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