Should we keep Premium Silver?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by AmLachDesigns, May 8, 2013.

  1. AmLachDesigns
    AmLachDesigns Well-Known Member
  2. Youknowwho4eva
    Youknowwho4eva Shapeways Employee Community Team
    Thanks for bringing it up! Yes it should be posted in the forums as well.

    Also note that this is a standard practice with all new materials. It is not our intent to get rid of a material that our community loves. We want to make sure that the pricing, and design rules work for you and our production facility. Just wanted to note, we're not trying to take away a loved material, we're just looking for your opinions as we diagnose the future of the material.
    Last edited: May 8, 2013
  3. AmLachDesigns
    AmLachDesigns Well-Known Member
    Okay, so now there are 21 comments on the blog (including spam).

    This discussion is one that I presume is aimed at users of SW and therefore I would have thought should be happening here. I always saw the blog as SW's public face, it's non-SW communications, but obviously I was wrong. Only designers and purchasers of objects could have any relevant opinion on this, so why even start this discussion there? Everyone subscribed to that blog will get that post and wonder why they care, if they are not users.

    As for my opinion on Polished Silver?

    I do not understand why you would even think of removing a material option. What are the costs to you of having it available? Are there problems for you in having it available? Problems of of production, rejections etc. I get why you would trial a material (the stretchy one, for example) to see if it works and when it doesn't withdraw it, but this seems to be in a different category.

    The material is pricey but the problem for selling silver to 3rd parties for me revolves more around:
    - Long lead times;
    - No supporting items, e.g. chains, earring hooks;
    - Very un-impressive packaging.

    Why would someone buy a premium product for a less than premium experience? Or perhaps I should ask why would they do it twice?
  4. Youknowwho4eva
    Youknowwho4eva Shapeways Employee Community Team
    It's just like every other material we have introduced. It first goes through a trial run. I'll make sure the team is aware that this needs to be communicated better in the future. No one is saying it won't come back. From the feedback we're getting it would not go over well to not bring it back.

    Take a breath, I'll discuss with the community team about how we should do trials in the future.

  5. BillBedford
    BillBedford New Member
    To which you can add

    - No hallmarking for counties where this is mandatory.
  6. AmLachDesigns
    AmLachDesigns Well-Known Member

    You are right about the hallmarking. I have mentioned it before in one of my mini-rants, but no-one seemed very interested.

    For me it all comes under the same question: does SW want to sell to people who are not 3d afficionados (i.e. people for whom the fact of the product being 3d printed is important) or not? The current shop setup and product delivery leads me to say not. Almost all products require some form of post processing or packaging to allow them to compete on real terms with goods manufactured in other ways.

  7. Bathsheba
    Bathsheba Well-Known Member
    The long lead times probably aren't going away. Custom work takes time. The packaging and accessory items aren't Shapeways' ambit: they sell parts, they're not a boutique jeweler. If you are, you want to do your own branded packaging.

    Hallmarks I don't know about...I don't care personally and don't think my customers do. Then again I'm not trying to sell inside the jewelry establishment. But the gripping hand is it's not practical: the whole point of doing 3DP is that you can make designs that can't sustain being struck with a hammer. I wouldn't know where to begin trying to hallmark my stuff -- half the time there isn't enough solid surface to fit such a mark.

    There certainly are costs in maintaining a supplier relationship if a material is not popular. The most obvious one is that they may not be able to hold viable pricing. Shapeways gets good prices -- I've sourced precious-metal casting and finishing from 3DP models elsewhere, not to mention done it myself, and these are good prices -- because they aggregate customers and buy wholesale. If there's not enough volume that can't work.

    I hope to see premium silver come back; I think it's a good deal on a great material and I said so on the blog. But if you're expecting the kind of services a dedicated jewelry manufacturer would offer, I would have to say you're shopping in the wrong place. There are right places for that, Google will help you out here, but this isn't them.
  8. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    Main practicality issue with hallmarking is probably that it can only legally be done by authorized assay offices.
  9. BillBedford
    BillBedford New Member
    In the UK it is illegal to sell a piece as silver unless it has been assayed and hallmarked. There is an exemption for pieces that weigh under 7.78 grams, and for things like chainwork which is too delicate to be struck. The Assay Offices are now able to produce the marks with a laser.

    The real problem is that they take a sample of each piece for assay, which means the pieces have to be re-polished. So for anyone trying to run a business there is no advantage in not using as plain silver. Premium Silver if fine for personal items and gifts, but has real problems if anyone wants to build a business using it.

  10. stop4stuff
    stop4stuff Well-Known Member
    It is also illegal to offer silver for sale via a 3rd party if you are UK based and the item does not carry a UK (or internationally recognised) hallmark. I do not think this applies to Shapeways sold silver, as Shapeways are advertising and supplying the product, however this also means I cannot safely advertise any Shapeways item I have designed for Silver. This particularly applies to UK based dropshippers who sell via the internet.

    As for whether or not to keep premium silver is a question I don't really want to think about as my only experience with the stuff is all the to-ing & fro-ing I had about one particular model that was rejected many times for many different reasons and then finally printed even though the model had been printed many times before in regular silver without any reported issues.


  11. AmLachDesigns
    AmLachDesigns Well-Known Member
    Hi Bathsheba,

    Thanks for your comment. Your experience and knowledge in this field is amazing and I always learn from your posts.

    You wrote:
    I think you are quite correct. Initially I hoped I could just design (and promote) stuff and use Shapeways as a one-stop-shop to let me take advantage of 'long tail' opportunities, but I have come to realise that this is not the case. And perhaps I was foolish/naive to think it could be, it's just another way of getting stuff made. I'll figure something else out.

    But, below is an exchange from the blog (my bolds) where SW are saying the contrary. So...

  12. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    Would this apply only if you advertised it as silver, or even if you called it a shiny metal from the nether lands (with an explanation about the lack of a
    hallmark) ?
  13. stop4stuff
    stop4stuff Well-Known Member
    This only applies if the material is called Silver - any other description without defining the material as silver is fine, e,g. Silvery metal is ok

  14. AmLachDesigns
    AmLachDesigns Well-Known Member
    Auction houses in the UK refer to any such item where the material is not marked as silver as 'white metal'
  15. Bathsheba
    Bathsheba Well-Known Member
    Nonetheless, I don't see Shapeways' near future stocking customized jewelry-store-style packaging, still less hiring a staff of jewelers to solder jump rings, set stones and add chains to parts.

    You can certainly make a profit without touching the product, but jewelry accessorizing and packaging aren't the direction that's going right now. The whole point of this thread is that we're still trying to see the production of premium silver parts happen and be a money-maker for everybody. Once that's in place maybe SW will choose to branch out from it, but right now even that basic level of being able to make those parts at all is what's in question.

    I vote for going to market with the product we have, not the product we wish we had. Once money's coming in from that, then the case for add-ons will be much stronger.

  16. carmelari
    carmelari New Member
    la punzonatura sarebbe necessaria è vero ma spero che il materiale non venga rimosso o torni al più presto perchè ha una resa fantastica

    punching would be needed but I hope it is true that the material is not removed or come back as soon as possible because it has a fantastic yield

  17. Youknowwho4eva
    Youknowwho4eva Shapeways Employee Community Team
  18. Tigermoth
    Tigermoth New Member
    Be good to know just how you are polishing.
    I ordered a glossy ring and it seems only the outside was polished....would this suggest that it was hand polished?
    Does this also apply to premium?
    If so...its a bit of a half-job is all, and if I had to end up polishing the inside with my own machine, I may as well do both sides myself.

    As for hallmarking... there's no such stringent laws here is Aus. where possible, i add in the 925 stamp on the model itself if I know its for silver production :)
  19. SGDesigns
    SGDesigns New Member
    WOW... I just looked into this and I think shapeways should give this some serious thought. In comparing the price of sterling silver and Argentium Silver. The Argentium Silver is only a $2 or $3 more per troy ounce depending on where you purchase it. I compared several sites that sell silver casting grain for jewelry (Rio Grande for example) but Argentium Silver looks identical to premium silver with a more affordable price..

    Also, argentium silver seems to be tarnish resistant too.

    ATTN Shapeways - If you want to test it out on some silver pieces. Ill place an order... Its worth a shot, nothing to loose and a lot to gain.
  20. Tigermoth
    Tigermoth New Member
    Rather a high-res, burnout-able wax like material anyday, then you could cast it in whatever you wanted.
    but I know I'm not the first to ask for that either... :confused