Customs: Using Shapways the right/wrong way?

Discussion in 'Creative General Discussion' started by C. Wallace, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. C. Wallace

    C. Wallace Freelance Artist

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    Since I have done a lot of work in the prototyping/design field, I wanted to ask this question here.

    Why do I consistently see people designing stuff and having it printed over at Shapeways for mass purchase?

    Don't get me wrong, I get the ability to rapid prototype your design.

    However, with that said, my point is that these finished 3D printed parts are protoypes, and your finished product should be generated from that in different material.

    By selling it in the Shapeways store your letting unfinished little sugar cube textured bits and bobs of your creation into anyone's hands.

    In my experience we never used prototypes in this manner, they were always polished, copies made, painted etc...before they got into clients hand.

    Just seems to me that Shapeways becomes a very expensive and uncontrollable method of handling your designs.

    Also, once in the Shapeways store, you have no control over it, what if someone else purchases it and re-pops it? Could be not long before places like ebay and ioffer are filled with your creations.

    Just kind of thinking out loud here, not trying to troll or anything of the sort, just some honest discussion.

    So what are your thoughts?
     
  2. Treadshot A1

    Treadshot A1 Or just 'A1' for short...

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    Well, while i'm sure someone's going to mention things like Renderform/FP/etc., Shapeways is the way we regular people who don't have factories in China to make and sell stuff for cheap (relatively). Yeah, it ain't made of the plastic you see in Hasbro products, or anything remotely like it, it's still a 3D version of our design. We make something, and we sell copies through Shapeways. Instead of making costly molds, we use Shapeways.

    Also, these aren't prototypes. I say this based on my CJ Upgrade Kit (which sadly has sold a grand total of zero :(  ), where my final product is the Shapeways version. Sure, i build versions and prototypes through Shapeways as well, and test them, but ultimately the kit will be made through Shapeways, even when it's all finalised. I'm afraid that while i am a very spoilt kid, i don't have enough money to afford to get someone to make steel molds and cast copies of something which will be a very limited run. Shapeways is the only way i have to distribute this creation to other people.

    As well as that, i think you are going too far when you say that they are sugar cube textured. That's just WSF. Any of the dyed versions of WSF (BlaSF, BluSF, RSF and GSF) all are much less powdery, and even WSF has improved in the years i've used Shapeways. It used to crumble a lot in the early stages, but now the thing has no excess powder at all. The improvements in RP technology make even WSF a viable product. When you factor in the availability of the Detail materials, Sandstone, Glass and Metals, that's a lot of possibilities, and it allows you to make one product that the customer can then modify slightly through material choice to suit them. You can't do that with small productions runs, but since Shapeways independently produces each copy of the design separately from each other, tey can all be different.

    It is highly unlikely someone will ever copy your design or steal it, if only because the community here is so closely knit, we all know who's is who's. I'm pretty sure if you were to steal my CJ kit and post it as your own, people would know it wasn't. And then all the negativity that ensues would force your hand to either leave this board (and other boards, as people would chase you elsewhere), or own up to it. It's like trying to pass off a Ptitvastator as an original combiner concept. We know it too well, you couldn't possibly fool all of us.

    Personally, i wouldn't mind to see my designs end up on eBay, long as i was credited and all the funds that are right fully mine are with me. I want to see my creations all over the world. That's a reality of selling anything, and often a goal for people. I don't mind other people having my design, that's why i released it. Yes, you can't control who buys from your SW store, but i don't think any of us have a design complex enough to warrant buying one to measure and replicate. You can pretty easily replicate any design here, with only one measurement. Say, if i didn't want to give Ramrider any profit, then i can easily replicate his Salvo in Sketchup. I know its a 5mm peg. From there, with a bit of measurement of the photos, taking into account camera angles, i can get every other measurement i need to create the 3D model of it. But, the amount of time it would take me to replicate it is not worth the few dollars that i would save by not paying his markup. I can make a bot that turns into a gun for much less work and much less time, and it is my design, i can be proud of it. So it makes no sense to replicate anyone else's designs when everything available is so...simplistic. You can copy my CJ kit, it uses 5mm holes, and from there you can get the rest of the measurements. But you won't, you can make a kit for CJ from scratch faster than you can copy mine.
     
  3. Ramrider

    Ramrider TF Art Lad

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    I think Treadshot's covered it pretty well, for the most part.

    As Treadshot said, while the technology may be geared toward prototypes originally, the materials generated are, for the most part, plenty sturdy enough to serve as finished products.
    I have an I Ching pendant (designed by myself) and a ring (designed by someone else), 3D printed in stainless steel, both of which I wear pretty much every day, and they're great. The figures I've designed have been printed in a solid nylon, and yes, there is a bit of a texture when you first get it, but it's not the large-grit sandpaper you're implying (maybe that was that case last time you used the stuff, but it certainly isn't now), and with a little post-processing work (even just some paint and varnish), it smooths out pretty nicely. And those figures are tough; I've thrown one against the wall several times with no ill effect.

    Yes, but you were working in the toy industry and had access to the facilities to produce large numbers of finished products. A lot of us don't, nor do we have the funds to buy large quantities of whatever plastic we'd need to produce a run worth selling. And when you don't know if you even can sell all you make, that's potentially an enormous risk, assuming you have the capital available in the first place.

    Not expensive at all - all it costs me is the price of test prints to make sure the model works. When it comes to someone ordering one of my models, they just pay Shapeways directly, who then give me my cut. As for uncontrollable, again, not really. I decide which models are available for the public to buy, I decide how much I make per figure, and I decide what materials it can be bought in. If I want to make a figure unavailable after a certain point, I can do that. The only things really out of my hands are the printing itself, which is pretty much automated, and the handling afterward, which pretty much consists of cleaning, packing and shipping. For these, I'm relying on a company with a fast-growing reputation with good customer service.

    What do you mean by re-pops... are you referring to mass-casting their own copies and selling them on? Because I'm pretty sure that's a risk with any toy, as Hasbro knows all too well. And again, as Treadshot said, within the community, it's gonna become pretty well-known who's created what, so if stray copies of any of our models start turning up on Ebay, especially in any decent quantity, I can imagine alarm bells will be ringing fairly quickly.
     
  4. Fishdirt

    Fishdirt Tin Toy Transformer

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    Isn't there a minimum order of 25 dollars there? Not to mention 25 seems a bit much for a tiny head. I intend to use it only for prototypes because the cost is nuts. I saw someone selling a tf gun on there for 20 dollars which falls short of the minimum purchase which means I'd have to order two of those things which aren't even worth the price of one of them.
     
  5. project9

    project9 White n' Nerdy

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    I think Chip's main point is why are some of you folks giving molding/casting a try. I don't know big a cut you get from shapeways but if you're trying to sell a kit for $80 just to get a $20 cut... why don't you try making your own copies and offering them for $50 when it probably only cost you $10-20 worth of supplies. It makes it more accessible for folks who want to buy it but not spend the huge cost that Shapeways has.

    However, I admit, SW is fantastic for what it's for. It's great for anyone who can do a 3d model and get a print out of it. But with their minimum purchase limit and the kinda high cost they have on stuff, I agree with Chip. For those folks who can do it or want to try casting, they shouldn't be your supplier unless you don't want to make a profit or you have folks who don't mind spending a lot.
     
  6. Treadshot A1

    Treadshot A1 Or just 'A1' for short...

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    There is a 25 dollar minimum, that's why we always make batches of heads and test print them together. This way we don't have to pay extra.

    Also, always merge your models. If you have two models that will add up to above 25, merge them, and you get $1.50 off the final price, because you don't pay the startup costs again for the second model (it's charged per model, not per order). I say $1.50, but that's for WSF. Other materials have higher startup costs.

    The rest i think Ramrider's covered very nicely.

    I think that my problem with casting is that i am a student, entering my last year of high school in about two weeks. So i won't have the time to go to teh post office, buy all the stuff i need to pack stuff, box all the products, and then ship them. I need to go to school and do homework. So I use SW to do the shipping for me. Anything goes wrong with the shipping, it's their fault, not mine.
     
  7. Fishdirt

    Fishdirt Tin Toy Transformer

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    Is that actual steel they are using? I hope so!
     
  8. Ramrider

    Ramrider TF Art Lad

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    25 bucks is way too much for a tiny head. But odds are the tiny head doesn't cost 25 bucks. You'd probably be able to get several of those heads for that price, or any amount of other interesting stuff on the site. And if you want that $20 gun, you wouldn't have to buy two at all. The fact is you would pay at least $25, but you don't have to order the same thing. You could just as easily find something else to make up the extra $5. Like that head you were looking at. And if your order's just a few cents under the $25, as mine has been on occasion, and you don't want to find something else and pay more than 25... just pay the extra few cents. You won't be paying any more for shipping.
    And when it comes down to it, if you as a buyer think the product's not worth the price, you do what any of us does; you don't buy it.

    I've tried casting in the past, and while I've found it okay for replicating details for customs and such, I've never been able to master the art of moulding as the likes of Venksta and Darkov have. I'd love to be able to produce my own large run of professionally-produced figures, but right now I don't have the skill to do it myself, nor do I have the funds to get someone else to do it.
    With Shapeways, as I said, I make as big a cut as I want. They have a base price that they charge to produce the figure, which is what I pay to get it made. Then I can add a markup of however much I want to that price. I can charge a lot per model and make no sales, or I can add just a little and let those little bits mount up.
    And because the models are produced as and when they're required, I'm not limited to a specific run.

    I agree that if casting your own copies for a fraction of the cost is a viable alternative, by all means go for it. For everyone else, there's Shapeways. ;) 

    Yep. It's stainless steel, infused with bronze for extra strength. And it's only bronze in colour if you specifically order it that way (it normally just looks like plain steel, but they can heat-treat it to bring out the bronze colour). And they can gold-plate it too.
     
  9. Fishdirt

    Fishdirt Tin Toy Transformer

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    wow, steel could be made for molds for mini injection or liquid resin...if they can get very tight. Sweetness
     
  10. Ramrider

    Ramrider TF Art Lad

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    I've not experimented myself with detail on steel prints, but I believe the official line is details can go down to 1mm. It may be able to handle finer than that, but I'm not sure. If it's any help, here's a shot of the Gear Ring I bought, which is printed in bronze-tinted steel.
     
  11. Fishdirt

    Fishdirt Tin Toy Transformer

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    I can't remember the tolerances on dies when I worked in plastics...wish I kept those sheets.
     
  12. Superquad7

    Superquad7 We're only human. Super Mod

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    C. Wallace, you're not trolling at all. In fact, this is a great discussion going on here. :thumb 
     
  13. Venksta

    Venksta Render Project Creations TFW2005 Supporter

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    Shapeways is pushing for 3d printed parts to become final production pieces. As I believe, so are the companies making 3d printers. From your background, you are use to 3d printers for prototyping only. But the world of these machines is changing.

    One of the reasons I decided to cast my stuff in resin was to make it less likely for someone to get their hands on my designs and mass produce them. At the same time, no matter what type of end product my designs are, be it shapeways printed, or resin casted, anyone buying it can copy it easily. Just look at any of Hasbro's toys, or FansProject's Cliffjumper kit. So even though I'm controlling the sales of my designs, it'll only take one buyer to resell it to someone else and see it up on ebay in lesser quality, or better.

    Shapeways is just opening the doors of what we're able to do at home, now with the proper equipment, or in the future, with something more advanced. Even though I don't use shapeways anymore, it opened a door of possibilities for me. :) 
     

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