Update On Fine Detail Plastic Pricing

Discussion in 'Official Announcements' started by avim, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. avim
    avim Shapeways Employee Product Team
    Hi everyone, thank you for your patience as we’ve been refining our pricing formula for Smooth and Smoothest Fine Detail Plastic. As of today, we are ready to share with you information about our new formula as well as the ability to see what your new prices will be using this formula. The new prices will take effect on Monday, April 29, 2019.

    Below is a set of FAQs to help prepare you for the update:

    What will my products and models cost with the new pricing formula?

    We have provided a tool for pricing comparison that allows you to download a spreadsheet with your impacted items, with current pricing and new pricing listed side-by-side. For shop owners, this tool can be found on the Shop Settings page within your account and is designed to help you analyze the pricing impact to your store. For everyone else, you can access it directly here.

    Please note that you must be logged in to access the download and it may take over a minute to finish processing your prices and download. Please be patient as the process completes.

    How does this affect my markup?

    The pricing change does not affect the markup. You can still set your own markups, make changes to products individually, or use the Pricing CSV Wizard to update markups in bulk.

    Will “grandfathered” products be impacted?

    Yes. All fine detail plastic products will be moved to this new formula, including previously grandfathered products. With this update, grandfathered pricing will have ended.

    What are the pricing components in the new formula?

    The pricing formula is based on the following components, all of which add up to create a custom price for your model:
    • Material Volume - the amount of material needed to 3D print your product

    • Support Volume - the amount of support material required to 3D print your product

    • Number of parts - a part is a piece of a model that can be separated from other pieces of the model

    • Production - associated production costs including labor; quality control; machine maintenance; general utilities; and other supporting services required to 3D print your product
    With this update, models will need to meet the following minimums:
    • Minimum price per model

      • $7.50 for Smooth Fine Detail Plastic

      • $10 for Smoothest Fine Detail Plastic
    • Minimum price for Parts Bounds Volume*

      • $0.35 per cm3 for Smooth Fine Detail Plastic

      • $0.58 per cm3 for Smoothest Fine Detail Plastic
    * Parts Bounds Volume is the bounding box volume for each part of a model added together. This method removes empty space between your models so you don’t need to move models closer together to get a lower price. Models must meet this minimum, which is calculated by multiplying the Parts Bounds Volume by the rate listed above.

    Why did you make this change?

    We are sensitive to adjusting prices and are aware that this is never easy on customers. However, we do need to make sure that our prices reflect the true cost of doing business and allow us to further invest and innovate in our business. As always, if you have policy questions about why we feel it is necessary to make this change, you can reach out to me personally at avim+pricing@shapeways.com.

    Why did this change take longer than other materials?

    We encountered some technical challenges with changing this material’s formula and wanted to thoroughly test our changes to make sure it was working properly before deploying. This took roughly a month longer than we originally anticipated. My apologies for any inconvenience this delay caused.

    Will this be the last price change to this material?

    From time to time, we will need to update our pricing to account for cost increases, business needs, and the competitive landscape. Moving forward however, we feel that the material is now priced more appropriately to account for our business needs and unless that changes, any increases in this material will be incremental.

    How can I get in touch if I need help?

    You can flag critical issues by sending us a spreadsheet highlighting the issues to pricingsupport@shapeways.com.

    Some of my prices went down. Is that a mistake?

    No, the new algorithm moves cost away from shorter model types and into taller model types to account for our actual costs in generating each model. So some members will see a direct benefit from this new algorithm.

    I'm upset about the policy decisions behind this change. How do I let you know about it?

    I want your feedback! Although the changes here are necessary for Shapeways to continue it's business, I understand how this will complicate things for those of you whose prices went up. Please email me directly at avim+pricing@shapeways.com. Even if I can't help you directly, I want to hear about how this change impacted you.

    Lastly, a polite request. I know that some of you will be upset with how your prices were impacted. However, please do not use this thread to complain generally about Shapeways pricing policies - you have my email above and I'm even happy to speak with you by phone. Let's keep this thread open for discussion of unexpected issues / bugs / questions only, so our developer team and user base can track and respond to all issues.

    EricaC and Moms_Sphagetti like this.
  2. javelin98
    javelin98 Well-Known Member
    @avim @gregorykress


    This still isn't a pricing formula. Let me draw an analogy:

    This would be a pricing formula:

    This is not a pricing formula:

    Do you see the difference? You're not giving us the proportions of how each of the factors contribute to the overall price. Here, let me make it easy for you:

    _____Material Volume
    _____Machine Volume
    _____Support Volume
    _____Number of parts

    Now fill in each of those blanks with a dollar/euro figure. Anything less is not transparency. You're still making us throw a bunch of cornmeal, milk, baking powder, etc., in a bowl and hope for the best, and dealing with the wet,sloppy mess that results from the lack of granularity. It's a waste of our time and your bandwidth. "Hope" is not a business plan.

    Honestly, what are you afraid of? No competitor is suddenly going to undercut you because they found out that machine volume costs 20% more than support volume. And "height"? Really? What is the relationship between height and width/length? Is it more expensive to have a tall skinny model or a short flat model? And if so, how do we work out model orientation to be the most cost-efficient when your techs might arbitrarily re-orient our models?

    This is disappointing, Shapeways.
  3. barkingdigger
    barkingdigger Well-Known Member
    While I agree with Javelin98's complaint about still hiding the ratios, on a more on-topic point I see that one of my recent models has doubled in base price for something relatively low and wide, whereas other very similar models that are in the same ballpark regarding height, area, complexity, material etc have only changed by a smallish (and generally consistent) percentage. I'll email details later when I get home from work, but it suggests the formula might still have a bug...
  4. avim
    avim Shapeways Employee Product Team
    Thanks - I look forward to seeing that and hope if it's a bug we can resolve it quickly.
  5. javelin98
    javelin98 Well-Known Member
    I have a similar issue. This product -- http://shpws.me/EnOv -- increased from $13.86 to $54.89, an increase of 296%. When I went into the 3D tools, I found that it was oriented to print standing on edge, making it incredibly tall and skinny. So I changed the print orientation to make it lie flat, the way I originally uploaded it, only to find that nothing has changed. Is the "print orientation" tool broken?
    southernnscale likes this.
  6. avim
    avim Shapeways Employee Product Team
    I believe that we quote our price at the cheapest orientation regardless, so changing the orientation wouldn't change the price.* In the case of that particular file, I would send an email to pricingsupport@shapeways.com to find out what caused the large bump in price, in case it's a bug.

    * Fixing this issue so we always quote at the orientation set by the customer instead of pricing it at the cheapest orientation and eating the cost difference is something we do plan to address in the near future.
  7. barkingdigger
    barkingdigger Well-Known Member
    When did the pricing-by-orientation code get broken? When user-set orientation first came out the price definitely changed with orientation, but then back in those days we also saw how much each factor in the pricing was on the materials sheets. So are you saying that removing visible pricing structure has somehow broken the orientation/pricing function? No wonder SW is bleeding money!
    crashtestdummy likes this.
  8. AlanHudson
    AlanHudson Shapeways Employee Dev Team
    The price is correct. Your model is hitting the minimum price for parts bounds volume. Your volume is 10.496 x 1.7 x 8.79 cm = 156.84 cm3 * $0.35 = $54.89

    Your are only charged for the cheapest orientation.

  9. AlanHudson
    AlanHudson Shapeways Employee Dev Team
    The new pricing model does not charge differently for user set orientations. We'll monitor our support material usage and see if this works best. Ideally we wouldn't need to reprice things for orientation. The new part bounds volume calculation covers a part of that difference.

  10. javelin98
    javelin98 Well-Known Member
    Wait a second. That's not what the support/pricing page says:

    When I looked at the model this morning, it was clearly standing on edge. If the above guidance is correct, how could it possibly be that my act of laying it down flat didn't change the price?

    And some designers must control orientation so that the top face isn't subject to the detrimental effects of the support material. Are you now saying that we don't actually have any control over that at all?

    This is intolerable, folks. The more you try to spin this change, the worse you make it look. What your answers are indicating to me is:

    1. There has been no empirical data gathered concerning the actual costs of z-axis vs. x/y-axis printing, machine run time, "production" (whatever that actually means), etc.
    2. You feel like certain models should cost a certain amount.
    3. You've been trying to massage a pricing model in order to fit your gut feeling, not the hard data.
    4. You are refusing to release the pricing model to us so that you can continue to massage it in response to designer and customer complaints.
    5. You're hoping to come to a sweet spot where you make as much money as possible with as few complaints as possible.

    I totally get #5, because that's the goal of all businesses. But stop trying to hoodwink us by saying that you have an accurate model when you apparently have nothing of the sort. In the Army, we used to say: if you're lost, say you're lost; if you're scared, say you're scared. In this case, if you're making it up as you go along, just say you're making it up as you go along so that there is no more pretense.

    I hope your Board of Directors is aware of how badly your team is handling this whole process. They should know where their latest $30 million capital infusion is going (specifically, bleeding out through all the cracks and holes in the plan).
  11. srnjm420
    srnjm420 Active Member
    I am still going through my printout but I am amazed at some of the pricing. My shop is scale model fire apparatus kits in various options (complete kit, body only, cab only etc). On many of the designs that I have looked at so far according to the printout provided it will actually cost a customer more to buy the complete kit then it will to buy each item separately. In some cases more then $10 each. Is this correct? It has always been scheaper to buy the complete kit...

  12. AlanHudson
    AlanHudson Shapeways Employee Dev Team
    This is possible. Our first cut at this formula really penalized multipart kits too much, so we tried to correct that. I can imagine some cases where a kit of n models could be cheaper than the separate models. Maybe think of it as a bulk discount for ordering more things. It's not ideal but pricing that was exactly equal for single uploads and as a kit made for really expensive kits.

  13. AlanHudson
    AlanHudson Shapeways Employee Dev Team
    I can understand how you could read that page that way and we should make that page clearer. Let me try and explain what's going on. We calculate the support material required for a model in 6 orientations. For any particular orientation the height is a factor. We then take the orientation with the least support and charge you that.

    In a lot of cases this is also the best orientation to print. The less support touching your model the better. There are cases where another orientation is better(and you can still set that), but for now we are not charging for it. Our analysis makes us think it's not the primary driver of costs. If we learn over time we are wrong then we'd have to adjust.

    For the rest of your questions I'll just say we are comfortable with the analysis work we have done and that the pricing model reflects our current production costs. As those costs change we will update the formulas.

  14. adbinc
    adbinc Well-Known Member
    Alan, that does explain why this item is going up 483%: https://www.shapeways.com/product/H...ecoration-display-stand-wem?optionId=64150508

    What I don't understand is why an item like this, which is mostly air, would cost as much as a solid with the same dimensions. I'm trying to understand so I can tell my designers how to help our customers. Does this mean hollowing out a model wouldn't affect the pricing? I know some of my designers work hard to do that and to disguise the "drain." If it won't affect the price, then they can skip that part.

    In all honesty, unless the support material costs as much as the printing material, this does sound like a bug to me. But I know I am not "in the know," so if you can explain it to me, then I can carry the explanation to others.

    Thanks for any education you can give me. :)

    EricaC likes this.
  15. javelin98
    javelin98 Well-Known Member
    I agree wholeheartedly. You know what would make it the clearest? The actual pricing formulas. It's something of a no-brainer.

    Wow. I'm happy for you. Do you know who isn't comfortable? The thousands of designers and tens of thousands of customers who keep this place funded. I can't tell if you're being snide or just arrogant. Either way, it does not inspire confidence.

    Which means we, your customer base, can look forward to a future of inconsistency and more blind experimentation as we try to figure out what the changes are and how they change our products' prices.

    Do you know why McDonald's is a multi-billion dollar company? Consistency. You can go to any McDonald's in the US and order a certain item, and it will be the same item as you had at one thousands of miles away. People find comfort in that. And they pay for consistency. They get nervous when things like pricing and rejections vary wildly and seemingly at the whim of some technician in a back room at Shapeways Towers. When customers get nervous, they sit on their money rather than buy stuff. Like @gregorykress, I'm also a former General Electric employee, and we all got certified in Six Sigma precisely for this reason.

    We were all hoping that Shapeways would decide to pull back the curtain and give us something to depend on. Instead, you pulled back the curtain and revealed... another curtain. You're not helping inspire confidence; you're making it feel even more like a strike-up-the-band-while-the-Titanic-sinks situation.

    Shapeways! Why are you afraid of actual, honest transparency? Why?
  16. TrentTroop
    TrentTroop Well-Known Member
    I'm still sifting through my spreadsheet but I do not like what I'm seeing, not at all.

    I don't know what Shapeways' goals are, but I know what it looks like. Between the minimum pricing and the hidden formulas, it feels like SW doesn't want us to be able to optimize our products, that it is economically preferable to them for us to charge our customers $7.50 + markup for a lesser amount of material and machine space's cost, and to deny us the ability to adjust products to give our customers the maximum value for the item cost.

    "It costs what it costs, don't worry about why" is not a good look. And I can tell you, flat out, my sales have suffered substantially from these changes.

    And in exchange for these changes, we've gotten... ecommerce integration? That's great for people who want to run their own storefronts, but that's not me. Color printing? That would be a great boon if/when it winds up happening, provided the costs are substantially lower than what I was quoted for test-prints, which were in a few dollars of silver.
    crashtestdummy and bedders like this.
  17. Nathan2012
    Nathan2012 Member
    My model 'Container crane (1:700 scale) is set to go from $80 to $246.89! The same model in 1:288 scale will go from $165 to $726.64! This is complete insanity - how can this be justified? Many of my models will soon be rendered unsellable.

    Mel_Miniatures and Spitfire2865 like this.
  18. sapguy
    sapguy Member
    I'm just a hobbyist... and I try to hollow out my items, orient them for best look, and connect the items so that you're not printing multiple items. It reduces my cost, reduces your work (or should), and reduces the cost of items I may happen to sell to other modellers.

    Since you're unable (or unwilling) to tell us how to help you...you've opted instead to tell us it's a $7.50 or $10 minimum. That's fine but actual instructions on what I should do to minimize the price would be helpful...or to minimize the amount of time needed to set up the print.

    At least try to help us help you, if you don't feel comfortable telling us the factors in the $ you are charging us. You do realize that if you broke it down to show us the $ in each of the factors, we still wouldn't know the margins.
    crashtestdummy likes this.
  19. avim
    avim Shapeways Employee Product Team
    I agree that a guide to minimize prices would be helpful here. My team will work on it.
  20. avim
    avim Shapeways Employee Product Team
    With the new pricing formula for Fine Detail Plastic, models that are tall with low density will see larger price increases (%) than other models in your model library.

    If you have a model that hits this criteria and want to reduce cost when printing with Shapeways, you may consider making the model smaller or breaking it into parts. Another option is switching to Versatile Plastic. The difference in printing technology between Versatile Plastic and Fine Detail Plastic allows us to price Versatile Plastic more competitively for models of this kind.

    Tall low density models (like I imagine a container crane would be) are prohibitively expensive to print in Fine Detail Plastic. We lose money on each print because the models take up so much machine height, which wastes printable space in the tray around it and machine time. We have to pass that cost back to the customer. We cannot print at a loss. I know that will hurt your ability to sell that model if you make no changes to it, but hopefully my suggestions above on how to reduce the cost will help you. And I also hope you understand why these changes are necessary.