Prusa Research announced a new initiative to attract commercial brands to their ecosystem.
The new feature is “Official Brand Profiles” and is a way to clearly identify actual brands on Printables, the company’s fast-growing online repository of printable 3D models.
You might ask why such a feature would be required, as all it would take is that a company could set up an account and run it as such. The difference here is that these Printables accounts are actually certified by Prusa Research, so we can trust they are not impostors. Material provided by these accounts can then be directly attributed to the respective companies.
This allows the companies to deploy 3D printable items associated with their products. The initial companies involved include:
- Bohemia Interactive
- Cooler Master
- Framework Computer
- Raspberry Pi
- Warhorse Studios
- World of Warships
- Prusa Research
You’ll notice a number of “DIY” suppliers, and that’s not surprising: a good portion of 3D printable items uploaded to repositories are items of this type. These would include cases, brackets, holders, etc.
But what’s also notable here is a couple of gaming companies that are providing 3D content for promotional purposes, and it’s quite impressive. World of Warships has provided an entire battleship kit that looks incredible, and likely quite a project to build. They’ve linked the download of the model to features in their game, completing the loop.
The certification is visibly provided by a check mark, which is suspiciously similar to Twitter’s “blue check mark”. The idea is the same: the host is saying this account is for real (or at least until recent changes in Twitter procedures).
Why would Prusa Research implement such a feature? Don’t they have other bigger things to deal with?
Actually, it’s an incredibly strategic move that could pay off big time in the future. Apparently conceived by Prusa Research’s Mikolas Zuza, the company began work on the project a few months ago.
The proposition here is that eventually 3D print technology will improve to the point where functional parts can be reliably produced on desktop equipment in homes or offices. That’s almost the case now, as technology continues to improve.
The problem has always been a lack of 3D content. If your dishwasher knob breaks, it would be terrific to simply download a 3D model if it for instant printing. However, today companies would rather you go to a local parts reseller and pay US$39 for a replacement.
Eventually that paradigm will shift. An increasing number of companies will offer their content online instead of through physical distributors, and at some point critical mass will be reached. It will become “expected” that spare parts will be delivered online, perhaps with a small fee. Then we’ll see many more companies shift over.
But to get that critical mass there has to be a clean, simple and effective way for leading companies to try it out. That’s what Prusa Research has created here: a bridgehead into a future world of digital spare parts for consumers.
Will they succeed? No one can know, but as of this moment, they seem to be the only major online repository of printable 3D content that provides this service, so it’s the first place any company contemplating a move would go.
Good work, Prusa Research!