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General Ship Modeling: Super-detailing
Topics on photo-etch, metal-parts, and all types of additional detailing.
shapeways printing needs to step it up
blaster76
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Posted: Friday, February 02, 2018 - 12:21 AM UTC
Ordered some detail parts from Shapeways printing. Wanted to get some hanger deck stuff for my 350 scale Nimitz. Ordered the hanger deck interior for bay 2 and 3 some tractors and the bay door detail The detail and quality of the material was good as expected. My issues are. One labeling the contents. They came in bags with codes on them. Great for them bad for me which bag was which ( as in hanger bay 2 or 3)? Had to go back to site and look at stuff. 2 and in my opinion this is unacceptable. No instructions. I realize it is pretty much glue stuff in but there should be a fairly accurate diagram. Looked back on the site to see what they had and it was inaccurate. It is going to have to be by guess and by golly as to placement. They need to get the shape of the hanger deck correct ( it looks like a straight WW2 carrier in the diagram neglects all the curves and bulges). I was planning on in the future getting more of this for when i do my Enterprise...but think i may hold up and see if they correct this situation
RLlockie
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Posted: Friday, February 02, 2018 - 12:38 AM UTC
You know how Shapeways works, right?

Itís not a kit manufacturer like Dragon or Tamiya. People create designs, upload them and Shapeways prints and ships them to order. If you want instructions, the designer is the party who is the potential source of those. Shapeways probably has no idea what parts it is packing so Iím always delighted that I get what I order, never mind how the bags are labelled. Compared to the alternative of building it myself, which often isnít possible without the same kit, having to look up codes on the website is really no big issue for me. Your perspective may differ though.
blaster76
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Posted: Friday, February 02, 2018 - 07:55 AM UTC
Wow. delighted you get what you order. That is not very encouraging. Maybe my expectations are different than yours. I expect things like instructions and to get exactly what I ordered. I can figure things out but would prefer to be more exact than using by guess and by golly. As I said the parts themselves met my expectations. Most of it wont even be all that visible as it is in the interior of the ship. So I would assume the designer gets a cut from these folks. They should get the info from them and provide it. May cost a bit more but as you said they are the only game in town to get this stuff. Would rather go deluxe than economy. Besides a small diagram wouldnt add more that a nickle to the final cost
Scarred
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Posted: Friday, February 02, 2018 - 10:27 AM UTC
Technical writing and drawing i.e. instructions, is an art unto itself and some companies don't do it very well (looking at you Dragon). All Shapeways is is a printing company. The modelers who create the parts are the ones who should be providing the instuctions. Shapeway isn't going to provide instructions, nor are they going to make those who create the models provide instructions. Remember most of the folks who are designing these parts are not pros, just normal people so don't blame Shapeways. Caveat emptor.
RLlockie
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Posted: Friday, February 02, 2018 - 01:14 PM UTC
Maybe I should have been clearer. Considering that my order shares a print run with a load of other peopleís orders for massively different items printed in the same material, I am impressed that the right bits find their way to me.

I do expect it as thatís what Iím paying for but it does impress me. Maybe I am easily impressed though. If you want instructions, you need to contact the designer, who may be able to give you a steer. Maybe he/she can tell you the source material used which would enable you to figure it out, for example. However, what you are asking is akin to expecting a book printer to teach you how to read, which is not realistic in my opinion.
blaster76
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Posted: Sunday, February 04, 2018 - 10:49 PM UTC
Buyer Beware....the exact point of the original post. With Shapeways you will get a bag of parts ( dependant on what you order) You will have to figure out how to use them. To some this may be a problem in my case an inconvenience. I had to spend a couple of hours researching to solve my problem. No biggie a couple hours that could have been spent painting and assemblying.

Bottom line MY expectations were not met. The only opinion that matters to me...not yours not his not hers...mine.

As to your printing reference I think to be more accurate buying a book (technical manual) and expecting a table of contents at the front. Not teaching me how to read or build a kit. I know how to build models been doing it for over 55 years. Kits multimedia kits, kitbashing and scratch building hell even fantasy creations

Will I do business with Shapeways again? More than likely. They have some useful products and I anticipate them increasing their lines in the future.
matt
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Posted: Monday, February 05, 2018 - 12:56 AM UTC
As one of the designers who has a shapeways store, its MY responsibility to include instructions if needed. At this point I don't have more than detail parts that are pretty self explanatory as to assembly. When in doubt, contact the shop owner and see if they hsve a diagram or instructions available.
RLlockie
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Posted: Monday, February 05, 2018 - 01:02 AM UTC
I understand that your expectations were not met. Iíve also had parts whose purpose was unclear to me but as they were really small I managed to omit them with no evident disadvantage.

However, that is the responsibility of the designer, not the factory. The factory probably has no idea what some of the things it makes are. You may find it worthwhile to contact the designer (sometimes their details are on the site, I think) as they may be able to help. If enough people contact them, they may be inclined to deal with the issue!
Pave-Hawk
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Posted: Monday, February 05, 2018 - 08:08 AM UTC

Quoted Text

They have some useful products and I anticipate them increasing their lines in the future.



The only product lines Shapeways has are raw material and 3D printers to to feed them into.

They can no more provide instructions than a sheet metal worker who you take random blueprints too. The can only build the item to spec, it's between you and the designer to understand how the parts go together.

The designer does not work for Shapeways, they are essentially contracting Shapeways to print a product, that they get a cut of the sale price for.

If your expectations weren't met, it's simply because you are misunderstanding the relationship between the item creator/designer, and the item manufacturer.

As others have said, contact the item designer(NOT SHAPEWAYS), and ask if they have diagrams or explanations of how it all goes together.
TracyWhite
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Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 02:17 AM UTC

Quoted Text

If your expectations weren't met, it's simply because you are misunderstanding the relationship between the item creator/designer, and the item manufacturer.



This right here. You're attempting to apply an old model of business to a new one. That's not what Shapeways is doing.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 03:25 AM UTC
If I understand this correctly-- maybe I can help Steve and others understand it. Shapeways has nothing to do with the parts other than printing them based on the designs of others. They then sell the parts they make to other customers with similar needs. They have no relationship to the parts they print. Their business model is for the customer to submit the design, and they print the parts based on the customer's needs. They then file the parts in a program, and if other customer's want the same parts, they simply print more. This is why there are no instructions, they are not a model kit company, only a facilitator for providing specialty parts to modelers---or anybody else with a small parts need--based on the customer's designs. In other words, they could care less about what the model is, their concern is only to provide a part you design or ask for. Its really the same as taking sketch art to a printer and asking them to print it. They could care less about what the customer plans to do with the print, you are only paying them to make multiple copies, nothing more.
VR, Russ
Biggles2
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Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 03:44 AM UTC
It should be up to the consumer to know what it is he (or she) is ordering and where to put it.
MikeyBugs95
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Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 07:21 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Buyer Beware....the exact point of the original post. With Shapeways you will get a bag of parts ( dependant on what you order) You will have to figure out how to use them. To some this may be a problem in my case an inconvenience. I had to spend a couple of hours researching to solve my problem. No biggie a couple hours that could have been spent painting and assemblying.

Bottom line MY expectations were not met. The only opinion that matters to me...not yours not his not hers...mine.

As to your printing reference I think to be more accurate buying a book (technical manual) and expecting a table of contents at the front. Not teaching me how to read or build a kit. I know how to build models been doing it for over 55 years. Kits multimedia kits, kitbashing and scratch building hell even fantasy creations

Will I do business with Shapeways again? More than likely. They have some useful products and I anticipate them increasing their lines in the future.



I'm also a designer and shop owner on Shapeways and I do a lot of work through it. That being said, you're thinking about this business completely wrong. While I agree that instructions should've been provided, it's not up to Shapeways to identify parts, label parts (labeling the bags is a different story) and create instructions. It's up to the shop owner (myself or Matt, for example) to create and identify parts on instructions. Shapeways techs don't care about what they're printing as long as it is printable and as long as they are able to get it out their doors in one piece, per se (as long as it isn't offensive or illegal).

Now you can think of Shapeways as a fabricator. They're job isn't to create the blueprints or make sure everything in the entire assembly fits together or even to provide blueprints to the final customer, their job is just to read the blueprints for their part and make that part according to the instructions that have been provided to them. No more, no less. It's the designer's job to make sure that the instructions (both to Shapeways and the end recipient) are correct and concise. It's the designers job to make sure that the parts are accurate and fit together well in the total assembly. Shapeways did everything they had to do. If the designer gives faulty instructions to Shapeways, it isn't Shapeways' fault for that inaccurate part. It's the designer's. Some designers are better than others at correcting inaccuracies.

Shapeways doesn't actually produce to expectations of sales. They produce solely to order. Like going to a book store with no books on the shelves, ordering a book, then a week to 3 weeks later, that book is at your doorstep. They don't keep stock; they don't maintain lines. The only "lines" you'll find are from individual designers. If you go to a Shapeways factory (I have, it's interesting. I'd love to get a tour), you won't see boxes of printed parts waiting for a buyer. You'll see a room with tubs and tubs of printed parts in bags waiting to be shipped to people who already ordered them weeks ago. Shapeways isn't like Dragon or Tamiya or Italeri. They don't do any research into what each part is and what it does. It's not their role.

So, if you want instructions for the parts, send a message to the designer. Maybe they'll make some. Shapeways will tell you the same.

About the bagging situation: why they do it that way, I do not know. It's spit out of their computer that way. Could they also include an abbreviated title on the label? Sure. They including an order list with the shipment That matches product name to item number. Work off that list. I haven't had any difficulty identifying different items in a shipment of over a dozen items.

My advice would be to not think of Shapeways as a regular model company like Dragon or Tamiya. They aren't. Not even close. They have a different business model all together. They need to be thought of as purely a middle man. All they do is make the parts and ship them out to the end user. That's it. The designers there are make the e-blueprints, Shapeway's makes the product from the e-blueprints, the end user assembles the product. That's all there is to it.
StephenLarsen
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Posted: Monday, March 05, 2018 - 04:34 AM UTC
Hi Steve,

The guys here are correct. For us older guys, our decades of modeling experience can actually work against us with this new technology and business model. It takes a little getting used to.

As a designer with a shop on Shapeways, here are some thoughts that may help.

There are some significant advantages to the Shapeways business model. For example:

1) Customers can have direct access to the real, actual person that designed the product. Many designers are very happy to answer questions about how the product is intended to be used. Try reaching a master pattern designer at Tamiya, Trumpeter or Revell-Monogram and get assembly help!

2) Customers can contribute to the development of the design by providing advice and references directly to the designer.

3) Some designers are willing to adjust and improve designs as new information becomes available or to correct a problem or deficiency in the design. This can happen very quickly, without having to cut a new steel mold, or develop a new master and create new RTV molds for resin. Instead of waiting 30 years for a "new tool" version, an updated design can be made available in days, sometimes even hours.

When buying products on Shapeways and contacting designers there, it may help to recognize that there are different kinds of designers, only some of which offer services and support beyond simply offering the product.

Very importantly, as the guys here have pointed out, most designers offering products on Shapeways are not full-time professional designers. They don't have a research staff or a graphics team making instruction sheets or plans. More often than not, designers are just individual skilled hobbyists, working alone, who want to share their talents with the general public, all the while holding down another job that puts food on the table. They respond to requests and queries when they can. Most are usually very helpful.

Having said that, there does exist a small group of truly professional, full-time designers. These pros are indeed trying to make a living with the products they sell through Shapeways. This is their livelihood. They are the designers who are probably better able than most to provide additional support and services like same-day response to questions, 2D instructions, assembly drawings or plans, accept requests, etc. Some often accept commissions to design that one part that only you need for your model.

Then there is yet another group of designers who only offer their designs but provide no support or services whatsoever. They may not even respond to contact. Those designers are not in business in a classical sense at all. They just make their designs available to the public, nothing more. They are a kind of take-it-or-leave it designer. And some of their products are amazing.

Another consideration: since designers aren't Shapeways employees, generally designers don't know each other. They aren't in the same room or under the same roof. They may not even be on the same continent. So, if you buy different products from different shops, the designer of one shop normally has no knowledge or familiarity with designs created by others. That means if you have questions about designs from different shops selling through Shapeways, you'll have to contact each designer individually for answers.

Yes, usually the designer receives a fee from Shapeways for any products Shapeways sells to someone else, but not always. Typically, the fee is very small compared to the cost to actually print and ship the product. The fee is often too small to expect the designer to also develop and publish professional 2D assembly drawings. Designers simply don't make enough in sales in order to invest in publications, too. The best you may get are simple assembly renderings developed from the CAD program from which the design was made.

The Shapeways business model is certainly different than what we have come to know and expect from traditional model companies. But once you get used to how it works, you will be much better able to take advantage of the many fine offerings made available through Shapeways and be satisfied with the products.

Hope this helps.
-Steve Larsen


*Designers can make their designs private for their own use only, not offered to the general public.