Also published in Shapeways Magazine
If you’re 3D printing models that you’ve designed for yourself, then you can pick exactly the right size and style for what you want. But, if you’re selling 3D prints to the general public in your Shapeways store, then you might want to provide multiple size and style options for some of your designs by offering a choice of “variants” of your model.
The Shapeways variants feature lets you combine multiple design files into one product listing so that you can offer multiple sizes or styles of your design. For example, you could make three sizes of a ring model, each optimized for its particular size, and combine them in one product listing with a dropdown menu for selecting between the sizes.
To get started, check out the Shapeways Shopowner Tutorial video How to set up variants for your products. This video provides a very detailed walkthrough of all the steps involved in setting up a product with variants, from the ground up. You can also check out a written version of the same tutorial for more information.
There are four types of variants available for your models, each tailored specifically for a specific type of product: Size, Ring Size, Sides (for polyhedral dice), and Scale (for scale models). Let’s see how each of these variants looks in action.
The simplest type of variant is “Size”, which enables you to bring multiple models together in one product with options for Extra Small, Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large.
For example, the insanely popular Gyro the Cube by Virtox uses the Size variant. Just one product listing includes sizes from an Extra Small with a diameter of 2.8cm to an Extra Large version that measures 10cm across. This wide a size variance can make a huge difference in price, so the Size variant also enables this model to be listed in White Strong & Flexible at prices ranging from $11.50 to $100.00.
If your product is a ring, then you can get even more specific with sizes, by using the Ring Size variant, which includes a wide selection of US/EU sizes starting from 1.5/40.5 and increasing by US quarter-sizes until size 13/69.
For example, look at this rugged Mud Tire Man Ring, created by Stinger 3D Printed Products. They’ve chosen to upload models for each half-size of this ring between US 5.5 and US 12.5.
If it’s dice you’re into, then give your customers the option of purchasing an entire Polyhedral Set, or just one die at a time, with variants such as d4, d12, and d20, all the way up to d100.
One beautiful example of dice with the Sides variant is the Barrel Dice RPG Set and Singles by Die Würfelschmiede (The Diceforge)
Finally, for scale models, the Scale variant gives you numerous options from 1:8 all the way to 1:4800 and then even 1:20000!
For example, Reduced Aircraft Factory offers many models with the Scale variant, including this Letord 2, available in 1:144 scale, 1:285 scale, and 1:288 scale.
Have you used variants in your models, or do you want to start? Let us know in the comments below, or leave feedback in the Variants Feedback thread of the Shapeways Forum.
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