pricing increase explained

Updated September 2019

3D Printing the Smart Way

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Rockin H is a huge champion of 3D printing. Having started a few years ago the whole process began with the Haynes original service bed. Since then a number of high quality products have been produced that would very likely not be created by larger manufacturers. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a high end model or part created by a person who dreamed it, then made it. The gloves are off, the gatekeepers have been fired and anyone with an idea can chase it if they want to.

Custom 3D Printing Pricing

On September 30, 2014 Shapeways sent out an email indicating a pricing change on Versatile plastics and steel. One of the first sentences I read in the email said “the price of printing most models will be going down: 85% of what we’ve printed this year in Steel and 75% of what we’ve printed in Versatile Plastic will become less expensive,”. I read this and thought this was great! Until I logged into my account to find that most of my models went up $1 – to $20 per item. A grain bed that cost me $23 will cost $44 in a week. What the heck?

Here is the deal. Shapeways new structure consists of three main points.

  1. Labor (part count): the number of things that need to be handled individually during production.
  2. Material: the amount of material that is needed to manufacture your product.
  3. Machine Space: the amount of space your product takes inside our 3D printers.

The now old pricing structure was largely based on the volume of material that was needed to make an item plus a small production fee of $1.50 more or less. Before 9/30/14, I recommended creators bundle small items in groups to save the $1.50 fee reducing the overall cost of the items produced. Good for the creator like me, quite a bit more labor intensive for Shapeways. This system worked and largely favored the creator. Then there is the space issue. Many of my larger items, like grain/silage beds, take up a lot of room in the printing bed. Good for me but inefficient for Shapeways when it appears the company runs on volume vs. price overall.

Where do people like me go now?

First, I will be very clear. This increase is not a make or break deal for Rockin H. What it will do is require me to be more efficient in what I ask designers to create for me. For example, my friend at Circle C Farm Toys had a designer bundle a set of tires with a ring through it. See it here. His cost on this set of tires in versatile plastic actually went down a bit. Also, it will require me to have models designed that are not as complicated and be more efficient with the size.

All my present grain/silage beds come with the silage racks sprued to the bed along with the end gate. Efficient parts wise but take up more room. And there is a third option, choose materials that give a higher level of detail such as the Detail plastics. These cost more but require less work on the part of Shapeways or so it appears.

Getting Used to New Prices

At the end of the day the structure will take a bit of getting used to. Frankly, I’ve been wondering how Shapeways made money handling my orders of 30 tire at a cost of $19 per run in Black Versatile Plastic. That is a ton of tiny parts that need to be cleaned and handled by an employee. If I am making this kind of order, so are others, and Shapeways has responded honestly.

This is the essential nuts and bolts of the price change. Another blog post by Shapeways is forthcoming to further explain the change and what it means for those of us creating world class models. Until then, keep creating. Please post a comment and share this article with friends.

Ready for a different 3D printing company? Check out my interview in the next blog post, we compare companies. 

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