Why I no longer support Shapeways:
1) On March 2nd 2018 I received an email that my 3D model/design/bangle product, Seascape, was "upgraded from First To Try to Successfully Printed: White Strong & Flexible. Why did this happen? Based on a "recent purchase", we calculated a print success rate that is now greater than 80%.
I responded because this art piece had never been purchased: "Dear Shapeways, Why is this Seascape model of mine upgraded from First To Try to Successfully Printed? As far as I know, it has never been printed through Shapeways. I have not received any mark up payments for this model. Is Shapeways printing my art pieces for its own purpose without permission/paying? Please explain."
The response was as follows: "Hi Corinne Thank you for reaching out about this model status update. I'll be glad to check on this for you. I reviewed the model information and this was printed for use for internal quality purposes. If you offer the model for public view/sale on the site, this is within our rights according to the terms and conditions of our site. Specifically, Section 7: Intellectual Property Rights of 3D Designs (if you need the reference section).
It's disgusting that a company will hide behind bad business practices and ToS in order to steal work from their designers. Why not just talk to your designers? Ask for permission to use work? Arrange an agreement or offer advertisement in exchange? Why would you steal from your hard working partners?
2) Bad quality prints. On numerous orders and about 50% of the time, the prints I received were not of the same quality as they were on previous orders. Shapeways would outsource their work to other printing houses which would yield widely varying results. Prints would arrive with bad stepping, warped pieces, missing pieces, non mirrored pieces, duplicate parts instead of 2 different pieces, and broken parts. Often Shapeways would replace these parts, but with how long it wakes to 3D print replacements, it would be a great time and expense lost.
3) Bad customer service and business practice. Designers can spend hours making a product, design it specifically for 3D printing and put it up for sale. A customer or the designer purchases it, and Shapeways "checks" it. Often a perfectly good design that other services will gladly print successfully, will be "rejected" by Shapeways. This is very frustrating for both designers and customers.
4) Shapeways doesn't care about it's design partners. They will print a design 10 times, 20 times and maybe 100 times, but then randomly decide it is unable to be printed anymore if it suddenly doesn't meet a print success rate that greater than 80%. Nothing changed about the design. Why did the success rate fall? Using cheaper printers or a different printing house? Who knows? The designers don't get to know. All that Shapeways tells you, is that your design needs to be changes to meet their needs. Nevermind if it changes your design's aesthetics or integrity.
5) Shapeways only cares if they are making money and no one else matters. In October of 2014 Shapeways suddenly increased printing prices with only a blog post to give notice. If you didn't follow their blog, you didn't receive an update. If you had items for sale in your online shop during this time, the price doubled or tripled and remained for sale without accounting for a designer's markup fee. This meant that anything that sold from a designer's Shapeways shop, Shapeways received 100% of the profits and the designer received $0. Designs that I had increased as much as $70.09 to $130.63 and from $122.67 to $226.46 This kind of sudden increase had a huge decline in sales for obvious reasons.
While one or two of these bad business practices could be overlooked in due time, it seems there's a couple too many for poor entrepreneurs to stay afloat. I wish I could say I've enjoyed working with Shapeways, but unfortunately it's only been a downward spiral.
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