Just as 3D printer manufacturer Solidoodle announces that they are closing shop another promising 3D printing company has made the decision to cease operations. Downloadable 3D model marketplace Pinshape announced on their website today that they would be shutting down the platform effective March 31, 2016. The announcement came as a shock to a lot of users who had come to appreciate the service and helped build the community over the last two years. Beyond that, the loss of Pinshape is a loss for the 3D printing industry as a whole, as it is one less option for 3D designers to showcase their work, and for users to find unique and interesting 3D printable content.
According to their farewell message, Pinshape had grown to a community of active users more than 75,000 strong, who downloaded more than 1,500 3D models a day in countries all over the world. Those are not bad numbers at all, especially in a pretty crowded industry. Pinshape had managed to set themselves apart with a slick and easy-to-use interface, strong community tools and a growing group of talented featured designers. Unfortunately, distributing 3D content is a tough business to be in and it isn’t always easy to monetize, as the Pinshape team wrote in their goodbye:
“The value of a 3DP marketplace is obvious in the long term, but for many, the path to monetization isn’t so clear. Part of our challenge was demonstrating a financial path forward. Today, 99.5% of our transactions are free. Given the size of the market, in January 2015, we choose to focus on free, and build the largest community possible to validate our platform and provide confidence we could continue expanding as the consumer segment picked up. Unfortunately, the opposite happened, and the market slowed considerably with signs of weakness.”
The company also cited the recent downturn in consumer and inventor confidence in desktop 3D printing companies as another reason for their inability to keep the company afloat. It remains to be seen exactly how the 3D printing industry will change given the recent shift of focus from small, desktop users to industrial applications, but I fear this may be the first of many small startups who find themselves unable to make a go of it. At the very least 2016 is shaping up to be a tough year for businesses dependent on the desktop market who are unable to find a way to pivot into less unstable areas of the market.
“In terms of our product – the platform, we’ve had nothing short of success. Together, we’ve built one of the most active and trusted marketplaces online. One thing I can tell you without hesitation is that our team worked incredibly hard for you every single day. We have an amazing team who worked for startup wages to be a part of this journey, and we’re super proud of what we’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time,” Pinshape noted.
It seems that Pinshape did try to find themselves a new home or a new buyer interested in the platform but were unable to do so. They also attempted to find new investment capital to keep the site up and running but were also unable to make that happen. While the team has not completely given up on the possibility of finding a new way to keep the marketplace alive, they won’t be able to keep Pinshape up and running while they do so. So sadly, as of March 31st the website will be will no longer be accessible to either users or designers.
What that means for any designers who had their work hosted on the platform is that they’ll have two days to wrap up any loose ends, find other ways to connect with Pinshape users that they may have dealings with and backup any files that they have uploaded. Sadly, all of the 3D content that has been uploaded to the site in the last two years will be deleted when the site is closed for good. Pinshape has said that they will be meeting all of their outstanding financial responsibilities and paying out what is owed to their designers, so it is a good idea to verify that any payment information that is on-file with Pinshape is correct to prevent any delays in payment.
I’ve used Pinshape quite a bit when sourcing 3D printable models for my weekly Ten 3D Printable Things columns, so I’m pretty sad to be losing a source of original content. Good luck to the entire Pinshape team, thanks for the service for two years and good luck in your future endeavors. You can read the Pinshape team’s entire farewell message here. Were you surprised to hear about this? Discuss in the Pinshape 3D Model Marketplace forum over at 3DPB.com.