Through 3D Hubs, Hubs are printing thousands of FDM orders for customers every month. Over 95% of all the orders are processed without any issues and the customers are very happy with the quality of the parts they received. On some of the orders however, customer’s indicate that they are not happy with the order, we wanted to find out what the reasons for this was.

We analyzed a couple hundred orders where the customer indicated he/she wasn’t happy with the prints and in quite a few cases we did objectively see good reasons for these objections.

To standardize and increase the overall quality and of FDM prints on 3D Hubs we’re thinking about introducing guidelines for FDM printing. This will give your customers a clear idea on what they can expect when they order FDM prints and it will give you a good resource to point at when you feel your customer has an illegitimate complaint.

The reason why I’m posting this on Talk is because we would like your input. After all, you guys are the printer operators and will be the ones printing the orders. So, think about things like dimensional accuracy, what percentage is fair to say the printed part can deviate from the design. Or support removal, should this be included in your material prices or charged as an additional service? What about the surface of the print and what would be the best way to indicate to the customer that some models are better suited to be printed using other 3D printing techniques?

These are just a few of the things we’d like to address in the guidelines and we’d love to get your thoughts and input before we get started.

Robin - 3D Hubs


Without any information what the specific problems are, it would be hard to see where the problem lies,

I know a lot of customers have no idea how 3D printing works, and sometimes supply unprintable drawings, and don’t have any idea how to fix it or how much work it sometimes is to fix the 3D drawing to make it printable.

I think it would be better to educate the customer and have a tutorial on how 3d printing works, and the differences between FDM or SLA and such

and make it clear how a 3D drawing should look like before it can be printed with a certain printer.

explain about support material and removal, closed solids, wall thickness, colours, temperature usability.

I try to explain to the customer why a drawing is not good, and how to fix it, or point them in the right direction for other kinds of printers,

but I do get the feeling they still don’t really understand.

Hi @Robin3D I’ve not had that many orders so may not have as much to offer as others, but here’s what I’ve seen so far:

1. Not (easily) printable. I’ve seen a couple of orders that would have been difficult for FDM printing without fairly complex support, so that might indicate a need to reinforce how FDM works and what makes a good model for FDM and what doesn’t (and how to split your models, etc.).

2. Surfaces. I love a good smooth surface printed on glass, but that can be difficult with ABS or other materials prone to warp so it’d be nice to know whether the customer is expecting that glossy smooth surface or not (and to explain to them why it may not be possible, or may make the print harder).

3. Detail. Maybe some advice on what is practical with FDM in terms of fine detail? I had a print a while back with some lettering that was really too small to define (and didn’t need to be - there was room on the model for it to be larger).

4. Layer height. Not all customers may understand that lower layer heights only really mean a better looking print if that part of the print can be seen. I’ve had a couple of orders at 100 microns where the printed part was going to be enclosed within another box (and didn’t contain high detail) so the layer height could have been much larger (= lower cost/faster).

In terms of supports, I tend to remove them myself but then I tend not to accept jobs that require very complex support. I think there’s a risk that if you (the Hub) don’t remove the support you may miss errors/problems in the print before it’s released to the customer.

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Having a primer on what to expect from FDM 3D printing would be amazing. Thankfully most of our customers already are familiar with FDM, but I feel like we could increase the number of customers that place an order if they had a better idea of what to expect from FDM.

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It is hard to give you feed back if we don’t know what the common things customers complain about. I work with my customers from start to finish by giving them feed back before accepting a order and keeping them updated on each point of the process. Haven’t had a bad review yet because of this.

Some general feedback ideas based on my experience on 3dHubs:

  1. I do think providing customers with more details about resolution and dimensional accuracy would be great, especially for customers prototyping parts in generic plastic. Not all generic plastics are the same so fittings may vary due to the plastic.
  2. Explanation of infills. Some customers have no clue what this means. For part prototypes I’ve printed I have had to explain to the customer that 20% will make the part weak and easily breakable while 100% will make it durable.
  • I wouldn’t mind having a infill selection provided to customers to choose what they need in addition to selecting the resolution they want. On my end I would like to set the minimum required infill for each resolution I provide and then Hubs calculates the price. (i.e 0.2 mm with minimum of 20%, 0.1 with minimum of 30%).
  1. Print supports and removal should be automatically included in price. Some customers can feel cheated if support material service is added to the order after they send their design order to a hub to be reviewed.
  2. Print Detail explanation. On most FDM printers a minimum requirement of 1mm for embossed/depth of details is recommended for best results.
  3. Printer Build Volume. Would be nice if printer’s build volume was labeled somewhere on the hub. I get many inquiries on if I can print something that usually is way too big. Would be a benefit to customers if they could search by printer build volumes when looking for a hub. Or explain that if the design is to big to split the design up into printable pieces.
  4. All Hubs provide photos of the finished product for customer review. I do this as it gives the customer something legit to look at and know what they are getting before the product is in their hands. Also is a opportunity for customer to point out any flaws and give hubs the opportunity to fix before shipping which can result in a 5 star review from the customer.


“I think it would be better to educate the customer and have a tutorial on how 3d printing works…”

you mean like that?


Ohmygosh yes on the explanation of infills.

Hello Robin,

sounds like you are planning to write a book on FDM printing.

I think this is too much and will make the process not better but more complicated.

I think the System right now is just fine.

The customer can read the Reviews and get a Picture of the hubs Quality. Then he can also choose a more proffessional hub or a Hobby hub.

Of course also with different Price.

There is soo much Information out already how a FDM print Looks like.

I would say the rest is up to the hub to explain, just because it always depends.

There are many ways to influence the part properties to satisfy the customer. On the other Hand the customer Needs to know and tell, what he Needs.

I guess in most cases the hub and the customer are quite new and are both still gaining experience.

So i would say the key to satisfy the customer is the right communication. If you can tell the customer in advance what to expect, then it will be ok.

If there are any disputes about the Quality, you guys have to jump in the communication, if requested. In the end that is exactly what is giving the customes safety, that there is a thrid Person involved.

i think this Ratio of complains will improve over time by itself.



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Holy cow, this is awesome! Had no idea that resource existed.

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Hi @twiesner, awesome response to the question! It always great to get feedback on ideas here on Talk. We are currently working on an Infill article for the knowledge base but if you have any suggestions of things you would like to have included (other than what you have talked about above) please let me know. Cheers, Ben

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The real question here : what actually caused the bad review? in quite a few cases we did objectively see good reasons for these objections- how?

Or was the communication with the end customer poor?

Or was the Hub not good at it?

Do you have examples where experience and communication was good and strong, but it did not prevent the customer issue?

Lets take the example of poor tolerances. Key here is, did the hub know there would be a tolerance issue? Did they communicate that to the customer? If the customer still paid, then it would be disingenuous for the user to give a bad review.

Nothing new in this. Print contains part A, which is supposed to fit into part B. Customer is not aware that will not happen without some corrections on tolerances. If HUB knows it, and explains it, then the customer is at fault.

Now, lets take an example where there is no part B. If it is a part where the HUB should have mentioned it, then its on the hub. I have had a few of these, where I have had to ask “what is this for?” or how close does this need to be?

Point is, on these ones you looked at, were there good or poor communications?

In situations where the customer complained about the price of the support material, after paying extra for the support material and removal, I am not sure there should be a legitimate customer complaint. And if 3dhubs can figure out how to pre-price support without a human seeing the model, that would be some fancy software.

Look at hubs with a lot of prints and good reviews. Count the average words exchanged before the order is accepted/paid. You might have evidence of what works, as opposed to trying to fix the unfixable.

I think, the more you try to automate up front, as opposed to demanding good communication between hubs and customers, the more poor reviews you might see. Once you set a tolerance that is acceptable, many customers who would have been thrilled with their raspberry pi case, would suddenly see a reason to be unhappy…

On the topic of support, something needs to be done here to make the customer aware of this. It is very hard, if not impossible, to pre-build cost for support into the price of printing for the initial quote the customer gets. If I try to build the cost in, my prices inflate significantly and make my Hub far overpriced. If I don’t, I get complaints from customers about having to pay for support.

It would be very difficult to try and incorporate this into a cost quote, but something as simple as a pop-up informing the customer that support costs will most likely be charged and are not included in the quote here (like you would do with shipping) would at least prepare a customer for this. Supports are an inconvenient necessity of 3D printing, and should be treated as such.


Hello Enza3D

i agree with you.

but maybe this can even be extended to a general notice to the customer, that there might be additional costs. Now with the new delivery cost Setup, most of the times the customer knows the final Price right away. which is great.

but sometimes the part is too big, Needs to be split into more pieces, Needs Support, Needs other kinds of adjustments to be printable. This is impossible to include automatically. But i think your idea of a notice, that the shown Price is stiil an estimate is good.

I also get many orders from “first time hub users” when you see that number, you know already you Need to take some more time to explain. But the time is absolutely worth it, because if it goes well, the customer will most probably come back for another order later.

With so many new users, i think the Ratio of complains is really great. once they got some experience the order process will go smoother. the Ratio will get better over time…

@Enza3D Couldn’t agree more!

I wonder if the software could look at the overhangs, and suggest “This model may require support material, which may or may not incur additional charges.”

Or, for every customer->

“Some models require support material, additional modeling, and other work which may incur additional costs.” or something like that.

Hubs already has to implement some kind of slicing software to generate the print estimate, so it should be able to identify features like overhangs somewhere.

A general “memo” to the customer when a print is uploaded that the quote generated is just that, a quote, and not reflective of the final price would be fantastic.


Had no idea this existed either. One factor though, majority of customers don’t want to read extensive amounts of text so many will skim or not read said documents as 3d printing may be a one time deal for them.

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@Enza3D I guess there might be an issue if the print isn’t correctly orientated when uploaded. I’ve had a couple of orders where the STL is “upside down” or on its side. I don’t know, but it might be impossible for software to check orientations - maybe not, I don’t know how smart it is.

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Well, this can’t be a coincidence… :slight_smile:


This is very true and always a possibility. That’s why I think a blanket prompt stating that the “quote is not reflective of the final cost, and does not include support structure, etc” will be the most effective (and least limiting) way to go about addressing this.


You’d have to be very careful with statements like that though; they’re likely to scare customers away. We all want to know exactly how much something is going to cost us - it’s a principle of good sales marketing - so any message suggesting the initial price may change would have to be worded very carefully.

For a start, ideally, there should be no message at all unless the Hubs software can detect a likely overhang. If there is a risk of support requirements, I’d suggest the message should be more along the lines of “Please discuss the printability of your model with your chosen Hub” and leave it at that, not mentioning any potential price change. If the Hub decides they need support and wants to charge extra for it, that’s then a discussion between themselves rather than being something that instantly says “you’re likely to get additional charges”.

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