Makers of the world, your 3D printer is waiting

Now this is really nifty. Sometimes, you see an item in the news, and you just want to share simply for its coolness factor. This is one of those things. Actually, it is a Thingiverse.

Confused? Don’t be! We’ll lay it all out for you. Earlier this month it was reported in VentureBeat that the folks at MakerBot – they make and sell equipment for 3D printing – had done a deal with the crowdsourced printing network 3D Hubs. This makes it possible for ANYONE with a 3D printing project to have it printed almost instantly without an expensive 3D printer of your own. At first glance, this might seem like just another fancy press release, but trust us, this one could be a true game changer.

Why do we think so? Where to begin …

For starters, if you want to buy a 3D printer of your own along with the necessary start-up stuff you need to make your first plastic doo-dad, you will need almost $1,400 (USD). And that is just for the starter model.

As VentureBeat reported: “What MakerBot is doing here is making the technology more accessible to people to use from their home, even if they can’t use it in their home.”

Based on this arrangement, you can print a wide array of very cool stuff, using a 3D printer that is near you, and at a price you can afford. As they note: “Thingiverse designs are now enabled for 3D printing through a partnership with 3D Hubs. This collection features select designs as part of our pilot program.”

The types of things you can already print ranges from art and fashion to tools and toys – and just about anything you can imagine in between.

To see what is possible, browse through the online catalog that is currently online, and look for the “Get This Printed” button to ensure you are selecting an item that is available for printing via one of the 3D Hubs’ nearby “makers” (i.e., someone or a company with a 3D printer that you can use).

At that point, you will have the option to select a printer near you – you can set the distance you are willing to travel, and some will ship it to you. You will see details about the type of printer and materials being used, the estimated amount of time it will take to print your project, and the cost per piece printed. And, since this is a crowd-sourced service, you will see multiple providers who are able to do this job for you, and the price will vary – as a consumer, you can really shop around, and make sure you are getting the job done exactly to your specifications.

The designers can benefit from this arrangement, too. With each item available for printing there is the option to “tip” the person who created it – think of it as a way to support the work of budding artists.

This video demo shows the possibilities of this program:

Honestly, this is just the beginning. We expect to see many more options such as this one where people with cool ideas can bring them to plastic life.

In fact, Mattel recently announced that it is partnering with Autodesk to let kids create and 3D print their own toys. And Warner Bros.’ announced Lego Dimensions, a Lego-based hybrid of toys and video games, where the players “can buy Lego pieces that are used to build characters and other ‘things’ that appear in the game.”

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