I try to stay to keep up with the developments going on in 3D printing. There is so much going on it’s hard to keep track. Some time last year I had read about a new 3D printing service coming out called Matter.io. I signed up for their email list and then forgot about it. In November I finally got an email from them. It was an invitation to try out the service. They were looking for small batch jewelry makers to try out their service on a “beta” basis.
The first thing they suggested that I try was this pricing estimator. I tried the version where you don’t have to upload a model or create an account. The estimate is based on the size and weight you enter. I put in the estimated size and weight of one of my models. The estimate that came back was quite high compared to what I get from other services. So I emailed them and asked about it. They responded quickly. They were surprised that I felt the price was high, and said their pricing should be in-line with competition. So I tried again. This time I then created an account and uploaded one of my models to get a more accurate estimate. This time the price was much more in line expectations.
I started looking at the materials they offer. They offer bronze, sterling silver, yellow brass and white brass. They offer several secondary finishes to these as well: matte finish, tumble finish, or mirror polish finish. Finally, you can also have these metals treated or plated at the end. The options there are oxidation, Rhodium-plated, Black Rhodium, Gold-plated or Rose-gold plated. Some of these options are very intriguing, and ones I haven’t seen elsewhere.
I ordered my Celtic Knot Leaf Pendant model in the white brass material. My customers normally prefer the white- or silver-colored metals better than the gold-colored. I ordered it in the “mirror-polished” finish. You can see the result in the picture. At the time of ordering, you also have the option of getting a volume discount. If you order 10 pieces, you can save 16% per item. If you go up to just 14 pieces, you could save 20% per piece. It goes up from there. This is a very nice feature. I’m not quite ready to order in large quantities yet. Someday!
I placed my order on December 16. The confirmation email said I would get my shipment by December 26! This was incredibly fast, especially during the holiday season. I’d have been surprised if they had met that date (they didn’t – more on that later). I got an email on the 17th that my design had been approved. They must do some kind of manual model check to review printability.
Matter.io was unable to meet the December 26 delivery date, which was no surprise. I got an email on January 2 apologizing for the delay and offering 10% off my next order. They said the new estimated delivery date was January 8th. Unfortunately, they were not able to meet this date either. Now I was starting to get a bit nervous. I wondered if there was a problem with my model. I emailed them on January 13 but did not get a response. Finally, I got an automated email on January 16 that my order had shipped! It finally arrived today, January 23. In all, it took 5 weeks from the time I placed my order to the time it shipped. This is not bad at all for a service in Beta testing, and for a brass object with secondary operations done to it (polishing). Until they work out the kinks and get their processes done faster, they should simply adjust their estimated ship date a bit.
Another feature they offer which I have not yet explored is design services. They have a feature where you can upload pictures of an object, and they will create a model from that. You need to take four pictures – a front view, side view, back view and an isometric view. The object has to be on a white background, so it can’t just be anything. This may be something I have to try out in the future.
Overall I am very happy with the way the pendant turned out. This is definitely a service I will give serious consideration in the future for my orders.
In summary, here are the things which makes Matter.io a bit unique from other services:
- Volume discounts. This could be a a game-changer.
- Unique materials and finishes. I have not seen some of these offered by other 3D printing services. Two examples are Rhodium plating and white brass.
- Create a model from pictures. You don’t need to know how to use CAD to create a 3D printable object.