A couple months ago, we were so impressed by a 3D printed self-watering planter that we thought we would share it with our readers. While talking with the planter’s designers, they piqued our interest by letting us in on their plans to open a company that would offer a range of products for 3D printing. Now, the Chicago-based designers have made good on their word and officially launched Parallel Goods into reality.

IMG_8697_grandeThe self-watering planter is available for free download through Thingiverse, and in fact has seen over 6,000 downloads since it has been released. Some might wonder why they should even bother buying files when sites like Thingiverse offer so many, such as the self-watering planter by Parallel Goods, for free. The relationship between freely available and purchase-required products is one that existed for ages. It is especially interesting these days when so much is available for free because it can be shared digitally. Leaving aside the fact that digital actually is almost never actually free because of the cost of the equipment required to support it – you have to have access to a computer, for example – sites like Thingiverse and others don’t seem to have removed the possibilities for people to sell, in fact they may actually support it.

IMG_8711_grandeNot only can sites that offer free downloads act as an inexpensive promotional tool for a company’s other products, available at a cost, the fact that these sites are free, and freely open, can make it difficult to wade through in the search of something perfect. What isn’t purchased with money is often bought with time and in many cases, consumers would rather spend some quantity of money to not have to spend hours of their time. There’s a tipping point between the two, clearly, but one that many people have found to be a reasonable balance. After all, there are a number of absolute gems on Thingiverse…but there are also some pretty serious stinkers.

Parallel Goods promises to deliver high-quality, beautifully designed objects without all the search. What you pay for when you download a file for printing is not the bits or bytes or anything of that nature. Instead, what is for sale is design.

In an interview with 3DPrint.com, co-founder Joe Carpita explained how this free/not-free market led to the creation of Parallel Goods:

IMG_8729_grande“After spending time on the different free repositories, I realized that although there was as lot for free, there wasn’t a lot of really beautiful and useful stuff. And, sometimes when I did find something I wanted to print, there weren’t a lot of instructions supporting the best way to print the object, or how to assemble it. Being a designer myself, I said ‘hey, someone really ought to make really beautiful and useful products, but ones that don’t need high end or expensive printers to print…stuff that can print on anybody’s printer.'”

Working together with Craig Stover, they created a line of designs that are not only beautiful and useful but specifically set up to be printed on even the most basic 3D printer. In addition, they carefully craft instructions that clearly communicate the process of assembly and even provide links to specific pieces of additional hardware where necessary. The hope was to help people become accustomed to using the technology and to provide customers with vetted projects.IMG_8731_grande

“The vision of Parallel Goods is to make good design accessible by embracing new technology. In the same way that IKEA used flat-packed, customer assembled furniture coupled with beautiful design to disrupt the market and put good design in everyone’s homes; we’d like to do the same thing but with designs for 3D printers.”

The first pieces available through Parallel Goods are designed to help you organize your desk and working space…the perfect way to clear the path to more 3D print projects.

Let us know if you’ve printed any of these products out.  Discuss in the Parallel Goods forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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