We found a terrific meta-site for sourcing publicly available 3D models: Yobi3D.
This service overcomes the search problem you’ll find with most of the very numerous 3D model repositories. While sites like Thingiverse have a very great deal of 3D models, it can be hard to find things. If you don’t find your item there, you then have to search multiple other repositories, and this takes much time.
Yobi3D makes this much easier by providing a search layer over many other 3D repositories: just search Yobi3D and you’re effectively searching all of the other repositories.
Ok, you might say this has been done before, and it has. Yeggi provides a similar service for searching 3D model repositories, but we found Yobi3D to do so in several different ways that makes your experience not only more functional but fun, too.
What does Yobi3D do differently? Let’s make a list:
Search is by keyword, but the display is uncluttered and endless (you can keep scrolling indefinitely). Detail information appears only when you hover over an option.
They provide a very easy way to filter 3D models, as you can see here. Note the “Printability” rating, easy, medium or hard.
All items are shown in fully browsable 3D views once selected. Here you can see a lamp design, but using your mouse you can twirl it around, zoom in or pan to examine ALL details of the model.
A mesh view shows the true complexity of the 3D model. You can control the lighting of the 3D model, too.
One interesting feature was a way to view the model in 3D. The system shows two views, left and right, that are from slightly different angles. The problem we had is how to view these in 3D, as they are not the standard red-green 3D glasses display. We suspect you have to somehow isolate your eyes to each of the sides using some apparatus. We could not find instructions for how to do this, but when we figure it out, it will be terrific. Please let us know if you can view in 3D!
Clicking “download” on a model takes you to the original source site, where you’ll perform whatever is required to facilitate the download, such as login or purchase, in some cases.
How do they make money? We’re not entirely sure, but we observed some adverts appearing in some of the search cells from time to time. It’s a small price to pay for such a useful search service.
[UPDATE: Yobi3D contacted us and explained the following:]
Hi, thanks for the great article. The left-right view is designed to be used in a VR display. You can use a mobile phone to load the 3D model and switch to the VR mode. Then use a Google Cardboard type of device to see it in 3D. It’s very cool!