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  1. #1
    Student Aotrs Commander's Avatar
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    Help with alternatives to Shapeways?

    Hi there. I found this site via a google search looking for a suitable forum, and this looked like the best first stop.

    I have been doing 3D printing for the past seven or so years, first at Shapeways and then with a Replicator 2 that we (my Dad and I) acquired. I predominatly model starships, 144th-scale ground vehicles (both modern armour and sci-fi) for wargames. I opened up a webstore, Aotrs Shipyards, at Shapeways, almost from the get-go, and three years ago, made that my offical day-job. I don't make a great deal on it, but it is vastly better than being unemployed.

    Which I may be again, if I don't find an alternative to Shapeways in some form.

    Shapeways has become steadily worse since I started, and the most recent changes[1] (following their new CEO taking over) are concerning to the point that I willingly or not, will not be able to use them anymore. They have removed all available pricing information, and are in the process of implementing a "new algorhythm" for pricing. Some of the other shop owners - notably a gentleman who does 144th scale aircraft, and so is in my ballpark with regard to size and cost - have experimentally tried opening new accounts to test out this new algorhythm and are reporting that prices for the old WSF (now versatile natural plastic) among others appear to be higher by up to 300%. This would effectively kill my entire 300-odd model catalogue. (Already, competitors using home printers are selling for about half my current price, the vast majority of which is of course, Shapeways' base cost.) Heck, even I wouldn't my stuff at three-four times the cost.

    So this, if it comes to pass (my models have not yet been affected, but the change is being "rolled out" over the next few months), it means that Shapeways will become completely useless to me as a storefront. (I already now, with Simplify 3D which we got this year, can print anything I could at Shapeways for my own use, or I know there are other companies which were already cheaper than Shapeways, albiet on a more traditional print-house set-up. We also know, from my mate's Wanhou mini, you can get the same level of performance from a cheap 3D printer if you have decent software.). Really, the only thig Shapeways has offered for a long time was the webstore, and that is of no use if no-one is going to buy anything.

    (They are promoting "Sell" on their website, but the actual marketplace is hidden and you have to scroll to find it, unhelpfully labelled as "explore." You're fine if your customers have a direct link to your shop, but otherwise it is a bizarre decision. But very Shapeways, sadly.)

    I have thus come here, then, to hopefully find some other individuals (perhaps some of you are even in the same boat) and a knowledge base, to seek some advice on an alternative.

    Firstly, does anyone know of a place - which a reasonable pricing structure - that offers a similar sort of service as a webshop? That would be my first choice - I am not a webcoder, nor am I remotely making enough to be paying a professional one to design and/or maintain a website. (I couldn't find any promising candicates last time Shapeways annoyed me to the point of looking a year or two ago.)

    Second, down the line, I have been aware that I would have to look at being able to sell the .stl files to the customers, as the instances of home 3D printing increase. I was hoping Shapeways might do that at some point, but I don't think they really know where they are going at the moment (other than towards "sustainable growth, " whatever truly means). Now seems like as good a time as any to consider that in anger.

    Obviously, for such a service, you also need piracy protection and at least a willingness to do something if reported. I have already found a place in Hong Kong which appears to have bought Shapeways models and is recasting them and passing them off as their own. And selling them at lower prices, to really hit the boot in. Shapeways completely ignored the issue, as I thought they would. I am thus concerned that all it would take is someone buying my files and uploading them quietly to Thingverse or something to completely screw things up. I have heard people say things about TurboSquid, but i have no experience with them or any other sites, and wonder if anyone else around here does and could offer some advice and/or recommendation.

    (The other option is having to start selling directly, from my home printer (if I have to do this, I will probably have to buy a second, smaller printer (we don't have space for anything else) for primarily business use - a wanhou mini like my mate's seems like a good place to start. That would require a lot more infrastructure to work with and I have little idea where to start there, but those questions are somewhat beyond the remit of these boards, I think.)

    I thank you for any advice, suggestions (or commiserations!) that you might be able to offer.




    [1]I would have posted a link, but I'm apparently not allowed to do that until I've made more posts (not unreasonably, as I presume anti-spam); sorry. The discussion in question in on their forums, under offical announcements Pricing Changes.

  2. #2
    I've found Xometry to be a great option. They offer instant quotes and fast delivery on a range of 3D printing processes including Selective Laser Sintering, Fused Deposition Modeling, Multi Jet Fusion, Stereolithography PolyJet, and Direct Metal Laser Sintering. You can upload your 3D CAD file to get an instant quote. They are based in the US, but ship internationally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aotrs Commander View Post
    Hi there. I found this site via a google search looking for a suitable forum, and this looked like the best first stop.

    I have been doing 3D printing for the past seven or so years, first at Shapeways and then with a Replicator 2 that we (my Dad and I) acquired. I predominatly model starships, 144th-scale ground vehicles (both modern armour and sci-fi) for wargames. I opened up a webstore, Aotrs Shipyards, at Shapeways, almost from the get-go, and three years ago, made that my offical day-job. I don't make a great deal on it, but it is vastly better than being unemployed.

    Which I may be again, if I don't find an alternative to Shapeways in some form.

    Shapeways has become steadily worse since I started, and the most recent changes[1] (following their new CEO taking over) are concerning to the point that I willingly or not, will not be able to use them anymore. They have removed all available pricing information, and are in the process of implementing a "new algorhythm" for pricing. Some of the other shop owners - notably a gentleman who does 144th scale aircraft, and so is in my ballpark with regard to size and cost - have experimentally tried opening new accounts to test out this new algorhythm and are reporting that prices for the old WSF (now versatile natural plastic) among others appear to be higher by up to 300%. This would effectively kill my entire 300-odd model catalogue. (Already, competitors using home printers are selling for about half my current price, the vast majority of which is of course, Shapeways' base cost.) Heck, even I wouldn't my stuff at three-four times the cost.

    So this, if it comes to pass (my models have not yet been affected, but the change is being "rolled out" over the next few months), it means that Shapeways will become completely useless to me as a storefront. (I already now, with Simplify 3D which we got this year, can print anything I could at Shapeways for my own use, or I know there are other companies which were already cheaper than Shapeways, albiet on a more traditional print-house set-up. We also know, from my mate's Wanhou mini, you can get the same level of performance from a cheap 3D printer if you have decent software.). Really, the only thig Shapeways has offered for a long time was the webstore, and that is of no use if no-one is going to buy anything.

    (They are promoting "Sell" on their website, but the actual marketplace is hidden and you have to scroll to find it, unhelpfully labelled as "explore." You're fine if your customers have a direct link to your shop, but otherwise it is a bizarre decision. But very Shapeways, sadly.)

    I have thus come here, then, to hopefully find some other individuals (perhaps some of you are even in the same boat) and a knowledge base, to seek some advice on an alternative.

    Firstly, does anyone know of a place - which a reasonable pricing structure - that offers a similar sort of service as a webshop? That would be my first choice - I am not a webcoder, nor am I remotely making enough to be paying a professional one to design and/or maintain a website. (I couldn't find any promising candicates last time Shapeways annoyed me to the point of looking a year or two ago.)

    Second, down the line, I have been aware that I would have to look at being able to sell the .stl files to the customers, as the instances of home 3D printing increase. I was hoping Shapeways might do that at some point, but I don't think they really know where they are going at the moment (other than towards "sustainable growth, " whatever truly means). Now seems like as good a time as any to consider that in anger.

    Obviously, for such a service, you also need piracy protection and at least a willingness to do something if reported. I have already found a place in Hong Kong which appears to have bought Shapeways models and is recasting them and passing them off as their own. And selling them at lower prices, to really hit the boot in. Shapeways completely ignored the issue, as I thought they would. I am thus concerned that all it would take is someone buying my files and uploading them quietly to Thingverse or something to completely screw things up. I have heard people say things about TurboSquid, but i have no experience with them or any other sites, and wonder if anyone else around here does and could offer some advice and/or recommendation.

    (The other option is having to start selling directly, from my home printer (if I have to do this, I will probably have to buy a second, smaller printer (we don't have space for anything else) for primarily business use - a wanhou mini like my mate's seems like a good place to start. That would require a lot more infrastructure to work with and I have little idea where to start there, but those questions are somewhat beyond the remit of these boards, I think.)

    I thank you for any advice, suggestions (or commiserations!) that you might be able to offer.




    [1]I would have posted a link, but I'm apparently not allowed to do that until I've made more posts (not unreasonably, as I presume anti-spam); sorry. The discussion in question in on their forums, under offical announcements Pricing Changes.

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