Struggling To Sell My Products Due To Sw Production Costs...

Discussion in 'My Work In Progress' started by RFCINCo, Nov 27, 2019.

  1. RFCINCo
    RFCINCo Member
    Please pardon my ignorance on this matter as, I'm still learning about the sales aspects of using the Shapeways marketplace services to sell my product designs and, I clearly need some help understanding what I'm doing wrong (if it is in fact something I'm doing wrong in the first place).

    Allow me to explain...
    I've been designing products for my shop (RFCINCo Designs) for several years now. I've become quite capable at producing viable product designs for my shop with little issues in making them printable via SW. At one point I had up to 23 products for sale to the public through my store yet, have only had 2 sales in that time of which, were from the first batch of products I'd uploaded back when I first started years ago. I have had an incredibly difficult time selling anything since then. I've designed over 400 products in the past several years beyond that in an attempt to expand my product libraries but, have unfortunately had to forgo offering them due to SW's base line production costs making them frankly insulting to even attempt to sell through my store.

    The model designs I make are always good and I usually don't have any problems with making them available for sale in my shop. I fill in every field with as attractive a profile as I can make them. I've been promoting them through a wide variety of branded social media venues and, have even made some commercials to promote them with. I've attempted to offer them through word of mouth advertising up to and including approaching store owners to buy them in bulk for retail sales. I've already got all those aspects of product generation and sales preparation down fine. I attended my university for 7 years for a dbl degree in engineering physics and business administration and, have worked in sales since I was a teen.

    The problem I'm having is; almost everything I offer through my store is always so astronomically high in SW's production costs that, it becomes a joke (makes me look like a fraud) to try to sell them through my store and, leads my potential customers (which, amounts to only friends and family at this point) to thinking of me as nothing more than a fool and a conman more than, a legitimate product designer/engineer and business owner/proprietor. I've honestly gone broke trying to make this work at this point. I'm not wealthy, my credit's gone to crap and, I've invested virtually everything I have into making this work out as a viable starting point for getting my SP business off the ground. Obviously, with no luck as of yet. I've even had to resort to removing almost everything I once offered from my shop that's to expensive for anyone to even consider buying as an attempt to minimize the detriment of public opinion towards my company's potentials that's been forming by this chronic failing in production costs. Its now left me with only 7 products currently available for sale and, I still can't get them sold.

    I only ever add a $5 mark-up on any and every product I offer now as a way to attempt to keep the costs low from my side which, I've made a standard for over 2 years now. But, its still never enough. The resulting production costs from SW are always so insanely high that, all comparable products from all other sources (3D printed or otherwise) are on average 1000 - 3000% cheaper than mine.

    For instance, I most recently uploaded a ball bearings assembly that is identical in almost every way to the metal version I have here at home other than, its a transparent smooth fine detail plastic version. It measures to 52mm wide and 20mm tall at its largest. There's nothing special about its design other than, its all plastic (so, as to make it entirely rust proof/water proof) and, see through. Its supposed to be a component assembly for a variety of products such as; for wind turbine assemblies, hydro-electric turbine assemblies, light to medium duty marine axles, etc. In this effort, I'm trying to offer it as a part in my company's sustainable products and mechanical parts libraries.

    The cost for the standard metal version that's manufactured/mass produced by a variety of companies is on average ~$2.50 and, ~$33 at its highest (that I could find.) The version I uploaded has a resulting production cost of ~$95.50 in the cheapest material option SW offers without any mark-up applied. That means, the version I'm offering now is $100.50 for the cheapest version of which, there are only two. The other is $110.50 (with mark-up included) for the smoothest fine detail plastic.

    After all these years of trying everything I can think of to sell my products, I've become desperate to just start generating any viable income from all my years of hard work and dedication to it. It was supposed to be how I generated the investment capital I needed to get my company off the ground and, keep the doors open and the bills paid while I built it into the company its supposed to be. At this point, I'd at least just like to be able to show how selling my company's 3D printed products through my SW store is worth all my years of investment into it to my friends and family before this gets any worse for me.

    I'm at the point that, my disabled wife and preteen son have gone to live with her sister's family while I'm left here to struggle just to keep the lights on and our possessions from being thrown out onto the street. So, I could really use some help understanding how to get the costs for all my products down to something more competitive/reasonable with other like products and/or how to start selling my products enough to turn a profit from it. Please, if you can, help.
  2. stonysmith
    stonysmith Well-Known Member Moderator
    Reviewing the picture of your model, you seem to have 27 separate shells.
    That means 27 separate objects for the production folks to track and keep together during the production process. If any one part (like a single ball bearing) goes missing, then the order has to be held up, the missing part re-printed, and/or they miss the part entirely and get hit with a refund request and/or extra shipping.

    Shapeways has a per-part charge for loose shells. That means the base cost * 27.

    Wrap the balls in a "sinter shell" that prevents them from floating around, Then, loop something connected to it thru the three rings.. the whole assembly will get counted as a single "PART"

    Here are three examples:
    RFCINCo likes this.
  3. RFCINCo
    RFCINCo Member

    Thank you so much! This will help a lot for the multi part products. Unfortunately, I've been having the same issue with some of the single part products as well. I'm going to start working on redoing the bearings assembly now and, upload that version as soon as I'm done. Would you be able to tell me if it matters if the framing for the supports are basic shapes or, can I further reduce costs by making those supports in more refined forms (such as; rounded point-to-point connectors rather than, angled box frame supports)?
  4. RFCINCo
    RFCINCo Member
    Thank you so much for your advice. I wanted to offer a follow-up reply to show you ( and any other struggling shop owners) with just how much its helped me with drastically reducing the pricing for my designs while, also greatly expanding the material and color options I could offer for that particular design.

    With the application of your suggestions, I've managed to get the original ball bearings assembly down to $23.45 as the lowest price option before my standard mark-up added. As I said before, the highest price for the most similar product on the market I could find otherwise is ~$33. That makes my design $10 less than my competitors. Its far more reasonable and competitive with what else is out there that compares. In fact, the highest priced version is still almost half what is was before in the same material at ~$62.70. That's from what was originally at $105.50.

    So, I simply can't thank you enough for your advice. I look forward to applying the same to my other designs in the coming weeks. If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to offer them. I'm open to any ideas/insights that can help me further improve what I'm trying to do with this service. I know the opportunity to earn is there because, I see it with so many other SW shop owners. And, I know the market is growing rapidly for 3D printable product designs.

    I look forward to learning what else I can do to make my story with this service another success story for SW as it has been for many of its other shop owners.
  5. stonysmith
    stonysmith Well-Known Member Moderator
    I use rectangular sections only because they're easiest, and that they add fewer triangles to the final file. But, you can go wild. You could even design the sprues in a manner that they have some functional purpose such as axles, connectors, fasteners, etc. The main thing to remember is that the sprues themselves must follow the minimum thickness rules, but in general you should exceed the minimums, because the sprues you add are also meant (in part) to protect what they cover. The official suggestion is 1.0mm for sprues, but you could get away with something slightly smaller if it is an artistic part.
    RFCINCo likes this.
  6. RFCINCo
    RFCINCo Member
    I see. Thank you again Stonysmith.

    I'd considered the minimum size aspect when creating the support skeletons for the ball bearings model. So, thankfully, they're already at the 1mm thickness to cover that consideration. But, I'd not considered using them as a housing to protect each of the components of the assembly beyond that nor, did I consider the amount of triangles/faces it would add to the print job for that model.

    I'd initially thought only to reduce the overall costs of the model by attaching each element with connectors/spurs that, used the least amount of material possible. I did not think about the amount of faces it would add to the print job as a component/factor of the costs though. I'll remember to consider that for my remaining models from now on.