When I received a press notification from Pirate3D yesterday, introducing ‘Treasure Island,’ the company’s newly released 3D model repository, I couldn’t help but smile. I have had a soft spot for this Asian-based 3D printer manufacturer since being introduced to them ahead of their super successful Kickstarter campaign last year (even despite the bumps along the way) which I put down to their relish in doing things a bit differently — sometimes cool, sometimes twee, but always, it seems to me, with a cheeky smile.
With shipping now underway, fulfilling the KS campaign, the latest news from the company obviously maintains the marauder theme with its moniker of ‘Treasure Island’, which is to be expected. Nicely done too, evoking classical literature and the quest for precious gems — in this case “perfectly [3D] printable” gems.
And that is the Pirates’ primary claim with this launch — namely that the content will be fully curated, and only digital files that are ‘perfectly printable’ will be found there. I have reservations over their use of the word “perfectly”, mind you. While it is likely they are referring to “perfect” digital models for 3D printing purposes, it inadvertently — or otherwise — raises expectations of perfect prints every time. That is highly unlikely.
As the pages of 3DPI testify, 3D content repositories for 3D printing are a growing trend. The leader in the field, specifically targeting 3D printing and 3D printer users, is, arguably, Thingiverse. Belonging to MakerBot (Stratasys, really) Thingiverse has long dominated this market segment with hundreds of thousands of models in its data banks. However, this is where Thingiverse is currently struggling — in its management of such copious model numbers and quality control.
Pirate 3D and Treasure Island, while mimicking the MakerBot / Thingiverse business model, does have some way to go to catch up in terms of developing an extended community and vault of curated models. At launch, yesterday, there were just 12 downloadable files. Slightly disappointing to say the least, but showing promise, and as the Buccaneers continue to land on desks, I would expect the community to ramp up, particularly if posts such as this are anything to go by.