Alive it is, indeed!
But how was it brought to life? What is going on behind the scenes? Is it all magic happening there? I hate to disillusion you, its not literally magic.
First thing you’ll notice when ordering something is that will take quite the while for the thing to make its way to your mailbox. I myself chose a material called “polished alumide*, and it predicted a shipment time of 2-3 weeks. It will not make much of a difference in which material you choose though, it won’t get much shorter than that.
Why is that? Well, the whole process is, as I mentioned earlier, not really magical, but a lot of production management and logistics. There is quite a lot of work done by hand, and quite some people working there.
Let’s go through the process one by one!
Still here? Good.
When you send in your model, a program is going to check your model and, as it was the case with Bastion Crest print, throw an error. Then one of the awesome guys of their service crew is going to check out the model and send back a picture of where the problem is. Since my problem was quite obvious, I did not need any help with fixing it, but there is some nice guys and girls sitting there at Shapeways who will gladly help you out if you need anything. (They also published a Blog-post on the matter of “Dealing with Rejection” =) ) The picture made me giggle, because I am not used to dealing with humans in the internet service industry anymore, so I was rather surprised by the red “MS Paint”-doodling on the model.
What the same guy is going to do next,is playing Tetris. They try fitting as many pieces into one print tray as possible, because the printer barely (if even) cares about how many things are being made in it.
Now your product will probably sit around on it’s digital ass until it is it’s turn to be print.
This can take a while, because one print-process takes about 12 hours! The tray has to cool off for the same amount of time then, before someone can push a huge mountain of powder out of the box and start a game of “wannabe-archaeologist”.
I heard it is fun. . . Neeever mind, onwards!
After all of the models have been pulled out of a huge pile of Dust, they get cleaned, and if you happened to order some kind of colored plastic, they will also be dyed in that color.
In my case, as I ordered polished alumide, it gets thrown into a pool of ceramic pellets to gently be shaken in those to get that polished-look. That is probably the reason why they told me to make the ring for the Crest thicker, because usually the thickness I had should not be a problem in printing.
Now your print is done, so its last stop is the packaging station, where according to Shapeway’s Video here, there is guys shaking to some music and, well, doing their thing. Packing. ^^
You could watch the full video here if you feel like it ;)
The delivey itself does not take up that much of the time from order to receiving. I ordered on the 22. of September and I received my print on the 2. of October, with just 2 days delivery and a good week ahead of their estimated delivery date! So that’s awesome. Also, opening up the box pops!
End of story from my end. Try it out yourself!
Happy Making! =)