I looked into this - and thats not exactly correct. Let me explain…
You can always make parts for free. Making a part doesn’t ever cost a credit. It doesn’t matter if you are free, or paid, or anything else. You are contributing to the Upverter library and we want to encourage that. The concierge only looks for usage. When you use a part we check if its previously been made, or verified and queue it for the concierge as appropriate.
Where the confusion comes in is that most people edit parts by first adding them to their design and then opening them to edit them. The problem is we immediately queue the request the second you add the part to the design. We don’t later check to see if you’ve already made it. To edit a part without queuing it into the concierge (ie without costing a request) you need to open up the part page and click the edit button there. Then you can edit the part, and add it to your design once it has a symbol and footprint.
The concierge works in one of two ways right now. Either you’re a free user and the concierge creates any part that is missing a symbol or footprint that you use. Or you’re a paid user and the concierge creates any part that is missing a symbol or footprint that you use, and then additionally verifies every part that you use. This difference is temporary and within a few weeks we will get back to verifying 100% of parts used by both free and paid users (we turned it off for free users because we fell way behind verifying parts).
But as long as verification is disabled as a free user you can make your own parts without spending your free requests by using the above method, opening the part page and editing from there.
All of this is a lot of work, and I understand the workflow is clumsy but I need to reiterate that its not how we want you to use Upverter. In this regard Upverter is optimized for users with paid accounts, and paid part subscriptions. We’ve optimized the workflow such that every part a user interacts with gets checked, every part you need gets made, and every time you go to manufacturing you can trust that your board will work.
We do give users some free concierge requests when they signup, but these aren’t supposed to be an asset; 5 parts is hardly enough to do anything with. They are supposed to be a demo of the magic of the parts concierge. The smoothness you get to experience when you subscribe and pay for Professional Upverter or a parts subscription. We didn’t optimize for users to only make their hardest parts with the free requests, we optimized for users to make every part with the concierge.
For our paid users, we are also frustrated by how low the 20 per month limit seems. The limit is just supposed to protect us. We don’t actually want to limit usage. We don’t want you to ever feel bad using a request because you have so many of them. We’d much prefer to have unlimited requests for ever user. This limit was supposed to be enough that you would never need to make another part by hand.
Unfortunately our costs of operating the concierge are still a bit on the high side. Right now if a user requests only hard parts with their 20 per month we lose money. We’re working to get these costs down, and we’re working to increase the number of parts a user can request per month. But its going to take time. In the short term we are going to be selling add-ons for more requests, packages and subscriptions that cost money but allow you to request more than 20 per month.
I hope that all make sense, let me know if you have any other questions!