France’s postal service, La Poste, is shutting down their 3D model repository service on October 1st.
Wait, the French postal service has a 3D model repository? Yes, they do indeed — at least until the end of the month.
The service has been in existence for at least five years, having been launched in coordination with La Poste’s startup accelerator, Start’in Post. The original intent was to offer 3D printing services, and at one point they had identified seven locations where requestors could pick up their 3D prints as selected from the repository.
The repository is still there for you to use — until the end of the month — and it includes a variety of objects in several categories, including: art, fashion, jewelry, home, architecture, gadgets, games and tools.
It’s definitely not the biggest repository on the Internet, having something around 500+ 3D models for download. However, it is notable in that it is operated by perhaps the largest organization to offer a 3D model repository — a national postal service.
La Poste’s repository was launched in quite a different time in 3D printing history. In 2014 the technology was at its height of hype, with hucksters pushing the use of 3D printers in all walks of life, hoping for a “3D printer in every room of your house.”
That wasn’t to come, however, as cooler heads prevailed upon the realization that the technology was not as reliable as required for general consumer use. That, combined with the lack of a consistent useful consumer application, doomed the technology to the ranks of professionals and industry, where it thrives today.
Somehow, La Poste’s venture has kept operating until now, even though their original intended market has long faded away. I guess that’s a large bureaucracy for you.
La Poste’s 3D model repository was one of the longest-running remnants from that heady era of consumer 3D printing. While it ultimately was not successful, it was a worthy idea at the time and likely introduced the technology to many French nationals who might not otherwise have gotten involved with 3D printing.
Meanwhile, it seems that Cults3D, a well-known and large 3D model repository, has made an arrangement with La Poste to allow access to Cults3D’s repository using the same login credentials. It seems the two companies have been collaborating in other ways in the past, so perhaps this isn’t that big of a surprise. In any case, accounts on Cults3D are freely available and I suspect many La Poste users already have Cults3D accounts.
“If you wish to continue downloading files for 3D printers, please note that your account credentials are also valid and usable on Cults website; so feel free to visit.”
The disappearance of La Poste’s repository is definitely not damaging to the 3D print community, as there are plenty of great alternatives available, most of which now have far more choice of downloads.