MakerBot’s in-house 3D model repository made history this week by achieving what no other 3D printable model site has done: one million models!
They report that over one million uploads have occurred since the site opened in 2008, with over 200 million downloads. Those are very large numbers, indeed.
Thingiverse began as an offshoot of MakerBot’s initial foray into the world of personal 3D printing, when their first 3D printer, the CupCake, was introduced. The founders realized that a printer is nothing without content, and to encourage success of the printer, it was thought a place to share appropriate 3D content was required.
Thingiverse was the first of many repositories dedicated to printable 3D models; while there were several repos providing 3D content in existence before Thingiverse, none specialized in printable models. Thingiverse solved that and paved the way for the now-multiple 3D printable model repositories on the Internet.
Thingiverse’s other purpose was simply to provide a means for makers to share content freely, which was quite in line with MakerBot’s open source philosophy of the time. While MakerBot itself may have drifted away from that open source world, Thingiverse has not and remains an open platform for makers.
If there was one complaint we could level against Thingiverse, it is a side effect of that very openness: there are so many 3D models, many with poor descriptions, that it can be challenging to find something specific. In fact, some 3D models are not even printable. But if a printable 3D model exists, it’s likely to be somewhere on Thingiverse.
And that’s a problem for virtually all other printable 3D model repositories: how do you compete with a company that offers over one million 3D models? Especially when they’re all available for free!