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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:45 pm 
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Hi!

Bart here from Shapeways.

First off, Happy National Puzzle Day! (in the US at least) :-)

Thanks for all the feedback -- it is ALWAYS welcome and crucial for us to hear. If you ever have any issue with a model or particular order, you can contact service@shapeways.com.

We are very aware of the issues you raise, and are working hard to come up with solutions. To provide a bit more transparency here, please know that we always aim to meet or surpass our promised tolerances and quality. However, some puzzles, especially those which push the limits of design, pose a unique challenge in that the range for those tolerances is a lot smaller than our overall range (see "accuracy" in our design guidelines for White, Strong & Flexible). We check on a case by case basis, but have yet to have strict rules for puzzles. If you're a puzzle designer, we ask that you please make the design challenges and potential production risks clear in your product descriptions, so your customers are not dissapointed.

That said, we really want to enable your amazing work, and help you push the limits. So we invite you to come talk to us personally! I'm here in the Netherlands, and Natalia is our US-based community manager. You can also reach us directly at bart@shapeways.com and natalia@shapeways.com. I think we can work together to make puzzles better for everyone.

Thanks so much for working with us to solve the issues!

Best,
Bart

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:22 pm 
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Oskar wrote:
The current Shapeways policy is to make a full reprint, even if only one piece is missing.
I hate to disagree with Oskar but a few weeks ago I received my Clockwork 4x4x4. This past weekend I counted and sorted the pieces and found I only had 17 copies of a part I needed 18 copies of. In its place I had a heart shaped piece that looked to be from a bracelet or something. I contacted Shapeways. Shapeways contacted Timur and requested a model for just the part I was missing and that is currently being printed. I would have been over joyed to be able to get a full reprint but I actually didn't think that was a reasonable expectation even though I have received full reprints a time or two in the past. But it certainly doesn't appear to be their "current policy" as of yesterday at least.

Carl

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:02 pm 
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bartv wrote:
Hi!

Bart here from Shapeways.[...]
That said, we really want to enable your amazing work, and help you push the limits. So we invite you to come talk to us personally! I'm here in the Netherlands, and Natalia is our US-based community manager. You can also reach us directly at bart@shapeways.com and natalia@shapeways.com. I think we can work together to make puzzles better for everyone.

Thanks so much for working with us to solve the issues!
Hi Bart,

If I read between the lines here it sounds like you're saying Shapeways is not making a policy or philosophy shift and is still committed to great service and customer satisfaction.

Thanks for reaching out and it is nice to have names of folks to contact with ideas, questions, or complaints. There were a few ideas offered in this thread and I will try to reach out to you directly later when I've sorted through things on my end. As I've said before, I don't have any outstanding support requests however I need to make several. If you'd like any information or clarification I've posted contact info below.

Regards

Brandon


Shapeways username: bmenrigh
Shapeways account email address: dontspam@brandonenright.net

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 4:36 pm 
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Hi Bart, thanks for reaching out to us, and always good to have an open dialogue to resolve any issues and keep everyone happy. Here are some specific suggestions:

1. Print individual orders of many parts within a fine mesh cage to avoid mixing parts between orders.
2. Assign one QC person to ensure completeness and quality of each order, and track any complaints on all orders under each QC person. Perhaps you can even set up a reward system to ensure they do their job well, with few complaints.
3. Allow people to select a preferred orientation, if it would improve printing quality.
4. Communicate very clearly and consistently to both customers and customer service representatives exactly what the specs and policies are.
5. Create and maintain a collaborative customer/quality-focused culture.

Hope this helps. :)

Best wishes,
Kelvin

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:20 am 
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@bmenrigh - absolutely! We've always been committed to delivering the best quality and customer support. Having said, printing these puzzles do create some additional challenges for us - especially when they contain hundreds or thousands of pieces!

@KelvinS:

1. Print individual orders of many parts within a fine mesh cage to avoid mixing parts between orders.

Yes, we already do this, but need to open the cages to clean the parts. If you insist on receiving a cage, you should add one yourself - it can be very thin and doesn't add much cost.

2. Assign one QC person to ensure completeness and quality of each order, and track any complaints on all orders under each QC person. Perhaps you can even set up a reward system to ensure they do their job well, with few complaints.

We already have 3 quality control points during our production process, but we're going to be putting a lot more focus on quality. Last week, we opened a new job description for a quality program manager who will be in charge of supercharging our quality control.

3. Allow people to select a preferred orientation, if it would improve printing quality.

It might, and it might not - it really depends on how much experience the designer has. At this point, our production planners inspect each piece and print it in the optimal orientation. But we know that some designers would like to set the print orientation themselves. We have alreaedy kicked off a project to investigate how this would impact our production.

4. Communicate very clearly and consistently to both customers and customer service representatives exactly what the specs and policies are.

We launched our 'Ask an Engineer' series yesterday. How about we dedicate one of our next videos to puzzle/mechanical part making? You guys could feed us questions and have them answered and demonstrated.

5. Create and maintain a collaborative customer/quality-focused culture.

We always have, but can always do better! :)

Your input is much appreciated!

Bart

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:56 am 
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Great response and attitude, thanks Bart! :)

Any more ideas or suggestions from anyone else?

Remember: If you don't ask, you don't get! :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:35 am 
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I've had tolerance problems in the past and one thing that strikes me is that it would have been a very simple check to see if the tolerance was out, before mailing. Often there are parts that can be fairly easily identified that should fit together. With the shells mechanisms (often the more complex mechanisms) there are tounge and groove joins. These joins should fit together without force or grabbing. Brandon has some great video examples of what is an acceptable tolerance. If people were trained to identify this it could solve a lot of frustrations at both ends. Designers could even identify particular piece types that should fit together if the tolerance is correct when they upload their designs. Shapeways could then use this information to check the tolerance for the puzzles (It's likely that if one's right, they're all right). I also like the idea of printing a `dummy checking piece` placed in the printing of all puzzles, with a particular sized hole that closes if the tolerance is questionable. Some simple checking procedure should be found early in the process to save time and money as early as possible. Also if people are cleaning parts, they should be trained to spot obvious common defects (bubbling etc).

Cheers,
Burgo.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:47 am 
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Location: Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Splinter wrote:
Oh, and I had a request from Shapeways to fill out a review form last week. My biggest advise for improvement "enhance the repeatability". I don't mind a tolerance, but it's strange when I've products earlier that are completely on the minus tolerance field and lateron on the positive tolerance field. You'd expect a more statistical (6 sigma) division.

I repeat my earlier comment in this thread, as it's my greatest wish as a designer: improvement on repeatability.

If I put something on a drawing with tolerances, and I'd make the product from a mould then the manufactured products would have a quite narrow bandwidth around a dimension.

Say I had stated a dimension of 10.3 +/- 0.2, then typically products from a mould would be e.g. 10.4 +/-0.1. So, with a narrow (6 sigma) statistical division around 10.4

With printing I have not yet seen a statistical division. Only the far ends of the specs. (all within the statement of +/- 0.15 or 1,5% at longer lengths. But 0.3 mm tolerance in total is quite much from mechanical point of view. With this it's impossible to e.g. creating a H7/f6 fitting. Which could be done already in the 19th century by machine workers ;-) )

PS Bart: are you organizing the Eindhoven meet-up of Shapeways around the world? I may be able then to meet you in person.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:17 pm 
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This isn't really that on topic, but sense I know Bart will be looking at this.
Will you ever make it so large models can be printed normally?


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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:56 am 
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@Burgo: we do run tolerance checks on each batch, using a standard measurement object, but not on every single part - that would make the entire process prohibitively expensive. The same goes for actively testing if individual pieces fit together: with some puzzles using hundreds of pieces, there's just no way for our engineers to know what needs to go with what. We do have some ideas floating around on how we can improve on this though, but we need to kick these around some more first.

@Splinter: I can understand that this tolerance would be too much, but it is simply the tolerance that the machines offer :-/ We DO however put a lot of time into careful calibration of each machine for each print run, and have repeatability high on our todo list. I'll be running the Amsterdam meetup, but we'll have another tour at our facilities early March. Would you be interested in joining that?

@eye2eye: I'm afraid I don't understand your question?

Cheers,

Bart

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:14 am 
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bartv wrote:
it is simply the tolerance that the machines offer

There was a consideration (not mine) whether process time (speed) of the printing would negatively (or positively at slower speed) affect the tolerance. Some people like to pay more for slower speed with better tolerance (if possible). Any info whether improvements in speed or so can be made to optimize on tolerances?

bartv wrote:
we'll have another tour at our facilities early March. Would you be interested in joining that?

If you can send me the exact details by that time, I'll see if I can manage to be there!
(I'm for sure interested, but limited in time)
You can use the Private Message (PM) service at this board to contact me or 'contact designer' at my Shapeways shop .

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:59 pm 
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bartv wrote:
@eye2eye: I'm afraid I don't understand your question?


I believe he was referring to the one million triangle limit, and the models which exceed that have to be sold either in separate models or via the backdoor method. I would also like to see a change in this, or at least have the triangle limit increased.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:15 pm 
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I agree that it isn't realistic for Shapeways to test the interaction between pieces in a print. Manual testing will be too error-prone. They will end up rejecting good prints and not detecting bad prints because of a lack of familiarity with designs or improper testing.

However, it should be possible for Shapeways to create their own puzzle-like pieces with well-known mechanical interaction. For example interlocking pieces like:
Attachment:
groove_system.png
groove_system.png [ 657 Bytes | Viewed 1117 times ]


Obviously that's just a 2D cross section and a simple one at that. It'd probably be best if the tongue piece looked like a + so that you have a tongue for all 4 directions to test against the grooves. Shapeways could make a few different versions of the pieces with different tolerances. Then they can test the known part-interactions for various different tolerance levels.

Another option would be more complex interlocking test parts such as:
Attachment:
spiral_square.png
spiral_square.png [ 144.24 KiB | Viewed 1117 times ]
Attachment:
spiral_tree.png
spiral_tree.png [ 111.04 KiB | Viewed 1117 times ]
Attachment:
spiral_triangle.png
spiral_triangle.png [ 78.66 KiB | Viewed 1117 times ]


Obviously these parts would need to be printed in 3 orientations and probably 2 or 3 different tolerances each for testing.

All of this assumes that the entire print area is uniform. If the print is good in one place then it's good everywhere and if it's bad in one place then it's bad everywhere. I don't know if this is actually true at all.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:10 pm 
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Luke wrote:
bartv wrote:
@eye2eye: I'm afraid I don't understand your question?


I believe he was referring to the one million triangle limit, and the models which exceed that have to be sold either in separate models or via the backdoor method. I would also like to see a change in this, or at least have the triangle limit increased.

Yes! That's what I meant. I just didn't know how to explain it. Sorry for the poor wording. Thank you Luke.


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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:41 am 
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I for sure hope there's no change in quality control on the models, as I just received this message from Shapeways:

Quote:
These design(s) could not be 3D printed in the material selected:
MazeRoll 20130103 in White Strong & Flexible
Reason: Thin walls
Additional information: Model violates design rules

On itself probably true, but this model has been made multiple times before (see my shop).
I hope there'll be no more strict policy on the modelling, but on the creating side.... :?


For extra clarification: the walls disputed have normal dimension of .57 mm and .41 mm. With the latter I'd have even no problem if it would turn out -0.2 mm (so basically negative mass ;-) ). And it would be very curious printing if the whole wall of 0.57 mm would turn out to be 0.27 mm (0.57 - 0.3 tolerance of printing). And then still it would function.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:38 am 
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Hi all,

thanks again for your input! Just so you know I read this thread daily but tend to answer in batches in order to use my time more efficiently. Also sometimes I have to wait for input from elsewhere in the company. Thanks for your patience :)

@Splinter: I asked around and we run our SLS printers at close to the maximum accuracy, there's not much to be gained there.

You can sign up for our next Eindhoven tour on Friday, March 8th here:

http://www.meetup.com/Shapeways/events/103102442/

About the rejections of .57 mm and .41 mm walls: yes, we know this is frustrating. Once something has been printed a high number of times before, we should keep accepting this order. If an order has only been accepted and printed once before, it could have slipped through our object inspection and be rejected later on. It is important to understand that we do not do this to annoy our customers, but we need these strict criteria to safeguard our production efficiency and hence our low prices. If we accept thinner objects there's a higher chance of breakage and even printers crashing - resulting in higher prices on the long run.

@Luke, @eye2eye: It's not likely that we'll increase this limit. For 99% of our models this is more than enough. We also see abuse with high-polygon files (people packing 6 puzzles in one file) that cause production problems. Increasing the polygon limit would require us to scale our entire toolchain (checking, rendering, print job preparation etc). Finally, the printers themselves have a polygon limit, so we need to be economical with the number of poly's if we want to print a large number of objects (there's the price argument again).

@bmenrigh: that's a good suggestion, but one that the puzzle community could solve for themselves IF we improve our repeatability (by offering customer defined printing orientation, for example), don't you think?

Cheers,

Bart

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