eBay, known for its auction and sales system, stepped deeply into 3D printing by launching a 3D print iOS app. The app (and service) isn’t revolutionary as it is similar to services launched by many 3D print companies, which provide a means to customize and print an object.
eBay Exact permits users to browse various categories of objects, such as phone cases, jewelry and more to select an object they’d like to make. Minor customization capability is provided, as you can see in this shot of a jewelry selection (click for larger view).
The customization process has been proven successful by others before, most notably 3D Systems, whose Cubify “apps” are now quite numerous. People tend to buy customized 3D prints over “static” 3D prints because they have a sense that they’ve somehow helped “make” the item. And they indeed have, through their selections.
eBay Exact partners with three well-known 3D print firms, including HotPop Factory, Sculpteo and MakerBot. This is where it gets a little strange. Sculpteo is a well-established 3D print service that uses similar customization apps and can definitely produce 3D prints. Hot Pop Factory’s jewelry designs seem to be offered in eBay Exact. Meanwhile, what is MakerBot providing to eBay Exact? They do not, as far as we know, have a 3D print service. But they do operate Thingiverse, which includes a number of customizable objects that likely form the basis of the relationship.
Why is eBay entering the 3D printing market? We suspect they see vastly increased interest in this industry – and thus see an opportunity to push more cash through PayPal, their payment service.
Note: As of this writing, the eBay Exact app seems to be offered only in the US app store.