Prusa Research has rebranded their 3D model repository; it’s now “Printables”.
This has been hinted about for a while, and now it’s happened. There is an interesting story about how this rebranding project came to be.
The original PrusaPrinters site was launched three years ago with the intention of providing a focal point for Prusa equipment operators and others with not only 3D models, but blogs, discussions. This formalized a community, something important for any major 3D printer manufacturer to establish.
Other major desktop 3D printer manufacturers had previously established their communities, including Ultimaker’s YouMagine, Formlabs’ Pinshape, and of course, MakerBot’s Thingiverse, which was the very first online repository dedicated to 3D printable objects.
PrusaPrinters grew swiftly, unlike most other new attempts at printable repositories, and now boasts of an amazing 120,000 3D models. That’s still a far distance from leader Thingiverse, which as of this writing seems to have 5.3M 3D models, but of course that site had an eleven year lead.
Prusa Research has been diligently beefing up the capabilities of the site since it opened, and now offers a number of terrific features for users, including:
- A badging system to introduce a gaming element to participants
- The Prusameters reward system that transforms activity into actual 3D printer filament
- Regular design contests for creators
- A number of advanced features, such as folder structures, complex search filters and much more
- Site speed is more responsive than some competitors
- A YouTube channel to showcase new designs of particular interest
- Absence of online advertising on the site
- A commitment to continue developing the site
But there was one glaring issue: the site name.
“PrusaPrinters” at first seems to match the company’s tendency to Prusa-ize their branding. Based on founder Josef Prusa, Prusa Research includes the name almost everywhere: The Original Prusa i3 3D printer, Prusament filament, etc. It was quite natural for them to name their online site “PrusaPrinters”.
Prusa Research explains:
“Printables.com replaces PrusaPrinters.org and keeps its ever-growing library of high-quality 3D models, while some features move over to Prusa3D.com. Our intention is to make the website more open and welcoming to all 3D printer owners and also introduce new features.”
The problem was that the name implied that it was a site dedicated to Prusa equipment operators. While the site certainly directly supports Prusa equipment operators, anyone with a 3D printer is welcome to participate and upload or download 3D models. Imagine if MakerBot had named Thingiverse “MakerBotVerse”, and ask how many non-MakerBot operators would use the site.
Thus the company decided to change the site name to “Printables”, which I think is an outstanding name. It carries the message of the printability of the site contents, and does so in a non-company branded manner.
One interesting point is that the domain Printables.com was first registered in 1996, so clearly Prusa Research purchased the domain from another party. It appears the domain was used for other purposes up until mid-2019, which coincidentally was about the time that the original PrusaPrinters launched.
While PrusaPrinters grew at a very fast rate, it’s likely that this branding change will give that growth rate an even bigger boost, as it will certainly attract more non-Prusa participants, who will in turn contribute to the site content.
This is a very strategic move for Prusa Research, and positions their content more broadly across the desktop 3D printer market.
Finally, we are not going to change “PrusaPrinters” to “Printable” our 68 prior posts mentioning the site.