There's another option for makers to keep their fabbers running: What Can I Make For You? is a web service that links consumers to makers. The service solicits requests for, well, anything, from consumers. The service attempts to match the request against someone from their pool of makers.
This small five person San Francisco-based operation clearly focuses on items made with conventional techniques, so it's possible that 3D Printing makers might be a relatively unique offering within their pool. From the site:
Attention All Amazing Makers: Do you want to be included in our network of custom makers we use to create all the unique product requests we get?
To become a member, you must apply. We suspect the operators of WCIMFY try to maintain a list of quality makers within each making category from which they make selections to match up with clients.
The details on their site are a little thin, so we spoke to VP of Marketing Anthony who answered our questions.
Fabbaloo: How long has the service been operating? How many makers/clients served, etc?WhatCanIMakeForYou: We have been in operating our site for a little over two months with great response from both consumers and makers worldwide. We are currently receiving roughly 100 requests per week by consumers looking for custom made products. Our database of makers that we use to fulfill these requests is also growing every day. We had a large rush of roughly one hundred makers at launch and are now adding roughly 80 makers a week. Our makers are everyone including artists, woodsman, tailors, web designers, etc.
FB: How do the finances work? What do clients pay? How much does a maker receive?WCIMFY: When a request comes in to our site, we offer it to multiple makers. After seeing the availability and price quotes from the multiple makers we choose a maker who can 1) provide the best product, 2) delivery in a timely manner, and 3) offer it at the lowest price. That is the maker who "wins" the project. Upon completion and delivery of the product our website pays the maker the quote price. The consumer who requested the product pays the website the price quote along with a % fee for our services.
FB: What kind of items are requested? Would 3D Printer operators fit into your service?WCIMFY: You name it, we have seen it. We get a wide array of types of projects. We get standard requests for furniture and apparel, but we also get requests for custom keyboards, statues, toys, etc. I definitely do see 3D printers providing value to consumers we get. With a feature from your blog and the inclusion of 3D Printer operators in our database, I do anticipate consumers using our site for their 3d printing needs.
We really like the incredibly simple approach, just like Google: it's a box and you just type in what you want.
Bottom line: This seems to be another stop for makers looking for clients, along with 100KGarages, Ponoko and other distributed manufacturing initiatives. We recommend you give them a try, and let us know how it goes.