MyMiniFactory announced a very interesting partnership.
They’ve signed a deal with US-based Turner networks to enable the publishing of 3D models for certain characters from Turner’s Cartoon Network.
I think this is a notable arrangement because there have not been many of this type done previously. The only two I know of were 3D Systems’ aborted content licensing program they launched in early 2014 where they were able to 3D print (as a service) several characters from popular TV shows. This evaporated when the company abruptly abandoned their consumer 3D print strategy a few years ago.
The other venture in this regard was (is?) Source3, who developed a kind of clearing-house service for property owners to license their materials for use by 3D printing services. I am not sure how successful they were, but last year they were acquired by Facebook and we haven’t heard much from them since.
There is a reason for the rarity of these deals: piracy. The problem with the current state of affairs in 3D printing is the lack of an established capability for protecting the designs.
Typically 3D models are transferred in the form of STL files (or similar) that offer no protection. These files, if intercepted, provide the interceptor with literally the intellectual property, as the 3D model is what is used to produce the product. Of course, it’s not the original 3D CAD model source, but the shape is more than enough to cause problems for the character owner.
MyMiniFactory is a long time provider of free 3D models to the public via their now-very extensive repository. They cater specifically to the 3D print community, as each and every 3D model they publish has literally been test printed to ensure it actually can print. This distinguishes them from the competition, which typically loads 3D models online without regard to their practical printability.
They actually do this, and I’ve seen it with my own eyes, having an onsite tour some years ago.
But up to now their content has been simply submissions from the public of their own designs. Well, maybe that’s not quite true, as they support a 3D scanning program, “Scan the World”, in which participants can submit a 3D scan of notable sculptures they’ve encountered. Sculpture scanning is a hobby for some of us, and I’ve documented a process for doing so here.
I’m interested in how the new arrangement with Turner proceeds, as the media company is taking a bit of risk here exposing their content to the public. It may be that Turner is showing “a little bit” to gain some publicity for these particular shows.
There are now three characters from the Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time series visibl e on MyMiniFactory, including “Lumpy Space Princess”, “Marceline, The Vampire Queen” and “Jake the Dog”.
They’ve also restricted distribution, as you can see here. Evidently MyMiniFactory is implementing some kind of regional restrictions, much like you see with TV shows. This makes much sense, because these characters are from TV Shows!
As problematic as this venture may be, I’d like to see more of this, as the notability of the characters from TV shows would definitely attract more to the use of 3D printing and 3D printing services, at least at an introductory level.
It’s important to attract people to the technology, as there are still far too many people who at this point may have heard about it, but still don’t truly understand what it is and what good it can do.