What’s Happening to Consumer 3D Printing?

20160330_Solidoodle Pinshape Close

As these 2 snippets show, both Pinshape and Solidoodle have closed their doors this week, begging the question what’s happening to consumer 3D printing?

I have been involved in both companies, although from completely different perspectives, and posted about the impending closure of Solidoodle a couple of weeks ago when it was first hinted at on 3dprintingindustry.com. No surprise after the failure of the Solidoodle Press (which I purchased at the end of 2014), but a shame to see a leading manufacturer fall after one failed product. You can read the full announcement from Solidoodle by clicking here.

However the sudden closure of Pinshape is a real surprise, as I’ve been a guest writer for them over the past year and have been impressed with the community they have grown with frequent tutorials, news, competitions and more posted on their website to educate the public about the amazing opportunities of 3D printing. I didn’t see this coming at all! Ultimately their announcement, which can be read in full by clicking here, blames a downturn in investment and lack of opportunities to make a profit as a company within this consumer 3D printing space, citing figures from 2 of the big players, 3D Systems and Stratasys that parallel their own experience.

It seems that some of the excitement and interest in 3D printing, at least for consumer-level products, may be leveling out as the market becomes saturated with cheap options from China, and the people like myself who have the skills and interest in using a 3D printer at home have already bought into the market. With no genuine consumer-friendly (plug-‘n’-play) machines out there, the industry is yet to tap into the large general public market, and may never successfully do this due to all the complexities of not only running and maintaining a 3D printer, but learning the software to control it and design 3D objects. It’s not for the feint of heart!

Of course these aren’t the first companies to fall in the 3D printing space, but to have 2 well-known brands fall in the same week may certainly be a bit of an omen. Only time will tell. All I can say to Pinshape is thank you for putting together a great community of people passionate about 3D printing, it’s been a pleasure to work with you and participate in educating people about 3D printing. I have now posted PDF copies of the tutorials I’ve written for Pinshape with the appropriate posts in my Tutorials section of this website, so you can still read the tutorials, follow along and improve your skills.

– Posted by James Novak

UPDATE 1: it’s been less than 24 hours since the news about Pinshape was released, and I’ve already had 3 competing companies contact me to move my 3D files to their platforms – all with a similar speel about having the best community, expanding markets worldwide, making money by selling files etc etc… I’m curious to know what other Pinshapers will do, I’ve always maintained my Thingiverse account but it does have its limitations.

UPDATE 2: Pinshape lives to fight another day! It seems a huge swell of community support, along with some investors may have saved Pinshape just in the nick of time.

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7 thoughts on “What’s Happening to Consumer 3D Printing?

  1. Pinshape closing was a surprise to me as well. Thingiverse is my number 1 for everything free of course, but I was just planning on posting a set of models for sale on Pinshape this week. Have any alternate recommendations?

    Like

    • I’m now up to about 7 different companies who have contacted me, but I think without spending much time looking into them yet I’m leaning toward Cults (http://cults3d.com) or MyMiniFactory (https://www.myminifactory.com/) who both offer the ability to sell designs, and seem to have good global communities around them. I have a similar situation where a couple of the designs I had on Pinshape were there because I had a price attached to them. Some things I just don’t want to give away for free on Thingiverse due to the time invested in creating and testing them.

      Liked by 1 person

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