As promised in their January announcement, MakerBot made good on their promise to open a digital store for 3D models.
The store complements their successful Thingiverse operation, which distributes free 3D models submitted by enthusiasts. The new digital store offers far fewer models, but includes a curated collection of reasonably complex, yet still 3D printable models offered for a small fee per download.
One example is the T-Rex skeleton, which contains some 79 separate pieces that apparently take over 24 hours to 3D print on a MakerBot. The models are delivered as X3G files, which are usable (mostly) only on MakerBot or compatible machines. This means you cannot purchase the T-Rex, for example, for printing on your Afinia or Cube 3D printer. It’s a closed system.
For MakerBot users, it’s probably a good thing: high-quality, curated models are available for printing at more-or-less reasonable prices. For users of other machines, it may mean a slightly diminished Thingiverse is the future.
If we were a 3D printer manufacturer, we’d be reviewing our content strategy about now.