In a surprise announcement just moments ago, 3D model sharing site announced they’re shutting down operations.
Pinshape started up in 2012 with the promise of providing an easy-to-use site for sharing 3D models suitable for printing. It used an approach used by other such sites: provide a means for consumers to buy 3D prints and models while simultaneously providing a means for designers to market their works to a wider audience.
The problem with this type of business is that it’s a kind of chicken and egg game. In order to attract designers, you must have a big audience. To attract a big audience, you must have a large number of 3D models from many designers. It’s always a tough struggle.
And this challenge was made even more difficult with increasing amounts of competition. I can’t tell you how many similar sharing sites have emerged since 2012, but many of them have silently faded away, suffering from similar issues.
One key competitor is in fact free 3D models. With sites such as Thingiverse offering over a million 3D models at no charge. For people looking for casual 3D prints, there is no better deal than something for free. In many ways, free 3D models have dealt a severe blow to pay-for model sites, sometimes fatal, as seems to be the case with Pinshape.
From their notice:
Sadly, today we are announcing the termination of Pinshape’s service effective March 31, 2016.
Together, we’ve built an incredible community of passionate makers and designers. Unfortunately, we couldn’t build a sustainable business to continue operations. Please read our blog post for more information.
We’ll be taking steps to wrap things up in the next few days, and the website will no longer be accessible as of March 31st. We will be paying out all amounts owing to designers. Please ensure your paypal information is correct. Additionally, please backup any files you own as they will be removed when the site is closed.
From our entire team, thank you for being a part of Pinshape and for all your support. We wish you all the very best.
Yes, this is a dark spot on the road to 3D printing, but it also demonstrates the contraction of the consumer segment’s interest in 3D printing. To many in the public who actually tried using 3D printing found it to be difficult, expensive and frustrating, even with the efforts of sites like Pinshape who attempted to overcome the “what do I print?” problem.
While I’m disappointed Pinshape could not survive, it is not the end of the world for those seeking 3D models. There are plenty of other places one can find excellent models at various prices - or even for free.
And that’s the problem.