Which is the best 3D modeling software to use?
There is no 'best' 3D modeling software. Contrary to popular belief, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to 3D modeling. Over the year's we’ve seen that different applications call for different design tools. That’s why we’ve started listing some of the most popular software tools used by our community of makers, designers and inventors. If you visit our 3D Design Tools page you can search according to your preferred platform, typical use and price.I have no 3D design experience, how can I design my own model?
You can learn how to 3D model by learning how to use 3D modeling tools such as Rhinoceros, Blender or ZBrush. It will take you a few weeks to become familiar with these software packages and half a year or more to become an accomplished user.
Since different applications call for different design tools, we’ve started listing some of the most popular software tools used by our community of makers, designers and inventors. If you visit our 3D Design Tools page you can search according to your preferred platform, typical use and price.What is minimal wall thickness and level of detail?
In 3D printing, wall thickness refers to the distance between one surface of your model and the opposite sheer surface. It's defined as the minimum thickness your model should have at any time.
Level of detail can be described as the difference height between 2 surfaces (cf. extruded text on a surface).
Minimal wall thickness and level of detail both depend on the process being used. You can find more about minimal wall thickness and level of detail in our extensive design guides.How big can I make my model?
How big you can make your model differs for the various 3D printing processes we use. At i.materialise, we offer a wide variety of different materials which all have certain print dimensions. We have visualized them to give you an idea on how big you can 3D print your designs. If you're designing, it can be useful to know that not all materials offer print dimensions equal to the size of a lounge chair (some do). Take a look at our printing sizes page to compare different printing dimensions, and discover right what you need.What if my 3D model contains 'errors'? Will you fix it?
If you upload your model in our 3D print lab and it contains errors, our software will try to fix it on the spot. However, in case it cannot be fixed automatically, you won't receive an online price, and you can submit an offline price request (free of charge). Then, if you would like to order the model, we can fix it for you. If, for some reason, you cannot request an offline price, just contact us and we'll get right on it!How can I make my design printable?
I am interested in business collaboration. What are my options?
If you have a business idea that involves 3D printed products, we invite you to present it to us. Take a look at our business solutions on our API page to learn more about potential business collaboration opportunities.
Are my files treated confidentially?
Yes. Knowing that you probably spent several hours or days on your design, we treat it with confidentiality. We don't publish renders or photos of your design, nor make the design available for everyone, without your permission. The uploaded models cannot be downloaded by anyone but us.
What models are prohibited to be printed?
We don't print models that are in conflict with our mission and value statement, which is to make the world a better and healthier place to live. For example, models intended for the weapons industry or models for which we have ethical concerns, like skimming devices, don't qualify for printing. We can refuse these models at all time.
Who owns the intellectual property rights of my design once I upload and order it?
If you are the original designer of your 3D model, you will retain the intellectual property of your design. You can read more about this here.
What colors can I get for a model?
Once you've uploaded your model to our 3D print lab and chosen a material, you can see the standard colors in which the material is available. In addition, we have professional painting departments where we can paint your model in any color you wish. If you want your model in a color that is not listed, contact us and we'll tell you what your options are. We can offer matt, satin or high gloss paint if you provide us with a color reference code, preferrably RAL.Can I post-process the models myself?
Yes, you can. Standard model-making paints work well with polyamide and on the Stereolithography (Paintable Resin, Transparent Resin and Prime Gray) and PolyJet (High Detail Resin) materials. Both acrylic and water based paints work as well, but several layers may be needed. This is especially the case for Polyamide since its porous structure is still visible after one coat of paint. Please, do not use any harsh paints since some chemicals may degrade your models or react with the 3D printing materials. Use caution and lots of ventilation when painting.What material should I choose?
There is no 'perfect' 3D printing material or process.
There is no 'perfect' 3D printing material or process. There are a lot of criteria to determine the best suited material for your design. Most common are size, level of detail, which kind of material, use, color and finish. That's why we've made the 'Material (re)search Diagram', a flow diagram that allows you to find a suitable material for your design by answering some questions on your expectations.Where can I find the properties for each material?
We have material property overviews for most 3D printing materials we offer. You can find more about their advanced properties in the technical specifications of each material, where you can read everything you need to know about notched Izod impact, hardness, heat deflection temperature, and other advanced properties.
Where can I track the progress of my order?
You can track the progress of your order by logging in and going to 'Orders' in your profile. If the status of your order is 'in production', the estimated shipment date will be indicated. When your order is then shipped, the UPS tracking number will be shown on this page. You will also receive the UPS tracking number by email.Can I get a bulk discount for large orders?
Yes, for most orders in our 3D print lab, the unit price varies, depending on the quantity of copies. But we are also capable of handling really large orders and huge volumes, for which we can give you an offline price. Or just contact us and we'll get right on it!What happens if I order something that can't be printed?
All guidelines to make your model printable are explained per material. Please take these into account when you design your model. Models are also checked on printability when you order them. In case of problems you wil be contacted.Why is my order on hold?
When your order has been put on hold, it means that we have encountered problems with the design. In the event of this happening, we will contact you by email and give you the opportunity to modify the design.Why was my order cancelled?
If your order gets cancelled, it is because we have encountered problems with the design. You will be informed of the reason for cancelation by email. If possible, you can then redesign or modify the design and order it again.How can I update my order?
Please contact us if you would like to update files or change a selected material, color or finish. We will look into the status of your order and see if it is still possible to update the information.How can I update my shipping information?
Please contact us if you would like to update your shipping information. As long as your order hasn’t been prepared for shipment yet and the payment of the VAT will not be altered, we can still update the information.How can I update the shipping method option?
If you want to change the shipping method after placing an order, please contact us.
What payment options are available?
It is possible to pay with all major credit cards or PayPal. During checkout, you will have the option to pay by credit card or through PayPal. Choose PayPal if you have a PayPal account or an American Express card.Do I need to pay VAT?
That depends on where you want your design to be delivered. For non-EU-countries no VAT will be applied. For EU-countries the VAT amount will be added to the total amount. VAT for EU-countries (excl. Belgium) can be prevented if you fill in a valid VAT number during checkout or if the VAT number is registered under your account.How do I use a promo code?
Insert the promo code or voucher into the predefined field during the checkout process. When the code is valid, you will see the discount appear. Contact us if you need any help.If my order was canceled, how do I receive my refund?
We will refund the cost of the order to the original payment method you used for your order. While a refund from i.materialise is immediate, it can take up to several business days for either your bank or PayPal to fully process the release.
How long does it take to print a model?
The standard delivery time (time between placement and shipment of your order) ranges from 6 to 20 business days (except for priority orders), and depends on the complexity, material, and finishing of your order. An indication of the lead time will be given when uploading your design. The estimated shipment date is indicated during the checkout process.
How accurate can you print my model?
Accuracy strongly depends on the selected material and technology. It doesn’t relate to the detail of your model but to the deviation from the nominal size. Accuracy values are clearly indicated on each material page.
What is the surface quality of a finished model?
The surface quality of your 3D printed model is defined by the material and the technology. Each material has a different natural surface quality. This is also true for the different finishing options. Consult our 'Colors and finishes' page for more examples.Is it possible to reduce the lead time of an order?
Unfortunately we cannot speed up the production any faster than the time frame indicated on our website. However, in most cases we ship out orders earlier than the estimated shipment date. If you need your prints urgently, make sure to order with Polyamide Priority.
Do you ship worldwide?
We ship worldwide by UPS. We always use this package delivery company and can't make any exceptions.Can I ship to a different address than my own?
Yes, you can ship your i.materialise order to an address different from your billing address. Just fill in the desired delivery address in the shipment details during checkout. The shipping costs will be calculated based on this information. The country of destination determines whether you have to pay VAT (value added tax) or not.How long does it take to ship my model(s)?
The transit time for the shipment depends on your location. It typically takes 1-5 days.Do I have to pay import tax on my order?
Unfortunately, duties or import taxes are not included in the cost of shipping. Contact the customs office in the country of destination for more information about applicable duties or taxes. The amount of the import tax is determined by the classification of the traded product, and this is done based on a code we indicate on the shipment document, the so-called 'intrastat code'. We ship models with the following intrastat codes:
39269097: Polyamide, Alumide, High Detail Resin, Paintable Resin, Transparent Resin, ABS, Prime Gray, Rubber-like and Smooth Detail Resin
83062900: Brass, Bronze and Copper
73269096: High Detail Stainless Steel
There are no duties or import taxes for orders sent to countries in the EU.How much are the shipping costs?
Shipping costs depend on the delivery location. Flat rate shipping is applied for transparency and varies for each country. Exact shipping rates are displayed on the shipping info page during checkout.What's the difference between UPS Standard and UPS Express Saver?
The difference between UPS Standard and UPS Express Saver lies in transit time. UPS Standard always uses road transport and a foreseen delivery date while UPS Express Saver uses air transport (if faster) and guarantees the foreseen delivery date. If you're located in Europe, you can choose between UPS Standard and UPS Express Saver. Outside of Europe, we always use UPS Express Saver.Where do you ship from?
Materialise nv operates 3D printing facilities in many locations and countries. The vast majority of our prints are shipped from Leuven, Belgium. However, if another place of production is available closer to your shipping address, your order will be sent directly to that location and printed there in order to reduce the shipping time.What does the customer pick-up option entail?
When your order is ready to pick up, a notification will be sent to the email that was filled in on the shipping information.
The customer pickup option allows customers from Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Germany and France to pick up their orders at Materialise HQ in Leuven, Belgium (Mo-Fr: 9am-5pm). If you’re in the neighborhood, Customer Pickup is a great way to save money and time.
Get directions?Where can I see the shipment date of my order?
When you upload your design to our website, an indication of the lead time is immediately visible. During the checkout process, an estimated shipment date (the date on which your order leaves our production facilities) will be shown, which is determined by the material with the longest lead time.
After placing an order, you will receive a confirmation email that your models were sent to the printing queue. The estimated shipment date is also repeated here. Please note that this information can be checked via your profile at any time.
How can I offer my designs for sale?
In your profile, you will find a section called "shop items" that holds a list of all your shipped models.
Each of these models can be put in the shop to be sold. However, you will need to enable your public and vendor profile before you can begin selling your models.
In order to pay you, we need your PayPal email account.
How can I follow up on my earnings and payments?
Go to your profile. In the sales section you will find an overview of the items sold so far, how much you have earned, and how much you have already been paid.When do I get my money?
Your payment becomes accrued 15 days after the order has been shipped. Then, on the 15th of the month, or the first working day after the 15th, you will be paid.
*Important! You will only be paid if your total earnings are 25€/$30 or more. If the total is less than 25€/$30, we will pay you the following month. The 25€/$30 limit is set to reduce administrative costs.Why is there a clearance period?
A lot of things can happen in those first 15 days after shipment. For example, a customer can cancel the order or return it. In both cases, you are not entitled to a designer's fee. If we paid you immediately, you would then have to return the money (and pay administrative fees). With a clearance period in place, i.materialise covers the costs of cancellations and/or returns at no extra cost to you.What is a good designer's fee percentage?
The designer's fee (markup) is yours to choose. We suggest a fee that is 10% above the production price.
The higher you set your fee, the more you will earn per sale, but you might not sell very many items. The lower your fee, the more likely people will be to buy your items, but of course, you will earn less per sale.
So, you need to find a good balance between high fees/low sales and low fee/high sales.
The fee can be adjusted any time you want. The new fee will be applied to all new orders, but it is not retroactive, so anyone that bought your item at the old price will have to be happy with the old price.What is a transaction fee?
The transaction fee is the cost needed to transfer the money into your account. It includes e.g. the administration and transaction cost charged by PayPal.How much will I earn?
That is entirely up to the number of models you sell and the fee you request.
You can always try promoting your model extra through e.g. social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc.) to increase your earnings.On my profile page, what is the difference between shop items, sold items, earnings, and payments?
They give different views on the activity in the shop.
The shop items page gives an overview of all the items you have ordered and are shipped. These can be offered for sale, displayed only (so people can admire them, but not buy them), or not visible in the shop at all. Per item, you can check the item status, production price, designer's fee, and the total amount of models sold.
The sold items page shows, per order, how many items were bought, displaying the sales date and earnings status.
The earnings page gives an overview, per order, of payments that have been approved and/or paid. When they are paid, you will see a link to the payment details.
Finally, the payments page contains all info of the payments made out to you: which orders we paid you for and when the payment was made.Can I offer designs for sale that I didn't initially order at i.materialise?
No, because we need to be sure that the model is printable before it can be sold.Can I offer my model in another material or color than I initially ordered?
Yes. You can do that in your profile, in the "my designs" section. Look up the shop item, press edit and go to the 'Pricing' tab.Can I get paid in another currency than Euro?
No. At this moment, we can only pay you in Euro. However, PayPal allows you to convert it to your own currency.Can I use my earnings to order 3D models?
No. This would cause administrative difficulties, so it is not possible.Do I need to pay a fee if I order my own design?
If you order your model from the shop, then YES, but of course you will get the fee refunded.
If you reorder it from previous order, then NO.Can I change the name of my design?
Yes. You can do that in your profile, in the "my designs" section. Look up the design and edit the "item title".How can I promote my design?
A good starting point is making the shop item page as attractive as possible. You can do this by presenting your model in an attractive way, choosing a good name, adding an appealing description, and using astonishing photos of your model. Make sure that on at least 1 photo, the size of the model is made clear. To do this, place a recognizable object next to it in the photo so that people get a good idea how big the model is (for example, a coin, a pen, etc.).
Select the appropriate categories and tags.
Select the "Offer for Sale" option and distribute the URL for your design to others so that they can order it. The URL usually looks like this: http://i.materialise.com/shop/<name of your model>. We will regularly be handpicking interesting models for display on our home page.Do I need to pay income tax on my earnings?
Normally, yes. Everything you earn should be declared to your tax authority. However, every country has different rules about what and how to declare income. We advise to check with your local tax authorities for an answer to this question.How can I stop selling a design?
Go to the design on your profile pages and select a different option than "Offer for sale".
If you want to stop selling all of your items, disable your vendor profile and all the models you have for sale will automatically change to "Display only". Enabling the vendor profile again will put them for sale again.What about the IP rights on my models in the shop?
The person who placed the initial order is considered the owner of the model and has the IP rights for that model. By accepting the vendor terms and conditions, you give i.materialise the right to produce copies of the model in return for a designer's fee (markup).
Normally, the owner is also the designer. That is why we call it a designer's fee.
If you didn't design the model yourself, but want a special designer's page for the person who did, please contact us for permission to set up a designer page for this designer.
Why should I sign up for an account?
When you register and login, you don't need to fill in your name/address and shipping info each time you need an offline price request or order.
Some sections of the site require a login, e.g. when you want to take part in a design challenge. With a login, you can control the profile page where you can manage your uploaded models, follow up on your offline price requests, and more.
Why is everything in English?
Our website and the customer service we provide are in English because it's currently, more or less, the universal language of the web. However, we also speak Dutch, Ukrainian, and Russian. If you don't speak English well, Google Translate is a wonderful tool.What file formats are supported?We support .stl, .3ds, .igs, .obj, .model, .mxp, .wrl, .3dm, .skp, .dae, .fbx, .ply, .magics, .mgx, .x3d, .x3dv, .stp, .step, .prt, .zpr, .matpart and .3MF files in our 3D print lab. For these file formats, we can provide you with an online price.How do I get a price for my design?
Upload your 3D design to the 3D print lab by pressing the upload button and selecting your file. Your file will then be uploaded and verified. Select the material in which you would like to 3D printyour design and the price will be shown.
If the format of your file is not supported, you can zip your file, upload the zip file and request an offline price. One of our support engineers will contact you shortly after.Can I group my models into one file?
No. Although there is nothing wrong with having more than one model in a file while designing, the difficulty starts, for both you and i.materialise, when you want to 3D print the models. This is why, when we discover that grouped models have been ordered, the order is cancelled and you are contacted.
Our online prices are only valid for single model files. The reason is that in addition to the printing cost, each model has its own handling cost, and this cost depends on the model as well as the material you choose. Some people see this as a chance to cheat the system since the handling cost will only be charged once and will include all the models in the 3D file. However, although it may seem like a good way to save a little money, there are some risks involved. You can read more here about the issues related to uploading grouped models.I am unable to upload a file larger than 100 MB. What can I do?
If your file exceeds 100 MB, we cannot provide you with a direct price online. You can either decrease the resolution (we have a tutorial here on how to decrease file size while maintaining the same high-quality 3D print) or you can send your files to email@example.com.The website doesn't give me a price for my uploaded model. What now?
In most cases, the price for an uploaded model can automatically be calculated online. Sometimes however, the price is not available, and this can be for several reasons (dimensional problems, errors in the design...). When this occurs, you will be asked to request an offline price (free of charge). One of our support engineers will then contact you within 48 hours during business days.What if I can't upload my model through the website?
If you are unable to upload your models, you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. In cases where the file is less than 5 MB, attach it to the email. Otherwise, you can send us a link from where we can download the file. Services like WeTransfer are free and provide easy upload facilities, but don't give guarantees about confidentiality.
We always appreciate feedback why it wasn't possible to upload your model in the 3D print lab.I receive an error message after uploading my file. What can I do?
If you receive an error message after uploading your file, please make sure to read the message carefully. It might be that the intended printing size is not available in the material of choice, that the price cannot be calculated automatically, or that the file needs to be fixed before it can be 3D printed.
If you continue to have trouble uploading your file, send it to email@example.com and we will take a look at what went wrong.What exactly is wall thickness analysis?
In 3D printing, wall thickness refers to the distance between one surface of your model and the opposite sheer surface. The wall thickness analysis checks if your 3D model has the sufficient wall thickness required for printing in the selected material.
Green indicates that the model is ready to print. Orange indicates that the design is almost suitable for the technology and selected material. Red means the design does not correspond to the material and technological specifications and that the model will need to be redesigned.
The wall thickness analysis tool is still in beta. If the results are not satisfactory, one of our support engineers will manually check the results and get in touch with the customer if modifications are necessary.How can I see the price for my design?
You can upload your design to our 3D print lab where an instant price will be generated. If you get an error message while uploading, you can still request the price offline. One of our support engineers will manually look at your model and contact you with a price quotation.Which parameters are used to define the price of my model?
For the majority of designs, the material you pick, the (imaginary) box around your model or the model volume will be the main criterion that defines the price. However, sometimes model surface, orientation and density also come into play. You can find more infomation about pricing on the pricing info page.Can I set the 3D printing orientation for my design?
Unfortunately you can't choose your own printing orientation. However, if you mention this when making the order, we will do our best to take this into account.