Founded in 2007, Shapeways is headquartered in New York and has factories and offices in Eindhoven, Queens, and Seattle. It’s a spin-off of Royal Philips Electronics, and their roster of investors included Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, Lux Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.
Founded by Peter Weijmarshausen, Robert Schouwenburg and Marleen Vogelaar, the group were all involved at varying times in the Philips design department. By 2008, a service which allowed customers to design their own three-dimensional products and have them printed from CAD files was launched, and now designers sell their own creations to be 3D printed on demand for customers through the site.
In a watershed moment, Shapeways announced that they could offer designers manufacturing in stainless steel, and a couple of years later they were offering materials from sterling silver to acrylic and to full-color, food-safe ceramics. A new factory operation was opened in Queens, New York capable of housing 50 industrial printers, and the company has worked to meet the challenges outputting and delivering 3D models while fine-tuning their web presence.
Among the most recent of those improvements is a way to handle orders for iterations of new model designs which simply aren’t ready for 3D printing. Shapeways says it might be that a given model fails to meet the specific material guidelines, or that an unexpected glitch prevents them from shipping the model as intended. Rather than ship unsatisfactory prints to customers, Shapeways guarantees the quality of the ultimate result by canceling a model from an order. They have a system in place to notify designers and customers when such problems occur, and while they say those customers may find the process frustrating, the team believes they have an answer to the problem.
Shapeways has just launched a new feature to allow users to add any items removed from orders for problem conditions to add them back into orders already in progress.
The upshot? Customers no longer lose money on shipping.
It works like this: If a customer or designer has any orders which haven’t yet shipped, an option will appear at checkout to ship new orders with the latest open order. In choosing that option, shipping will be free for the new order.
“Both orders will share the same shipping address, shipping tier and arrival date,” Shapeways explains in their blog. “Depending on when you place your order, the arrival date of your previous order may be impacted.”
“This feature is not limited to items that have been rejected,” they continue. “This feature is also available for all types of purchases: anytime you place an order with Shapeways and later realize that you want to buy something else, you can place a new order and choose this option too.”
What do you think of this shipping consolidation offer from Shapeways? Let us know in the New Shapeways Shipping Feature forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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