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New video about Thingiverse on the channel

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  • New video about Thingiverse on the channel


  • #2
    Interesting discussion. I see what you're getting at with the current options.

    I think, for this to really work, the aim has to be that enthusiasts would be providing items to people who want to have custom 'things' but aren't interested in designing or creating them -- the toaster model we've discussed before -- they want to make toast, not learn how to make toasters. It may be hard for the creator/maker community to understand or believe, but that applies to a huge segment of the population. After all, even most of us creators don't really want to make cars. We just want to drive. Making cars is so involved it's all we would be doing.

    I think it's also hard for the open source/creator/maker community to understand that many people would happily pay to have custom things. The 'community' gets hung up on the idea that everything should be free.

    I have toyed with the idea of offering prints for sale, but then I think about the obligations involved: commitment to delivering by a certain date; what happens if something breaks; how to get paid and not get scammed; shipping; etc. My enthusiasm quickly wanes. A revenue model like you propose might help get around some of these issues, but I'm not sure.


    • irvshapiro
      irvshapiro commented
      Editing a comment
      Yep. The goal is to have this work for everyone. End users printing the models, designers who want to make a little money on the side, programmers who want to get paid to build this and support people both for customers and systems.

      Maybe the programming could be done OpenSource but then the first release of this project will probably be years away, just due to the nature of OpenSource. This is not a criticism of OpenSoucre just a reality. Look at the time between OpenSCAD releases.

  • #3
    That was a very interesting video! My applications may be different than others, but when I browse Thingiverse I am usually looking for one of two things: 1) ideas I can adapt as part of something I need, and 2) ideas for things I can build with my grandkids.

    The first category includes catches, connectors, and other mechanical things that I can adapt as part of an item I want to build. The second category is one that I think may fit a subscription-type service. The intent here is that my grandkids all have Legos. They are fun and they learn skills such as following directions, but there is a limit to press-fit assembly. Once they master that, the build process stays pretty much the same. But… Lego has an unbelievably huge following.

    So in addition to the “practical, scalable things” side of your subscription service, what if it also included an area focused on making things for kids that could be printed, but that also required assembly? This could include reusable parts that could be fashioned into new “projects” as in the Lego business model. However it would not be limited to press-fit assembly. The projects I have made so far for my grandkids include a small cottage, a rocket, and a dog house. These were aimed at an 8 yr. old, 6 yr. old, and 4 yr. old respectively. They all required the use of a hex driver and M3 screws to build. I found that all three kids could use the hex driver after I showed them how to position themselves and the parts so everything was aligned. The 4 yr. old needed more help, but insisted on doing it herself as much as possible. They really got into the challenge and liked the building process.

    One feature that really made a difference, and in my experience I think is something unique to 3D printing, is that you do not need nuts to back up the screws for PLA. In my case, using M3 screws, I sized the outer holes to 3.4 mm and the inner holes to 2.9 mm. So the kids could focus on part alignment and getting the screw into the hole without also needing to hold a nut on the other side. This made construction more of a challenge than Legos, but still in the lower age ranges where kids love to build things. These projects were more Meccano-like in that the screws were meant to be seen after assembly, although that would not be required. My intent was that the build process would be visible so they could show others *how* they built it.

    So in essence my thought is to have a place for buildable things like Legos that could get a wide following, but would be enabled by 3D printing. It would have a STEM quality to it. Projects would come with instructions appropriate for the complexity of the build.

    **Note that these projects need adult supervision, but then that is the whole idea, to have things adults can build with kids.


    • irvshapiro
      irvshapiro commented
      Editing a comment
      Very interesting comment. More to think about.

  • #4
    Interesting thoughts oxfat. I have always (well, as long as the 15 months I've been 3D printing) resisted the idea of printing Lego parts. To me it makes no sense. How could anyone possibly print Lego bricks cheaper than they could simply buy them? I don't believe they could. So, it makes no sense to 3D print Lego bricks.

    However, your idea would be a "value add" to regular Lego. That makes a lot more sense to me. Your idea of not using nuts to hold parts together is great, but I think it could possibly be improved by utilising the kind of nuts that can be melted into the PLA (or whatever type of filament). This would make the pieces more durable while still not requiring kids to line up nuts and bolts.

    I can't help but wonder what other type(s) of models could lend themselves to your concept of "value add". This could be a significant feature of the site, in that it could be something not available on other sites.
    What about model railroader items: buildings, trucks, cars, bicycles, trees, fountains, bridges, airplanes, fences/gates and, of course, rail cars -- probably many other things? Irv Shapiro's "customizing" idea would be ideal for model railroading, since there are N, O, HO, and many other scales of model railroad. Plus, model railroaders love to create/decorate their trains, buildings, vehicles, etc. so printing them in white PLA would allow them to have a great base for painting.

    Of course, there are all the practical items: shelf brackets, boxes, etc. Add to that things like lithophane frames/boxes, picture frames (especially ones for 'crafters' to decorate), and lots of others. Also, let's not forget custom interior decorating. Lighting fixtures are often outrageously expensive. How about custom fixtures? With LED lighting, heat isn't really an issue any more, so it should be viable.

    It's possible the site could become the "goto" place for certain kinds of model.


    • #5
      Thank you for responding and adding to my thought process. But I also need to clarify my post. My takeaways from Lego are that: 1) there is a huge market for things kids can build, 2) Lego kits have a downside in that they are just pressfit, so there is a limit to what kids can learn from them.

      My intent was not to suggest making more Lego parts, or parts that go with Lego sets. Rather, to make kits that lets kids go further by adding simple tools. This adds to their building skills. I have the ulterior motive of making them work on their reading comprehension. Lego instructions are pictures only. This is okay at first, but I want to challenge them. Here is a slide from the rocket kit instructions (for the 6 yr. old, so I tried to use a combination of sight words and words he could sound out).

      Click image for larger version

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      Model railroading is a great suggestion. I started with a rocket and cottage since that is what my grandkids would enjoy right now. But any interest area would be good. Vehicles, airplanes, buildings, bridges, anything you can construct.
      Last edited by oxfat; 11-04-2021, 01:25 PM.


      • #6
        So, in effect, you're suggesting the creation of a fairly new category of construction set. Meccano was good in its day, but 3D printing offers the option to greatly expand the types and complexity of buildable things.

        Mind you, I still think "value add" for Lego is a viable avenue. As you said, there are a great many lovers of Lego. It could be a gateway to the more ambitious type of items you suggest.

        Reading comprehension is not something I considered, but why not?


        • #7
          Originally posted by Ender5r View Post
          So, in effect, you're suggesting the creation of a fairly new category of construction set. Meccano was good in its day, but 3D printing offers the option to greatly expand the types and complexity of buildable things.
          Yes! It could be a new type of construction set, or one-offs with no interchangeable parts. If a new construction set category is added, then other members could add parts to the set, or add things to build using the set. I think this also supports the subscription model. You could come back to download new parts that have been added to the set.

          Thinking about it, I guess this is where the Lego add-ons would come in. You could extend Lego kits with extra pieces. I don't think we would run into copyright issues. I know there are "work-alike" kits with Lego-interchangeable parts.

          Your idea to add nuts is a good one. When I built my Prusa Original MK3S+ kit, there were (3D printed) parts where they had hex openings to place nuts. This would add a lot of strength for projects that needed it. For the few kits I have made to this point, an M3 screw through 3mm of PLA made for a surprisingly strong connection between two parts.


          • #8
            Irv, I really like the idea. Been in software development like you for decades, mostly on the database side. If you decide to make a go of this I'd love to help however I can. One thought I know you said the scad code would be protected, but how about a method where we could buy the source if the modeler wanted to make it available. I learn a lot about OpenScad programming by figuring out how the models I get (got) off of Thingaverse were coded. Keep up the good work.


            • irvshapiro
              irvshapiro commented
              Editing a comment
              Good idea. I agree the designers should have the right to sell the source code.

          • #9
            I would say, if you intend to start from scratch, start with a reliable repository and search function. Let anyone submit models for anything. Make it not just about 3D printing, but about CNC, Laser cutters, etc.

            As for cost, what about inverting the model? Make it free to access and download any model (except customized versions?) But limit it to 3 or 5 per month. If you have a subscription, the download limit disappears, and the money gets divided up equally between the crafters of whatever you download, being done at the end of the month. (Subscriptions get charged on the first, payouts are done on the 28th.) Also, you could graduate the value...(for example: 0-3 downloads is free. 3-9 is $2/mth. 10-25 is $5. 26+ is $10. Only subscriptions or individual paid models can get the customizable models, but anyone can customize and preview for free. Also, let's say I only need one thing, I could buy the one model for $5.)

            Also, once you have the model inventory, hook up with companies like shapeways to also provide printing services for people who don't have 3d printers of their own, or want the item in a non desktop material.

            As for the kits mentioned above, KiwiCo would be a good partner, as would Mark Rober.


          • #10
            Some very good ideas, but we would need a decent team of moderators/administrators to keep it running and filter out spam and copyrighted material.

            I’d like to see another way to fund the account, instead of credit or debit charges. Would be interesting to use some type of gift card or PayPal system so that those without bank accounts or credit could still have equal access. Partner up with an existing gift card system?