Comparing iMaterialize and Shapeways

I’ve been wanting to have something printed from iMaterialize for some time now. The shipping charge is much higher because they are in Belgium, and most of the prices seem higher than the Shapeways prices. However, I read some other blog post in which the blogger pointed out that it’s not always more expensive – it just depends on the models and the volume. I uploaded a few designs and found a combination that actually costs a tiny bit less on iMaterialize, so I gave it a try. The items are three pendants, and I wanted to print them in silver. For iMaterialize, I picked the lowest level of “gloss” silver, and for Shapeways, I chose “polished silver”.
Here’s my comparison of the prices:

Pendant Dimensions iMaterialize price Shapeways price
1 2.416 x / 0.8 y / 2.95 z
$34.96 $35.57
2 3.336 x / 3.874 y / 1.334 z
$33.49 $30.58
3 2.17 x / 3.536 y / 1.37 z
$21.63 $35.79
shipping $15.50 $4.99
total $105.58 $106.93

I was concerned as to how the iMaterialize “gloss” level compares with the Shapeways “polished” level, and in my opinion, it’s not quite the same level of polish. I can see the difference more on one of the pendants that has more flat and wide areas where shine is more important. I can also see a bit more silver volume on the iMaterialize pendants because less has been polished away. If I chose the next level of polish, it would have cost considerably more.

Regarding shipment, they both took about 5 days to arrive. The iMaterilize shipment got to the US in one day but got stuck waiting for customs inspection. The bad part about customs is that they just tore open the package without any care and they put the torn box into a sealed plastic bag for the rest of the trip. On other shipment aspects, I like the nice heavy cloth bags provided by Shapeways. iMaterialize just gave me one bag in a thin fabric. But who knows, maybe two bags got lost in customs!

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