Thingiverse’s Revival: A New Beginning Under UltiMaker’s Wing

By on May 9th, 2023 in news, Service

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The new “M-style” UltiMaker logo [Source: Fabbaloo]

Things could be looking up for Thingiverse.

At the recent RAPID+TCT event, our team had a chat with representatives from UltiMaker, the newly-rebranded version of the Ultimaker/MakerBot joint venture.

The two companies are gradually integrating their business operations after the unexpected announcement of the merger several months ago. So far, we’ve seen a rebrand with fresh logos — take note of the hidden “M” inside the logo and company name. We’ve also witnessed a clarification of the product lines, with a distinct split between professional markets (the UltiMaker brand) and educational markets (the MakerBot brand).

Thingiverse: The Sleeping Giant

One service involved in this merger that hasn’t received much attention is Thingiverse. It’s arguably the most popular repository dedicated to printable 3D models on the planet, and one of the very first launched years ago.

In recent times, Thingiverse has accumulated some blemishes on its reputation, despite its size and popularity. Persistent poor search capabilities, the introduction of advertising, and other moves were not well-received by the Thingiverse community. Prusa Research launched their Printables site to overcome some of these challenges, and it has been rapidly growing, although still significantly smaller than Thingiverse.

A lingering question has been: what will become of Thingiverse after the merger? There has never been an official answer.

Behind the Scenes: Thingiverse’s Revamp

However, I did manage to gather some intel on what’s happening behind the scenes. According to an UltiMaker representative, a dedicated software team is now focusing on Thingiverse, working to make swift improvements.

This new software team reportedly found that some of the Thingiverse code was “twelve years old” and desperately needed an update. The team now consistently produces release notes and operates on a two-week sprint cycle for those into software development.

This is fantastic news for Thingiverse fans, as it appears the site is finally moving in a forward direction. However, they’ve got a considerable amount of work ahead to catch up with competitors. It will likely be several months before significant changes are noticeable, so don’t get too excited just yet.

This also clarifies the fate of Thingiverse itself. At the time of the merger, I pondered whether the site would provide any value to the specific business model of the new company. Thingiverse certainly did in the early days of MakerBot, but those days are long gone. It was entirely possible that UltiMaker could have shut down the site because it wasn’t necessarily needed for their business operations — although it was beneficial to many worldwide.

UltiMaker has made the right call here.

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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