3D Printing and Online Communities

Local 3D printing communities are a great idea! I have used Shapeways before and their quality is outstanding but there’s something sterile and asocial(not anti-, just a-) about sending a 3D model to a site and just getting a couple of emails and the part 2 weeks later (unless you are in the Netherlands – then I would guess it’s quicker).

The guys at Memamsaa Blog (someone took Sanskrit 101 in college! 🙂 ) posted a link to MakeXYZ –  – a community that brings 3D printer owners together with people needed 3D models printed – what a great idea! I think Memamsaa guys are absolutely correct in thinking this will spur the growth of 3D printing, and perhaps not only because access to 3D printer will be easier. I look at it from the stand point of a 3D printer owner, too: your (still expensive these days) machine is actually standing doing nothing. If you can recoup some cost by printing for other people, you may be able to afford 3D printer upgrades (dual extruders etc.) and perhaps even a better printer thus adding to not only availability per se but also the quality of 3D printing industry.

More people print -> more people buy better printers -> more R&D done on 3D printing -> 3D printing becomes cheaper -> more people print. Looks like a very nice positive feedback loop here we’re all going to benefit from.


Thanks for the tip, Memamsaa!
P.S. Memamsaa – a Sanskrit for R&D?


Continuing the theme of finding innovation at intersections, this post takes a deeper look at the exponential growth of 3D printing services and the role of software and online user communities in driving this growth.

3D printing is becoming more than just a hardware phenomenon. The drop in prices and consumerization of the hardware, i.e. the printers, has certainly made the technology more accessible to the masses. But it the software ecosystem developing around 3D printing, fuelled by web, social, cloud and even mobile technologies, which has created the tipping point causing this technology to take-off. Author of an IBM research paper on this topic, Paul Brody states, “Not only are people collaborating around designs, they are sharing their printers as well, rapidly expanding public access to this technology.”

Who are some of the key players enabling this collaboration and sharing?

Thingiverse is a popular online design sharing community…

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