While Thingiverse has been a wonderful source for 3D models for the initial wave of 3D printing, it’s not exactly consumer-friendly. It has a large number of models (over 218,000, according to a recent statement by MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis), which is good and bad. It’s good because the model you want is somewhere in Thingiverse. It’s bad because the number of models makes it difficult to search.
Once you find a model it is uncertain whether it will successfully print. Model geometries are sometimes just pathological.
To solve this MakerBot has launched a digital store catering to those who don’t want to spend time searching for the perfect model. Just select a model from the relatively large collection of custom made 3D models in MakerBot’s new Digital Store and you’ll be able to print them immediately without issue, as they’ve been specifically designed for easy 3D printing.
MakerBot has hired a special in-house team to create these models, which do not require supports to print, nor any glue to hold multi-part models together: all multi-part models are snap-fits.
At launch some six “collections” of objects are offered for paid download, with prices ranging from USD$0.99 to USD$2.99, depending on the object. You can also purchase an entire set. The sets available today include:
- Around Town: a collection of quirky figurines in various roles (see red dude above).
- Chunky Trucks: mini-construction equipment and personnel, superb for a child’s sandbox
- Cosmic Cadets: Rocket parts that can be assembled into larger units
- Dragons of Glastonbury: Knights, Wizards, Damsels, Castles and of course, Dragons
- Famous Flyers: Notable aircraft from history, ranging from a Montgolfier-like balloon to an F-117 stealth fighter
- PetPals: Strange pet-like creatures and their habitats
We think this is a great idea; the last thing MakerBot (or any in the 3D printing community) needs is someone to purchase a 3D printer and be disappointed that they can’t successfully print things due to poor 3D models. Now that's far less likely to happen.