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 Post subject: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:39 pm 
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Hey everyone-
I have noticed a recent uptick in unusable parts in my shapeways orders. Sometimes it will be a couple of bags are great and a couple of bags are 0.3-0.5mm off, so that they can't even mate.
WSF is supposed to be within 0.15mm, but so far, Shapeways has not agreed to help me with a reprint.
I would like to know if I am alone in experiencing this in the last 3 months. Perhaps since their NY facility opened?

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:31 pm 
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Yes. Almost all of my prints have had missing parts or print mistakes.

I've also noticed that Shapeways has stopped issuing reprints and has started providing store credit for the cost of the print so that you can order it again. This is just as satisfactory as a reprint however it seems there has been a shift in tone. For example:

Quote:
> Hi Brandon,
>
> Thank you very much for sharing the video with me.
>
> I have discussed this with my colleague from the Production Facility,
> but I am afraid we can't reprint this model. We also mention in our
> disclaimer that the models are for decorative purpose only and
> unfortunately it can happen that a puzzle won't work properly.
>
> http://www.shapeways.com/terms_and_conditions
>
> Because you can't use this model like this, I have issued you a store
> credit which you can use a next time again. You off course may order
> this model again and hopefully it will work the next time.
>
> My apologies for the inconvenience and I hope this will help you out.
>
> Kindly,
> Christel


Which is quite different than past emails that read like:

Quote:
> Dear Brandon,
>
> I am sorry that you had some flaws with your recent received order.
>
> Thank you for your e-mail and for the video, very interesting.
>
> Printing puzzles via a high poly file is a separate project on the
> agenda of our IT Development Team to see how we can improve it to
> make it easier for all parties. For the designers, the customers, our
> production team, our IT Team to get it uploaded on our site, and our
> sorting team.
>
> There are a lot of things that can happen during the process of
> printing a high poly puzzle. If the process goes "smooth" the model
> is printed in 1 sinter box and cleaned without the sinter box without
> any other models involved.
>
> But you can think of things that happen during the process:
> * parts of the models break during cleaning and need to be separately
> planned in, here mistakes are made to plan in e.g. mirrored parts
> instead of the correct ones.
> * mix up in planning in the quantity of parts.
> * plan in the same part 10 times instead of the left part 5 times and
> the right part 5 times because the 2 parts look too much like each
> other.
>
> I have raised an official complaint for this (#2368). As soon as we
> have determined what could be the cause of this we will offer you a
> proper solution. If we decided to re-print this model you will be
> informed by email about all the production updates.
>
> If there are more customers that are unhappy with their models they
> should contact us individually.
>
> Once again sorry for all the inconvenience.
>
> Hope this helps you out a bit!
>
>
>
> Kind Regards,
>
> Miss. Michon van Tuijl
> Customer Service Agent


I'm a bit concerned that at some point Shapeways is going to decide that caveat emptor is their official stance on issues.

I understand that mistakes happen and I'm happy to wait for satisfactory resolution of them however their support is often frustrating to work with and they don't seem to be taking any steps to reduce mistakes.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:54 pm 
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Quote:
We also mention in our disclaimer that the models are for decorative purpose only and unfortunately it can happen that a puzzle won't work properly.
I don't want to risk $300+ to have a puzzle "for decorative purpose only", so I will be looking for clarification on their policies for "proven" models. I was lead to believe that Shapeways encourages and supports twisty puzzles when they helped Oscar get his Over The Top - 17x17x17 printed and they started featuring twisty puzzles on the front page.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:04 pm 
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Pete the Geek wrote:
Quote:
We also mention in our disclaimer that the models are for decorative purpose only and unfortunately it can happen that a puzzle won't work properly.
I don't want to risk $300+ to have a puzzle "for decorative purpose only", so I will be looking for clarification on their policies for "proven" models. I was lead to believe that Shapeways encourages and supports twisty puzzles when they helped Oscar get his Over The Top - 17x17x17 printed and they started featuring twisty puzzles on the front page.

So far they've never actually left me hanging and I haven't heard of anyone else being left hanging. Their support has always resolved the issue. My note is meant to illustrate the change in tone between past support and more recent support.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:34 pm 
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The first sign of trouble in a business is a shift away from a customer-focused culture. Let's hope this is not the case here, but I agree the shift in tone is most worrysome. :(

If they want to lose 90% of their market by excuding functional projects (and another 9% by taking a crappy attitude with their customers) then that is up to them, but even if they insist that parts are for decorative purposes only, they are still obliged to produce them within their stated tolerences. Poor customer relations is one thing, but poor quality products that are not up to spec is another altogether.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:53 pm 
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bmenrigh wrote:
Pete the Geek wrote:
Quote:
We also mention in our disclaimer that the models are for decorative purpose only and unfortunately it can happen that a puzzle won't work properly.
I don't want to risk $300+ to have a puzzle "for decorative purpose only", so I will be looking for clarification on their policies for "proven" models. I was lead to believe that Shapeways encourages and supports twisty puzzles when they helped Oscar get his Over The Top - 17x17x17 printed and they started featuring twisty puzzles on the front page.

So far they've never actually left me hanging and I haven't heard of anyone else being left hanging. Their support has always resolved the issue. My note is meant to illustrate the change in tone between past support and more recent support.



I'm sorry to report that this is the tone of the emails I am now getting as well, and it comes as a surprise. I have $300 in a print that may be useless. And there's nothing I can tweak in the design that guarantees the next print will be good or bad.

This makes me wonder about some other designer's puzzles I have ordered recently. I may have a lot of decorative pieces....

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:58 pm 
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I must be lucky, since I haven't had any major issues lately, and in fact the latest print I received was perhaps the best I have ever had from Shapeways. The parts all fit perfectly, and the black color is deep and saturated, with no hint of any lingering white powder or other problems. Hopefully this becomes the norm!

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:59 pm 
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Jason, regardless of whether the parts are meant to be decorative or functional, they are still obliged to produce them within spec, otherwise it's false advertising.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:57 pm 
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I have ordered 8 SW puzzles over the past few months and all have been within the corect tolerances :) . One had a problem with the lazer sintering which is unlike anything I've seen with 3D printing.. It looked like a knife had sliced through wet plastic. I sent some photos and their response was swift and complete as usual:
Shapeways wrote:
I have received a feedback about the complaint I created for you and unfortunately something went wrong during the printing process. Because of this reason, I have arranged a free reprint for you.

Again my apologies this has happened and I hope this will help you out.
This was on January 15, so it's very recent.. although it isn't a tolerance issue. And come to think of it.. there is an unusual disclaimer: `Because of this reason`.
Pete the Geek wrote:
I don't want to risk $300+ to have a puzzle "for decorative purpose only"
I don't think any of us would risk that money without their tolerance guarantee, or without misprints being replaced.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:39 pm 
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Burgo wrote:
I have ordered 8 SW puzzles over the past few months and all have been within the corect tolerances :) . One had a problem with the lazer sintering which is unlike anything I've seen with 3D printing.. It looked like a knife had sliced through wet plastic.

Perhaps something like this? :
Image

The piece appears truncated as though it was sticking outside of the printer's printable area.

When it comes to missing parts or parts with an error, I usually contact the designer and pay for part replacement myself. It's only when too many parts or missing or the whole print is unusable due to major print tolerance issues that I contact Shapeways support.

Here is a list of errors that I've seen first-hand:
  • Missing parts (approximately 30% of my orders)
  • Parts to other orders I don't recognize (maybe 20% of my orders)
  • Parts "too big" or otherwise outside of tolerances to the point of being unusable (maybe 10-20% of my orders)
  • Parts with bubbles, most likely due to moisture being vaporized (only happened three times)
  • Truncated parts (only happened twice)
  • An unsintered or partially sintered layer through pieces causing them to break into two halves (only happened once)
  • Contaminated powder print binding a small amount of hair, dust, and metal powder into the part (only happened once)
  • Bulging / bubbling / sinking of surfaces as though some of the part expanded or contracted, severely deforming the part (once bulging, once sinking)

I'm reluctant to start a "Shapeways problems" thread where everyone can post the issues they've had since I think that has the potential to exaggerate the issues. Poor reviews tend to disproportionately drown out good ones.

I should be clear that I'm a big fan of Shapeways and overall a satisfied customer. I understand mistakes happen and I'm willing to work through them. Ultimately I'd like a way to provide feedback to Shapeways on what went wrong in hopes that they can address the causes of issues. With the apparent disconnect between Shapeway's support and the actual management and production facility it doesn't seem like emailing support is the way to go to provide this feedback.

Perhaps the way to go is http://feedback.shapeways.com/forums/111989-shapeways-feedback? I'd rather feedback be friendly and helpful rather than adversarial.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:11 pm 
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Brendan, just a thought, but perhaps you could submit the design for all your parts enclosed within a cubic mesh cage, as part of your design, which you can then cut open? That way you know all your parts will be in there, with nobody else's mixed in, saving 50% of your orders! As long as the mesh is thin the cost should not be much higher than all the parts alone.

EDIT: And you could even point a hair dryer at the cage and/or shake it before you open it, to blow off any excess powder, in case you have the same problem as Will below...

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Last edited by KelvinS on Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:20 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:12 pm 
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I've had a few puzzles for which the parts seemed just slightly bigger than they should have been given the spacing I put in the design, but it's never been bad enough to make the puzzle not function. I think the most variance I've noticed between prints has been for my Rex Rhombic Dodecahedron puzzle, and of the five of them I've assembled, one of them turned pretty average for a Shapeways puzzle, two of them turned incredibly smoothly, and two of them were stiffer than I would have liked. The two that turned smoothly I ordered together, but all of the other ones were from separate Shapeways orders, and I didn't see any trends in terms of printing quality over time. I did notice, however, that printing orientation can affect tolerances and overall turning quality. I've found it's best to design puzzles such that there is minimal stairstepping on slightly curved surfaces by putting such surfaces at an angle to any of the X, Y, or Z planes, since Shapeways will always print the file in one of those three orientations.

More recently, the biggest issue I've had with Shapeways is their cleaning of the powder from parts. I can see how cleaning the powder out of small screw holes for parts that have 60 copies for a single puzzle might be impractical for Shapeways, but I've had some prints that were just covered in powder, which is a pain to deal with when I have no efficient way to remove the powder other than to clean the parts one-by-one.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:33 pm 
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KelvinS wrote:
Brendan, just a thought, but perhaps you could submit the design for all your parts enclosed within a cubic mesh cage, as part of your design, which you can then cut open? That way you know all your parts will be in there, with nobody else's mixed in, saving 50% of your orders! As long as the mesh is thin the cost should not be much higher than all the parts alone.

EDIT: And you could even point a hair dryer at the cage and/or shake it before you open it, to blow off any excess powder, in case you have the same problem as Will below...

I haven't done any designing of my own so a cage around the parts isn't an option for me.

Also, I believe Shapeways does actually put a cage around prints with tons of small parts. I think the parts are actually lost when they cut open the cage and clean the parts.

With regard to cleaning, I've have a few orders that were immaculately cleaned. The cleaner must have really taken their time. Most of my orders are just partially cleaned. Some of my orders (maybe 20%) have such terrible cleaning I'm not sure why they bothered cleaning at all.

As for my cleaning preference, I got an air compressor and full face mask specifically for handling cleaning of parts. If Shapeways gave me the option to not have my parts cleaned, instead having them them just send me a solid block of nylon powder and parts that I have to cut open, I'd take that every time. I'm happy to do the cleaning myself and that way any lost parts are my own fault and not theirs. This would be a good solution for Shapeways since it would cut down on their manual labor time and decrease the frequency they lose parts. I doubt the loss of powder outweighs the cost of the manual labor cleaning and cost of mistakes like losing parts or mixing up parts between orders.

Of course there are many, many other Shapeways customers that are not equipped to clean parts so the "no cleaning, solid block" option would have to be voluntary and opt-in.

I suspect there are other cleaning options available besides just compressed air. I'm imagining mesh cages being dropped into a high temperature soap + water bath or other chemical combinations being an option. Perhaps Shapeways has already looked into this and ruled it out? Maybe it can't be done quickly or at scale?

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:37 pm 
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Considering the mundane, skill-free job of sorting and cleaning parts, I wouldn't be surprised if they employed students to do this on a temporary basis for next to nothing, and most of them probably couldn't give a damn about quality control.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:44 pm 
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KelvinS wrote:
Considering the mundane job of sorting and cleaning parts, I wouldn't be surprised if they employed students to do this on a temporary basis for next to nothing, and most of them probably couldn't give a damn about quality control.

That may be true and frankly, I'd never want that job either.

Whatever the reason for poor cleaning and part loss, it affects perceived quality and customer satisfaction. I'm no quality control engineer but I'd say that if you can't get employees to care and you can't pay them enough to motivate them to care then you either need to take them out of the process or lower customer expectations.

My suggestion of volunteering to forgo the cleaning process to reduce part loss takes the error-prone human out of the process.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:53 pm 
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I only speak from personal experience: Many years ago as a student I spent two weeks with a friend over Easter screwing the covers on Dell computers with an automatic screwdriver. It was boring as hell, and by the second week we started drilling holes through the circuit boards, because it relieved the boredom and seemed funny at the time. :oops:

I'm going straight to hell! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:05 pm 
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I had a problem with a dyed puzzle a while ago, due to powder being left on before the puzzle was dyed. The re-print was perfect, and gave me a chance to fix some tolerances, but the excess powder was pretty hard to miss. I've definitely noticed the same decline in quality for strong&flexible materials, but metals all seem to be turning out fine.

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 Post subject: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:10 pm 
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KelvinS wrote:
Jason, regardless of whether the parts are meant to be decorative or functional, they are still obliged to produce them within spec, otherwise it's false advertising.

This is absolutely true. I am amazed that Shapeways hasn't had more bad press in the past. I often see Mefferts and others criticised but I suspect Shapeways gives the worst service of any companies regularly used here. I acknowledge it is cutting edge stuff and many people are pushing the boundaries but it's up to Shapeways to find out what is repeatedly possible and only offer those services.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:24 pm 
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Yep, to manage customer expectations you have to say what you'll do, and do (at least) what you've said.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:45 pm 
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Beginning to miss the days of legos and pouring molds yet?? :)

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:46 pm 
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What's really killing me is that there is a MARKED difference between one bag of my order and the 2 bad bags. To my engineer/scientist mind, it makes this problem look easily solvable, because some variable between the bags fixed the problem. Most likely they were printed on different machines.

I have given them the bag numbers, and offered to send them the parts so they can debug the issue.

Does anyone have a high up enough contact that a conversation like this could happen? The person I am talking to doesn't seem to be at the level of worrying about improving the process.

One other interesting question/challenge for the community:
What small part could we design that could be a more empirical proof that a batch is bad? Perhaps some minimum features, or gaps that close if the print is bad? Or a decorative item that depends on the minimum details? I'll be thinking about this myself...

Oh, and Jabeck, yes. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:57 pm 
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JasonSmith wrote:
Does anyone have a high up enough contact that a conversation like this could happen? The person I am talking to doesn't seem to be at the level of worrying about improving the process.

I am connected on LinkedIn to Joris Peels, who is (or rather was) Community Manager "responsible for community contentment" at Shapeways. I was about to send him a link to this thread so that he could look into these issues, but I see he left Shapeways in September 2010, so that may explain the fall in customer service levels. I don't know who replaced him, if he was replaced.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:47 am 
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bmenrigh wrote:
Perhaps something like this? :
Here are 5 examples, each from different parts, but the print had many of these, some cosmetic, some making parts unusable:
Attachment:
SW misprint.jpg
SW misprint.jpg [ 2.58 MiB | Viewed 4501 times ]
It was only 1 out of 8 prints in the last 2 months, the other 7 were `perfect`. I just want to reiterate this point:
bmenrigh wrote:
So far they've never actually left me hanging and I haven't heard of anyone else being left hanging. Their support has always resolved the issue.
This is what worries me:
JasonSmith wrote:
but so far, Shapeways has not agreed to help me with a reprint.
And I hope they will keep their customer service standards and resolve it for you Jason.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:12 am 
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Burgo wrote:
Here are 5 examples, each from different parts, but the print had many of these, some cosmetic, some making parts unusable

From left to right, I haven't seen the first and third issue. The second and fourth looks like they might be a bubble. The fifth flaw could be anything. That stem is so thin pretty much anything would break it.

All of the bubbles I've seen cause bulging and a hollow / "cotton candy" like structure to them:
Attachment:
bubble_2_small.png
bubble_2_small.png [ 224.48 KiB | Viewed 4483 times ]
Attachment:
bubble_3_small.png
bubble_3_small.png [ 209.5 KiB | Viewed 4483 times ]


I forgot to mention I've also seen parts shifted mid-print. I don't have any photos of that handy but it's easy to imagine.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:48 am 
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The mention was made that there may be differences in machines used for printing (larger or smaller; filling grade of machine with multiple items?), also causing each product to be slightly different.

I've seen all my prototypes being slightly different in printing, but luckily for me all was acceptable.

My wonder is what difference there would be between a puzzle printed in New York and a puzzle printed in The Netherlands. As I've only experience with the latter one.
Do you have puzzles from both locations?

Oh, and I had a request 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.

Other question: do you have any info for metal products repeatability / results?
I've only printed one part in metal which turned out fine, but for another puzzle I need more metal parts printed.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:09 am 
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I have not order much from shapeways(The costs are too high for my finances), but the only issues I have had were either due to my own inexperience with puzzle design or having large amounts of nylon powder stuck in crevices.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:28 am 
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I hate to embarrass myself here, but as many of you might have guessed, I have spent many thousands at ShapeWays in 2012 on the many puzzles I have made, and also (too) many from other designers. More than I care to admit.
I was recently in a San Francisco Chronicle article talking about how Shapeways has become a singularity for puzzle design, making old methods of building painfully obsolete.
I would love to continue to ride the wave if we can get to the bottom of the issue, but even with money set aside for puzzles I cannot afford to roll the dice.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:40 am 
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Jeffery Mewtamer wrote:
having large amounts of nylon powder stuck in crevices.

I think I hold some kind of record regarding this aspect :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:10 am 
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After reading all this, I feel hesitant to order from shapeways. I really want a mini Pentultimate.... :(

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:49 pm 
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jabeck wrote:
Beginning to miss the days of legos and pouring molds yet?? :)

Not at all, cause that's the way I still roll.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:28 am 
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I have had no real problems with Shapeways prints, but my designs are certainly not at the cutting edge like some of you guys. One thought: if you could guarantee that all parts of your design were printed at the same time, you could include a small reference or calibration piece (designed by TP experts) which you could check to verify that the print was good. Do you think this would work in practice?

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:25 pm 
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Gus wrote:
if you could guarantee that all parts of your design were printed at the same time
The current Shapeways policy is to make a full reprint, even if only one piece is missing. This will assure that the scale factor is exactly the same for all pieces. Shapeways compensates for the thermal shrinkage between the production temperature and room temperature.
Gus wrote:
... you could include a small reference or calibration piece (designed by TP experts) which you could check to verify that the print was good.
Shapeways is now using a conical reference piece with every print, following my suggestion about this. It is additional to the other reference pieces that they always include.

Oskar

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:37 pm 
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What I mean is that the designer includes a reference piece which is delivered to them, so they can do some basic checks to see if the print is good enough.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:00 pm 
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Gus wrote:
What I mean is that the designer includes a reference piece which is delivered to them, so they can do some basic checks to see if the print is good enough.

If the pieces are all too large, or all too small by the same scale, the puzzle will still work fine, so why would a single reference piece help? It won't tell you if different parts are bigger or smaller by different amounts: you could (and would in any case have to) measure each of the parts themselves, so again a reference part wouldn't tell you anything useful, except maybe that the parts are scaled differently in different dimensions.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:50 pm 
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Having tried several times to measure the different between a "bad" and good print, I can tell you it isn't straight-forward.

I've had mirror-symmetrical pieces where one side was too big because it was tight fitting into the adjacent pieces but the other side was just fine. I was not able to see the difference visually and I could not reliably measure it with calipers. It was obvious when trying to put pieces together though.

I've found WSF to be soft and flexible enough that you can create about a .2mm variance in your measurements through little more than a bit of wiggling and firmly griping the piece with the calipers.

When the error bars on your measurements are as large as the printer's own variance it can be really hard to draw statistically meaningful conclusions about the print.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:41 am 
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KelvinS wrote:
Gus wrote:
What I mean is that the designer includes a reference piece which is delivered to them, so they can do some basic checks to see if the print is good enough.

If the pieces are all too large, or all too small by the same scale, the puzzle will still work fine, so why would a single reference piece help? It won't tell you if different parts are bigger or smaller by different amounts: you could (and would in any case have to) measure each of the parts themselves, so again a reference part wouldn't tell you anything useful, except maybe that the parts are scaled differently in different dimensions.
Of course, but at least you could check on batch to batch quality if you always had the same piece to compare. I think maybe that in any one print from a single machine, the dimensional matching of pieces is good. The problems start when SW have to do a re-print of only some pieces because their quality control have picked up some errors. In this case, the matching of pieces may not be so good. Maybe this is why if a single piece is missing from a model when delivered, they do a full re-print, but if the error is found in-house, they may try to save money and only re-print the pieces required. (Or maybe not - it would be very time-consuming for them to actually decide which pieces to re-print in a complex design. I guess that only SW knows the answers.)

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:13 pm 
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KelvinS wrote:
If the pieces are all too large, or all too small by the same scale, the puzzle will still work fine,
Not necessarily. If it uses screws it can stop the puzzle working. One puzzle I know off uses them in a very clever way and a minute inaccuracy in printing rendered the parts useless.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:24 am 
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I've noticed that beyond a noticeable puffy marshmallow look in the bad parts versus good, and a noticeably rougher surface feel in bad parts versus good, that I can fairly reliably see a thickening with calipers. (I'm fairly honest in my caliper pressure.)

By the way, I received a note from customer support that they had agreed my parts were within their announced ranges after much discussion and did not owe me a reprint, but they granted my reprint. However they implied they would/might not next time.

They demanded photos next to a ruler, which I did using a professional macro lens and still found quite silly, given the 0.15mm+/- range they advertise, and curved surfaces on twisty parts. I could make it seem however I wanted and they could just correctly say the photos were insufficient proof without laser positioning of the parts and the camera. I sent these instead with a caliper, but photos with a ruler will be required next time.

It's so frustrating because the problem is obvious in person, and was limited to certain bags that MUST have been on a different machine. The parts will not mate! Will we all need to increase our tolerances to make floppier puzzles just so shapeways can be sloppier? Time for 0.6mm tolerances? Do they use contractors with different brand machines? I just do not understand the drop in quality.

I again asked for a contact in production who I could talk to about the obvious variable between bags in my order. Nothing yet, but my customer service person is friendly and reasonable (it is 'colleagues' that are less so) so I will stay hopeful.

I would GLADLY pay more to use their good machines with their advertised tolerances. I'd much rather spend $400 on a print than gamble $250+hours of photos and correspondence I can't afford more than the money. Do you hear me Shapeways?...

I miss repeatability. :cry:


Attachments:
File comment: Measuring good versus bad
Untitled-1 copy.jpg
Untitled-1 copy.jpg [ 203.86 KiB | Viewed 4016 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:14 am 
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I managed to connect with Shapeways CEO, Peter Weijmarshausen, on LinkedIn and sent him the following message, let's see what response we get:

Quote:
Hi Peter,

Thanks for connecting.

As I mentioned in my invite, I wanted to let you know that there have been increasing complaints and concerns among the twisty puzzle community about Shapeways quality control and customer service issues. Here is the discussion thread:

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=24960

It would be great if you could take a look at this, and I would be happy to post any response you give on your behalf, or feel free to join (or ask your customer service guys to join) the TwistyPuzzle forum, then you can manage your customer relations directly.

Best regards,
Kelvin

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 1:27 pm 
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JasonSmith wrote:
I would GLADLY pay more to use their good machines with their advertised tolerances. I'd much rather spend $400 on a print than gamble $250+hours of photos and correspondence I can't afford more than the money. Do you hear me Shapeways?...

I'd be willing to spend more too. The extra time and uncertainty resolving a printing issues is very frustrating and if I had the option of spending an extra 25% for maximum accuracy I would.

Also, if Shapeways offered a fixed-fee "premium support" option / insurance policy for prints (maybe $10 - $20), I'd get it. This would be one of those "if anything is wrong we will reprint, no-questions-asked". I've never been interested in my money back or store credit. Whenever I've gotten store credit I have just turned around and bought the same print again.

After food and lodging, Shapeways prints were my biggest expenditure in 2012. If I could spend more money to make the service better or reduce my time on problems I would.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:05 pm 
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I wrote to Christel Hagens from Shapeways customer service
Konrad to Christel wrote:
Hello Christel,

I'm a member and a moderator at the twistypuzzles.com forum.
...
I want to draw Shapeways attention to this thread on the forum: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=24960

I do not have any personal problems with Shapeways twistypuzzles prints.
I had a bad print in 2010, another bad print last summer (several pieces arrived broken) and two missing parts ... in October 2012.
Everything was resolved to my full satisfaction by you and your colleagues from Shapeways customer service.

I have still my latest two puzzles (BSF!) to assemble, but I checked with the designers that no parts are missing.

What is worrying me quite a bit, is the report in the mentioned thread that the tone in the conversations with customer service has considerably changed, recently.

Some friends at the forum concluded already that they will not order anything from Shapeways until the issues are clarified.
If Shapeways wants, you or one of your colleagues can send any text to me and I would quote it directly in a reply from me on the forum.

You wrote in an email to Brandon Enright: "We also mention in our disclaimer that the models are for decorative purpose only and unfortunately it can happen that a puzzle won't work properly."
I suppose that I should NOT read "do not buy any more twisty puzzles at Shapeways"?
You write in the Terms and Conditions: "PLEASE NOTE THAT THE MATERIALS WE USE FOR MANUFACTURING THE MODELS MAKE THE MODELS SUITABLE ONLY FOR DECORATIVE PURPOSES AND THEY ARE NOT SUITED FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE. THE MODELS ARE NOT SUITED TO BE USED AS TOYS, TO BE GIVEN TO CHILDREN."
Twisty puzzles have to be used and are not "for decorative purposes" only, but they are not toys for small children, either.

My assumptions are
• Shapeways guarantees to fulfill its own specifications
• WSF is supposed to be within 0.15mm
• Shapeways is still interested to make business with twisty puzzles

BTW, I have certainly invested more than € 5.000 in Shapeways puzzles (most of them bought directly from the designers like Tom van der Zanden or Eric Vergo) and I have written many nice reviews regarding Shapeways puzzles.
I would like to continue with this.

Best regards

Konrad
I got this reply from Christel today
Christel to Konrad wrote:
Dear Konrad,

How are you doing?

I am aware of this forum thread (the link you have send me doesn't work by the way) and I can't find any email conversation
about this in our email. I wanted to have a look when this email was send to this customer about this.

I can tell you, that we do arrange reprints for puzzles and I don't know why I have send this email to him as I can't find any record of this anymore and I also don't know the complaint he had.

Off course you want to continue with this and we as well, and I certainly didn't mean to mention that you or any other customer shouldn't order any other puzzles any more.

I am very sorry that this has happened and that this customer is not amused about this (which I off course understand).

Kindly,
Christel
@Brandon: Maybe, you can resend your email and her reply to Christel?

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:40 pm 
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Hi Konrad, others,

Thank you for trying to help me get support :D

I should emphasis that I don't have any outstanding support requests or issues with Shapeways and I'm not disgruntled or dissatisfied. The snippets of support emails I provided above were meant to illustrated a change in ton of support over the last year. I get the impression that perhaps the only thing that has changed is tone and that Shapeways is not changing the policy or even prepping to change their policy.

Once again I'll must emphasis that all issues I have have contacted Shapeways about have been resolve to my satisfaction. I still feel comfortable placing large orders with Shapeways and although there has been an uptick in issues, I'm confident issues will be resolved by their support.

I still have several issues that I need to contact Shapeways about but I haven't gotten around to doing it.

I'm a fan of Shapeways and I think the product they provide is fantastic and well priced. There are definitely problems and startup growing pains affecting their customers but they aren't significant enough for serious concern.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:12 pm 
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It's a shame that Christel seems to interpret this entire thread as a specific problem with just one customer, rather than an emerging trend of deteriorating quality control and poor customer relations, as it appears to me. Maybe a case of not seeing the forest for the trees, and denial that there is a problem, which certainly won't help to resolve it.

If he or anyone else doubts that there is indeed a fundamental problem with Shapeways quality control, policies and customer relations, then this thread in another hobby forum should make it absolutely clear.

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Last edited by KelvinS on Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:18 pm 
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KelvinS wrote:
If he or anyone else doubts that there is indeed a fundamental problem, then this thread in another hobby forum should make it absolutely clear.

To be fair that thread is talking about "lines" which Shapeways calls "stepping" and I call "aliasing". I have never considered these print artifacts a flaw and have never asked for a refund or reprint for them.

The print flaws that affect the mechanical interaction between twisty puzzle parts is a totally different issue altogether.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:25 pm 
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Whatever the specific issue(s) in that case, it is clear that a lot of customers that were happy before, are not happy now.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:59 am 
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KelvinS wrote:
It's a shame that Christel seems to interpret this entire thread as a specific problem with just one customer, rather than an emerging trend of deteriorating quality control and poor customer relations, as it appears to me. ...
If he ....
Christel is female (name and person :) ) and from my recognition a really nice person. If I had ever a problem, she helped me in a very competent way - even when I lost a piece once by my own mistake.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:09 am 
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Konrad wrote:
Christel is female (name and person :) ) and from my recognition a really nice person. If I had ever a problem, she helped me in a very competent way - even when I lost a piece once by my own mistake.
That's good to know, but then I wonder why she has been very helpful to some people, and not others. Perhaps it varies in some kind of cyclical periodic manner. Or perhaps management aren't communicating their policies to the organization very clearly and consistently.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:40 am 
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Brandon didn't say that Christel was not helpful. He emphasizes that there are no open issues with him.
Christel could not find the email conversation with Brandon.
She guesses that Brandon used an email address that is not connected with his real name.

I cannot comment this further.
All I can say is: I had good experiences with Shapeways customer service (last time last October), but I'm worried too. That's why I sent an email to Christel.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:58 am 
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Konrad wrote:
Brandon didn't say that Christel was not helpful. He emphasizes that there are no open issues with him.

I was mainly referring to this:
bmenrigh wrote:
... however it seems there has been a shift in tone. For example:

Quote:
> Hi Brandon,
>
> Thank you very much for sharing the video with me.
>
> I have discussed this with my colleague from the Production Facility,
> but I am afraid we can't reprint this model. We also mention in our
> disclaimer that the models are for decorative purpose only and
> unfortunately it can happen that a puzzle won't work properly.
>
> http://www.shapeways.com/terms_and_conditions
>
> Because you can't use this model like this, I have issued you a store
> credit which you can use a next time again. You off course may order
> this model again and hopefully it will work the next time.
>
> My apologies for the inconvenience and I hope this will help you out.
>
> Kindly,
> Christel

...as well as similar messages from her in the other forum I mentioned.

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 Post subject: Re: Recent uptick in bad Shapeways prints?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 12:03 pm 
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KelvinS wrote:
Konrad wrote:
Brandon didn't say that Christel was not helpful. He emphasizes that there are no open issues with him.

I was mainly referring to this:
bmenrigh wrote:
... however it seems there has been a shift in tone. For example:

Quote:
> Hi Brandon,
>
> Thank you very much for sharing the video with me.
>
...
> Because you can't use this model like this, I have issued you a store
> credit
which you can use a next time again. You off course may order
> this model again and hopefully it will work the next time.
>
> My apologies for the inconvenience and I hope this will help you out.
>
> Kindly,
> Christel

...as well as similar messages from her in the other forum I mentioned.
Christel helped Brandon, didn't she? :)
bmenrigh wrote:
....
Once again I'll must emphasis that all issues I have have contacted Shapeways about have been resolved to my satisfaction. I still feel comfortable placing large orders with Shapeways and although there has been an uptick in issues, I'm confident issues will be resolved by their support.
....
I'm a fan of Shapeways and I think the product they provide is fantastic and well priced. There are definitely problems and startup growing pains affecting their customers but they aren't significant enough for serious concern.
Regarding the "stepping" problem, please, see Brandon's reply above.
I can easily imagine, that they were more generous before with a problem inherent in 3-D printing, but if the problem occurs too often, they cannot afford such generosity anymore, if they fulfil what is in their specification.

This is the crucial point to me: Are there cases where they did not meet their specification, but neither offer a refund nor a reprint?

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