The database currently has approximately thirty items in it, including a variety of nuts, sprockets, gears, bearings, coils and other fundamental parts. We suspect these components would be useful in many designs.
They're offered free of charge in hopes that designers will "make awesome stuff". We agree with that - because the ready existence of easily usable common components can only speed up the design process. Need a gear? Just grab one and go! The thinking is that you'll spend less time designing the mundane and repetitive aspects and spend more time designing the unique and creative aspects.
Great move, Shapeways!
Via Shapeways Blog