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Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Shapeways & Future Direction by Aotrs Shipyards

Shapeways & Future Direction by Aotrs Shipyards

This is a note of forewarning, to my existing customers specifically (and to anyone else that uses Shapeways more generally). Last week - as usual, without any actual notification unless you happened to be caught by it or looking at the forums - Shapeways announced a new "pricing algorithm" they are testing, to be implemented over the next few months.

The Shipyards have *not* been affected by the new pricing model thus far, but neither you nor I are likely to know about it until it gets done without any notice (since that is how Shapeways does business).

The issues are thus:

a) The pricing pages now give you no idea of what the pricing structure is completely hidden from everyone, so that the only way you can find out what something costs - or to reduce that cost - is to experiment. (During the community chat the CEO had with us a while back, he said that an open structure was allowing the customer to "game" the system, so instead they appear to have set it so they can "game" it themselves.)

b) Some of the other shop owners have experimented by making new accounts to test this new structure. One gentleman (second post of page two of the afore-linked thread), who notably does 144th aircraft (and so is in the same ballpark region as the Shipyards) reported as much as a 300% increase in prices.

Obviously, this will essentially price the Shipyards out of usable business as it stands.

A bit of further study indicates one fine fellow doing a lot of experimentation, revealing that the new structure appears to have volume-based floors, so while you might be able to re-work models to be only a bit more expensive by packaging multiple ones together, it means trial and experimentation (because we aren't allowed to know how they work it out) for EVERY model - and what does that mean for, say, smaller starships that you won't want hundreds of?

( Link to the aforementioned study.)

I am currently looking at alternatives as best as I can - I might have to consider doing it directly, but I have no infrastructure in place to attempt that at present, so would have to be done on an ad-hoc basis in the short to mid-term.

For the moment, I am going to continue to releases for moderns as normal, until such time as the prices do change; I will place sci-fi releases on hold until I have a clearer idea of what is going on - I may need the time to be sorting stuff. (There is, after all, the faint glimmer of hope that the experimental changes might lead to enough loss of sales Shapeways reconsiders.) As and when I know anything, I will let you know.

Shapeways, Aotrs Shipyards