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About Stratospheremodels

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    Full Blown Model Geek

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    Near a volcano
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    Creating model kits, 3D modeling & design, rapid prototyping, nature, photography, humour, aircrafts, aerospace, technology, spacecrafts, etc.

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  1. Damn... i can't log off... What happened ??
  2. "Tooling for a 1/48th scale kit cost just "a little bit more" versus a tooling for a 1/72nd scale injected plastic kit". I would say I disagree with that statement. The mold cavity for a 1/72nd scale injected plastic kit aircraft with say a dimension of 15 x 15 cm will have a superficy of 225 square cm (I'm using a very simple square shape just for the sake of the example), while the same model made at 1/48th scale will have a superficy of 22.5 x 22.5 cm = 506.25 square cm. That's double the superficy of mold cavity for the 1/48th scale kit. Research and design for a 1/48th scale injection molded kit also won't be the same as for a 1/72nd kit (unless you are doing a dumbed down enlarged copy of the 1/72nd scale kit) : the 1/48th scale kit will typically incorporate a lot more details than the 1/72nd kit does. The cut of parts will also be different (to accommodate those extra details/open panels, mobile surfaces, etc). So that's double the amount of CNC milling time for the 1/48th kit, JUST for the extra amount of superficy, and then add some more milling time on top of that for all the extra details and options the 1/72nd kits often do not have. Plus double the amount of polishing the mold. Then there are usually more molds for a 1/48th kit due to those extra details and parts, the molds are heavier and more difficult to manipulate (takes more time to install/remove from the injection presses). They require injection presses with more pressure, costing more per hour to rent time on (or to maintain if the plastic kit company owns them), & costing more electricity. Milling molds for 1/48th scale models will also require cutting bits being replaced more often with new ones (high speed cutting bits don't last forever and we are cutting double the superficy of the 1/72nd scale mold here, so they will need to be replaced twice more often). Boxes, decals, printing, cost more due to size, material qty. I doubt very much plastic pellets cost "just a little bit more". Polystyrene and in particular the higher quality blend HIPS are notoriously high cost plastics versus popular stuff like low density polyethylene (very heavily used in food packaging & consumer products). There isn't a lot of demand for polystyrene around here for example so that mean much higher cost to acquire the raw material or find a source that is willing to sell it to you in quantities that are not astronomical. I don't know about Russia/Eastern Europe, but in China it's a different story : they have huge shortages of new/virgin plastic pellets material because all factories there are churning out products red hot all the time. So there is a lot of recycled plastic going on, and I have personally seen dirty molded parts recently in costly injected plastic model kits made in China for US companies : you can see dark dirt/particles of whatever inside the pale colored plastic parts. Companies in China are battling for the raw material to feed their factories. You even hear of cargo ships transporting raw material going missing from the Strait of Malacca and then mysteriously showing up beached, abandoned on the coast of China, their cargo gone. Victim of the raw material shortage affecting manufacturing in China. So, plastic is not cheap, particularly polystyrene/HIPS/crystal styrene. You also want to use it rapidly because styrene absorbs humidity in the air and release bubbles in the moldings if it's not dry. If you ever saw what happens when you use old styrene for vacforming, you get the idea. If you are using recycled plastic, it's got to be squeaky clean, because unless you are molding something all black (in which case, easy-peasy : you just add some black pigments and roto-mix the material) otherwise with pale grey/medium grey you risk having some problems... (dust is the enemy of styrene plastics. Did I mention that styrene get statically charged & attract dust like crazy ?). China now refuse recycled plastic from Quebec because it was not clean enough for them. The whole thing all ended up in a land fill... when people thought that all their efforts to get plastic materials recycled were for a good cause while in reality it was all in vain because the company buying and selling the collected plastics for recycling is too damn cheap to clean up the material themselves and prefers to just bury it in landfills when the client now refuse to buy it. It made a scandal here. But I slightly digress, all that to say that making at 1/48th scale the same model that was made at 1/72nd scale does not cost "just a little more". It cost a lot more. And styrene does not cost just a little more either. The cost of plastic does not magically go down, unless you buy astronomical quantities or unless you have a relative married to a boss at the plastic company, it won't happen. The cost of plastic also tend to go up, not down (except those few times when Saudi Arabia starts a price war to try to put competitor oil producers overseas out of business or for whatever reason). There used to be a huge styrene manufacturer here in Montreal, NOVA Plastics. Guess what happened ? They could not sell the darn thing because the cost of the material is so high. They completely remodeled the production line inside the factory (not a small feat) to transform it into a plant that produce polyethylene : the new norm for consumer product manufacturers, because it's cheap and because manufacturers have constantly been cutting down on the quality of plastics in consumer products since the past few decades to increase their profits and to combat the rise of the cost of plastics. There were entire case studies published about German and American coffee machine manufacturers a few decades ago when (oh, sacrilege !) they switched from quality plastic materials such as ABS and others to cheapo polyethylene... Long story short, they had to go through marvels of mold making engineering/industrial design cosmetic appearance to try to make the cheap plastic survive the heat and at the same time not look cheap, etc (because they were a big brand name renowned for quality, but their competition was killing them with very low cost coffee machines made with cheapo plastics). Today even most of the latest laptop computers use the cheapest low quality polyethylene plastic for their casing... The same crap used for 500-750 gram yogurt pots that flex & wobble when you grab them (by the way very small yogurt pots are still made of styrene but they are now paper thin : again, rising cost of styrene). Computers used to be made of ABS, or fiberglass filled plastic or HIPS. Try finding one made with those plastic now in 2020... Again : the cost of plastics. ABS contains some styrene (acrylo-butyl-styrene), so it's not cheap. Ever wondered why you pay 50 to 100$ or more for a 1/48th scale model kit ? Apart from the obvious cost of tooling and its complexity (it costs a LOT more to design molds for scale models than for yogurt pots or hair dryers), it's the cost of plastic material and the very small quantities produced that drive price (just a few thousands, versus millions for mass market consumer products or for food packaging), plus how greedy (some) manufacturers & distributors might be (I know that if the cost of designing molds in certain countries is Asia is less than half the cost of doing so in America or Western Europe yet the kits from some countries in Asia cost practically the same as if the we're made in the US, there is something going on because I am pretty much sure the salary of a mold engineer in China and CNC milling molds there is not ad expensive as in North America) And both go hand in hand : small qty production mean you buy plastic raw material in smaller quantities than everyone else, meaning the model kit manufacturer pays a lot more to buy the raw plastic pellets than the industries that churn out products by the millions. I am sure there are some companies that go around that and produce refrigerators or whatever as their main business as it is much more profitable & make model kits on the side (more as a personal passion than for the revenue) (I've heard one one such example, I don't remember in Czech Republic or elsewhere), but I doubt Tamiya or Hasegawa do that, so, cost of kits remain high, because of material cost, salaries, purchase of industrial building, municipal taxes on industrial property, income taxes, machinery, electricity & mostly because of the cost of injection tooling used for small production (anyone in the injection plastic industry will tell you that injecting just a few thousands to barely more than 10000 parts is very small production, because typically metal molds are good for making millions of parts. Another thing, if you have been buying airplane injected plastic kits from certain companies in Ukraine and Russia in recent years you may have noticed the following sad tendancy : although the shape accuracy/detail accuracy of the product as well as quality of milling/molding of a few of these companies is good, they are definitely cutting down on the quality and cost of material because instead of buying quality, more expensive and more rigid HIPS, they are now using lower cost, lower quality soft styrene which bend like rubber when you grab longer parts like the wings... thus rendering their efforts to design an accurate, detailed kit with fine engraved panel lines and good tool making technology useless. When you grab a fully assembled & painted model made from that lower quality plastic, the wings & horizontal stabilizers bend so much that you are almost certain to crack the glue seams, & if you don't crack these right away it's goingto be the paint & then the filler that will crack and ruin the paint job and the model, followed eventually by the glue seams. It find it appalling that after attracting you with finally accurate various Sukhoi's and MiG's they ruin it by injecting their product with the cheapo wobbly rubber like soft styrene plastic they now use instead of using the more expensive quality HIPS that larger 1/72 and 1/48th kits need from a structural point if view. Because it's not like a scale model of a larger, modern, relatively flat blended wing/fuselage aircraft will hold by itself when it's made only with basic soft styrene plastic. There aren't any structural reinforcement walls inside these kits to stop them from collapsing under the pressure of just grabbing them off the table with your hand. At least kits made in China (and Japan) use the higher quality and more expensive HIPS material, which add much needed rigidity to the models and insure they won't heavily deform even when you lightly grab them and lift them off a shelf. Although I believe that cheaper soft styrene plastic may be appropriate for smaller 1/144th scale models that don't have long wings, based on what I have seen in recent kits these past few years I consider it is wholly inappropriate and a very poor choice for most 1/72 and nearly all 1/48 scale model kits and up, because the plastic is just too flexible and weak for that use. In my opinion it's clear the manufacturers who use this plastic decide to prioritize their profit margin, because, although a scale model kit is not a functional object, it is still an object that will get manipulated by the buyers after it's been assembled, and because of the complex nature of the work and efforts involved to assemble and paint and finish such models, and their fragile nature, wilfully choosing to make them out of a cheaper, very bendable plastic material rather than the better quality rigid one is a shame, because it may ruin all the efforts the modelers invested in their (already expensive at purchase) models when we all know modelers may spend tens of hours, and up to months on a single model to make it a worthy showpiece. Now I have no idea if the SU-57 kit is made of the same soft flexible styrene that they have used in the past as I don't have one yet, but I'd like to know from those who already have bought one if that's the case. Stephane
  3. SPECIAL AFTER BOXING DAY Stratosphere Models Specials : Lockheed/CIA D-21 Mach 4 spy drone (Only 1/48 D-21 resin kit on the market, and the only accurate D-21 kit). 53.98$ US (Regular price : 85.00$) Mc Donnell/USAF FDL-7 C/D, manned spaceplane, 1/100 (the true shape of the legacy USAF FDL-7 C/D developed at Wright Patterson (AFFDL USAF labs) and the only existing kit of the legacy shape). About 25 cm long. 39.98.00$ US (Regular price 70.00$) Mc Donnell/USAF FDL-7 Model 176, manned spaceplane (crew ferry vehicle for the USAF MOL reconnaissance space station), 1/100. 19.98$ US (66% OFF !!!) (Regular price 59.00$) Lockheed/USAF FDL-6 SOMV, unmanned spaceplane (documents indicate it may have been developed as a hypersonic platform to deliver nuclear weapons), 1/100. 7.00$ US (More than 50% OFF !!) (Regular price 15.00$) Boeing/USAF/NASA X-37 ALTV, unmanned spaceplane using neural network (A.I.) for landing. (Exquisitely detailed kit), 1/48. 54.98$ US (Regular price 75.00$) NASA X-38 CRV, Crew Rescue Vehicle, 1/48. Very nice little kit, solid casting. 53.98$ US (Regular price 75.00$) Limit of 1 of each model per client/household. (Offer is void for dealers, stores and distributors). *** Quantities are limited. Please contact me for the shipping cost to your area at : stratospheremodels@yahoo.fr Sales prices are valid for the next 3 days only. Photos of model kits are at : http://www.picturetrail.com/stratospheremodels
  4. Hi, The X-31 model on my website did have the landing gear, but the photos angle hide it (on at least one photo you can see one of the wheels on which the model is standing, which were attached to the gear): http://www.picturetrail.com/stratospheremodels But I no longer have cast metal landing gears at this point, I'm still finalizing a 3D CAD version of them which was to be 3D printed and cast in metal but the price hikes at SW for cast metals plus I believe a change of their policy about sprued parts or other requirements related to casting which I haven't tested yet might not make this possible with them. I will investigate this with a different provider. Stephane Stratosphere Models
  5. Hi Bruce, I cannot recommend a service provider specifically and I understand what you mean, SW is the only one (now that Click2Detail is gone) that offer MJM materials from 3DSystems printed at 16 microns plus have stores, but there are many other (usually prototyping) shops that have the same 3DS machine and might print at 16 microns. There is an alternative however, any UV resin desktop 3D printer that can do 16 to 5 microns resolution in the Z axis and about 50 to 20 something microns in the X,Y axis should be able to do the job just fine for small details. If you look at the specs of the highest resolution desktop machines out there (DLP or SLA) you will find what you need. Then you just need to find someone who already own one of these to print your parts for you. Back to service providers, I know Kraftwurx if I'm not mistaken offers printing on at least 1 or 2 machines at very high resolution (but very very pricey). Look for their Nano resin materials. I think they use a high end SLA machine. Stephane.
  6. Hi Mstor, Thank you very much for kindly providing photos of your KA nozzle parts. Sorry couldn't check the thread earlier. Couple more point: it's ironic that during the still unresolved crystallization crisis, I proposed to SW to use another of the Visijet plastics from 3DSystems instead of the current one they use. A suggestion based on the information I got from another local 3D printing service which was using the same machine as well as several of the different plastics for it, and they told me one of the other 3DS plastics for the 3500HD Max is more stable than the translucent one both they & SW used. If not a complete cure for the problem at least it would offer a partial solution. And added bonus: the physical properties of that material are higher. But they never replied to my suggestion and never offered that material to replace FED/FUD, which is a pity. It's as if they didn't care one way or another, good or bad. There's a website where ex-employees post reviews called Glassdoor. Several EX-SW employees there said roughly the same thing : management didn't have it together. The founding CEO left about a year ago while a lot of the unresolved issues were ongoing. He was replaced for a while by one of the investors. Now the new CEO they hired have a background in teaching.. Following the latest big price hikes & new algorithm controversy that made so many store owners say they will leave, SW have now also replaced the chief products manager by a new guy who promptly locked the price increase thread and basically said all investors are in agreement to increase prices and SW's investors are 'so great'. Check page 29 for details. Once again they couldnt care less about the majority of scale models store owners. He basically wants to use a 'small number of those who want to stay' as guinea pigs for more SW softwares/features experiments (if they sign for this) which could supposedly help offset the price increases, but for the majority of store owners, nada. My biggest regret is the enormous amount of time SW made me and thousands others waste. One example: Do you know how long it normally took to upload a heavy file ? 20 minutes. That's the official number. Now they say they've upgraded their system (after 10 years) and it should take about 20 seconds. But after the new algorithm which is pricing most scale models out of the market, even that one improvement comes too late. So you're right, the market will make that company go down if they can't adapt. It's kind of like what happened with Photobucket.
  7. Don't worry Mstor, I don't want to get your KA parts 😅, I was just curious about the look of the surface of his parts before painting, that's all. Back to topic, if you used FUD printed at about 28 microns resolution, I've used FED which is printed at 16 microns and can give a finer surface. There was a comparison between a small Form1 SLA desktop printer and SW's FED plastic printed with 3DSystems machines a few years ago and the parts were very close, though the parts from the 3DSystems printer were still a bit better. But the crystal blooms, if you are affected, can ruin all that. If you read the SW forum thread i posted at the top there are links & references in it to several scale modeling forums where people have experienced the cristallization issue. One is either in the US or the UK and is a warship forum, there is a forum in Germany or Austria also (train models), there is also a chemist who posted on the SW forum that he's a member of a train model club on the West coast that have the largest indoor train diorama & said that many members there have had FED/FUD parts that cristallized. I agree that doing all the 3D printing yourself, cleaning, packing, shipping is much more work, but not much different from resin casting. At least you don't have to make molds. The idea to use SW's boutiques was to be able to sell product & have them shipped while you're sleeping & have much more time to design new products. But they were never able to truly offer instead they increased designers overhead (wasted time) heavily due to all the problems listed earlier. Stephane.
  8. Hi Mstor, I had a look at his creations and there are indeed very detailed parts on his website. It would be interesting to see the parts firsthand before they are painted to see what type of resin he's using. There is a limited number of printers that can do these type of details and surface while remaining competitive. There are more 3D printers that can do better details and higher resolution than this but they are very expensive (material cost and maintenance, usually industrial SLA laser printers) or small desktop machines that print only very small objects rather slowly at extremely high resolution & are more expensive (specialized machines usually designed for jewellry). SW's multi jetted printers can definitely handle this type of details (as for surface finish i can't comment as i have not had the chance to see his parts in person to compare), idem for most high resolution small desktop resin printers depending on their resolution. There are a variety of resins out there that can be used in small desktop machines, some are brittle and some are tougher. Some resins are better at doing small diameter details such as very fine sticks, but less good at doing engraved details such as rivets and panel lines, while for other resins it is the exact opposite. SW also had a resin type SLA or DLP printer using a black resin which was very detailed and which I used as option for some of my models when one of their FED/FUD plastics price increase made those too expensive for my taste, but they removed that material from their catalog and now the only high resolution stuff they have is the (ex) FED/FUD plastic, which is a pity because the black resin was not affected by crystallization, but they had other issues with it (warped parts : people report SW didn't put enough stilt supports, something essential to counter warpage). His parts are probably made with a small or medium size desktop printer. DLP, SLA or LCD. I am currently waiting for my own high resolution 3D printer which I have ordered earlier. Note that Click-2-Detail was already doing exactly what SW and Lawrence are doing, but people say C2D went bust (they were using the same MJM printers as SW). A number of other scale model companies already do directly 3D printed model parts (train models, aircrafts) since a while. It's not new. However the only thing that is driving price down now for small desktop printers is the expiration of patents from big companies which brought the open source mouvement. Any new tech will be locked in patents for decades, so, not likely to lower costs. So the current now mostly open source technology will be around for a while before we see any new affordable tech. It's the whole patents expiration thing that created the public boom for homemade 3D printers (FDM) and now SLA, DLP, etc. When tech is open it lower cost, when it's closed it increases cost.
  9. I shouldn't have bothered spending so much time trying to push Shapeways to listen and fix their FED/FUD crystallization problem & so on. When i went back to have a look after a few months I found what I already knew was likely to happen : the new CEO announced another big price increase with new complicated algorithm & redesign of the website which generated widespread anger & ironic comments from scale modelers and shop owners. SW's boat is visible sinking : https://www.shapeways.com/forum/t/pricing-changes.97888/ https://www.shapeways.com/forum/t/pricing-changes.97888/page-5 https://www.shapeways.com/forum/t/pricing-changes.97888/page-3 29 pages of 'fun'. There's even a meme about the Titanic on page 9. And check page 10 for the mathematics demo about the new algorithm deciding the price hikes (your eyes will pop out). https://www.shapeways.com/forum/t/pricing-changes.97888/page-10 SW visibly seems to want to get rid of stores that make 'tiny' parts because they are visibly pricing them out of the market. Plenty of long time scale model shops are closing or have bought their own printer. The new changes have put everything in disarray. Prices are going through the roof. They make store owners who still try to find solutions waste more time doing tests to try to find a work around the algorithm. And they have now hidden all the material prices, making designers waste precious design time just to find out how much their models will cost by uploading them so that SW can hide the bad news to the last moment til it's too late. A lot of people can no longer compete with SW'S prices and are moving out. That Titanic is sinking. What a pity given how much financing they've received, but since the whole drastic price hikes that became a yearly thing 3 years ago plus all the softwares issues, poor CS, the 'no reimbursement' policy after parts are sent to production & the rejection lottery, I saw this coming. Maybe they'll go bankrupt (they said they were losing money on post treatment, small parts, etc, yet are pushing away an entire category of store owners). People finally woke up after 1 year and one final big mess/price increase. And they are inventing rules as they go & have a condition that basically says they can make any rule they want to get rid of a store as they can change the conditions at any moment... (not in those words but the end result is the same). What kind of 'contract' is it when they tell you that tomorrow they can make conditions that will turn to dust what they wrote earlier ? Nice "encouragement" to business & nice "stable" business environment... But with them wreaking entire product categories with crazed price hikes & new algorithms to hide how much models will cost for designers till the last moment, who cares about abusive contract terms... they torpedo their own clients by acting as if the only thing they care about is their investors, and 'the heck with store owners' who are forced to redesign lots of models at enormous cost & time to fit SW'S new hoops. We have gov't organisation's in Canada who have gone to court against the biggest telecoms several times because of abusive contracts & practices & have won against them. Perhaps it's time to send the regulators against them so they'll stop their abusive practices. But you don't know the best one. According to a research done by an analyst in 2015, SW had an estimated 35000 stores. Recently SW officially claimed to have 45000. According to that analyst the majority of store owners earn on average less than 100$ in sales PER YEAR. Now making abstraction the awful managenent, CS, irresponsible price hikes forcing designers & store owners to devote countless hours to redesign their models to try to offset these, here's where it gets really disgusting : You're happy, you've just made a sale ! (but hard reality : you're competing against 45000 stores, buried in a sea of millions of models, with poor navigation, mostly designed to put "most popular models" on the start page), but, oops... your earned mark-up is less than the $30 minimum SW require to wire your money... Now what happens if you have a new store and are competing against millions of products ? Those few first sales are important given how much time you spent to develop them (like my new line of sci-fi/science/aerospace related key chains and jewelry in my 2nd store which I'd put together to generate funds so I could continue to work on my main products for my 1st store (scale model aftermarket parts). The price hike for cast metals a year ago mostly priced them out of the market right after I had designed them specifically for SW's brass. So, if your combined earned mark-ups are below 30$, (you have to put low mark-ups for expensive materials like brass or FUD/FED, as material cost alone make up most of the price. If you add more to earn a decent revenue you've already priced them out). So if your earnings are less than 30$ for those first sales they FREEZE your earnings until new sales will add up to 30$ or more. Given that you are most likely like the majority of store owners : earning less than 100$ sales/year, seeing them freeze your earning is upsetting enough until you realize that on top of that : *** What happens when your frozen earnings sit at SW'S bank for weeks/months ? (multiply by 45000 stores earnings of less than 30$ each). Yes, you got it : SW is making interests with our money. Easily hundreds of thousands, maybe up to a million $ per year ! And we NEVER see a cent of those interests, which to me is pure and simple theft. When I signed for stores at SW I never signed to allow SW to get rich making interests off frozen earnings belonging to me. If the federal gov't have amounts that I can claim and I haven't claimed yet, when I finally get to claiming them after they've been sitting in their bank for a while, they send me my amounts, PLUS the interests that my amounts earned at the bank. That's the legal way. So I started to ask questions around and I think everyone with a store at SW should do the same and contact their politicians and representatives and ask them to pressure these people to pay us the interests they made off our backs. Because to me it looks like they are acting as if they were a bank (they are not a chartered bank. Even a bank can't keep my interests for itself) with our earnings which they freeze and then keep the interests as a profit even though we never chose to let them use our earnings to generate a parallel business to make money off our backs. I think when they will have 45000 stores asking them to pay what they owe us, or else possible class action suite, they will take notice and will change their behavior. Also, when SW went into a partnership with HP to develop & test their new 3D printer, what did they do ? They took the hundreds of thousands of models designed for nylon SLS of SW designers and used a lot of them as a free library to test and develop that new technology, without any money or royalties paid to all those designers for the use of their valuable creations. They basically used all of these people's designs as if it was a public library. In my view a violation of the copyrights of thousands of creators. Now they'll probably say that they have a term that says they may use our models "for the internal testing and educational purposes of Shapeways and Shapeways manufacturing partners". Though they made a few people sign for a Beta test in the last phase, they did that only After they were already using people's models without such agreement since a while. But SW designers NEVER signed to have SW use their models to help a billion $ corporation develop a new technology for their own profit. And there there was no such line in their terms when I signed for opening shops. Now, due to all the nonsense SW is doing with freezing our earnings and making things lots more complicated for us when we have to file taxation reports (since they freeze them, even though we have already earned that money and it belongs to us the day the sale was made), the change rates for PayPal for US to Canadian $ & other currencies becomes all wrong because by the time they finally wire us our money (it can be weeks, months or a year depending on your situation) the change rate will already have changed and by then we may not even be in the same taxation year anymore... This forces us to report these amounts due as write off. However I spoke to someone who studied accounting (and now graduated) and to the tax office about this, and here's where it gets funny : actually what we should do as store owners when they freeze our money is to send Shapeways in collection after x amount of time (you decide, it's your business, can be 15 days, 1 month, etc) if they don't send you your money. Yes you got it right : send Shapeways accounts to a collection agency. Now if 45000 store owners did that on a regular basis, you can bet SW would stop that practice of freezing our earnings ! But most store owners and designers are 20 something who wait tables at Starbuck or small self employed businesses of retired people (I generalize a bit but there are many) and don't seem to be well informed enough about accounting and business management to know about that. So SW is eating the wool off their back. I suggest all people here who have a shop at SW and have frozen assets we all send SW in collection. If enough people do it they won't be able to close our stores over some imaginary 'violation' of terms, but even if they do it will make them think twice as it will visibly affect their credit rating if they don't pay us. That's the way business works and I am just applying it. They owe you money for too long ? You collect. Don't be shy about it, it's Your earnings, Not theirs. Too bad for SW to have wanted to abuse us, I am just following gov't recommendations and accounting/business management practices. Equifax folks ! (or whatever other agency you choose). It's time to show them they are not the only ones who understand the rules of business. It just takes 1 person who send them to collection to light up the red button at the financial institutions and tip the balance. They might respond by closing his/her store. But when thousands will do the same they will no longer have a choice but to give us our monies. And if SW comes crying PayPal is supposedly charging them 'too much' for amount below 30$ (yeah right... you have 100$ million in financing including from Lux Capital, owner of most of the luxury brands you can think of, and our small earnings you can freeze them, "who cares"... their increases of profits are 'so' more important than us right ? 45000 store owners little-earnings with bills to pay...) then tell them to make a friggin deal with Paypal. For a company that received so much money and now admitted publicly they screwed up & didn't charge the 'true' cost of 3D printing to make profit for the past 10 years, they look like a bunch of improvising amateurs, not a world class company by any standards. Putting them in collection is the only language they will understand. Trust me.
  10. Hi Holmes, Al my sympathies about the loss of your friend. Maybe we crossed path at some point a long time ago when I was at Bombardier too, but it's a big company so I don't know. Yes, 60 that's way too young. My sympathies to his family from another Montrealer. Stephane.
  11. Sorry for the long post. It's not really my story, back in 2016 people at a scale model ships forum complained about their FED/FUD parts (made with multi jet printers from 3DSystems like the 3500HD Max at SW) as they were experiencing blooms of crystals that progressively cover the surface and details of those parts. Someone brought the problem to the attention of SW on their forum and ever since pretty much nothing was done to fix this as neither SW nor 3DS have fixed the material. The parts won't actually turn to dust but crystals do grow on a percentage of them and will grow even through paint in some cases. The % of parts affected is not clear, I have seen claims ranging from 1% to 50% depending on who you ask, but I did talk to a local RP service who was using the same machine when I was trying to find out if other companies beside SW were having the same problem and they told me several things things, they said they would sometime receive unstable batches or batches that already started to harden in the packaging. So it seems to be a QC issue with 3DSystems and the company that makes the material for them. They told me 3DS bought the MJM printers technology from another company but they didn't buy the chemistry that goes with it in the deal. So 3DS is dependant on an external plastics supplier. No idea what's their name as 3DS does not put that information on their materials packaging, and they aren't telling their clients either. Yes, the prices of that material at SW have seen 2 big price hikes since about 1 year. Personally I was not affected by the crystallization problem directly (though no idea if it will affect some of my clients who bought my models through SW, as some modelers store their parts for years only to discover later than they're affected too), so if someone sue SW about this it won't be me, but it definitely affected my strategy and my program as all my aftermarket parts had been designed specifically for SW's FED/FUD plastics minimum thickness & surface details, so when the crystallization issue blew in the open that certainly caused me a problem, as the last thing I want is to send my clients to buy parts that could become unusable. So I held back my main items until SW/3DS would fix this first and I only uploaded limited number of low demand niche items. Unfortunately more than a year later they have done nothing. About "rambling" and power point, you better read SW's forums, you'll see a lot more issues in a lot more details from lots of store owners. What i posted here is very succint vs what's on their forum. It's not just the FED/FUD material issue that upset people, there are lots of bigger ones about SW that upsets them. As for attacking someone when they bring you information that could save you from wasting your money on potential bad quality parts, I wonder about the logic of it, but then I you want to buy 100's of $ worth of crystallized parts I'm not holding you, it's your money, you're free to spend it as you wish. Someone else would say thank you for the heads up. I did my part for over 1 year to try to have them fix the issue, I pushed them hard, they did nearly nothing and mostly ignored us. I am done fighting it, I'm already working on plan B and C which doesn't involve that material. As for "bulldozing", one can check SW's scale models stores, many are already doing that (bulldozing hand cast resin parts). I have seen stores with hundreds of scale models there. Some have over a 1000. So you could go complain about them if you still have issues with directly 3D printed model parts. But it's a bit late to do that because it is already fait accomplis since a couple years, by lots of companies. As for me I have been working at alternatives to FED/FUD plastics.
  12. I've had that same experience with several recent East European models from different brands. So Tamiya and Hasegawa are definitely not the only ones who can design kits with good fit. Though I don't have too many Tamiya's or Hasegawa's in my stash, but I do have some Finemolds , and those are just as good as these other 2 Japanese companies. Stephane
  13. Take note that Shapeways Frosted Ultra Detail plastic (FUD) & Frosted Extreme Detail plastic (FED) have been renamed since the 17th of May as : Fine Detail Plastic. Maybe an attempt to make the info about the FED & FUD crystallization crisis go into a dead end on search engines, as some people on their forum already suspect (kind of like when Lululemon changed its name to Lole). Also take note that I wrote most of the info in my previous post a few months ago (sorry, been delayed by too many things to post it earlier) and that since I wrote that they recently made yet another MASSIVE change about prices for several materials and website redesign that have enraged seemingly a lot of their store owners that are active on the forums, especially store owners who are scale modelers (but not limited to them only, other types of store owners are upset as well), and many of whom said they will close shop (because the new policies & algorithm are pricing them out of the market) or are buying their own printers. Amazingly SW & its new CEO seem to now be deliverately pushing away it's scale model shops, something many store owners have said, and SW's silence in response to their questions and calls for help is kind of saying it all. More on this soon.
  14. I've been at Shapeways for about 2 years, so I had the opportunity to experience a lot of things. They went from being at the top of my list to bottom of the heap in terms of what I've experienced since I started using their services. The list of problems is long: poor and inefficient customer service, serious quality issue for FED & FUD plastics, questionable practices concerning the sales earnings of store owners (they systematically freeze earnings that are below 30$ for days, weeks or months rather than wire them to us), they very frequently cancel sales: up to 50% of my sales have been cancelled for nonsensical reasons such as a copyright mark on the back of my model that their software assumed would not print sharply as it is small, or sprues that the software think are too small but which printed perfectly before. They block some more affordable materials & instead offer the more expensive version (polished brass instead of unpolished), so much so that I asked them if they rigged their software to default to polished brass instead of unpolished, but they never offered a satisfactory answer or kept dodging). So here's my review. It may save you lots of money, aggravation & endless weeks/months of useless efforts. Now the 1st problem at Shapeways affecting scale modelers: You may not have heard about it yet but their FED & FUD (multi jetted UV-curable acrylates used on their 3DSystems 3500HD Max printers) currently have a serious quality issue. Under circumstances that are still unexplained a percentage of the parts made from FED & FUD produce crystals blooms which slowly destroy their surface & details & render these often expensive parts useless. It can also occur after the parts paint were painted. Crystallization starts to appear as early as 48 hour after clients open the package. In other cases clients report having stored their parts only to discover 2-3 years later that their parts have been eaten by crystals. https://www.shapeways.com/forum/t/powder-appearing-on-fud-after-storage.68722/page-5 https://www.shapeways.com/forum/t/powder-appearing-on-fud-after-storage.68722/page-6 https://www.shapeways.com/forum/t/powder-appearing-on-fud-after-storage.68722/page-9 The cause of crystallization is officially unknown, but it's been 1 year + that SW finally acknowledged there's a problem & there's still no solution in sight. In fact the problem is actually over 6 years old: the 1st reports date back 6 years + on another section of their forum. Starting December 2016 there was a wave of new reports showing crystallized parts from store owners & clients. The reports included a mounting collection of ugly photos detailing the problem & kept piling up without response from SW, until a few months later they finally acknowledged it. Since then their follow up have been very infrequent. Basically they've offered no real solution, they haven't offered to reimburse their clients either. It must be noted that since 1 year + that SW acknowledged the problem they never interrupted the production of FED & FUD, not even temporarily, while the crisis is still unresolved. I'm also not aware of any recall. Some store owners say only 1% of their clients report being affected while others report up to 50% of their parts affected. Users on many train & warship forums report being affected in several countries. There's been no official announcement on SW News pages about this problem, so the public is still largely unaware that their expensive parts may turn into a deformed mass of crystals. The only place where one can find most of the info is on their forum, if you're lucky to stumble upon the thread buried on a material finishing techniques section. (A few months ago SW added a small note on its material page saying this plastic have a poor UV resistance. But there is still no mention that a % of FED/FUD parts may crystallize). I pushed SW during nearly 1 year to fix the crystallization issue. If you're among the unlucky ones who received a part affected by crystallization that appeared months or years later I think it's unlikely you'll get a reimbursement. I've found a lot of complaints from SW clients on websites like Revdex.com about a variety of bad customer service issues. If you do a web search you will find a lot on consumer rights websites. https://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/shapeways.com They also have questionable & contradictory policies : they say that your 3D printed models should only be used for decorative purpose. Yet on another of their publications they interview a drone manufacturer who chose SW to mass produce their components. Now i ask hypothetically: what happens if a drone manufactured at that 3D printing service falls on someone or on a car on the road and cause an accident with injury or worse ? It's a very conflicting message they are sending, contradicting their own rules. Another problem i experienced : after many attempts and being bounced through many different customer agents it became clear that their 'print engineers' are generalists and none of them seem to be modelers nor understand what is a relevant model feature & what's not (to justify cancelling sales). Meaning they cancel a lot of sales for nothing (or if any of them are modelers it really doesn't show in the whole policies/client experience). And even after you complain it's too late, the sale is lost as store owners have no way to know who the clients are to warn them the problem have been resolved. This affects customer confidence, damages stores reputation and makes both store owners & SW lose sales, but apparently they couldn't care less as they refused the solutions I offered such as to let me phone their print engineers to warn them when i upload a new models that i know their software will block as it cannot discriminate between a relevant design feature and one that 's unimportant. They also ignored countless other stores complaints about cancelled sales. SW doesn't even have a phone number on their website. I saw a fellow designer asking SW to provide us with a phone & being given the run around. I did a bit of research & found a number on a business directory & posted it to help him & other store owners. Guess what ? They deleted it. I then found 2 more phone numbers which I also posted. They also deleted them. Fantastic... Meanwhile I found out iMaterialise have a phone # listed for ALL their offices in each country where they are located. However SW have invested in a software that actually works: it deletes the name of competitors from posts... You can test it. I did. Store owners now use that feature in a more creative fashion : to get SW's quick attention about issues they bring up in posts when they are being ignored. They say they can't have store owners call their printing dept as they are too busy. Same story for their customer service team which they keep saying is small. Don't get me started on their buggy softwares, faulty links that send you anywhere except to your products or entire models categories that can't be found on smart devices (by default we could only see 'most popular', with no way to search other categories. I found out after a lot of trials that only if you put your device horizontally then you can search other categories. Not the most congenial way to design a Web page... They finally fixed it this year. And the whole keychain category is not listed, so most of my metal designs remain invisible. SW recently received 30 Millions $ in financing, & they have received over 100 Millions $ financing since they were created, yet they are not willing to hire more customer agents (a quick look at their forum shows tons of complaints & calls for help from clients, stores after the price hikes for nylon, FED, FUD, brass, plus their very complicated new method for calculating prices for FED & FUD which makes it impossible to know how much your design will cost until you've completely finished it, by that time you find it's too expensive to be commercially viable & you wasted your time. They also announced the FED & FUD price hike as a price reduction. Problem is everyone with models bigger than a few cm saw their prices go through the roof. They also implemented a nonsensical policy to try to make modelers print their models finely detailled side oriented face down, with the wax support material smack unto the details, making the side that should be smooth now all frosted. They said that's because 3DSystems support material cost them too much & it cost them less wax if we print our models face down. Again, seems they couldn't care less about scale modelers needs nor the reason why we choose FED & FUD. Plenty of other things related to their new pricing policy mean designers had to spend countless hours to try all kinds of ways to redesign their models in an attempt to offset the price hike. As if we had all the time & money in the world to jump through SW's new hoops. In my opinion SW & 3DS will probably not fix the crystallization problem, with all the money they have & after more than a 1 year they should already have fixed it by now. I made a big mistake a few years ago to believe the hype of SW & to push their name as the place to go for the best quality. I assumed they would be pros & responsible. It's only after I started using their service & uploading more models that I learned the hard way how much I had misjudged them. But don't worry, I have other plans so I won't get stuck due to the crystallization problem. However, I have information from an industrial source that SW is probably not the only one affected by the problem of their 3DSystems UV-curable MJM acrylates, it looks like it also likely affect other 3D printing bureaus who are using the same materials & machines. The people i spoke to at another service say that raw material batches are sometime unstable and there are bad batches.
  15. So I get it that the new A version of the Tamiya F-14 is already out ?? Did I miss on this one ? :o Stéphane, Stratosphere Models Website : http://www.picturetrail.com/stratospheremodels
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