Mar.3, 2014

Owners of a home 3D printer are now able to make money via their own website by installing a plugin called the STL Harvester from Protocow.

Dutch startup Protocow launches an e-commerce platform for 3D printing services in November 2013. This platform enables small 3D printing businesses to offer their website visitors online quotes and order fulfillment with the STL Harvester plugin. Vistors to the website can upload their .stl files and choose from a selection of 3D printers.

Protocow's STL harvester extracts values out of the uploaded STL file and, depending on your 3D printing technique, calculates the best estimated price. Once order is placed, 3D printing services can automatically process their online orders. The 3D printing services receive the order, including the payment, via the same Protocow platform.

Until now, Protocow has focused its services solely on professional 3D printing services. The next step for Protocow is therefore to extend the service to home 3D printer owners.

3D printer owners can now set their prices, adding an additional percentage to cover labour, depreciation and profit. Their website visitors can get a real time quote for their 3D print file (STL) and purchase the print.

Protocow charges 10% commission on the free tier, 3.50% for the basic plan (€50 / month) and 2.50% for those who subscribe to the Enterprise plan (€150/month).

Suppose you just bought a new 3D printer, is this a good option to earn your investment back?

Posted in 3D Printing Services


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Bryan wrote at 3/4/2014 4:32:03 PM:

jd90: I'm a pretty active printer on makexyz, and while I have lost a few customers to my prices, I set them realistically. The end result is people who take my time and work seriously and engage me as a professional instead of "some dude with a 3d printer".

Shapeways employee wrote at 3/4/2014 11:54:21 AM:

Did they sell this website/cart to shapeways prior ;)

jd90 wrote at 3/4/2014 6:02:55 AM:

The cost of the lowest tier is lower than makexyz. They charge customers an extra 15%. I don't think much profit to be made 3D printing at home. Right now, it seems the market expects dirt cheap 3D prints and suppliers seem to be willingly supplying them. I don't think those 3D printing from home are properly charging for their time & fuss, such that the value of their time setting up the machine & part finishing is less than minimum wage, to say nothing of cleaning up & restarting because of even an occasional build failure. Heck, I had one customer expect to pay $3/hr for stereolithography machine time, which assumes no human time in setup or part changeover. I guess some people are providing it, and those people are grossly undervaluing their efforts. I guess it's better than working fast food, but technical work should pay better than fast food.

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