result, the new upload of the 100% scale version of this second part ends up costing $22.44 in dyed while the old upload 150% scale version costs $23.45 in the same material. So again, a huge price increase relative to the size for dyed plastics in which a 100% scale now costs a mere $1.01 less than the same model dyed at 150% of the size under old pricing structure.

    sw_scaling04.jpg sw_scaling05.jpg sw_scaling06.jpg

    So as per my 'prediction' above, it seems that they're basically discouraging these additional finishes and/or penny pinching on the cost of dye and those ceramic beads. Perhaps they're also applying a concept like machine space to them wherein the space they take up in the dying vat or polishing tumbler are taken into account along with a greater labor cost. But it doesn't take any more effort from a human to put a large part in the dye or tumbler than it does for a smaller part so that wouldn't make much sense.

    All I know is that no one is going to pay nearly double the cost for a piece of plastic that's colored instead of white. That's just asinine.

    Final thoughts based on this test:

    1) Prints have a higher 'startup' cost. This is the only good explanation I can come up with for the huge discrepancy in the base price for the smaller part with a more accurate reflection for the larger part.

    2) Different finishes cost way more than they used to and are calculated based on model geometry and/or machine space and/or bounding box. The fact that a larger part costs nearly $10 while a smaller part costs around $3 for the same dyeing process (really, what is the difference between these for larger or smaller parts?) tells us that they either are discouraging these or are trying to save literal pennies by charging dollars more for each ounce of dye or ceramic bead. This is absolutely ridiculous and nonsensical.

    3) Old prints have retained their price. This is odd to me (not that I'm complaining, for now) but I'm curious, what happens when a print gets rejected and we upload a new version? Will the old pricing structure still apply to that product or will the new one kick in?

    You can forget uploading customized versions of existing models for your customers as now they can potentially cost over twice the price of the old version of that model. This is most frustrating for me as most of my sales come from stocking my shop with parts that can be customized easily and doing so for my customers. Now I have to tell them that the custom version will likely cost more and if they want polished or dyed, forget about it. That'll cost a bunch more than it does on older models as well!

    Additionally, new shops opening up from here on out will have no chance of competing when someone else can literally have an identical model that costs less with no explanation provided to them (or us, for that matter).

    4) I've mentioned this in other forums but everything that has happened between the redesign, new logo and new pricing suggests to me that Shapeways is phasing out the marketplace as we know it and showing all of us hobbyists, one avoidable frustration at a time, to the proverbial door with a big ol' "fuck you, but thanks for creating our inventory, bringing us customers and spending your own money to test print the shit we indiscriminately reject for the last decade!". This may sound like paranoia or conspiracy theory but think about it:

    - The redesign is clearly marketed towards designers, firms, businesses, startups, etc. The red color used commonly for design firms, the modern font (however ugly) to appeal to tech people, the layout and look of the UI akin to a smartphone to attract younger entrepreneurs, etc. They're settnig themselves up to be the go-to for batch printing and industrial prototyping and shedding their previous skin of 'consumer friendly and focused 3d printing services'.

    - The price changes and the structure, as far as I can tell, more closely resemble that of other companies that don't have a market place. Shapeways started as a company that offered low cost prints in any quantity but as time has gone by they've raised prices here and there, explaining it away as being more accurate to what things cost them, but now quickly approaching a point where the cost is too high for single prints. I believe this is part of phasing out the hobbyists.

    Of course, I could be wrong about all of this. But if it talks and walks like a duck...
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
  2. MrNibbles
    MrNibbles Well-Known Member
    Having disparate prices for equivalent models is a horrible thing. Maybe they're modeling the pricing structure after California's property tax system where more recent buyers end up paying more each year in taxes than their next door neighbor who has been living in an equivalent home for a longer period of time.

    What happens if you scale an old design by a factor of 1? Does it bump up the price? That would make it easier to update price bench marking files for analysis.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
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  3. DoctorOctoroc
    DoctorOctoroc Well-Known Member
    I'd rather not find out haha. I don't have any products in my shop that need updating or that I'm willing to risk a price change so my markup is 0 and the customer is still paying too much.
  4. MrNibbles
    MrNibbles Well-Known Member
    Maybe I can find an orphan model to play with. I'm taking another look at the models and spreadsheets I used before to derive pricing. Not doing all of them. Just a few primary materials I tend to use.
  5. DoctorOctoroc
    DoctorOctoroc Well-Known Member
    That's a good approach. I tend to delete my orphan models, which usually are uploaded so I can create renders of multipart models assembled so the product image represents the final print rather than the separate pieces sprued together or sitting side by side in the render.
  6. MrNibbles
    MrNibbles Well-Known Member
    I just re-uploaded a few of the benchmark files for the spreadsheet analysis and the prices are the same as they were in May for 8 different materials. I wouldn't be surprised if some things have been overlooked because of the update. You also seem to be stuck with that new model editor page which I don't have (thank goodness). Maybe that version is extremely messed up internally. Another thing to check in each case is how many parts does the system see in each size? If you have multiple parts in some it might also explain the strange price discrepancies.

  7. DoctorOctoroc
    DoctorOctoroc Well-Known Member
    What page did you use to upload the file? I've been uploading from the 9-square drop down but uploading from the models page or elsewhere may call back to the old upload page.
  8. MrNibbles
    MrNibbles Well-Known Member
    I uploaded them directly from Tinkercad who uses the API for the transfer. I kind of doubt the model processing would be different depending on how you upload. But I could see some internal code being different in the new model page format and showing incorrect numbers. Anything is possible I guess while they are tinkering with the code. It hasn't been uncommon for pricing to show wacky numbers in the past for certain situations or models during updates.

    I opted out of beta stuff months ago to get rid of that new model page format so I still have the older format.
  9. DoctorOctoroc
    DoctorOctoroc Well-Known Member
    Gotcha. Well, I'll do some more tests in the future. I was just curious what others had discovered.

    I think the biggest change across the board as of now is the change in pricing structure to the dyed and processed plastics. It still royally bugs me that they're scaling the costs for these services based on the size of the model now. What's the logic behind that?
  10. adbinc
    adbinc Well-Known Member
    Maybe it is the small size of the mini I just uploaded, but I saw the expected $0.50 increase for the processed white and the $1.00 increase for the colored plastics. Mind you, it is one of our 285 Scale fighters (and a small one even for those -- Tholians do everything small) so that might affect things. I'll know better a bit later in the month when the bigger ships get approved for upload.
  11. DoctorOctoroc
    DoctorOctoroc Well-Known Member
    The part I uploaded initially was around $5.11 to print before the update and $10 after it (at 75% the size of the original). The $10 price had a $2.97 up-charge for dyeing. I'm curious, what is the base cost of your part? I'm assuming that's related.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
  12. adbinc
    adbinc Well-Known Member
    My mini is small -- only $1.66 were we to release it in the former WSF. Because of the size and the many sharp angles, we only release it in the former FUD material.
  13. adbinc
    adbinc Well-Known Member
    Out of curiosity, I did upload a file I had previously uploaded and the prices matched exactly. Again, we are dealing with a small mini.
  14. DoctorOctoroc
    DoctorOctoroc Well-Known Member
    So that lends credence to the theory that there is a 'tier based' pricing structure. If a part that was a few dollars is still a few dollars and a part that used to be $12 is still around $12 but a part that used to be $5.11 is now $10 then maybe there is a minimum price, as some have suggested, for different tiers based on material volume or other factors.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  15. lawrencekramer2014
    lawrencekramer2014 Well-Known Member
    Silver always had a minimum price, it appears that it still does.
  16. stannum
    stannum Well-Known Member
    Try moving the vertices randomly a bit, so volume stays as similar as possible but shape changes slightly.
  17. adbinc
    adbinc Well-Known Member
    I'm the shop manager, so I don't actually do the designs. :)
  18. adbinc
    adbinc Well-Known Member
    I just had to replace a file. The base price for our two-pod Federation Tug is about $16 for the former WSF. It is still following the $0.50 and $1.00 pattern for pricing. With the pods made solid (we couldn't get a good small drain for hollow pods, the price for the former FED material only increased by about $4.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
  19. DoctorOctoroc
    DoctorOctoroc Well-Known Member
    The former FUD and FED have trickier pricing structures - or used to, not sure if they changed at all - but assuming they still charge a certain amount for material volume and another amount for support material, making a formerly hollow part solid will simply replace the support material volume cost with material volume cost which, depending on the difference in the cost between them, will raise the price by much less than you would expect if, for example, the empty space of the formerly hollow part was not filled with support material before it was made solid. It's why the print orientation for the former FUD and FED materials changes the price so drastically for some geometries.

    If you print a hollow box with an opening on one side with that opening facing down, you'll be charged for all the support material needed to fill the inside of the box and hold up the 'roof' during printing. If you print it upside down, with the opening on top, no support material will be needed inside the box and it'll cost much less.

    I do a lot of miniature skyscraper models and for those that I've made available in FED/FUD I would cut off the top near the roof to be separate parts so that the majority of the hollow inside wouldn't require support material to hold up the roof section. This knocked about $15 off the cost of something that wold cost $60 otherwise - so about 25% less in most cases.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
  20. MrNibbles
    MrNibbles Well-Known Member
    I'm not seeing as much strangeness in pricing as you are but I did notice a buggle (that I've noticed before) in size calculations for some small objects. In this case it's a plain cube 1cm on a side. The big error is in the machine space value displayed which should by definition be larger than the material volume. Maybe this kind of thing is causing those strange tiered effects you're seeing? You may want to review your size detail numbers in those strange cases. I'm not even sure at this point if the display error is just that or also contributing to price calculation errors. Maybe they are doing this intentionally for some other reason?

    machine space discrepancy.jpg
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