Thingiverse’s new Groups feature could vastly simplify use of the leading printable 3D model repository.
Thingiverse could be classified as the leading printable 3D model repository simply because of its size. Today, with apparently more than 500,000 3D models, it’s truly massive. It got there by two key factors: Thingiverse was one of the very first repositories for printable 3D models and secondly their policy of “free” and “open to everyone” encouraged rapid growth.
That growth came with a big issue, though: the ability to find models became gradually more difficult. Some would say the “signal to noise” ratio of usable to unusable models was poor, making it tricky to find the good models among the not-so-good.
Thingiverse’s methods of searching for models was limited to tags, keywords, time (as in “recent” models) and a bit of luck. However, the new Groups feature should make things much easier.
The idea is that anyone can set up a “Group” that’s focused on a specific topic or interest. This should capitalize on the notion that makers tend to have persistent interests. Thus, a maker need only visit the particular groups to find things of interest. Model railway enthusiasts, for example, could concentrate their designs in one place. The flood of other things would, by implication, not encumber their use of Thingiverse.
The concept of groups also could unleash a lot more creativity among participating designers, as the concentration of designs could encourage sharing, mixups and serendipitous discoveries.
Our inspection of newly created groups shows quite a few groups, but most have few members at this point. This is expected when such a facility is launched; there’s a shotgun spray of new group ideas followed by growing survivors that take off.
It’s a great idea by MakerBot to supercharge the already hot environment at Thingiverse.