There are a lot of 3D printing marketplaces, platforms and model repositories online. A lot. That’s great if you’re looking for a particular model to 3D print; it’s pretty likely that you’ll find what you’re looking for eventually. It can take a lot of time and effort, however, combing through all of those sites: MyMiniFactory, Thingiverse, Cults, the list goes on and on. I’ve always liked using yeggi to search multiple sites at the same time, but now a new site has come along that promises to be the biggest, most comprehensive 3D model repository yet.
IFind3D is a search engine launched today by 3D Ninja, the largest 3D printer reseller in the Netherlands. While 3D Ninja may be known now for their wide range of 3D printers, scanners, and materials, it’s IFind3D that will likely end up being their true claim to fame. Although the site is currently in beta, it already houses more than 740,000 3D printable models, and the collection will continue to grow.
“The consumer based 3D printing industry is growing rapidly, consumer based 3D printers are getting more affordable but there still is a downside,” Nikolai Leuveld, co-founder of 3D Ninja, told 3DPrint.com. “Finding nice and useful 3D printable designs stays a hurdle, there are just too many libraries out there and most of them hardly get used while they often have great designs on them. This was something we were hearing more and more often from our customers and we decided to act on this.”
A couple of quick searches showed me that the site does indeed have a broad range of 3D models. I repeated some searches I’ve done before, and each one brought up plenty of models I’d never seen, as well as ones that I had seen and a few that I’ve 3D printed. I also searched for some items I thought might be too obscure to be out there in 3D printable form, but it turns out that if you can imagine something, there’s probably a 3D model of it, and it’s likely on IFind3D. Also, now I need to 3D print this squid fork/chopstick hybrid.
Right now, about 70 percent of all 3D model libraries in the world are connected to the site, according to 3D Ninja, and they expect to have 90 percent of all online 3D printable designs available before the end of the year. It’s an impressive goal, but 3D Ninja has been using impressive algorithms, with almost 100 different variables incorporated through an AI program created using IBM’s Watson supercomputer.
“In the start we were building the search engine especially for our own customers but while the project was starting to take shape we realized that we should think bigger,” Leuveld told us. “It’s a worldwide problem and we had the means to expand, from that moment on we started to scale up with a worldwide launch in mind.
There were a lot of problems in the start, especially with infrastructure of the website. Handling these amounts of data demands not only extremely powerful servers but also smart data processing solutions. Building the infrastructure and the algorithms has taken most of the time but because we invested in this we are sure that www.ifind3d.com is set up for impressive scaling, we can easily process millions and millions of designs without slowing down a bit.”
The search engine is certainly fast, even in the beta phase, returning large numbers of results in seconds. I look forward to seeing it grow and expand. There are a lot of great 3D models out there for the taking (or buying), and while it’s impossible to ever see, much less 3D print, them all, IFind3D aims to help you see more of them than ever before.
Will you be using this search engine? Share your thoughts in the IFind3D forum at 3DPB.com.