More Printable Model Databases Launch
After the launch of 3DLT last week, two more sites selling 3D models have launched. Forme It offers printable high-resolution models, and 3d Burrito offers an assortment of models. Since the overhead of selling digital items is extremely low, we can expect to see many more of these 3d model sites over time. Here’s a quick rundown about the two new sites, and the future of model sites as we see it.
Forme It consists primarily of many models of objects that have been scanned with a 3d scanner. The scans have been cleaned up to give high quality 3d models. Not all models are printable, some are just raw meshes targeted at 3d creators instead of beginners to 3d printing just looking for models to run through their printers. The Forme It database of skulls, bones, and crystals could provide valuable reference objects for 3d artists.
3D Burrito is a grab bag of models. A few notable sellers from Shapeways have contributed their models to the site. Wombat’s thorn dice and and the ModiBot action figures are well known examples. 3D Burrito also includes some $0 items from Thingiverse. Unless uploaded by the original creator, these $0 3d models retain their original licensing, and in most cases cannot legally be used for commercial purposes.
This raises an interesting point about files listed without a license on all model sites. Could you buy a copy of ModiBot or some other model and start your own competitor? Sell the same item on Shapeways or a different model site for a smaller margin? Because of the lack of license behind these files, it appears so.
The Future of 3d Model Stores
Just as there are now hundreds of different places to buy mp3s or ebooks, there will be an explosion of 3d model sites. With the low overhead costs of a web server and payment processing fees, it costs almost nothing to open a 3d model business. In the end, we will likely see a consolidation into just a few major sites. The defining characteristics of the sites will be similar to those of amazon or itunes. The sites that succeed will be the ones that are easy to use for both seller and buyer, and sites that are integrated well with the tools.
Our current guess who will end up as the biggest player in the 3d model marketplace? No one. No site as it currently exists has the simple interface, low fee structure, or depth of models needed to capture the market. Turbosquid has the highest quality 3d models, but has poor explanation of fees and filtering to show only printable items is difficult. Shapeways has the best seller interface, but is focused on production of actual objects instead of the 3d models, and does not allow users to sell 3d models. Thingiverse has a huge breadth of users, but quality is low, and with no way to charge for models, there is no financial incentive for top artists to contribute their models.
Although consolidation largely hasn’t happened yet, it doesn’t mean 3d model sites are not worth trying out. If you produce 3d content, for best results, list the items on multiple services. For consumers with 3d printers, browse through until you find the perfect model you must try to 3d print. In the meantime, with changes happening all the time, we’ll try to keep our information up to date about where to find 3d models to print.