Today I am testing a new 3D model search service, 3Dfind.it.
The service is listed as being in beta, and that sounds about right, as we encountered several issues while testing the service. However, it does seem quite promising if they can implement a few tweaks.
3Dfind.it is what is called a “meta search”, as it simply points to other repositories of 3D models. They say you can “Search 805 3D CAD & BIM Catalogs”, and we don’t doubt that.
The interesting part is that you can search by means other than text. Virtually all 3D meta search services rely on keyboard input from the user to obtain a search phrase. These phrases are then compared to their meta-repository to see if there is a match in the name, description or tags of any 3D model.
But that kind of search usually fails miserably, as the words and terms you’re thinking of are not the same as the original model poster. It makes searching incredibly challenging.
Enter 3Dfind.it, which has alternate means of searching, in addition to the normal text search.
They include a means of drawing an object in 2D, and then searching on it. Here we’ve drawn a strange shape to see what we find:
And this is what 3Dfind.it found:
That’s not exactly what we were looking for, but if you examine the found objects, they seem to have something slightly close to my shape somehow in their structure.
3Dfind.it also allows you to upload a 3D model, and then they can search for similarly shaped objects. Let’s try a simple spiral vase, one of the most popular shape types found in printable 3D model repositories:
This is what 3Dfind.it found for me:
No vase. Are there any vases in their repository? We tried searching for “vase” in text:
Nope, that explains why there were no matches.
If you drill into one of the found listings, there are various sorts of information displayed, including 3D views and even a 2D schematic view if you like. Some models have dimensional views, too.
What seemed to be missing was a way to find the original 3D model. On this example, it seems that this couch model was sourced from “www.lammhults.se”, but there is no link that I can find to go to that site to learn more. I simply cut and pasted the URL name and found the original site, and after some navigation, finally found the product in question.
When I first went to 3Dfind.it, I was hoping for a new meta-model search service for printable 3D models, but that does not seem to be the case. They do not seem to filter printable vs. non printable, and there is no obvious way to obtain the 3D models found.
I am still quite interested in the alternative search methods, and hope they are eventually used to help 3D printer operators locate printable content for their equipment.
MakerOS has a brilliant hidden feature in their online service: a sophisticated 3D print pricing calculator that allows operators to determine exactly how to price prints.