I remember when the the first iPhone came out, and suddenly there were thousands of different applications that one could purchase and download for their smartphones. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked the idea of paying for apps on my phone, but within a week’s time I had already purchased $50 worth of apps, all of which I ended up using quite often. Today, I couldn’t live without my Apple App Store, as I check it daily for new applications and games that might pique my interest.
When it comes to 3D printing, we are really lucky to have repositories such as Thingiverse, YouMagine, and MyMiniFactory, which allow us to upload and download different 3D printable files free of charge. While this is really awesome for the open source community and those looking for new objects to print each day, at some point in time, there has to emerge a way to profit off of one’s time when designing a 3D printable object.
Designers literally spend days, weeks, and even months creating objects that can easily be 3D printed. Why shouldn’t these designers be paid for their time and work? There are websites on the internet that allow for the sale of 3D printable files, but nothing has really caught on all that much quite yet. This is where a new website, called 3dsha.re, hopes to make a difference.
Today, London-based 3DShare launches their ‘Appstore for 3D files’, taking the idea of the various smartphone app stores currently available and modifying this business model to work with 3D printable files. Mark Joseph, the founder of 3dsha.re, tells us that the company is also taking a “reddit-like” approach to their store.
“We don’t want to impose any limitations on people’s imaginations,” Joseph tells 3DPrint.com. “We want to engage in the same level of diverse discussions and creations that reddit has done. 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.”
Personally I’m excited to see what come about with this, as I know for a fact that there are those designers out there who are a bit afraid about designing certain products due to political-correctness, censorship, etc.
As for the 3DShare Appstore, the way it works is very simple. 3D printable files are sold for 99 cents. Of this amount, 70 cents goes directly to the designer of the object, and 29 cents goes to cover payment processing, site costs, etc.
“As the volume of 3d file printing explodes, the potential market for your designs explode,” explained Joseph. “Think about it – 10,000 downloads = $7000. The main thing we are trying to achieve here is a sense of value. We feel that we need to put money in the hands of designers so they can spend more time improving their work.”
Money certainly is a great motivator, as it’s what all of the world economies run on. The idea that designers can get paid for their creations, albeit less than one dollar per download, means there is more motivation on their part to spend their precious time in making these designs the best they possibly can. At the same time, designers are also able to upload their designs and allow others to download them for free if they wish.
Joseph and team are currently looking for investors as well as to form partnerships with well known designers. They have already had talks with 3D Hubs and i.materialise, and plan to be in contact with more designers in the near future.
“We’re currently bootstrapped and are looking for investment,” Joseph tells us. “We’re also talking to several of the 3D printer builders about the options to join the effort and have a stake in order to drive the vision from both the designers and the machine creators point of view, a view that is often not considered at the moment.”
The first 1000 signups will receive a $5.00 credit toward the store, allowing them to purchase five different files. With many top designers already on board, 3DShare is set to start off with a bang. What do you think about 3DShare? Will you consider using their platform to both sell your designs and purchase 3D printable objects from other designers? Discuss in the 3DShare forum thread on 3DPB.com.