It seems these days that everyone is either involved in 3D printing or has some idea they would like to explore with the technology. For as much noise as has been made about how 3D printing democratizes production, it is still not truly accessible to everyone, everywhere. Partly this is because 3D printers are still reasonably expensive, certainly less so than they have ever been, but significantly more than most people have to spend on such a device. And partly their lack of ubiquity is a result of limited knowledge held by the public in terms of designing for 3D printing.
There is more to creating something from a 3D printer than just having a desire for an object. You have to be able to design, at least in the most basic sense of the word, and even if you master the software, which ranges from the user friendly to the nearly impossible, you still have to have a sense of design: some vision of something that you want to create. Not everybody is a designer. I don’t mean that in the sense of having or lacking good taste, I just mean that there is more to designing than waiting for inspiration.
The folks at the Australian company MyLocal3DPrinting want to work to broaden the possibilities for participation in the realm of 3D printing. As such, they have created a crowdsourcing platform that allows those interested in 3D printing to engage no matter what their skill level or design capabilities. It is true that sites such as Shapeways currently offer people the ability to order 3D prints, either of their own design or from a selection of available creations.
What makes MyLocal3DPrinting a bit different is the direct contact it can provide between the person who wants to purchase something that will be 3D printed and a network of designers who can provide the design service. The crowdsourcing idea extends to a network of printing places as well. You can upload your own design and have it printed by a verified printer in your area, reducing the shipping costs, something which they view as a primary part of making custom 3D printing more widely accessible.
“I’m the co-founder of a startup that is essentially Upwork for 3D Printing,” Bobby Lin of ML3DP told us. “The problem we have with 3D Printing is that even though it’s this amazing technology that’s going to make our lives and businesses better it’s still only limited to people who know how to use 3D printing. 3D Printing is still not as accessible as we think it is… We’ve made it possible for anybody; whether you know how to 3D model or not, the ability to have an idea or concept created, 3D printed and delivered all on our site. Basically we give anyone the ability to customize at an affordable price.”
Through their service, you can, therefore, interact directly with a designer who will help you to create exactly what it is that you are looking for and then have it delivered to you, nearly anywhere. This means that if you have no experience and only a few basic words to express what you want, there will be someone to help you turn that into a reality. By the same token, if you are a designer already and just want to work with someone to bring your ideas to their best possible state, their network of designers can provide that as well.
The company explains:
“Our online visualization platform helps buyers track the progress of their project and find out the estimated printing price. Printing through our network is cheaper, faster, and helps users build strong working relationships with suppliers…3D printing and designing is certainly no rocket science, with many websites offering these services nowadays. However, MyLocal3DPrinting stands out from the crowd because we can help you get everything done under the same roof. Our comprehensive service facility makes us the only company brining crowdsourced designs and manufacturing to your fingertips, no matter what your requirements are.”
MyLocal3DPrinting sprung from Lin’s experience in 3D modeling in the visual effects industry. While the business model ultimately came from his experience with his company’s MakerBot 3D printer, “the drive is from something a lot more meaningful,” he says.
“I realized that if this business model is possible, then surely it is possible to develop a charity organization where people who are less fortunate can benefit from 3D Printed products to reach closer to a normal way of life, and all for free,” Lin explained. “Personally I don’t understand the ‘cheap’ prosthetic idea… We’re living in an age where there are now self driving cars, prosthetic limbs should be free and not ‘cheap’… this is the real driver for my business. For this to work there needs to be an existing ecosystem of the crowd-sourced design and 3d print idea and that’s what we’re doing.”
With a strong sense of both design and mission, MyLocal3DPrinting is bringing Australia to the next level in crowdsourcing, design, and conscientiousness in the 3D printing world.