A new iPad app hopes to solve the dilemma of Thingiverse access.
Anyone involved in 3D printing will surely know all about Thingiverse, the first and biggest dedicated online repository for printable 3D models. Currently the site is closing in on their five millionth entry, making the quantity of 3D models unsurpassed in the industry.
However, all is not roses with Thingiverse. The sheer quantity of 3D models has exacerbated the site’s search function.
Because Thingiverse search is based on text matching, it’s nearly always problematic to find a specific item. You either don’t find what you’re looking for, or find an overly large number of similar items and wonder whether your target is somewhere in the mix.
Because of such problems, and MakerBot’s relatively slow progression on major site improvements, some have taken things upon themselves to rectify the issues.
I’ve seen Google Chrome plugins to modify the Thingiverse page displays, for example. Thingiverse++ makes access a bit easier.
But now another angle on Thingiverse access has crossed my path: ThingstAR.
The odd capitalization on the product’s name reveals one of its key functions: Augmented Reality.
ThingstAR is an iPad app that accesses Thingiverse in a more interesting manner. In search, for example, you can limit the search by time window, meaning it’s possible to chop out older 3D models that pollute the search results.
Here you can see how an individual entry is displayed, which is much more friendly than the standard Thingiverse page:
Searching appears cleaner as well:
ThingstAR allows you to load up a 3D model and view it in 3D at the touch of your fingers. While this is not a unique feature, ThingstAR allows you to change the color of the 3D model, as well as resize it.
These features are important for the AR feature, which permits the user to virtually place the object in a real-life scene as captured through the iPad’s camera. The 3D model can be manipulated easily to show how it might appear if actually 3D printed and placed in the scene.
It’s possible to snap an image of the AR scene, which may be useful in some situations. These can be shared among your contacts.
ThingstAR is not a free app, but costs a modest amount, US$4.99.
One important note: ThingstAR is not compatible with many iPad models. Due to the AR feature, it requires one of the more recent models that includes the LIDAR hardware. That cuts out non-LIDAR models, which are the majority of iPad models out in the world today.
Very strangely, the app is not available in iPhone form, where it could presumably be used in recent models also equipped with LIDAR hardware. It seems that the app developers have not yet produced an iPhone version.
Perhaps we’ll see an iPhone version in the future, but for now, those with recent iPad Pro models might want to check out ThingstAR.
Meanwhile, I’m hoping the arrival of “Thingiverse Mods” like Thingiverse++ and now ThingstAR will coax MakerBot into revamping the Thingiverse interface with more powerful and easy-to-use features.
Via Apple Store (Hat tip to Benjamin)