Quick Start Guide: Shapeways

Introduction: Quick Start Guide: Shapeways

About: This work is not for us. It is for the future. And robots. That is, each of these pieces takes for granted that computers will outlast their makers, that technology will supplant humanity, and that craft shoul…

What you will need:

STL file

Don't have one?

Maybe you should hire a 3d designer:


Step 1: Upload Your File

Go to:


and click on the DESIGN link then click UPLOAD.

A box will pop up and you can choose your file and you unit of measurement.

Step 2: Choose Your Material

Once you model is uploaded you can choose what material to print it in.

The site will run a check on the model to see what materials it can be printed in.

The materials with the GREEN CHECK are okay to print.

You can choose one of these materials and click ADD TO CART.

Step 3: Why Can I Not Select a Material?

Each material has a different process for being printed.

You can click on any of the materials and it will take you to a guide for that specific material.

Common problems are:

-size of the model, the printers are big but there are limitations and minimum requirements

-wall thickness, the most common problem, thin walls means things could fail to print or could be broken if your material requires polishing

-color prints require a .wrl file type which includes color information

Step 4: Wall Thickness Tool

Shapeways does have a built in tool for fixing thin spots on your model.

Click on the THIN WALLS error message on the material selection page.

A box will appear with your model showing you where the thin parts are in yellow.

Click FIX THIN WALLS and wait for it to generate a new model.

This may take some time.

The changes will appear in BLUE on the model. Sometimes it can create chunky blobs so you may want to edit this yourself in the original software but it is a quick fix for most minor changes.

It is also a useful tool to see where changes need to be made even if you need to do them yourself.

Step 5: Proceed to Checkout

Go to your shopping cart and checkout as you would in any online shop.

There is an option for PRINT IT ANYWAY. This can be useful for experimentation if you don't mind a possible print fail.

There is also a order tracking page that will tell you where the print is in the process.

Insider Info:

The reason print time is unpredictable is because the company waits to fill a printer bed to print models in batches. This is more economical and environmentally friendly. Have no fear because their turnover is pretty fast but just in case you were wondering why one print may come faster than another.

Also post production such as polishing may take extra time than a normal print.

Step 6: Wait for This Guy to Show Up

Step 7: Enjoy Your Model!

Just as you saw it on your screen now you see it in real life!

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    Fission Chips

    Yes! I have been wondering how to use shapeways for a while now, and this has cleared everything up. Thank you SO MUCH for posting this! Now I can 3D print stuff for cheap.


    This is a great primer on a useful site. I think you should add a short intro about exactly what shapeways is and what they do before you get into the instructions. That way if anyone who doesn't already know what shapeways is, can find out in the first paragraph.