Friday, 10 August 2012

Sipping from the Shapeways Cup of Fail


In my previous post I had some photos of my newly created 3D model of a Peckett tank engine. For those who cannot remember it looked something like this...


I then duly uploaded it onto the Shapeways website and promptly placed an order for one. A short while later the body turned up through the post and I excitedly opened up the package, unfortunately what I came across was rather disapointing to say the least...

The finish of the model was very rough. You have to bear in mind that the photo was taken after I had a go at cleaning up the rough areas (3), scrubbing the body with a toothbrush and washing up liquid, and primered the whole thing in Grey primer so it would be easier to photograph it. The body was printed in Shapeways classic FUD and I was expecting a small amount of cleaning up of marks like area (1) but to my surprise the saddle tank of the engine (3) looked very similar to the boiler (5) but the worst parts by far were the footplate (4), running plate, and boiler details (2) with a finish similar to course sandpaper.

I sent an email to Shapeways complaining about the quality of the model and a complaint was raised. About a week later I hadnt heard anything so I send a quick email to ask what was happening and I got this reply..

I have received a feedback about your complaint in the mean time, but I am afraid we can't arrange a reprint for this model. Quality of these supported parts were bad because of the design.

Now I am a bit peeved with this reply. Mainly because I know Shapeways can do better than what I was supplied but I feel like their reply is a bit of a 'cop-out' blaiming my design for the poor quality of the model. I know that they recommend getting bits printed separately but surely that wouldnt affect the finish that much? or is that just an excuse to charge me more for getting bits printed separately? Plus if there was a design fault then why was it printed? Who knows!

Anyway, if that is the quality of 3D printing I should expect then I think its not the solution I have been looking for and I will wait a bit longer until the technology evolves a little! That or find an alternative company...

Not a happy bunny..



  1. Hi Julia,

    if that was the Shapeways version I saw at Zedex, it looked pretty good to me. I did not look inside the cab though, and we discussed smoothing the saddle tank. The COunty Rolling Stock Nn3 tank car that I have bought has similar roughness on the tank barrel which I have not yet tried to remove.


  2. Hello Tim.

    The one you saw at Zedex was the second one I had done (see my post "Peckett Part 1") The first one is kicking around in the bottom of a box now.

    It does seem that the quality of Shapeways stuff can vary a bit.