Monday, November 17, 2008



or, "Why you need a RepRap machine"

One of the most frequent questions I get after people understand what a RepRap does, is a variant of either 'Why do you need a machine like this?' or 'What do you make once you have one?'. Well, is an answer to that. This is no ordinary object sharing website. is a home for all your digital designs. If you can represent a physical object digitally, then we want it on Thingiverse. You can upload 3D files for a RepRap machine, vector files for a lasercutter, or even a PDF of instructions on how to build a sock puppet.

One of the tricky things with digital designs for things is that your average web browser doesn't know an STL from a dodo, which is why we support automatic renderings of common digital design formats. If you give us a file, we'll try our best to generate a rendering of it so that when people come to look at it or download it, they will be able to know what it is. We support STL, DXF, SVG, AI, and many other formats including Eagle PCB design files. Even if we don't support rendering it, we'll still put it up for other people to download. Not only that, but once we add support for your file, we'll render the previously uploaded files of that type too. Yay!

The dream behind Thingiverse is that someday in the not so distant future, when everyone has a RepRap machine, they will be able to go to, find a useful/interesting/cool thing, download it, print it, and 15 minutes later be able to hold the actual thing in their hands. This is the coming revolution of digital fabrication and we want to help you make it happen. If you want to be involved, now is the time to step up and get involved.

Random idea of great randomness: If you go to, say,, you will find something somewhat similar -- in particular, there is a huge library there of 3d models of useful objects -- lego parts.
Would it be useful to anyone to have a ldr (the 3d format preferred by the lego community -- and a homegrown one to that community) to xxx converter? If so, what should xxx be? Would you be interested in having your site support ldr?
Continuing on my lego-related rant, has anyone considered a design similar to as a reprapable replacement for the toothed belt? We'd probably have to zoom up the design a bit for easy reproduction on a reprap, and to thicken out some of the thinner parts, but it could replace a non-reprapable and difficult to acquire part.
I like it! I like the name too! I've been thinking about creating such a system, but besides some planning and a lot of talking I didn't find the time to actually do it yet. Now Zach has done a great job (again!) in laying the foundation for something that will be utterly great and will aid in the network effects that can become significant enough for a fabrication revolution to happen.

There are many sites that have some similarity to thingiverse, but I contend that all of them will remain different because they are over specialized. The google 3D warehouse is similar, and contains vast amounts of objects. Still, it is limited to 3D files only (with renderings). Thingiverse has the capacity to evolve along with the needs of the community:
- format agnostic (any format is supported, any popular format can be furter supported with rederings and such).
- subscribe (RSS) to classes of objects: e.g. cat toys if you have a cat. Would be nice to find a new cat toy in your 3D printer every other week. Or subscribe to authors' projects, most popular objects, etc.
- voting for objects and designers. Contests, etc.
- Direct 'print' button available from the website.
- Wizards for objects (parametric modeler) to create (for example) boxes, enclosures with dimensions that you specify (e.g. for the pot with screw thread).
- lot's of producers, independent (RepRappers and CNC guys, people that have a FabLab nearby) or professional like Ponoko or Shapeways can connect to this website and offer services with a varying amount of systems integration. An API would definitely be a good thing to have (for the thingiverse design repository AND for the producers).
- much more, but I'll stop now ;)

converters are always useful! the most useful type of converter for the RepRap community would be a FOO -> STL converter. From STL, its easy to convert to POV which i use for doing the actual rendering. linux (or something independent, say python) and command line is also crucial here.


thanks very much! those ideas sound fantastic and hopefully someday thingiverse will grow to incorporate all of them.

You know Lego doesn't have exclusive rights to making Lego bricks anymore we can legally print off all the bricks we want. If we could mill aluminum we might be able to do some simple injection molding.
In case it's not implemented already, it would be good for the modelers to be able to see page view statistics for their model. Even an option of placing a hit counter on their model page would be useful.

Also, it would be great if the modeler could choose to have adsense on their page, with the revenues split between them and thingiverse. Like the wikidot adsense feature:
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