See I've been designing miniatures bits since around 2010, so going on 8 years. My early designs were mostly experiments. You know messing with the software to see what I could do and maybe making something interesting. It took a lot of time for me to get good enough to actually make something a person would want to buy.
This was also around the time shapeways was starting out and before the explosion of other printing services and sales services. Before amazon got into the market, that sort of thing. Back then there were no real rules for model production. You could make just about everything and each new model made gave some new insight to the shapeways engineers. That's how the design rules got made. Back then the wall thickness lottery was about the biggest hurdle. Well that and how slow the site was. It's still slow but the rules are clear and its easier to follow and correct issues thanks to the tools they've built. The automated thickness checker is fantastic.
Anyway what this has to do with anything. Well basically a lot of my old designs are very simple. To me back then it was great if a I could make a sword with a cylinder and tapered plate. This results in a lot of shitty looking weapon models being on my account. I really wanted to make cool things but it took a lot of trial and error. While I eventually became known for my shoulder pads I really have a huge number of weapons on my account that are... passable.
The conversations I had with a couple of people highlighted somethings of importance about my store. All those models are sitting there and they haven't really been replaced or updated. While I upload random Darth Vader helmets that show up in the stream of product releases but then my store shows countless poor quality models and the few dozen modern models I have done and made visible over the last few years. While I have a huge amount of things not visible it doesn't really help my reputation that I have a lot of junk shown off.
So what's wrong with these models exactly? Well there are 3 basic problems and one that's a bit more complicated.
The first problem is sizing. My early models were made before the establishment of wall thickness restrictions. Thus many are very thin. This is exacerbated by the fact that back then I worked on models transferring them between 4 or 5 programs to make them work. I'd build something in sketchup, then output it to meshlab and/or netfabb, and then use some githhub application to check it. This often resulted in unit scaling issues. It started the right size but then shrunk or grew as I exported it between programs. A lot of these models are right at the limit of the shapeways printer tolerances. If I was told it had to be 1 mm thick it was exactly 1mm. Or at least it was intended to be. The tolerance of the printer was of greater concern to me than the design of a miniature. So a sword handle being 1 mm thick was perfectly acceptable. Even if that looked odd on a miniature. But worse than oddly thin weapons is the breakage rate. Many of them would break because they were so thin.
The second problem is basically model corruption. Back before I was, you know, good, at modeling I used external software to seal models to make them water tight. I think I used Caddspan a lot back then. There are a lot of those services but they all do the same basic thing. Take a model and wrap it in geometry as tightly as possible to make it sealed. Shrink wrapping. This results in a lot of lost detail and can make some really screwy geometry. If its a shitty service it also leaves behind the old geometry resulting in weird internal shells. While the model is technically printable this results in a couple of really bad effects. First the preview is often corrupt in webgl. This is usually a symptom of the old geometry just under the surface. Second the model often has some odd printing peculiarities. In my own models this seems mostly to manifest as scaling issues but I've also had components just not print even though they are in the STL file. Worst perhaps is that the model is mostly impossible to recover with any quality if you lose the original model. With a newer STL I can load the STL file and cut it apart or modify the surface to make changes as needed. The old ones get all janky. I also think that some of the models are corrupted when shapeways transfers servers or performs backups due to this bad model design. Cleaner models are always better I guess.
The third problem is sprues. See when I started designing 3d models it was always intended to end up as a physical product as I understood them from my miniatures collection. It seemed natural to have sprues because my 40k miniatures came on sprues. So I put a lot of my early models on sprue. But the sprues would break during manufacture so I was told by shapeways to stop using sprues on my models. So I stopped. But then I started talking to a customer and he told me about shapeway's labor pricing was based at least partially on the number of shells in a model. So basically shapeways tells me not to use sprues and then directly monetarily profits from me not doing so. I think on my shoulder pads shapeways makes a good 6 bucks extra off the printing because I didn't sprue them. Not that sprues are free but the labor policy is also pricey so its a bit of a damned if you do damned if you don't scenario. What shapeways should really have said was "use thicker sprues" making sprues close to tolerance makes them more likely to break so think about the sprues as though you were going to cast them.
So what does all this mean?
Basically that I am going back and redoing all my old weapon models to do 3 things. Make them thicker (particularly grips and polearms), make them water right without external software (this might not always be possible), and put them on thicker sprues (roughly 3mm thick). Price wise this will likely be a wash as the increased thickness of some models will break even with the old labor costs. However for some models the price may go down, a handful up, though I want to avoid that.
This also gives me a chance to fix something that annoys the fuck out of my about shapeways. Every time they introduce a new material it just automatically turns on. So I have a lot of models that are for sale in weird materials that are pointless for my purposes. Note I'm not going to rescale anything for the new marines or anything like that. I will correct errors where the model was intended to be larger but shrunk in process but otherwise nothing will grow but what is necessary to improve print-ability.
Note: change sprue to allow higher detail printing
Note: change sprue to lower price
Note: change sprue to allow higher detail printing
Note: double check head's wallthickness
Note: fix to be a 5up model
Models that need updated. mostly sprue requests. some correction for new models.