Controversy Over Shapeways Gold Plating Formula?

By on July 14th, 2010 in Service

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A while back the Shapeways 3D Print service toyed with Gold Plating on stainless steel printed models. Evidently this trial was successful, as they have now announced a new, permanently available material: Gold Plated Stainless Steel. 
This sounds great, as we previously postulated that a ton (well, maybe not an *actual* ton, but lots anyway) of imaginative jewelry would be printed. Now aspiring 3D jewellers will have to contend with a new pricing structure for gold:
0cm³ < to ≤1cm³    = Min. price $20
1cm³ < to ≤  5cm³  = $11/cm³
5cm³ < to ≤ 10cm³ = $10/cm³
> 10cm³ = $9/cm³
That’s pretty clear, no? There are several ways to price gold plating, and Shapeways had to decide on a method that is both easy to understand but provides the optimum pricing. The price should go down as more gold is used, since the gold – a fixed cost – increases, while the labor expended by a goggled gold dipper is about the same per unit. We think the scheme is reasonable, although the gold used is proportional to the model’s surface area, not its volume – and some models could indeed be pathological in this respect. 
Some in the Shapeways community were confused by the new pricing in the announcement’s comments: 
fx2: I thought one of the Shapeways goals was to have a self explaining pricing model 
Whystler: the accuracy of how it reflects the amount of work that goes into a gold model compared to a stainless model is not so clear.
Readers were seemingly confused by the scheme which probably should read like this:
  • from 0cm³ < to ≤1cm³    = Min. price $20
  • plus any additional 1cm³ < to ≤  5cm³ @ $11/cm³
  • plus any additional 5cm³ < to ≤ 10cm³ @ $10/cm³
  • plus any additional cm³ over 10cm³ @ $9/cm³
We’re quite happy with this pricing. And also that we managed to use “Gold Dipper” in a post. 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!


  1. Thanks Fabbaloo,

    Point taken on the gold plating pricing formula, we will be sure to continue to learn from this and will endeavor to make any further non-linear pricing as simple to understand as possible.

    We will have more gold news soon too..

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