When software designers create a new program or video game, they oftentimes open that software up for critique prior to making an official release. The Beta version of their software is one which they believe to be complete, or close to it, but wish for others, outside of their company to try it out and provide feedback. A majority of the time, there are glitches and bugs found, which can be corrected prior to the official release of the product.
This week, 3D printing marketplace, Shapeways announced two new options for designers of 3D printed products. Those options are “Beta” and “First to Try”, and they provided designers with the ability to have their 3D printed objects fully tested prior to their official release.
“One of the most critical steps in designing a great product is iteration: tweaking a product to perfection by testing and refining the design,” explained Shapeways on their blog. “You can be a part of the creative process by giving designers feedback when their products are in Beta. Share your thoughts on the design, the aesthetics, the fit, or anything else you think will help make the product even better.”
Already, there are over 500 products available in Beta, on Shapeways. The sellers of these Beta products have the ability to make them available (perhaps at a discounted rate), while having the buyers acknowledge that there could be some minor imperfections with the designs. This is where Beta can be helpful. It allows designers to be provided with helpful feedback, which can in turn be used to perfect the final product.
Also, Shapeways’ introduction of “First to Try” should make both buyers and sellers on the 3D marketplace a bit happier. For those individuals who desire to be the first to get their hands on new products, the “First to Try” feature will be right up their ally. Products in the Shapeways marketplace that have not yet been 3D printed with a very high degree of confidence yet, will receive a designated “First to Try” badge on that product’s page. In doing this, Shapeways makes buyers aware that there could still remain some minor issues with that product, and at the same time allows seekers of brand new products to find them easier.
“These products are in earlier stages of development, so sometimes there are some kinks (no matter how beautiful the render, the laws of physics still exist,” explained Shapeways. “In those cases, not to worry, the refund is on us!). Most of the time, though, they’ve been 3D printed in a few of our materials and it’s your chance to try them out in others. All materials for a product begin in First To Try until each material has a high enough Print Success Rate for us to have confidence in the printability.”
Also when a product has “First to Try” enabled, customers will see a different set of choices available on the product page, as well as a digital rendering of the product.
Both of these new features should make the buying and selling process on Shapeways more transparent, as well as providing designers with a bit more leeway in the product release process. What do you think of these new features? Discuss in the Shapeways Beta / First to Try forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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