3D printers are on the rise, but to use them you still need designs
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Credit: 3dshap.es

A London startup recently launched 3Dshap.es, a search engine for 3D designs and models so 3D printer owners can better find directions for what they want to make

Credit: 3dshap.es

Credit: 3dshap.es

3D printers are becoming more mainstream, and with the amount being designed and funded on Kickstarter, it seem like it won’t be long until they are a household item. However, printing something in 3D isn’t exactly as easy as using a regular printer. With 3D printing, you need the design and model of whatever you want to print, and if you aren’t a designer yourself, you somewhere need to find the model on the internet.

To solve that problem, a London-based startup recently launched a new search engine called 3Dshap.es to help users navigate 3D content online. Users can search with words, by shape, or by dragging and dropping files into the search window. The search engine launched July 23 and was created by 3Dindustri.es (3DI) to help people explore and source 3D printables. The search engine can analyze shapes and forms, making for more accurate results than from searching by text or numerical tagging.

You have the printer, so now what?

“There is rapid proliferation of 3D printable content on the web, yet most of this remains disparate, piecemeal, disorganized and unprotected,” 3DI’s CEO and founder Seena Rejal said. “Effective ordering and navigating of this growing online universe of 3D models and databases in order to feed the expanding installed base of 3D printers, can determine the 3D printing sector’s ability to sustain continued growth and expansion.”

3DI has partnered with online databases and content providers to help make 3D printable models more easily searchable. It also drives traffic to online 3D printing communities and services, connecting designers and database users. Moreover, it tracks usage of 3D designs, so designers know when and by whom their models were used, which can help mitigate against infringements.

3DI was founded in 2012 and has received about $1 million in investment from private investors and from the U.K. government’s Technology Strategy Board. In March 2013 3DI launched its first products, a website 3Dpartsource.com and a related mobile app that both help connect buyers of industrial components and manufacturers using 3D capabilities. Buyers can use the platform to upload 3D models of a part or other materials are needed. Manufacturers can then be connected to new customers and make products for the buyers. The related app allows users to perform the same functions from an Android smartphone.

Connecting makers and designers

The latest product, 3Dshap.es, brings the capabilities to consumers and 3D printing enthusiasts. Rejal said the site helps designers and firms with large databases generate web users and share their designs. He noted that prior to 3Dshap.es, models could only be searched for by text, keywords or tags, limiting results if the keywords didn’t match or if the design was labeled in a different language.

3DI wants to make 3D searching easy and is hoping that its new search engine will be the go-to place for 3D content on the web, Rejal said, noting that the company already working on new features that will have applications in architecture and medicine.

It seems like the search engine will be very helpful to all those people backing 3D printer projects on Kickstarter. Now they will have more direction on how to use their new toys.

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Aviva Gat

About Aviva Gat


Olah Chadasha and former finance reporter from New York City. Gat is a writer, runner and traveler who came to Israel for the good food and weather. She writes for Geektime’s English and global desk.

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  • Olle

    nice article.

    • Geek

      3D printer….this is new thing for me

  • Geek

    This is new to me 3D printers!