Way too expensive for what should be a reasonable sized object

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by 411363_deleted, Jul 16, 2014.

  1. The problem i see with 3d printing is that 99% of what is in the shop is useless. It's just toys and trinkets because that is the only size that can be printed at and justify any sort of markup. I'm not going to sell a coffee mug that takes $100 to produce at an additional markup.

    I can't see anyone actually paying for these "coffee mugs" you see in the shops given the actual scale is so tiny.

    The idea of making something like a genuine mug of coffee comes with an absurd price.

    The most basic mug that I have in my office without a handle:
    a simple ring with walls of 5mm to be safe and dimensions of 100mmx100mmx100mm

    This comes out to $58. That is without any artistic additions.
    Once I add decorative substance or design to it - 100+?
    Printing that size in plastic - $200

    Is this really the materials fee or is the absurd price being tacked on for some guy to dust it off? I'm not looking for large scale manufacturing but is 3D printing intended to be limited to miniature items that are limited to being tiny or functionally useless trinkets or am I hoping to find the fools of the internet?
  2. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    Nice rant you have there. I guess if you are trying to do basic, conventional designs AND things that are (much more) trivial to produce with conventional methods you are simply doing it wrong. "Printing" a simple mug just makes no sense given the time and energy required compared to traditional pottery
    or slip casting, but a design that is impossible to produce by any other method and/or has artistic value may fetch a price beyond simple IKEA crockery.
    Similarly for model railroad paraphenalia or hard-to-get replacement parts for some machinery - if you can trivially cut it from a sheet of plastic, printing it
    does not make sense.
    Then there is the gray area where it will make sense to have a part mass produced by conventional plastic molding once you are sure of your market.
  3. numarul7
    numarul7 Well-Known Member
    Don`t expect a sculpture made by an artist to cost 10 cents if a mass produced replica it is 10 cents. You want a sculpture of 10.000 euro to be sold at a price of 10 euro ?

    With that mind set , you are rather a consumer than a designer.

    There are not useless things in world , only useless people without a taste on human culture.

    By your thinking , every car must be a cube because the car designer it is useless ... because only engine and gears count. :))
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2014
  4. UniverseBecoming
    UniverseBecoming Well-Known Member
    In my opinion, Shapeways has had a dilemma from the very beginning. The idea was... Hey! Let's let people use industrial 3D printers to make and sell actual products! Prior to that idea, 3D printing was used by industry to make prototypes that would then be made into actual products via conventional manufacturing means. Back then, 3D printing was known as rapid prototyping.

    Now here is the dilemma. 3D printing was was extremely expensive. That same cup in plastic would have set you back several hundred dollars US back then. Upon the formation of Shapeways, the founders looked into the markets and found that they could set the prices to the absolute minimum that they can get away with for consumer products, yet still keep prices high enough to make a profit off of industry as a rapid prototyping service. I assure you that cup cost no more than 25 cents in material costs and no more than 5 dollars in labor and overhead costs. So the dilemma was, is, why not get paid extra for doing the same amount of work when the market is right for that. On the other hand, by doing this, they would not fully implement the initial vision of selling 3D printed products.

    So, why doesn't Shapeways just lower the prices for everything and make a killing selling consumer products? Because they are currently still making a killing selling rapid prototyping services to everyone that is willing to pay for it. Their precious metals though are in line with the retail market because precious metals are not used for rapid prototyping.

    This will change in the up coming years. The reason people pay outrageous prices for rapid prototyping is because the 3D printing machinery is so expensive. For example, EOSINT's cheapest SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) machine is around $250,000 and go all the way up to $900,000, yet there are currently people working (makers) to make an open source version for well under $1000 due to the foundational patent expiring earlier this year. By the way, I asked EOSINT about this after approaching them about buying one of their SLS machines and I brought this up. Their reply was... NO ANSWER! HAHAHA! :D They completely ignored my question right in the middle of an ongoing sales discussion with sales personnel. That tells me that they know I'm right. :) Why pay 250k to 900k when if I just wait a year or so I can pay under 1k?

    Consequently, as the patents expire and the hoards of makers bring 3D printing technologies into the hands of everyone there will be no more people willing to pay outrageous prices for rapid prototyping because mostly everybody pertinent is going to have their own machines. And at that time the dilemma will be dissolved, that's when you will see Shapeways and the other copycat companies lower their prices WAYYYYYYY DOWNNNNN and that's when 3D printed products will blossom into the full initial vision of the Shapeways founders. :)
    llialynnolsen and m3trik like this.
  5. stonysmith
    stonysmith Well-Known Member Moderator
    The Shapeways "duster guy" deserves a wage too, but yes.. it costs real money to operate the machines. The biggest cost is the electricity to run them. A mug such as you suggest at 10cm tall may well have 2000 layers. Go print 2000 sheets of nearly black paper out of your bubble-jet printer.. you'll have a better appreciation for the time it requires and the material+electrictiy cost.

    "Intended"? No, there's nobody here that is trying to rip anybody off. The DESIRE is for 3d printing to become "mainstream" (I won't use the word free) but the technology available today just isn't up to competing with injection molding that we see around us every day. With injection molding, you heat up a bunch of pellets, apply some pressure, squirt it into a mold, let it cool for 20 seconds and you've got a usable part. 3dp on the other hand might take more than 20 seconds PER LAYER of that 2000 layers required. On a side note.. 3dp can produce objects that can't possibly be injection molded. Now & Today.. the technology is in its early childhood.. with a long road in front of it.

    I would certainly hope not.

    Let me discuss the cost/value proposition. The model below (click thru for more pictures) is something that I wanted for my model train layout. it's ~$25 from Shapeways for "a nickel's worth of plastic", but it has intrinsic value in that I WANT one. This item is unavailable thru any other commercial source. (FYI.. this was my first model uploaded to Shapeways) Houses for the size trains I work with are few and far between.. a real wasteland of nothing to buy. Laser-cut wood kits of this scale are $30 or more, and then you've got 100 microscopic sized pieces to assemble.. a bit beyond my old age visual acuity. Etched Brass kits are $45 or more, and you're still working with tiny, tiny pieces. I actually made this model first out of paper.. less than desirable result.

    Even though it's "expensive", it's less than comparable objects that fit within the same availabiltiy/quality curve. And, it's only two pieces so no long hours with the microscope.

    I'm working in a niche market where people are looking to buy stuff that isn't available elsewhere. Sure, my patrons would rather only spend $0.05 for this item, but they realize that isn't going to happen.

    For myself, I'm not attempting to "make money".. this is a HOBBY for me, and I'm not in this for the money. I do this because I ENJOY making the designs, and I'm filling a specific set off hopes/desires that is not available on the mass market.

    For me, it's about the passion, not the money. Quote: Find something you love to do and you'll never "work" a day in your life.
  6. MrNib
    MrNib Well-Known Member
    Shapeways does appear to be shipping a bunch of those girl coding STEM empowerment bracelets. If I understand that correctly they are being manufactured and shipped for free to the "designer", so the price is definitely right. I'm not sure who's paying for them. Maybe some government or corporate grants, public relations funds, advertising department funds, etc. On the other hand they could probably charge something for them plus shipping and not take a big hit in orders. But the big draws here are the customization and personalization aspects of numbers and words that can be applied.

    Hardly anybody would spend $100 for a decent sized ceramic mug, but if you can add someone's name to it and a protruding 3D graphic of something like a rocket ship it might make a nice birthday present for your father who works at NASA. As Stony pointed out the "want" needs to be bigger than the "need" or the alternative materials factor. If you need a basic cup you go to Walmart and get it for $2.00. If you want a fancy 3D printed cup you'll leverage your $500+ dollar computer, maybe purchase some software unless you use freeware, spend 20 hours in design getting it just right, pay $100 plus $4 to $6.50 or more in shipping, and finally get a fancy $4.00 box and a talking birthday card for another $5.00.

    Sometimes you also just need a doo-dad to fix something that broke. Maybe a cheap plastic latch part in your car door or in your old walkman. Some of these parts just can't be bought, or they are so rare that they cost a lot new, or you need to buy an old junker equivalent on ebay or buy an entire used car door at the junkyard so you can fish out the part you actually need. Very often designing and purchasing the replacement part with a service like Shapeways will be a lot cheaper than the alternatives.

    Last edited: Jul 16, 2014
  7. Bobbiethejean
    Bobbiethejean Well-Known Member
    I don't agree with the heavily accusatory tone but I sympathize with the sentiment. As an artist, 3D printing is a dream come true for me. It really is. I remember when I received the first 3D printed piece of art I had ever made. I was overjoyed. I saw this as such a potentially awesome medium. And it its. I still believe that. But there are several drawbacks preventing me from fully making use of 3D printing as an artistic medium that competes with, say, the Photoshop or Zbrush pieces I make my living from; price is perhaps the biggest one.

    Not many people out there are going to pay 100$ for a figurine no matter how much they might want the figuring because not a lot of people out there CAN. What we're looking at here is: ( a ) How many people are seeing my products versus ( b ) How many people have seen AND CAN afford my products. What that amounts to is not much money to me in the end. I am hoping to be able to develop a good passive income model but with prices what they are, I'm not sure that's going to happen any time soon.

    It is my sincerest hope that Shapeways will someday offer a super cheap material or at least lower the prices on some of their existing materials if they ever could. Don't get me wrong, I'm not ignorant. I know Shapeways is a company that needs to make a profit with employees who need to be paid and costs of business that must be considered. I just wish there was some way to do all these things and have lower cost materials. I guess I want to have my cake and eat it too. :p
  8. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    I did not make the connection to the tea cup&infuser project at first - so that is where your frustration is coming from. But one important thing to consider, which I only alluded to in the last sentence of my original reply, is that the cheap mass-production of items starts with the sometimes huge cost of getting an appropriate mold made. If you were to go that route for a production run of one or even a hundred parts, $100 for a 3d print might be cheap in comparison.
    And yes, I too would appreciate cheaper printing, and I also balk at $100 prices. On the other hand, I am glad to see the possibilities of 3d printing become readily available. I create educational models for our own use and printing exact scale models based on a known set of coordinates is just so much easier than drilling holes into wooden balls at precise angles and cutting thick copper wires to exact lengths to connect them.
  9. Some of these responses have missed the point of the post.

    Two main points:
    The average consume doesn't actually care if something was cast, carved, or 3D printed. They don't care how their phones work, how their cars work, or how your pieces are printed. They care that what they bought is useful, innovative, unique. Traits about the actual product.

    Regardless of what shapeways lists as a price, the majority of designers will always be limited to a pricing structure between them making a profit and customers actually finding the prices reasonable.

    Shapeways shouldn't rely on '3D Printed" objects selling because of the manufacturing method. 3D printing is an awesome novelty - but it's just a novelty that will wear off soon.


    I have a great job which kicks ass and has never felt like work. I'm not concerned with making money to survive, but I'm also not a charity.

    At 2000 sheets of black printing I am being charged the price of each toner cartridge. That is a materials fee. Shapeways fee is materials + large markup.

    Your personal value and that of a buyer are different. I'm not concerned at my own cost of producing something for myself. I agree that there's extra value in something I make for myself. But, face it, the majority of this website is also a shop and not a print-your-own-model feature. With the exception of small niches, Shapeways is catering to the designer.

    Ad this pricing scheme, we are stuck making elaborate shot glasses, earrings, dice, etc...

    Here's to ceramic shot glasses!
  10. Bobbiethejean
    Bobbiethejean Well-Known Member
    That you would even say such a thing proves you have no understanding of how deeply ingrained 3D printing has become around the world. It is used in manufacturing, architecture, cars, appliances, weapons, prototyping, and apparel. It is used to make things that could otherwise not be made by conventional means. It holds a tremendous amount of potential as an artistic medium. It even has a great deal of use in the medical and science industries. Contrary to what you think, as the technology improves and prices come down, I think 3D printing will only grow exponentially in relevance. Right now, it is in its awkward teenager phase but that won't last and as it comes into its own as medium of creation, I think you will be surprised by the outcome.

  11. You misread that entirely, i'm well aware of the wide-spread applications.

    My meaning is that no one will buy any object due to the fact that it was printed in 3D. The only appeal to 3D printing is to the designer which is convenience.

    As some examples of the way shapeways limits people (I don't know these designers):

    Great idea, but good luck finding someone to pay $550 for that.
    https://www.shapeways.com/model/1268409/lampshade-epp-03.htm l?modelId=1268409&materialId=25

    Really nice design, but $1000? Good luck!
    https://www.shapeways.com/model/1161799/lampshade-res01.html ?modelId=1161799&materialId=6

    Amazeballs, but not for that price.
    https://www.shapeways.com/model/374438/starfish-lamp.html?mo delId=374438&materialId=6

    Last edited: Jul 16, 2014
  12. numarul7
    numarul7 Well-Known Member
    Lamborghini sell , Tesla sell , the big house none need sell ... the expensive dress for the brand sell.

    You have no vision , that it is the reality. Price does not dictate what a product it is , price it is the result of work done to be made and the time spent on inventing the new thing.

    A sculpture it is sold with 2.000.000 euro ... and you say it is useless ?

    Human culture says something has a price because a human worked to make it and lost time of his life to do it and that human has the right to put a price on it.

    You want to sell ceramics , here it goes : buy a bag of clay , get some water , an good oven for burning it , and start making it with your own hands ...natural way.

    Then after 1 month tell others how it is.

    Products does not sell by itself.

    Now end this subject and act like a normal educated person act : you have an option , versus no option , you decide to not use it or to use it.

    Why vent in here and spit on the face of some artists saying their work it is "useless" , same thing we can say about your work that it is useless.

    You have a problem ? Wait till technology advance , why in need to argue ?

    Here people want to push the technology further , make the vision , build the future ... all contribute to it bit by bit from the stupid "earring" you don`t like to the prototype in X scale of a new car that you say "it is useless" because you see it "little".

    Check other 3D printing service providers before being so acid.

  13. You still missed the point of the links. This isn't about the price the designer put on it. Those links are set at stupidly high prices because of the shapeways base price. Get it?

    So you push the future by creating things that will go no further than the hobbyist?

    Forums are for discussion. If you don't like it, don't respond. Welcome to the internet.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2014
  14. numarul7
    numarul7 Well-Known Member
    You call architects , sculptor , medics hobbyists ?

    Shapeways big price it is due the manufacturing price and the printer used ... YOU GET IT ? Do some google search!
  15. You misunderstand.again.

    The majority of the medium+ sized products on shapeways.com intended to be sold to average consumers will never make it to the consumer's hands. .
  16. mkroeker
    mkroeker Well-Known Member
    Who knows ? The lampshades are a bit expensive, but not that far from what you pay for a 1930s Wagenfeld lamp design (if you buy the "official" licensed product today - I can only guess that contemporary designer items will be just as expensive). Just because you will not buy at that price does not mean that noone else will - on the other hand, it does not really matter if some objects in the shops - or even entire shops - are just test pieces. Could be that the designer set them for sale just to show how much an item at that wall thickness etc would cost, or uploaded them as part of some party game.
    Throwing a tantrum is not going to get the prices down (simple economics - if it were possible to undercut shapeways, somebody would do it). Advances in technology and an expanding market might - remember what the early laser printers cost (or look it up if you weren't around back then) ?
  17. MrNib
    MrNib Well-Known Member
    That's what they said about VCR's in 1982. If you're unwilling to wait for cheaper prices you should start your own competitive service. The nice thing about people's fancy medium+ sized models is that they are transportable and will be ready for printing when and if foundry prices drop, and likely that will also include superior materials and printing processes.

    I'm not sure what your point is. Are you trying to warn designers that their parts are too expensive and won't sell? Are you trying to tell Shapeways that they need to lower prices?
  18. numarul7
    numarul7 Well-Known Member
    First Apple Pc was 10.000 $ ... talk about "consumer hands" and "never"... remember the frist CD and the first ...

    Majority products on Shapeways are the first , the original.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2014
  19. stonysmith
    stonysmith Well-Known Member Moderator
    Perhaps I did not finish the thought properly. Yes, I was expressing my own personal experience and motivation, but... that experience has carried forward to over 400 buyers that have found the same acceptable value-vs-price for my items (even with my egregious capitalistic markup tacked on) and therefore sales to date of over 4,000 units.

    And.. seventy five percent of my shop is models that I have done on request - I would never use the items on my train layout, but someone needed it for theirs. To show one example, if you exclude two big bulk purchases, this model is my overall best seller, and it's not even in the scale that I use. (click thru to see the model in my shop) I'm coming up on having sold 150 of these.

    For my 400+ customers, it effectively is a print-your-own-model place.

    Yes, I "get it" that 400 customers is not really considered "mass market". But, I'm a also a good way down the road beyond just "onesies-twosies". I've got a good number of repeat customers, and a number of models (like the one above) that just keep on selling month after month. Somebody is finding value there. At the same time, these customers were able to purchase something they needed for their use, and I did not have to invest $20k-$50k per item to get injection molds produced.

    On another note: I do think you've got the wrong assumption going about what it costs to operate the printers. Shapeways (won't) tell me what their profit margins are, but I would really, really, really hate to pay their electrical bill every month. I keep telling them they need to move that production facility to West Texas where they can get plenty of wind to drive wind generators and power the place "for free".
  20. Thanks Stony, looks like you do have something nice going and it's definitely a niche, though admittedly I know nothing about trains except how to ride them and to not stand in front of them.. The sets and pre-packaged layout also makes a lot of sense there. My point is already out there but yes, there is also a big unknown in their cost of operation and the markup. Oh well.

    Sir, I want some of whatever you've been drinking...