Most source of 3D content for 3D printing simply sell you a 3D model, but that’s not 3DFilemarket’s strategy. They’re betting on print streaming.
The problem with conventional approaches is simply that when you purchase a .STL file of a 3D model, you then possess that file and can use it in any of several ways. You could:
- Print the model once, as perhaps you originally intended
- Print the model many times
- Modify the model
- Combine the model with other 3D model content
- Use images of the model for any purpose
- Transfer a copy of the model to someone else (who may not have purchased it)
- Sell copies of the model yourself!
As you can see, a professional 3D designer or artist who has painstakingly crafted an intricate design may be reluctant to participate in a 3D model repository if their work is subject to these effects.
Streaming is a technology that’s quite different. Instead of sending the .STL model to the purchaser, a stream of GCODE is transmitted directly to the purchaser’s 3D printer.
In other words, you’re buying a print operation for a specific 3D model, not buying a whole 3D model.
In this way the 3D content creator can be more assured their work will not be pirated away by others. We tested Authentise’s 3D print streaming service last year and found it quite effective, although, as we’ve explained, you do not get your hands on the 3D model. But you do get the print.
3DFilemarket is a growing repository of printable 3D content that operates in a manner similar to other repositories, with the exception of the addition of streaming. The site does provide actual .STL files for download as well. They recruit designers who wish to sell their creations, and attract buyers who want that content.
But according to Philip Cotton, founder of 3DFilemarket:
We decided to implement the technology this year after multiple requests from designers to protect their designs. We feel that this is the future of 3D printing, like where we stand with music streaming. Ten years ago we all downloaded MP3s, when today the majority of music is streamed through streaming services like Spotify. As 3D printing becomes more mainstream so will the printing of designs through streaming technology.
It seems that 3DFilemarket will gradually lean towards streaming solutions as new 3D content is incorporated into the site.
Is this strategy wise? We think it could be, although it is hard to say how the future will unfold. There are a great many 3D designers in the world that do not yet embrace 3D printing, and perhaps one of the reasons is that their works are not properly protected. This could change if more repositories begin to use streaming.
For now, though, we recommend designers check out 3DFilemarket for placing their printable 3D content.