Composite Model support
Introduce support for making a model out of multiple separate models so customers won't have to buy several different models for a multipart model.
We have added some tools that allow you to sell ‘sets’ of models:
I believe that should solve this issue!
Link to the labs is here: http://www.shapeways.com/labs
Cheers, and thanks again for your continued insistence that we should fix this ;-)
Bart and Natalia
ps. We’re closing the issue to return your votes!
I have to agree to TomZ input.
What's so much needed is collecting several parts to one bigger part thus:
- reducing the handling effort at shapeways
- and eliminating the startup fee
For my models I solve that with putting 10 items of the same type on a bearer.
But would be very ineteresing if that can be done automatically.
The sinterbox is a very fine attempt to that, but only made for Shapeway's internal purposes.
I made also the proposal with defining a bearer structure which can be easily glued together when placing the objects for printing. Thus at least reducing the startup effort after printing.
This is not really a solution. It's a hack, and it's a hack that we already figured out: http://www.shapeways.com/forum/index.php?t=msg&&th=6342&goto=33967#msg_33967 (It no longer works due to changes in the Shapeways site but it used to.)
It's also somewhat silly you can't specify any material, it just takes the default.
It definitely has its uses but it's not what I had in mind when creating this feedback entry. I am still longing for true composite models: creating a model (that is treated as one single entity, the parts can't be ordered separately) out of multiple STL files, completely transparently to the customer. Ideally (when parts are in the same material) it would be treated as one model (with only one startup fee, maybe this is not possible for some materials but for others it would be realistic [WSF with its lovely sinterboxes]).
This would of course be a major overhaul of the site but it makes sense in the long term: a single plastic component is rarely interesting, but a mix and match of parts in different materials has much more potential (and it would be very nice if in the long term there would also be a list of non-3DP parts like screws and other bits we could choose from).
From a puzzle person point of view: we make models with 100's of parts. Currently we stick all of these parts (of which many are identical) in one model so it can be ordered easily and we don't pay 100 start up fees. Whether it's fair we avoid the startup is debatable but due to the sinterboxes handling multiple parts in WSF should be quite easy. Having the parts separated in to individual files might even make it easier on the operators.
With this solution, if we split up each of our puzzles in to the individual parts, it would lead to 10 to 20 models per puzzle cluttering up our accounts and the customer's cart.
So what we really want is a solution where we can create a model, that is really treated like an individual model, from multiple STL's AND a pricing model that doesn't charge the startup fee 100 times.
Thank you for putting so much effort in this. The codes are excellent for use on an independent website. Unfortunately, it does not solve the flagged problem.
Please go to my 17x17x17 page
and try to buy it. Many people would push the button on the right, and buy a big expensive cube, instead of pushing the "Add set to card" button.
Can you find a solution where people can push the main "Add to cart" button and get the set, instead of the dummy cube?
I'm having a similar problem with a mechanical assembly, rather than a puzzle. Here is a photo of the one I printed myself, painted, and assembled http://swampcastle.blogspot.com/2011/06/fwd-parts-for-making-sin-cos-machine.html
In my shop, there are 20 models in my "Ideal Harmonic Transformer" section. To make a full mechanism, you must purchase either 18 or 19 of them, and you need two each of a few. Here's the shop section link: http://www.shapeways.com/shops/swampcastle?section=Ideal+Harmonic+Transformer
The _only_ person who inquired about purchasing one said he would have, if he could have done so by purchasing a single item. Selecting so many, and sorting out how many of each, was understandably more than he was willing to do.
If you could at the least let me set up a parts list for a full mechanism on a spread sheet, and let the customer select it and have all the parts added to the order at once, I might have a chance of selling one of these.
Meanwhile, as we all know, a single STL files can contain multiple parts. I know there are items being produced at Shapeways that take advantage of this. Until the larger-scale changes that you mention are implemented, how about putting guidelines in the upload documentation, stating clearly when and how multi-part models are permitted?
I understand that multiple-STL sets aren't a quick fix, and I'm glad that you're working on them. In the meantime, I don't feel like it should be too much work to document your current practice so that all users can access your existing features. As things are, I feel I'm being penalized for obeying your guidelines.
understand your passion and this is valuable feedback.
The basic idea is that currently we have an STL based structure for products. 1 product = 1 STL file, hence the issues. We need to make a model that is 1 product = multiple STL, multiple materials and perhaps even non-materials (stickers? / manual?). This is a major redesign of our database, gallery, product details and check-out. We now have the team of engineers to do this big task and at the same time improve speed and usability of the website in general.
This project is on our road-map, please hang in there with us!!
I've raised the idea of "Coupling of models", which maybe a simple way of connecting items together.
Whereas "composite models" may be a very large issue on shapeway's side, this could be a quick starting point.
Adminbartv (Admin, Shapeways) commented
1 - I fully agree.
2 - Not 100% sure about this. Objects in sinter boxes are not always easy to clean. Also, would we be required to cut open the box and clean each individual object? That would drive the price up again..
3 - Server strain/hacks: YES! Agreed.
Tom van der Zanden commented
Shapeways should really look in tot his. They’re really making things difficult for themselves.
Currently, the puzzle makers try to fit as many parts in one file as possible for two reasons:
1) Splitting over multiple files is confusing for our customers
2) We want to avoid paying the startup cost multiple times
I don’t think (2) is taking unfair advantage of Shapeways. Our puzzles are ordered solely in WSF and you print a nice sinterbox around all the parts which allows them to be handled as if they were a single part.
This puts unnecessary strain on the servers of Shapeways because our puzzles are made with many copies of only a handful parts, and by forcing us to put everything in one file we create monstrous 1 million polygon files with much duplicate information, whereas everything could fit in 10 or so tiny STL files of a few thousand polygons.
Furthermore, doing it this way makes it hard on production: they would prefer to get simply a list of parts with an STL file for each one without having to dissect our models in to the individual component parts.
We are already using the dummy model trick, sending you part lists with one file for each STL and clearly production can handle it. All we need now is official support for this through the website. Or at least, a way of supplying these composite models without needing to ask our customers for their order numbers each time and having to contact customer support about it.
Carl Hoff commented
See my post here:
The puzzle community has been asked Shapeways for composite model for over two years now. And Shapeways has been promising it ever since. Time to keep that promise?