New "Discover" category: "Not For Sale"

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by mburkey, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. mburkey
    mburkey New Member
    There are some wonderful well-known and original science fiction spacecraft designs here, but they're "not for sale." I like looking at them, but, I mean, what's the point? I'd understand if a designer posted "still working out the kinks before I sell" but there's no indication they'll ever be for sale. There are so many, and the number is growing every day. They probably merit their own category.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
  2. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    I can think of several reasons why a model might be made public but not for sale - the designer is proud of it but
    wants it to stay unique, or the intention might be to show it to a group of acquaintances who know how to order
    directly, the model could be too delicate for reliable reprints, would violate IP rights,...

    The search function should already turn up such models alongside the ones offered for sale. The "Discover" categories
    are probably shapeways' way of saying "see what you can buy from us even if you are not a designer yourself", and a mere
    "see what is possible" might be seen as an unwanted distraction from that category. :)
  3. mburkey
    mburkey New Member
    All plausible reasons. But in an age when everyone can have their own boutique/vanity website, I'd think they could just show them off there instead of a site that seems to me primarily aimed at... commerce.
  4. AmLachDesigns
    AmLachDesigns Well-Known Member
    Are you sure that Shapeways as it is currently set up is primarily aimed at commerce? And that designers come to SW just to have their designs printed?

    It seems to me they have built a space where people can bring their designs, have them printed, show them/share them with other people, sell them, discuss them and all things pertaining to them. Other people who have designed nothing can come and look, buy, discuss etc, and soak up the whole 3d printing vibe.

    Perhaps you should compare and contrast what SW have done with their competitors' offerings and see how you think they stack up? There are other sites which offer to print your design for money and perhaps allow you to sell that design to third parties through them, but to my knowledge none of them offer all that is here. It is perhaps a cliche, but there is a community at SW and that adds a lot to the process. Yes, SW is a company offering a service for money, but I would be surprised if their business model was based purely on how many FUD copies of the USS Enterprise they can shift and not on some broader 3D Design/Printing/Maker type play, for which they have positioned themselves beautifully.

    To go back to your point, yes these designs could be shown somewhere else, but why should they when SW has created this marvellous place? Why have the hassle of your own site when you could use someone else's for free, especially when you know that like-minded people already visit that site?
  5. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    Not sure what you are after now with your new category suggestion - do you want "for sale/not for sale"
    as an additional search criterion (there is a discussion about deficiencies of the shapeways search function
    running in the shops forum) ? As far as I know, the various categories in the "Discover" menu will only show
    you models that are actually for sale, so it is only in searches or when browsing through a designers' shop
    that you would see unavailable items listed.
    Or do you wish that nobody can show designs here (make models "public") if they do not offer them for sale ?
    (Perhaps an option to hide all such models from view could be added to the personal account settings)
  6. mburkey
    mburkey New Member
    The purpose of my post was to ask why people would post models that arent' for sale. Sounds like there are several reasons. And to suggest maybe a separate place or search category, perhaps "display only," for models not offered for sale. Got any links for other good sites who offer 3D printed models? I am familiar with some "community" type sites where some people show off their creations on one page and other items for sale on a separate "store." I just don't get around enough to have seen those 2 objectives mixed together like they are here. But it's not that big a deal. I just wish some of these designs were available.

    There is a larger aspect to the site, embodied in the 'create, discover, community' drop-down menus. Which of those is most critical to the Shapeways business model - if there is a business model - and, which receives the most traffic, I don't know.

    Always room for one more FUD Enterprise. Many a business case has been built on far less. :laughing:
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
  7. UniverseBecoming
    UniverseBecoming Well-Known Member
    One thing you can try is contact the designer and strike up a deal about getting the item for yourself. :)
  8. stonysmith
    stonysmith Well-Known Member Moderator
    I built (and displayed) this model for the very purpose of being able to explain why the design is a bad idea.

    As a modeller of miniature railroad items, I am rather often asked to produce shipping containers. They're actually very easy to design, but, when people see the price, they decide not to purchase. This model, a stack of 16 containers, is bigger than some houses! Even though it is hollow, the model costs $45 to print in FUD, and most customers would much rather see a price below $1. I have one friend that is trying to model a full container ship - he needs over 1000 containers! Even at $1 each, that'd be an expensive model.

    Unfortunately, the way the Shapeways shops work right now, when you look at the model, you can't see the price. It's a very low-priority request from me, but I do wish that the price of this item was visible, but that the model was still not purchasable.

    There is also the case where I want to display a model that is unfinished. I'd like to give my customers a taste of what is to come, and a view as to what the price of the item might be. But .. the model may be far from finished , and is "not ready for sale yet".
  9. Bathsheba
    Bathsheba Well-Known Member
    I agree that it's a search engine issue. Shapeways' strong point is that it does mix the objectives: showing off, selling, private wankery, or just getting a quote, it all ends up in the model pool. That's nice because there are a lot of models and everyone can feel welcome, but if the site is to pull customers it means that search is the problem. Choosing to see what's for sale, or what's not, has to be next to effortless for the site to serve both user pools well.

    Personally I'm here for the benjamins, so I like to see buyers prioritized. My goal here in 3DP-land is to prove that you can make more money by helping me sell to customers, than by selling directly to me. Shapeways' intentions plainly aren't completely aligned with this aim, but I feel like they're the closest of the available marketplaces: at least they're giving me a chance to try to prove it.

    But as you say, the broad approach won't scale well unless people can easily slice it how they need to.

    LOL indeed.
  10. mburkey
    mburkey New Member
    Thanks for the insights. It's unusual to effectively go into a store that turns out to be part gallery, but that's the Internet. Lots of new thinking, and perhaps I'm not as... evolved... as others here.

    I can find some cool stuff here I can't find elsewhere. But there's some stuff here I can find better and cheaper elsewhere produced by traditional methods. But, as noted, I incorrectly assumed everything here had to fit an economic equation.

    The site owners have already evolved. At one time I could 'favorite' or 'wish list" not-for-sale items. Now I can't. Is that good or bad? If a designer is just working out the kinks and intends to start selling at some point, it's bad for both the designer and buyer. I try to mark things I like as they show up, hoping they will be for sale at some point. Otherwise, I may have to wade through tens of pages and many "not-for-sale" items - unless I hit the right search term. But I've tripped over several things that I missed with search terms.

    It's not unusual that there's no explanation accompanying a designer's item, such as "just working out the kinks" or "not planning to sell this, just show it off and get advice" or "coming in 2 months" or producing this for my use only."

    In the end, it's no big deal. I'm sure I'll keep looking and buying occasionally. There's tons of great models, sculpture, jewelry, etc. here. Not many other places I can buy a whole solar system. :)
  11. Bathsheba
    Bathsheba Well-Known Member
    Now that you mention it, I would kind of love to have a "why is this here?" field that I could optionally fill out in the model editing page. It'd be a radio button like:

    * Production for Shapeways customers (this is highlighted)
    * Production for me to resell
    * For my own use
    * Publishing the model
    * Getting a quote
    * Bespoke for a customer
    * Demo for a customer
    * Other <free text field>

    I want everyone to be able to slice on that first radio button (only the first one), so shoppers can get a strictly customer's-eye view of my store. No freeware stuff that I happened to find data for and thought a few fellow nerds would like, no stuff that I'm using SW as a file repository for, or that's there as a landing page for a link from a specialized blog. The distinction is between what I want to be discoverable, and what I want to be part of my customer presentation, and I don't feel like that difference is captured in any of the existing flags.

    I'd also like to be able to stickily slice my own "my models" view by these categories. When I make a custom model for a particular buyer, after it's approved I don't ever want to see it again. But I can never delete it, and there it is cluttering up my-models forever. The row of "Display" buttons is almost right, but I don't use it because it's not sticky. If it were sticky I'd totally use it, but I can't be arsed to click three or four buttons every time I go to that page.

    I'd be interested to know the global statistics on these: what are we doing here anyway?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2013
  12. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    Interesting perspective. As someone on the other extreme - no shop, but a handful of public, not-for-sale models
    to demonstrate what could be possible in my field, and what my free software can do - I now wonder if I should set
    them all to private again and restrict my evangelizing to crystallographic conferences ?

    I, too, would love to see a rough breakdown of shapeways sales by segment, with categories like "models bought from a shop",
    "own models" (perhaps including/excluding models marked for sale to account for test prints), "models bought from one of
    the shapeways apps", but this is probably one of the key business secrets of shapeways.
  13. UniverseBecoming
    UniverseBecoming Well-Known Member
    ^^ Nice software! WAYYYYYYY over my head, as I'd never spend the time to learn to use it, but very interesting to look at the results. :)
  14. Bathsheba
    Bathsheba Well-Known Member
    Don't do it! Evangelizing is important, and crystallographers should be all over this.

    Instead of self-censoring, let us continue to nag Shapeways for better search and filter capability.
  15. AmLachDesigns
    AmLachDesigns Well-Known Member
    I agree on both counts.

    The breadth of models and the varied interests and knowledge of the contributors is a really positive thing, a benefit to all. If SW just becomes another online marketplace I feel that would be shame.

    Having said that I think that the shops are vital, and any efforts made to improve the shopping experience for all users is key. If the search and filter functions were more useful it can only help everyone: people looking for products might actually be able to find them, and people wanting to browse the designs for other reasons likewise. With a decent way of sorting through all the models the SW site could become a sticky destination as opposed to (as I feel it may be now) a site where visitors end up on a specific designer's shop or model brought directly via an external link.