3D printing marketplace

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A 3D selfie in 1:20 scale printed by Shapeways using gypsum-based printing

3D printing marketplace
Type of site
Virtual space

A 3D printing marketplace is a website where users buy, sell and freely share digital 3D printable files for use on 3D printers. 3D printing marketplaces have emerged with the fast-growing segment of consumer 3D printers. Currently, the existing 3D printing marketplaces are handful and their business model is still not profitable.[citation needed]


The consumer market for 3D printers has grown tremendously over the past several years. According to Wohlers Report 2018[1] , 3D printer Market reached 7.3 billions $ in 2017, with +21% growth 2018 vs 2017[2]. Market is mostly BtoB right now, because 3D printing is still a complex process and you need important skills as CAD engineer or other technical one. But even for SMB or Freelance, they cannot develop all the knowledge around this technology, that's why 3D printing Marketplace have been developping for last years.[3]

You can find 3 categories of 3D Printing Marketplace:

- 3D Model Library: Provide 3D Model of everything, you can download directly for free or for money

- 3D On demand Manufacturing: You upload your part, and you can find a Service provider to make it

- 3D Freelancer: You have access to a large panel of freelancer, they can help you to build your CAD file and inform you on the best material or process to make it

How 3D printing marketplaces work[edit]

3D printing marketplaces are a combination of file sharing websites, with or without a built in e-commerce capability. Designers upload suitable files for 3D printing whilst other users buy or freely download the uploaded files for printing. The marketplaces facilitate the account management, infrastructure, server resources and guarantees safe settlement of payments (e-commerce). Some of the marketplaces also offer additional services such as 3D printing on demand, location of commercial 3D print shops, associated software for model rendering and dynamic viewing of items using packages such as Sketchfab . The most widely used 3D printable file formats are stl, wrl and vrml.[4]

Type of 3D printing marketplaces[edit]

There are different varieties of 3D printing marketplaces. Some of them like Thingiverse are dedicated to free sharing of 3D printable files. Others, like Shapeways offer a 3D printing service for objects which have been provided for sale by designers. MyMiniFactory offers a combination of these two: their main activity being the free sharing or 3D printable files, they also offer print-on-demand and design-on-demand services. Another category are websites exemplified by Threeding and 3DPrintWise. These offer free and commercial exchange of digital 3D printable files for use on 3D printers but do not directly include 3D printing services themselves. These marketplaces do however, offer integration to databases of 3D printers provided by third parties such as MakeXYZ and 3D Hubs. These latter two resources each contain geo-location services to several thousands of registered 3D printers. The two largest personal 3D printers manufacturers Makerbot (part of Stratasys, Ltd) and Cubify (subsidiary of 3D Systems) offer their own file repositories for sharing, respectively Thingiverse and Cubify Store.[4] For professional 3D printing needs there are platforms which offer a reverse-bid style auction interface, an integrated escrow payment system and many features specifically tailored for B2B transactions.

3D printing marketplace examples[edit]

Shapeways is a New York based 3D printing marketplace and an on-demand provider of 3D printing services. Designers upload design files, and users can place orders with Shapeways to produce the 3D printed item, using industrial printers, from a variety of materials including metals, plastics, and ceramics.[5][6][7]

3DLT was a platform for 3D printing as-a-service through which retailers offer 3D printable products online and in-store.[8] Users of 3DLT design and upload 3D printable files and 3DLT worked to print and sell these products until it went out of business in 2015.[9]

Thingiverse offers free sharing of user-created digital designs for 3D printing. The website is owned by Makerbot (a subsidiary of Stratasys). Numerous technical projects use Thingiverse as a repository for shared innovation and dissemination of source materials to the public.[10]

MyMiniFactory offers free sharing of 3D printable files that have been previously tested on 3D printers.[11] The website is property of iMakr and also offers a free streaming service[12] for 3D designers. They also provide print-on-demand and design-on-demand services.

Threeding is an Eastern European startup that offers free and paid 3D printable content. A significant portion of the 3D objects available at Threeding.com are digital copies of historical artifacts.[13][14]

Copyright concerns[edit]

Current intellectual property (IP) legislation in the developed countries does not explicitly regulate 3D printing. This creates numerous questions about the IP status of 3D printing marketplaces. Some analysts predict that 3D printing marketplaces will be "the next Napster". Most marketplaces remain conservative on this topic. Most large 3D printing marketplaces also have procedures for copyright complaints. Further development of 3D printing and more new marketplaces for file sharing will most probably cause copyright to become a significant issue in them.[15][16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wohlers Associates". wohlersassociates.com. Retrieved 2018-10-18.
  2. ^ McCue, TJ. "Wohlers Report 2018: 3D Printer Industry Tops $7 Billion". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-10-18.
  3. ^ "The Future of Consumer 3D Printing Marketplaces".
  4. ^ a b "Is there an "iTunes app store" for 3D printer models?". Quora. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  5. ^ Lovecraft, Raven (June 20, 2012). "Shapeways hits one million 3D printed creations". TG Daily. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  6. ^ "Shapeways | CrunchBase Profile". Crunchbase.com. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  7. ^ Sloan, Paul (April 23, 2013). "Shapeways, the Etsy of 3D printing, raises $30M | Cutting Edge – CNET News". News.cnet.com. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  8. ^ “3DLT Launches The First Store For Printable 3D Objects’”, Techcrunch, April 30, 2013
  9. ^ http://www.3dlt.com/
  10. ^ Baichtal, John (November 20, 2008). "Thingiverse.com Launches A Library of Printable Objects | GeekDad". Wired.com. Archived from the original on September 12, 2009.
  11. ^ Make: 3D Printing: The Essential Guide to 3D Printers By Anna Kaziunas France, Maker Media, Inc., 19 Nov 2013
  12. ^ 3Dprint.com MyMiniFactory TV is a Streaming Chance to Show Off Your 3D Design & Printing Skills
  13. ^ "In Bulgaria, an eBay for 3D Printable Designs Called Threeding Emerges". On3dprinting.com. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  14. ^ 3dprintercafe.com on November 2, 2013 (December 31, 1969). "Threedingcom exchange of d printable files a8 : 3DPrintercafe | Latest news | 3D Printers | 3D Scanners | 3D Output technology". 3DPrintercafe. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  15. ^ "What's the Deal with Copyright and 3D Printing?". Public Knowledge. January 29, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2014.
  16. ^ "Can 3D printing avoid a Napster moment? — Tech News and Analysis". Gigaom.com. September 18, 2013.
  17. ^ "3-D Printing, Copyright, and Fair Use: What Should We Know?". Purdue University. June 4, 2014.