Upon upload, your model immediately and automatically goes through our initial printability checks:
- Readable file format
Supported file types include STL, OBJ, X3D, DAE, Collada, and VRML97/2 (WRL).
- Polygon threshold
We accept 3D models up to a 1 million polygon limit. You can use Meshlab to reduce your polygon count.
- File size
The maximum size we can accept is 64 MB. Here's how you can reduce your file size.
- Printer bounding box
Your model must fit within at least one of our printers. The specific minimum and maximum bounding box requirements vary by material and can be found in our Design Guidelines.
- Model integrity
Your model must be watertight/closed, with the right normals, and manifold.
If you encounter an error during the upload process, get in touch with our Customer Service team.
Your Pre-Print Checklist
Use this checklist as a tool to prepare your model for 3D printing and put your mind at ease.
- Design for your material
Each checklist item applies differently to each material. The material design guidelines are your primary resource for designing 3D printable products. To access these please go to The Materials Hub, click on the material you are interested in, and select the Design guidelines tab on top of the page.
- Check wall & wire thickness
Every part of your model must be thick enough to be 3D printed, survive post-production, and be safely packed and shipped. Learn more about why wall thickness matters.
- Create escape holes for hollow models
Excess material, such as nylon powder for our Versatile Plastic, must be able to escape from hollow models. The material guidelines describe the required escape holes for each material—when in doubt, lean towards more and/or larger escape holes.
- Check balance and weight
A model must be designed for real-world physics. Be sure to account for weight distribution, and the model's ability to support its own weight.
- Protect vulnerable areas
Outstretched elements, such as wires or appendages on figurines, could snap off during or after printing if the joint is not strong enough. Add extra support to these areas to help prevent breakages in the production process.
- Adjust model scale
You likely had to specify the scale of your model (meters, millimeters, inches) before uploading your model, but it's always smart to check those dimensions one more time to make sure they meet your expectations before you order.
- Ensure clearance for moving parts
Moving parts need clearance between one another to function properly. This is especially important when designing for Versatile Plastic—without enough clearance, the parts will fuse together during the print process. The Material Guidelines have specific information on clearance requirements for the material you plan to use.
- Make sure details are large enough
Embossed and engraved details have minimum requirements to ensure they print clearly. Those specifics are listed in the Material Guidelines on each of the Material pages.
- Compensate for smoothing modifiers (if applicable)
3D printers do not read smoothing modifiers, so instead, sub-divide your mesh to replicate the effect of smoothing.
- Optimize your colors
If designing for Full Color Sandstone, check that your Shapeways render matches your expectations. CMYK is best at producing bright, well defined colors. You can find more tips on designing for this material here.
- Don't forget to read our content policy
We encourage the endless possibilities of your creativity but ask that your designs respect our content policy.
Once your model checks out, you're ready to bring your design to life!