A tipster pointed us at a brand new service that can quickly search Thingiverse.
Thingiverse was the first online repository dedicated to 3D printable items, founded over a decade ago by MakerBot. At the time that company catered to hobbyists and it was thought that a source for printable items would help their 3D printer product succeed.
They were correct.
Thingiverse succeeded in that it attracted — and still attracts — the majority of publicly posted printable 3D models. Today the site boasts almost 4.6M items.
With that many 3D models available, it’s critical to be able to find what you want, and this is normally done through the Thingiverse search function. Sometimes it’s a fruitless effort. For example, a search for “vase” yields thousands of possible results. It’s key to be able to filter results to find the item. Sometimes this is impossible due to the number of items and you must resort to tedious scrolling through pages of models to visually identify the target model.
But sometimes you can’t even do that. MakerBot has occasionally had troubles with Thingiverse, likely due to its size and popularity. It’s not uncommon to find their search function not working, as I did today when researching this story:
The inconsistent availability of Thingiverse, combined with its desirable content, has frustrated some users. One of them seems to have created an alternative search site for the repository, called “Search Thingiverse”.
I gave this site a try, and it seems to work reasonably well. Apparently it is not affected by Thingiverse outages, so perhaps they have searched previously and have their own index, independent of Thingiverse itself?
The top of the Search Thingiverse page notes that it is “Financially supported by BuildBee.com”. BuildBee is an app to enable 3D printing from the cloud.
Search Thingiverse is about as bare-bones as you can get. As seen at top, you get a title, search box and results. That’s about it.
Clicking on an entry pulls up a pop up containing the model’s main image, the description, direct link to the Thingiverse page, and, if available, a download ZIP link. It’s a very clean, simple interface that works.
In addition to Thingiverse results, the search may also turn up designs from another popular 3D design repository, Cults 3D.
There’s no options for filtering, such as by category or by date, as you just get a search dump of whatever matches the keywords.
That said, it’s possible to make somewhat complex searches. I tried “clamp + corner” and received results with all types of corner clamps. It also seems possible to do negative searches, like “clamp + corner -vice”, although I can’t scroll through all the countless results to verify this by hand.
It seems also possible to search for the author of the models, as I tried this and indeed obtained a list of models by that author. Unfortunately there are no tips to help the user figure out obscure searches like this, but they seem to be possible.
Could you use this as an alternative search for Thingiverse? I think you could, especially when official Thingiverse search is down. However, you’re still going to run into the “42,000 vase problem.”