When you embark on a design project with a client, often the client is new to the process of hiring a designer in addition to being new to 3D printing. Below we’ve collected some questions that the client will have but perhaps won’t know or think to ask until it’s too late. If you are able to address these questions from the start of your collaboration both you and your client will be more likely to have a great experience.

1. What material can I print this design in?

Clients may only think of plastic when they think of 3D printing. Being aware of all their material options might change the direction of the project.

2. What size/scale is possible?

For some projects this will be self evident, i.e. a ring. For many clients you will need to break down their options based on what they want to do. The answer to the previous question is important too as each material has its own design guidelines and requirements for successful printing.

3. Does this project necessitate being 3D printed or is it something I can do myself?

Sometimes a design doesn’t need to be 3D printed! It’s okay to let them know about their other options. Or if they can use a 2D to 3D app or something in the custom maker library to make it themselves, it is reasonable to suggest they check that out first. This is up to your discretion as a trained designer.

4. Does your price include prototypes and the final printing?

Many times the design process will be very new to your client and they may assume printing costs are included in your fees. You should break down your fee structure and what is and is not included in it. Please see our previous post on this very topic. Remember this is your chance to give them a great experience and create return customers; being clear up front sets the stage for that.

5. I don’t just want the print, I want the digital design file. Does your fee include handing that over?

This is a subject best addressed in your contract, which should cover who owns the IP connected to the file that is created, as well as who gets to keep the file after the work is done.  If the client gets the rights and the file, it is reasonable to charge an additional fee for that.

6. How frequently can I contact you/how often will I get updates from you?

Be clear about how you’ll be contact with them over the course of the project, whether you’ll have regular check-ins and on what platform. Phone, Google hangout, Skype, email, and in-person meetings all work; choose whatever works best for you and the project. Also, spell out the number of design iterations or rounds of edits included in your fees to set expectations appropriately.

7. Are you comfortable with the timeline that I have presented?

This question goes both ways. Do they understand how long it will take you to deliver? Have they considered that they will also need time to provide feedback or deliverables to you? Be honest about timelines from the start and always build some padding into the final schedule.

8. If I need updates or changes to this design in the future is that something you can help me with?

Be clear about whether or not you’ll be available to work with them in the future. It is okay to say that once the work is completed, a new contract will need to be in place before design updates can occur.

Have other questions you wished your client knew to ask upfront? Please share them in the comments for an open discussion about how to set proper expectations for your work with clients. Happy designing!

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