Response to Thingiverse Challenge

After reviewing hundreds of comments both on Youtube and here, I am close to a plan for addressing the Thingiverse challenge.

The overall sentiment was split between people looking for a free solution and willing to pay for a higher-quality solution. A few people thought that I was unfairly attacking Thingiverse, which was not my intent. Others used the comment area to share their frustrations with Thingiverse.

My financial analysis of various paid, freemium and subscription models failed to find an approach to warrant substantial financial investment. I believe that in the future, companies will 3d print many replacement parts for consumer goods. The replacement part business is a different business. I am interested in finding a solution to assist hobbies in locating customizable and reliable 3d models.

Here is my proposal, initially only posted on this forum.

Instead of building a Thingiverse competitor, I will attempt to fix some of its limitations from the outside. First, I will create a freemium site that uses the Thingiverse API to allow users to select a SCAD model from Thingiverse. (This could be expanded to other repositories with SCAD models in the future.) Once a model is selected, the site will parse the SCAD and display the customizable variables. After the variable values are entered, the model is entered into a queue for processing. Depending on the model’s complexity, an STL file is generated in seconds or minutes. In the free version, the user must leave the web page open while the model is processed. Finally, the STL file is complete; it is viewable in a 3d viewer on the web page and available for download.

I already have the backend OpenSCAD processing running on AWS, and simple models take just seconds to complete.

A paid subscription option will be available in version 2 of the site. With a paid alternative, the user may save their model parameters, leave the page, and return while processing. Additionally, it may be possible to process the models for paid subscribers on higher-end servers reducing the processing time.

A further enhancement in a future release may include the ability for paid subscribers to rate models, comment on models, and share parameters.

I do not expect this freemium-based solution to generate significant revenue, but it has the potential to offset costs.

I look forward to your thoughts. Irv

Interesting ideas @Irv_Shapiro. Just had a crazy thought. What about offsetting costs by using the distributed processing model? People can get credits to “spend” on models by allowing 1 or more of their computers to be used to process models. Of course, I’m thinking of BOINC, the underlying code of the SETI@HOME project.

Not sure how feasible it would be and, certainly, it wouldn’t be part of rev1, but it might be something to think about for the future.

Another company that is trying to do something with models is Thangs. I don’t think you mentioned that company. I’m not sure what their business model is, but they seem to be similar to Yeggi as they consolidate from many other sites, like being a master directory of designs. I do find it interesting in they are trying to also include CNC and laser files.

Never heard of thangs or Yeggi. Interesting. Yeggi seems to be strictly an indexing site, leading people to sites with actual models, some of them free, like thingiverse, and others for-profit.
Thangs seems to be a combo site, hosting some models itself, but also linking to models on sites like thingiverse. One thing I noticed is that, unlike thingiverse, you really can’t do anything on thangs without creating an account. They also seem to be attempting to raise funds via Patreon. It is odd, though, that the link to Patreon on the site simply leads back to their own site. I highlighted and copied the link text and it did finally lead to Patreon.

I do like Thingiverse’s layout the best. Pictures and images of the STL files with as much information as the creator will supply. The comments and makes are handy. I wish someone would simply take it over and put some effort into it.

This sounds like an excellent solution. Since Thingiverse seems to have given up on customizer.

I agree with @woodwaker_dave, especially since thangs and yeggi seem to have covered a fair bit of the proposed features.

I have been using Thangs more and more, but still like the layout of Thingiverse better, probably because I’m used to it. I like seeing pictures and the comments. Thangs also links to sites that seem to be more difficult to use. I think when they get more original items it may be better, they seem to be trying and do listen to the users