Earlier in the week the online 3D printing community got some bad news in the form of 3D model marketplace PInshape announcing that they would be shutting down operations at the end of March. Pinshape had been one of the better alternative marketplaces to the big two, Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory, and had a growing and stable community of designers. While designers regularly multi-share models and upload them to more than one marketplace, Pinshape had a growing collection of designers who were exclusively using their service. So when news broke that they would be shutting down, there were plenty of people who were upset and sad at the impending loss of a quality content distribution platform.
The actual reason for the closure is probably quite complex, but the official company line was that with the recent constriction of the desktop 3D printer market and the uncertainty of the market they could no longer keep the doors open. There is no question that it is hard to monetize a product that other companies give away for free, and clearly Pinshape was feeling this pinch. In their farewell letter they mentioned that 99.5% of their transactions are free ones, and while that is good for consumers it isn’t so good for the company that hosts the content, or those that create it.
But late last night Pinshape sent out an email announcing that they have had a last minute reprieve from the chopping block. It seems that the outpouring of support from the 3D printing community has given them some new options that will allow them to keep the site running, and the growing community of designers will be able to keep their models online. While there were no specific details given, and no timeframe put in place, for now Pinshape is still open for business. Here is their update in its entirety:
We’ve had an overwhelming amount of interest and support from the 3DP community and we’re hopeful that we’ve found a company that shares our vision of Pinshape to take over. As a result, there will be no interruption in service! Yay!
Thanks to everyone for your outpouring of support the last few days. There have been so many kind words!
We look forward to keeping you updated with a more formal announcement in the days to come!
This is unquestionably good news; the more diverse options 3D creators have for distributing their product is always a good thing, and is often the only thing that keeps 3D model marketplaces from imposing draconian content restrictions. Additionally, I actually rather liked Pinshape and their UI, which I found more intuitive and readable than most. Unfortunately it isn’t clear how long they will be able to keep running. Their message mentions that they are only “hopeful” that they have found someone to keep the place running, meaning no deals have been made. And sadly, the flaws in the business model of 3D model marketplaces themselves didn’t go away.
Still, the details that were given have been pretty thin, so we don’t know what kind of deal they might be hammering out, and it could include alternate forms of revenue generation. Or perhaps the deal is with a partner that will see the platform the way that MakerBot sees Thingiverse or iMakr sees MyMiniFactory. I’m sure more details will emerge in the coming days and weeks, so for now I’m just glad that the industry lost one less company today. What do you think of this latest development? Discuss in the Pinshape Still in Business forum over at 3DPB.com.