Last fall I wrote a series of stories on an interesting 3D printing startup, MakePrintable. What’s happened since then?
MakePrintable is a cloud-based service that offers the ability to quickly repair stubborn STL files that might be non-printable. This is a consequence of the lousy protocol definition of STL file format, which actually permits the creation of un-printable 3D models. I presume that’s where the name of this startup comes from: MakePrintable.
Months ago they perfected the repair and 3D model optimization capabilities, and that might have been the end of the journey. But apparently not; MakePrintable has been quite busy over the past few months developing additional features to their product.
Like any cloud-based service, the key to success is to create a sticky ecosystem that attracts and keeps clients. MakePrintable is doing so by implementing a series of interesting integrations with partner companies.
The most recent integration involves hooking into 3D Hubs to enable instant deployment of a repaired / uploaded STL file to that service’s massive network of community 3D printers.
Previously, they announced a deal with Thingiverse to include MakePrintable appear within that repository’s Tools and Utilities. This is quite important as there is no automated quality control for 3D models uploaded to Thingiverse: MakePrintable can simply fix them in many cases.
Before that, they announced an integration with Sketchup, the popular 3D modeling software tool. This again is important, as the default manner of using SketchUp can easily result in unprintable 3D models. MakePrintable to the rescue again!
I believe this is an excellent strategy that could be quite helpful to the 3D printing community: shoring up the weak spots where 3D printing runs into bumps due to one circumstance or another.
It’s also good for MakePrintable as each integration grows their ecosystem. For their partners, it’s the same thing. Thingiverse will surely benefit from having an automated repair tool embedded in their service.
If you haven’t tried MakePrintable, you might want to check it out.