Pondering Highly Detailed 3D Models

Today's personal 3D printers can produce many types of objects, but the fine details are often obscured due to resolution limitations on the printers. A typical home 3D printer today slices models into 0.2-0.5 mm layers, meaning you'll not only see layering, but also not see any fine details. Eventually we'll see the capabilities of personal 3D printers rise to enable fine detail printing. 
 
But then the question is, where do you get highly detailed 3D models? 
 
Many of the 3D printing-focused online repositories have relatively low-detail models. We scoured the internets and found Gandoza, a typical 3D model repository. It's typical because it does not focus on home 3D printer operators. They instead focus on "advertising agencies, architects and developers, as well as film, television, entertainment and gaming companies." 
 
Their models are indeed highly detailed and even include color, but there are two killer issues that home users will encounter: 
 
  • The models are not usually 3D printable; they are built for viewing, not 3D printing. The models may not be "water tight" solid objects and could require additional processing to prepare them for 3D printing. 
  • The model pricing can be high. For example, we found a Burj Khalifa Dubai Tower model priced at USD$95, or a NASA Launch Complex for USD$990. Generic objects are priced lower, but still much more expensive than Thingiverse
 
At some point services such as Gandoza will notice the growing personal 3D printer market and make some adjustments. Or at least we hope.