Feb. 17, 2015 | By Simon

Although 3D model file sharing sites such as GrabCAD, Thingiverse, YouMagine and MyMiniFactory have done remarkably well considering that contributors make no money on their submissions, there still leaves a lot to be desired without resorting to services like Shapeways that require users to purchase the objects and have them be 3D printed by the service - oftentimes for hundreds of dollars and with no access to the original 3D file.  

While more advanced platforms like GrabCAD have “paid back” their contributors by providing a platform to show-off their skills to design and engineering job head-hunters, other platforms lack any way of formally reimbursing their content creators who spend hours - if not days and weeks - creating the content that fills the sites’ pages.

London-based startup 3DShare wants to change all that and has just launched a new 3D file sharing platform that enables content creators to charge a small amount of money ($.99) for users to be able to download their 3D printable files.  In essence, the platform helps fund the continuation of content creation by paying back the creators in a way that isn’t too detrimental to the end-user, similar to the pricing structure of $.99 apps within Apple’s App Store.

The company also want users to start seeing 3D printable files as objects similar to other physical media rather than simply ones and zeros:

“With music, film or computer games, the digital files is the content,” says 3DShare.  

“While a physical copy of the CD or blu-ray are physical objects, they are in all cases a container for the file. In the case of 3D printing however, the physical object is the file.”

Additionally, the service wants to open up their platform to be “anything goes” with 3D printing-related topics similar to the popular crowdsourced discussion board Reddit.  While they don’t support illegal activity or downloads, they want to create a fertile environment for letting content creators upload whatever they want without feeling like it will be taken down - something that has happened on other 3D file sharing sites.

“We can understand how restrictions in this emerging space are difficult to defend and control,” said 3DShare.   

“We feel there is a happy middle ground. Thingiverse states ‘no pornographic or sexually explicit designs’ as well as designs that are ‘otherwise objectionable’. Objectionable by whom exactly?”  

"We don't want to impose any limitations on people's imaginations. We want to engage in the same level of diverse discussions and creations that reddit has done," Mark Joseph, the founder of 3dsha.re, tells us. "If somebody is old enough to 3D print molten plastic using some pretty hardcore machinery, we're of the impression that they can find sites like 'dongiverse' or more extreme on the internet. This is why we have the 'Anything Goes' section. Obviously we're not condoning the sharing of anything illegal - we just want to build on a value based open model."

Regardless of the type of content that a content creator chooses to upload, the platform as a whole is a nice and welcome change in the ever-expanding landscape of 3D file hosting sites.  Although the company takes a 29-cent cut of every purchase in order to cover operational costs, the other 70-cents per download go directly into a content creator’s pocket.  When considering that some objects on Thingiverse have been downloaded over 14,000 times, it becomes clear that if somebody creates something that others want to 3D print, there is definitely room to make a small profit to be able to continue creating more content.

According to 3DShare, they hope that potential users will consider the following when thinking about how they are approaching their 3D file sharing platform business model:

- I’m happy paying 99c for an app – Paying $20 for something is going to make me think twice

- We make your designs available at 99c

- Like the App Store, 70c of each download goes direct to your pocket – 29c covers payment processing, site costs etc

- As the volume of 3d file printing explodes, the potential market for your designs explode

- Think about it – 10,000 downloads = $7000

- Now think about 100,000 downloads

It will be interesting to see how consumers use the new platform.  Granted, a lot of it will depend on the marketing dollars that are spent by 3DShare to get their name out there to as many eyeballs as possible in order for it to be beneficial for the content creators.  However if it does take off, it could spawn a new generation of small businesses similar to how the App Store helped spawn app design studios who have spent years creating $.99 apps and are continuing to make hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of dollars.




Posted in 3D Design


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jinx wrote at 3/3/2015 8:39:48 AM:

whats "stragest" , not a whole lot to say if you cant even spell your ads right.

avi reichental wrote at 2/21/2015 1:09:16 AM:

hmmm, is Sad Keanu actually for sale on the site, is that image use a violation of copyright?

jackhol wrote at 2/18/2015 5:31:24 PM:

hmmm. to fill their site it looks like they have a CC0 Bot "user" filling the site with models from different sites. i'm not quite sure how i feel about that. http://3dsha.re/product/the-elephant-in-the-room-by-liz-havlin/ http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:604392

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