Shapeways has taken a step to ease the design process by using Blender to render images of 3D models. This addition to their service permits users to have a reasonably close peek at what their printed object might look like after emerging from Shapeways fleet of 3D printers. The problem up till now has been that objects being designed convey a sense of color and feel based on their screen appearance, and when actually 3D printed in a typical material, the physical object doesn't match your visual expectations.
With this new feature, Shapeways is doing "expectation management" in that you can see a reasonable facsimile of your object before it's actually printed. Could this be the first instance of WYSIWYG 3D printing services?