Attempts a Familiar Business Model

By on May 17th, 2015 in Corporate, printer, Service

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3D print streaming site is developing a new 3D printer that has a very familiar business model., if you’re not familiar with them, is a 3D model repository streaming site. What that means is that unlike a typical repository where you select, customize and download a STL file for 3D printing, you instead receive a stream of GCODE directly to your 3D printer. You never see the 3D model itself, as their service controls your 3D printer during the print. This permits to protect artists’ intellectual property because no one gets their hands on the STL file. It also changes the pricing from “per model” to “per print”. Currently the New York-based company offers more than 200 unique 3D models in this way.

While that is an interesting business model, it’s not unique in the industry. But what is unique is the 3D printer they’re working on for release later this summer. 

The prototype of this printer, shown above, is mostly a typical PLA 3D printer with standard physical characteristics and WiFi networking, and is said to be priced in the USD$1,000 range. One interesting feature is an ability to order a custom shape for the cover when you order one: the strangely shaped cover above can be whatever you like it to be. 

But the most interesting feature of this printer is that it prints models from the 3D model service, where, as above, you select and pay per print. In fact, you can only control this printer from their custom app.

Where have we seen this business model before? Photocopiers! Most photocopiers are metered, so that the vendor can charge “per print”. Just like the 3D printer. 

Will this business model succeed? It seems quite different from standard 3D printing approaches, but on the other hand, the photocopier model has worked well for decades. 

Once again we have a new venture testing new ways to make money using 3D printing. Some will succeed, and some will not. 


By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!