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"Aotrs Shipyards: Shapeways and future direction" Topic

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742 hits since 3 Sep 2018
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Aotrs Commander04 Sep 2018 5:13 a.m. PST

This is a note of forewarning, to my existing customers specifically (and to anyone else that uses Shapeways more generally). Last week as usual, without any actual notification unless you happened to be caught by it or looking at the forums Shapeways annouced a new "pricing algorithm" they are testing, to be implemented over the next few months.


The Shipyards have *not* been affected by the new pricing model thus far, but neither you nor I are likely to know about it until it gets done without any notice (since that is how Shapeways does business).

The issues are thus:

a) The pricing pages now give you no idea of what the pricing structure is completely hidden from everyone, so that the only way you can find out what something costs or to recude that cost is to experiment. (During the community chat the CEO had with us a while back, he said that an open structure was allowing the customer to "game" the system, so instead they appear to have set it so they can "game" it themselves.)

b) Some of the other shop owners have experimented by making new accounts to test this new structure. One gentleman (second post of page two of the afore-linked thread), who notably does 144th aircraft (and so is in the same ballpark region as the Shipyards) reported as much as a 300% increase in prices.

Obviously, this will essentially price the Shipyards out of usable business as it stands.

(MiniPatton's recent review, while glowing, still made me wince a bit at the price issues, and that was at the current prices.)

A bit of further study indicates one fine fellow doing alot of experimentation, revealing that the new structure appears to have volume-based floors, so while you might be able to re-work models to be only a bit more expensive by packaging mulitiple ones together, it means trial and experimentation (because we aren't allowed to know how they work it out) for EVERY model and what does that mean for, say, smaller starships that you won't want hundreds of?

link to the aforementioned study.

I am currently looking at alternatives as best as I can I might have to consider doing it directly, but I have no infrastructure in place to attempt that at present, so would have to be done on an ad-hoc basis in the short to mid term.

For the moment, I am going to continue to releases for moderns as normal, until such time as the prices do change; I will place sci-fi releases on hold until I have a clearer idea of what is going on I may need the time to be sorting stuff. (There is, after all,the faint glimmer of hope that the experimental changes might lead to enough loss of sales Shapeways reconsiders.) As and when I know anything, I will let you know.

War Monkey04 Sep 2018 8:21 a.m. PST

Wow sorry to hear this I have a list of things on Shapeways that I'm still waiting to get over time that the wallet will allow.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2018 8:27 a.m. PST

Are there no competitors to Shapeways? Seems like they might be ripe for undercutting.

Aotrs Commander04 Sep 2018 8:38 a.m. PST

Clarification: I slightly mistyped – the price increase is TO 300% of what is was, so we're "only" talking tripled, not quadrupled.


That's what I'm hoping to find out. Last time I looked, though, there wasn't, not that offered a webshop service.

As a print house, emphatically yes – I know of a print house that was already a bit cheaper than Shapeways where I could get WSF material printed and even though they just announced a price rise – partly because they're in the UK and getting all their stuff from Germany – it's only about 10% or so. Though for them, you have make up an order and there has to be a minimum of £40.00 GBP, so as an outlet its not so useful. (Not to mention shipping might have to be from them to you and then to your customer.)

And for my own printing, I can now do anything I used to need Shapeways for on my own printer thanks to the improved software we bought earlier this year.

TheWhiteDog04 Sep 2018 9:39 a.m. PST

I definitely get the impression that Shapeways is trying to pivot from directly supplying customers, to providing bulk services to small/medium businesses.

The new CEO has me worried, and I don't really sell my models. I mostly print stuff for myself, but the new problems with pricing may make that prohibitive.

Aotrs Commander04 Sep 2018 10:41 a.m. PST


What baffles me is that they are still pushing the shop and "sell" angle. I can't quite grock what it is they are thinking. What is the point of being a creator and making a shop if no-one is going to actually… Buy it?


In the meantime, I am running some experiments on i.materialise, as a first step. They have a shop function, and materials they have "polyamide" SLS which basically looks like it is WSF. (No-one calls the dang stuff the same on every website).

So far as I can determine, there are a couple of issues. One, their shop search isn't hugely well organised, and there aren't things like subcategories (to say, divide moderns from scifi) as such – which is a potential issue when you consider there are 300 models in my shop.

The other issue is that the minimum model cost is £11.50 GBP. (Which would mean a lot or re-organisation and moving models in packs, just as it might be at Shapeways.) My inital experimentation suggested is was, however, significantly cheaper than Shapeways (Shapeways at present). But careful reading of their information suggests that a) their quick quote software does not appear to check for more than one part and b) their sprue requirements are 3mm (and I thought Sahpeway's 2mm was excessive). Though it seems the pricing is by machine volume only (unlike Shapeways, which wanted model volume, machine space, parts etc), it would necessiate larger sprues and thus increase of the overall volume.

They also list minium thickness as 0.8, not 0.7mm. (I always aim for 1 mm, but sometimes you need rthe extra room to play.)

What I don't know is whether the quality is the same (I haven't found any ideal pictures in their store), so I will have to actually prepare a proper test model/set of models and give them a go before I make any final decisions.

But it is appears there is at least possibility one. (And if it turns out to be of acceptable quality and price, it might be cheaper – or rather, you might get more for the same amount of money, given the minimum model price – so you'd be trading some purchasing conveniance (and I can't believe I'm saying that about Shapeways!) for it.)

TheWhiteDog04 Sep 2018 10:47 a.m. PST

Unfortunately for me, my fleet-scale stuff needs FUD or FXD, and I have yet to find another company that allows on-demand printing at or near Shapeways prices for that level of detail. My biggest fighters are 15-20mm in length, with the average being more like 10-12mm.

I'll probably place one more big order before the price increases hit my stuff, then wait for an alternative to appear

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2018 3:09 p.m. PST

That is a shame.

The only way around this is to do one super-high quality print, and then get a mold made for it, so it can be produced in metal.

Not necessarily a bad thing for those of us who prefer that, but the downside is the cost to create molds, etc., etc..

Subcontracting production and mold-making will help, but I imagine a lot of the more esoteric items won't be cost effective to produce.

I suspect if Shapeways does really triple their prices, others will step in to the marketplace to undercut that a bit.

Aotrs Commander04 Sep 2018 4:39 p.m. PST

@Thresher01, I can absolutely rule out me ever going into casting, I'm afraid. On top of everything else (including "there is nowhere in the house to do it"), it would necessitate a complete redesign of all the models. (As what you can print and what you can cast are different criterion, and whan I have done casting masters on commission, there are a lot more restriction.) And as you say, a lot of stuff like the engineering vehicles you would never sell enough of to make it worthwhile.

I'll be selling from my own home printer before I get to that stage (since I'd have to set up the selling infrastruture anyway). Not quite at that stage yet, I'll be doing some more investigation before I do anything, anyway.

Stogie04 Sep 2018 4:49 p.m. PST

I might be able to help some. I sent you an email thru Shapeways.

TheWhiteDog04 Sep 2018 5:10 p.m. PST


Yeah, I'd love to have them done in metal, but much of the surface detail wouldn't translate unless you used a very expensive alloy-mix. Right now I can print a sprue of 24 fighters (2 squadrons) for about $8 USD-$12 a sprue, depending on whether it's fighters or bombers.

That and the IP issues: Let's just say that I'd have to call the line "Group Leader", to use a euphemism.

Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP05 Sep 2018 3:50 p.m. PST

I get not wanting to do molds, and make in metal.

The latter should be a lot less expensive though now, since metals prices have fallen quite a bit of late.

billclo05 Sep 2018 3:58 p.m. PST

Have you looked at Sculpeo?

ADB Marketing06 Sep 2018 10:29 a.m. PST

I think Sculpteo doesn't offer a storefront to folks.

Aotrs Commander07 Sep 2018 3:34 a.m. PST

@ADB Marketing

They do, but it is VERY bare-bones that I can see, essentially just a (poorly-organised) gallery, no customisation or anything at all as far as I can see, bt even a text box.

The products in the galleries also don't show VAT (et al) and only do so on the actual product page, which is… Not a good practise, I personally feel.

They might be a last resort, but to even get a quote I would have to create an account; so their presence has been noted.

(It is distressing to see that the other places that offer the services are really not even trying very hard on this front. What a nightmarish state to be in where you can find somethings Shapeways is actually better at. Not that it will matter if they price themselves out of the market…)

ADB Marketing07 Sep 2018 10:01 a.m. PST

I totally understand your predicament. I was reading in one of the forums there that they have already (one hopes by accident) done price changes in one shop. He reported price changes between $1 USD and $14. USD :( This make me quite worried.

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