Shapeways Shops 8th of January 2009

Discussion in 'Shapeways Shops' started by joris, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. joris
    joris New Member
    On the 8th of January we launched the Shapeways Shops.

    This will be a way for designers to make money by selling 3D printed models of their designs together with Shapeways.

    Shapeways does the customer service, production and shipping.

    The designer can concentrate on designing.

    We'd like to know how to make the shops sucessful and also would like to capture any feedback you have.

    So Shapeways Shops: a good idea? What would make it work?
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2009
  2. madox
    madox New Member
    Its a great idea! Have you guys looked at Ponoko and what they've done there?
  3. daddymack
    daddymack New Member
    Hi Joris, this is an exciting development in the shapeways story. I like the idea so far, the only thing I have to suggest at this point is to provide the option of limited editions.

    For me, a large part of what makes shapeways so appealing is the exclusivity of the items. I feel genuinely privileged when a print arrives and I think it's connected to the rarity of these items. The feeling that I hold in my hand something unique

    If it worked like this: Artist makes a design and offers it for printing in a run of 50 only etc. Then I think the feeling of rarity will carry through to the store for end users. It will also create stronger demand for some items as users look forward to promoted release dates, hurry to buy the few on offer etc...

    What do you guys think?
  4. edwinM
    edwinM New Member
    Hi there Shapies!

    The new shop is finally there. That's exciting news!
    I won't open one myself since I'm no good at modeling, but hope to that this will increase the quality (and amount) of the models even further.
  5. madox
    madox New Member
    Some more thoughts on the matter [Because I love Shapeways ;p]

    1)Model bundling as a single product
    Currently models are a single piece/model to be ordered, however a shop product may consist of multiple pieces to be fitted together. This might increase overhead for Shapeways packaging? [I still feel guilty about printing off those Iris blades for some reason].

    2)Added value services?
    Currently Shapeway's prints the 3D models. Perhaps adding painting in certain colours?

    3)Stocking vs On-demand
    Almost what Daddymack suggested, could an artist/designer possibly purchase10 models in advance for Shapeways to stock and sell? This is as opposed to having the models to be printed on demand when a shopper purchases it.

    It could improve lead times, and address the 'limited edition' feature but could be horrible logistics for shapeways :)

    4)An option to scale the models on ordering
    I might like something small, but you like something big...allowing rescaling will open up a lot of opportunities. The example I have in mind if (i think) daddymack's pencil holders...maybe i can rescale them larger to use them as a vase.... :)
    An option should be allowed on the design for the purchaser to rescale the product (some designers might want to keep their design as per original size).

    5)On a side note - Is there any interest in 3rd party generated 'creators'?

    Hope this helps!
  6. robert
    robert New Member
    Don't worry. Production is build to cope with this efficiently.

    Good question. We did a try out with Silver for the Ring Poems and currently evaluating the results.

    Yes it would scrape a few days of the lead time. Though we are a more on demand production type of company. There are other options to further reduce the lead time which we will pursue first.

    Good idea!

    What did you have in mind?


  7. robert
    robert New Member
    Yes, this is indeed a good idea!

    You could of course disable the product yourself when the exclusivity limit has been reached. Same thing, just a bit more work on the shop owner's part.

    But if there is enough demand for it (already counted two votes for this feature) we will build it for you.

    Best regards,

  8. Hodge
    Hodge New Member
    Hi Joris,

    This a great innovation, and I will certainly submit designs for the shop.

    >What would make it work?

    Promotion, promotion, promotion !!!

    eg: google adverts

    as many links on websites as possible.

    What else?

    Spam ??
  9. joris
    joris New Member
    Yes, promotion will be crucial.

    We will always be looking to promote Shapeways itself of course and anything we do on the Marketing front for Shapeways will bring in more people for the Shops.

    And we're hoping to make somewhat of a splash when we launch. We hope also to in time tell stories of Shoppers of how their Shops have helped them earn money, develop their talents etc.

    We're of course going to try out AdWords but I would think that being interesting enough to build up links would be more sustainable in the long run.

    But how could we maintain that interest, excitement? Would it be to show off individual designers? or would that just annoy other Shapeways members?

    It's also got to be a combination of us doing things and the Shoppers promoting their own stores as well though.

    So what tools would people need to promote their Shops?

  10. bvicarious
    bvicarious New Member
    Take a look at,, and for good examples of user-driven promotion.

    The general idea is: user-submitted favorites lists featured on the front page either random or on rotation, site-authored promos and articles about featured users, and prominent links to other community related things like forums.

    AdWords are good, spread the word through social networks too - Twitter, Facebook, Flickr et c. all have ways of advertising. Link up with sites like and that have a large user base that's into this sort of stuff. Get an advertisement in MAKE Magazine.

    Let users style their shop with banners, announcements, mark their own items as 'featured', and otherwise personalize their site.

    If we're going to be managing shops, I think a few of the following features are needed. First, the ability to download the original file that we've uploaded, and also possibly make that file available to the public for download. For the shop owner, this is good for knowing what version of their file they have uploaded. For the buyer, perhaps they want to see the exact measurements of the model when pictures and 3d preview won't suffice. If the owner wants to protect their digital content they can do that as well.

    Second, instead of each upload being a new entry in your gallery/shop, allow the shop owner to create a page for their product and upload the model to it, letting them re-upload new versions if necessary. That way they don't have to redo everything if they need to make a slight change.

    And if you can't/won't allow the buyer to scale the object to their own liking (which could be risky if they scale it beyond what the designer had in mind when modeling it, and it fails to print), let the author upload several versions of the same model to its product page and give the buyer the option to choose. Beyond scaling, this could accommodate variations on the same design such a character in different poses, a tealight holder that has different sized receptacles, or whatever.

    Finally some way for buyers to request custom designs, whether they want a tweak of an existing model or want to commission a completely new object.
  11. bvicarious
    bvicarious New Member
    I have a few more suggestions that would benefit everyone in general, but if I'm going to be actively adding content to my shop they would help streamline the process.

    Any debug information that can be provided about the model would be very useful. If there are non-manifold faces, holes, or bad normals, can they be highlighted? If there are details that are too small to be printed in certain materials, it should be noted. If the walls are too thin, there should be a warning. Instead of a generic email saying no printer can print the object, some more details like the xyz coordinates of the problematic area would make it easier to track down the problem. Usually its easy to find out this stuff myself, fix it, then re-upload and make sure it works, and thats fine if I'm working on personal projects over the course of weeks or months, but it would definitely be helpful to have.

    In addition to the LxWxH, it would be nice to know the volume of the object. I try to balance out wall thickness and support structures so the objects are cheap yet still sturdy. Yeah, many 3d programs can calculate the volume for you, but if its easy for shapeways to calculate, why not?

    The last one is control over how the model is oriented during printing. For some models this doesn't matter much, for others it makes a huge difference.
  12. joris
    joris New Member

    the first part of your post basically details the next few months of my life, LOL.

    Are you sure that you as a designer would be OK with people downloading your file? Then they might use it for themselves?

    The product page idea is interesting, we'll look into that.

    Scaling is definately something that we are interested in.

    I've always though of a Shop as a gallery showing off several items, so within that paradigm I would see several different versions of one model in that Shop rather than on the product page.

    If one has a lot of models your idea would seem to make more sense.

    A custom designs/customize this! idea is something that we are working on.

    But, would it make more sense to do this based on a Marketplace: as is the modeler needed forum page or to have this as an option tied to each individual model?

  13. joris
    joris New Member
    In reference to this post:

    We are working on this.

    Why would volume calculations be important to you as a designer or as a customer? The why not: it is an extra process and an extra bit of information we have to display making the screen "busier" and more complicated looking.

    The orientation is something we are looking at also.

    What I find interesting is the following: the current pricing model makes big thin objects interesting to make. But, is our pricing based on volume the right thing to do? If we priced on bounding box for example heavy models such as characters would be cheaper while the "balloon-like" models would be much more expensive. You guys just want to make things as cheap as they can be made. But if you could come up with a Shapeways pricing model for your designs, in the long run, what would be better for you: pricing by volume or pricing by bounding box?
  14. bvicarious
    bvicarious New Member

    As a designer, I am completely fine with people downloading my meshes.

    What I upload to shapeways is a) over-smoothed to the point where the original topology is hard to decipher (which is presumably what a designer might want to conceal - their modeling techniques, or maybe how sloppy it is for that matter ;) b) sufficiently hollowed out and sealed up that it would be very annoying to use for any other purpose other than rendering as is c) stripped of textures, lighting, and bones which I might not want to release freely.

    Now, I suppose that someone could download the mesh, reupload it and print it out on their own to avoid my markup. I didn't think of that before. That's a shame, because I would like to be able to give away certain things without worrying about that.

    Second, there are some objects that I want to be 'open-source'. See, I had an idea several years ago to start a little forum based around the idea of collaborative manufacturing. Basically, people would come together around an idea of an object that they want to exist, and create and refine it in an open environment. When enough people were aboard, we would pool the funds to have them produced on a large enough scale for it to be relatively inexpensive.

    The specific project I was working on with this in mind was called LEDBricks. Basically, custom made Lego bricks (but larger) with LEDs embedded in them that would light up when they were stacked on a special board carrying current. Ultimately I didn't go through with my idea, but shapeways comes pretty damn close to realizing that vision. So, that is one example of something that I would let be freely distributed with the hopes of others improving upon it.

    Of course, it would be up to the individual to decide if their data was up for grabs.

    A shop can still be essentially a personal gallery showing off items for sale, but suppose I have a model of an army soldier with the following options: with helmet, without helmet, rocket launcher on shoulder, with backpack. All of them would be the same basic model, with a few different additions (forget for a moment that I could make those accessories detachable and list them separately). Would it be better to have a separate listing for each of those variations, or would it make more sense to have a single listing for the base character + accessories? I don't know the answer to this myself. I imagine it would take a considerable amount of work on the back-end of the site, though.

    One example is that I have a spinner knob, one with a 1/4" hole and one with a 1/8" hole. From the gallery view, they look exactly the same because the hole is underneath. The only way to discern is from the text description.

    For customized items, the way Etsy works is two-fold. They have a generalized custom requests page, which people post open invitations for designers to create something for them. The designer submits a bid, and the person can accept or reject that bid. Each designers shop also has a custom request button, which allows a customer to directly initiates a bid request from that designer. Mostly it is used to ask for customizations of their existing product line.

    I see the two as being distinctly different: the forum as it is now is sort of a free market approach where people can find a designer most suited to create what they want, and if each shop had a request button it would allow people to seek those whose work they enjoy.

    Good point about making the site design too busy. I retract that suggestion :)

    Actually, I know there is a way to do this in Maya. You have to convert the object to an active rigid body, which has its volume calculated for simulation purposes. But for the life of me, I can't remember the variable that returns its volume data. Once I find it though, I want to create a mel script that prints out the volume and price in the HUD right under the polycount; That'll keep me on my toes!

    I think I mostly print out things that are small both in bounding-box and in volume. I really don't have, at this point, the need for things 49x39x20cm in size. When designing things to print, my priorities are: 1) choosing the 'right' size for what the object is 2) keeping cost down within the current parameters (volume=cost) 3) keeping the volume down, because I am still in the mode where I think shapeways is a blessing that I don't want to fuck up by being greedy.

    Does the idea that bounding box = price come from the time it takes to print the larger pieces? I don't think charging for space/volume would change much for me personally.

  15. yanying
    yanying New Member

    I have some thoughts about the shop service.

    I was wondering if model sanding could be included as an optional add-on service.

    I have an animator friend interested in printing his own toys through shapeways. I showed him some of the printed model images on the forum and he was taken aback at the grain/roughness of the final printed model.

    "Non-makers" and the general consumer in the street are not aware of the operations behind a product to make it look "saleable". Their expectations are shaped by products they see in everyday life. (High quality finishings/ shiny smooth surfaces etc.) As an example comparision, even the cheapst injection molded toy model in a supermarket will look better than a model that that came straight out of a 3d printer.

    If Shapeways wants to target the general retail public, the model finishing might be abit of a letdown, considering the (relatively) high price for a small model. (...Unless the grain texture was an intentional factor in the design. Some people would like it, I think. It's like wood grain in natural products.)

    If I am not wrong, Shapeways is interested in handling the distribution and shipping. I personally am all for it. Who doesn't like to make money with minimal effort on their side? XD But if I am going to sell toys or jewellery, I think the rough finishing is a deterrent.

    A sanding service might be helpful. (Of course, then the seller has no control over the quality of the sanding... and whether a sanding service is worth Shapeways' time and effort is debatable. It takes a fair bit of time and care to wet sand a model nice and smooth.)

    On a side note, Ponoko has a workaround way, where Ponoko sellers have the option of having their laser cut materials sent to them first, and the sellers add their own embellishments/additional finishing, before they send the finished product to the buyer. (I certainly don't mind sanding down my models. Hey, I can even paint/spray colours or add those metal hooks/chains onto my jewellery model on it to give the buyer exactly what they see in my photos. XD) It's alot more work and money though.(Shipping costs and time delay on both sellers and buyers' side)

    My two cents. =)
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2008
  16. joris
    joris New Member

    Thank you for the feedback on the pricing.

    I love the idea of collaborative manufacturing and working together on designs. And we want to let people share their models and meshes.

    But, to us protecting our designers and their designs is very important, so we will let people download and share via us only if we've made sure we can do everything we can to protect those designs.

    About the accesories question: for us it would always be better to upload each item as a different file. Some printers could get confused about if things should be fused or separate items if everything was in one file. So for that operational reason we would suggest that it is better to list all items seperately on the website also.

  17. joris
    joris New Member

    Thank you for the sanding/finishing suggestion.

    So smooth surfaces are expected so we have to deliver them also? Interesting thought. We are looking at finishing services at the moment and what we can offer to you guys. Sanding is one option but personally I believe that if you really want smoothness that a paint would be easier and nicer too.

    You could right now use the ponoko model whereby we send your model to you first, you finish it and then you send it on. But, it seems so innefficient and wasteful. I would not like to see it used generally. Basic finishes, colors and materials Shapeways should have to be able to provide well. If you're thinking that we need new finishes so that your products become more marketable, then we should offer this.

    On the other hand: if you are some rock star airbrush artist then it would make more sense to send it to you first, then have you paint it and send it to the end customer. But, personally I would like to see this as the exception rather than the rule.
  18. bvicarious
    bvicarious New Member
    I think a finishing service would be helpful in some regards, like metallizing certain materials or penetrating the models with a strengthening epoxy. For painting, polishing or sanding I'd be concerned that I wouldn't have control over the product as delivered. And since all of our creations are going to be wildly diverse so too will the challenges in finishing them. Unfinished models that the buyer paints themselves, I think, will be a hit with the diy crowd.

    I think the ultimate solution is to get machines and materials that are smooth right out of the machine. I haven't seen any samples but I think he objet polyjet claims to do this. Right now shapeways has a good variety of materials for us to work with; my wishlist is for a flexible material, and a full color/full textured material.

    One thing that's unavoidable is if the product requires non-printed parts. I have a trackball assembly that needs some steel pins and a 1" steel ball, and many products can work together with 3rd party products like the battery powered tealight. How can this be efficiently handled?
  19. joris
    joris New Member

    I agree with you completely on the first part.

    There are some materials that come out of the machine smooth. But, they each have their limitations. White Detail, Black Detail and Transparent Detail are made on Objet Machines and they feel kind of smooth but do have some kind of definition in them.

    What do you mean by a full textured material?

    I'm not sure about the efficiency of requiring a lot of non-3d printed parts. It would be important I think to limit the number of parts used. So we have one standard steel ball for example that people can use. Or perhaps we wouldn't get involved with the marrying of preproduced and one off produced parts. As of yet I personally have no idea.
  20. woody64
    woody64 Well-Known Member
    The shop is a wonderfull idea since I'm investigating for some weeks how to make a own shop to sell my items.

    The most important points from my point of view are:

    1) Each item gets a customer price from the owner of the mesh. Your part is the producing/sending price and the rest is the designers part.

    2) Finishing - Sanding: Would be a great improvement. I've designed some add ons to existing parts and this parts have all a clear and smooth surface.

    3) Painting in different colours - would also be great thing ...
    I've done several attempts with acryl colours but the results are not as expected ...

    4) You state that the shop opens at 8th january. What are the new starting possibilities for designers?

    5) If personalized shops are planed then customizing them would be great (shop emblem, ... )

    6) Somebody already mentioned the possibility to ask for a variant of the design.

    7) The Ordering/Sending was so far very fast. In my case it tooks 5 days in minimum. That' ok. As final target the avarage beyond one week for Europe would be fine.