Update On Fine Detail Plastic Pricing

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

  1. avim
    avim Shapeways Employee Product Team
    3D printing fulfillment is being commoditized. Customers with big orders price shop around (as they should). If we list our formula, all a competitor needs to do is replicate it and discount it by a little to win a customer. With our recent changes, our prices are too close to true market prices to list without that risk.

    We listed the full formula in the past because we were by far the cheapest solution on the market for most materials. We operated at a loss and were not worried about our competitors undercutting us.

    I can't speak to the reasons for why the company operated this way, as I wasn't present there, but I assume the strategy was to have investors supplement the costs to stay cheap, grow market share and ultimately own and control the market long term.

    After 10 years of this approach it was time for a change. We need to operate it as a mature business and that means, only printing materials that have healthy gross margins for our business.

    Now, that being said we very much want to help our customers optimize costs. We want you to be happy, no matter how big or small you are. So long as your costs are optimized and our costs are covered with a gross margin healthy enough for us to print for you, then we all win.

    Does this mean that some models will no longer be appropriate to print at Shapeways without making changes to how they are built, or the material with which they are printed? Yes. That's unfortunate, but so would Shapeways closing its doors because we weren't operating profitably.

    I hope that makes sense. I understand your frustration and do appreciate the feedback.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  2. sapguy
    sapguy Member
    So reading between the lines here...short and dense is better than tall and dense?

    So some rules of thumb?
    • Hollow out parts to thinnest wall possible
    • Nest parts inside of each other to maximize density
    • Connect parts with sprue to minimize quantity of parts
    • Orient the parts to the shortest possible height
    I'm also unsure about the orientation if the techs that are assembling the items for print can manipulate them so that they aren't as low as possible.
  3. javelin98
    javelin98 Well-Known Member
    Thank you! That's what we've all been asking for! If you're not willing to tell us how many dollars/euros each cm3 of volume or mm of height costs, then at least tell us the proportions so that we can design with the relationships in mind.

    Price = A*(Material Volume) + B*(Machine Volume) + C*(Support Volume) + D*(Number of Parts) + E*(Height) + (Production, which I assume is a fixed cost)

    While it's not ideal, it at least gives us some clue about whether we should be focusing on flatter, wider models, or models without hollow undersides, or tightly-clustered parts on sprues, etc. It's a start. It's still not as good as it used to be, but it would be a start.
  4. czhunter
    czhunter Well-Known Member
    No, not really

    Material amount has very low impact on price.
    Also footprint has low impact.
    Spruing is not favorable, as mostly (if the parts are bigger then let say 20x20x20 mm) it gives you worse price (unsprued parts can be better alignet to printing plane).
    Hight is penalised massively (it was before, now it is even more). Height is probably the most considerable parametr that push price into crazy levels (there is some power of height in the formula).
  5. javelin98
    javelin98 Well-Known Member
    Really? I can't imagine a scenario where spruing will end up costing you more than the $7.50-per-part charge.
  6. czhunter
    czhunter Well-Known Member
    7,5 USD is minimum price of model, not per part fee.

    I'm pretty sure, that from my models, the only ones that went down with price significatnly are small (N-scale) multi part (in my case 5 parts max) models.

    Like this model will go 10 USD down in production costs:

    (but most - like 80 % of my models will go up in price - many times nearly double)

    But ok, it is more difficult: Spruing is good, if you sprue parts with the same height.
    Spruing is not good, when you you sprue everything together just to get one part.
    As the penalty of making the whole footprint to bigger height is mostly much higher then per part fee.

    Obviously SW is targeting FUD/FXD (old naming) on small models.

    In train modeling vocabulary:
    Z and N scale model trains are going with price down, TT scale more or less stays, H0 is ramping massively up.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
  7. javelin98
    javelin98 Well-Known Member
    No, that's not what the material page says:


    How will the price of my model be calculated?
    • Material Volume - the amount of material needed to 3D print your product
    • Machine Volume - the amount of space your product takes inside our 3D printers
    • 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
    • Height - the height of the model when placed on the build plate. Taller orientations cost more than shorter ones
    • Production - associated production costs including labor; quality control; machine maintenance; general utilities; and other supporting services required to 3D print your product
    * Fine Detail Plastic is printed on a build plate, where the print head deposits liquid plastic layer by layer, starting at the bottom. To overcome gravity, the 3D printer surrounds the cured plastic with wax that will support the layers that come above. So every cavity, overhang, and negative angle requires support in wax. That wax gets melted away after the product emerges from the 3D printer.

    What is the minimum price per part?

    The minimum price per part is $7.50
  8. javelin98
    javelin98 Well-Known Member
    I do recall back in the halcyon days of yore where FUD was priced at a fixed set-up charge plus cubic centimeters of material used. Then Shapeways later tacked on a per-part charge because of the extra manual labor involved for the technician to remove multiple parts from the tray and have to match them up with the products that were printed in that batch. That's why I'm fairly sensitive to the difference between "model" and "part".

    Unless the copy writer at Shapeways just made an error on that page. @avim?
  9. czhunter
    czhunter Well-Known Member
    javelin98> But your quote is from OLD pricing, I'm talking about NEW pricing.

    I guess that in new pricing the per part fee is lower then 7,5 USD.

    Logic: if it is 7,5 USD, then it is nonsense to add another 7,5 USD minimum per model, that was mentioned few times by SW employees in connection with NEW pricing.

    "OLD" = current, not the one that was half year ago
    "NEW" = the one coming on 29.4.
  10. MitchellJetten
    MitchellJetten Shapeways Employee CS Team
    The new pricing for FDP will go live on the 29th.
    This means that the information on the FDP material page is still showing the current pricing, not the "soon" pricing.
  11. TrentTroop
    TrentTroop Well-Known Member
    Is that change to the way non-sprued items are calculated going to just apply to smooth detail or will versatile be similarly adjusted? Quite honestly spruing is the most annoying part of my process, and if I don't have to deal with it any more, this would be a bonus.
  12. javelin98
    javelin98 Well-Known Member
    So what's the per-part fee under the upcoming change, Mitchell?
  13. Nathan2012
    Nathan2012 Member
    Ok, I have read through your suggestions for designing in a way that is more cost effective for Shapeways to print, but I have spent months working on some of these designs. No sooner are they in my shop when a pricing policy is introduced without warning that renders months of work wasted. Now I have to spend weeks going back and re-working these designs. Do you not agree that it would be courteous of Shapeways to give us some.warning of policy changes they intend to make.

    My concern is that after making these alterations, how are we to know when another policy change is introduced without warning that renders further months of work wasted? This is not just about helping individual shop owners but a community excited about the possibilities of 3D printing. It seems to me that Shapeways couldn't really care less if it alienates large swathes of its community. What a waste! Come on, we deserve better.

    Nathan Edmunds
    mike962 likes this.
  14. MitchellJetten
    MitchellJetten Shapeways Employee CS Team
    Hmm I'm not sure if spruing will always be the solution, i think this really depends on how you would sprue the model..

    Sprues will increase the bounding box of the part, so unless you make sure the sprues are really short and keep all parts close to each other, you'll likely end up with the "Minimum price for Parts Bounds Volume*" making it more expensive than not having them sprued.


    For example, my beautiful MD11 at 10cm in size will have a huge bounding box, making it quite expensive on the new pricing.

    However if I split the model in parts like a model kit, it won't get as expensive.

    And here comes the trick: while the fuselage (the blue thing) would benefit from printing alone.
    The tail of the airplane would benefit to be sprued with the wing, as there is a lot of open space that can be filled there.

    Not saying it's the perfect solution, but it's one way of trying to cut on costs.

    ** i'm not a painter, but I could see that a kit would be easier to paint than a fully printed model
  15. TrentTroop
    TrentTroop Well-Known Member
    Okay. As a test I uploaded a new item (botbots-nosprue) which is identical to another item (UQHYNARSZ) minus sprues. As it now is both free for individual items to be moved around and it has less mass, it should be cheaper, however, after rechecking the CSV, the old, sprued version is 16.34 in SFD, and the new, unsprued version is 17.54 (both prices after price-change). I am confused.
  16. MitchellJetten
    MitchellJetten Shapeways Employee CS Team
    Well the model uses 9.5689 cm3 total parts bounds volume, times $0,35 = $3.34.

    Since the Minimum price per model = $7.50 for Smooth Fine Detail Plastic
    that price wins as the minimum, the rest of the amount up to $17.54 is calculated by the rest of the pricing structure.

    Basically: your model is so small, the total parts volume isn't really important.
    If the total parts bounds volume is below +- 21.4m3 (* 0.35 = $7.49) the Minimum Price per Model wins, and the minimum price will be $7.50
    Once the total parts bounds volume goes over that number, it will become more important.
  17. czhunter
    czhunter Well-Known Member
    If I understand it correctly, for most of hollow models (as my train body shells in one piece) price is all about machine volume.
    And all other parameters are not _really_ important - most probably, the price is the same at 0,6 mm wall thickness as well as 2 mm wall thickness.
    Then it makes sense why printing orientation doesn't affect price in many cases ...
  18. TrentTroop
    TrentTroop Well-Known Member
    So parts are going to be calculated with the square bounding boxes, that... whuff. There goes hope for a one-size-fits-all solution.
  19. MitchellJetten
    MitchellJetten Shapeways Employee CS Team
    Hmmm, well not sure when doing a comparison between 0.6mm and 2mm, at this point it depends on the scale of your train.
    The increased thickness of the model could outweigh the pricing of the minimum TPBV (total parts bounds volume) in terms of material cost.

    But between 0.6mm and 0.8mm, yes the price will most likely remain the same for train shells since the minimum TPBV will be used.
  20. javelin98
    javelin98 Well-Known Member
    @MitchellJetten: So, under the new pricing formula, how much are we going to be penalized for having separate, unconnected parts?