It was more than a year ago that I wrote about Yobi3D, a site striving to be the Google of 3D printable content. By typing in a search term, you could browse the web for 3D models to suit your needs, uniting the plethora of 3D printable sites located throughout the online universe into one platform. While I was in Taiwan, this past December, I got to meet the founder of Yobi3D, Jessy Lee, who told me that the site is still going strong and, since we covered them in 2014, they’ve added some interesting, new features.
After their initial launch, Yobi3D has expanded its capabilities through three major updates that really increase the usefulness of the site: textures, 3D printability analysis, and related 3D models. While the site originally showed 3D models in grayscale, they’ve now display 3D previews with texture maps, making them more colorful. This is essential because Yobi3D is not just for 3D printable models, but for gaming and AR/VR, as well. So, developers can find the models their after based on useful texture maps. And, when color 3D printing becomes more ubiquitous, thanks to a number of developments that took place around CES.
And to make the site even more useful to those involved with 3D printing, there’s Yobi3D’s new printability filter. This filter limits the search results on the site in terms of “Easy”, “Medium”, and “Hard” printability levels. As you might imagine, this requires some pretty intelligent programming implemented by large 3D printing bureaus like Shapeways, Sculpteo, and i.materialise, as it is able to decipher whether there are significant holes in a 3D object, if its walls are too thin, and, of course, if it is the right file format for 3D printing.
While “Easy” requires no modification in order to be printable, models are determined to be “Medium” in terms of printability if they need to be repaired or converted and “Hard” if the file, when printed, does not even resemble its virtual form.
Finally, Yobi3D has developed a “Related 3D Models” feature that presents a list of related 3D models when searching for a specific object on the site. Jessy tells me that they’re still researching this topic and working to improve the algorithm to ensure that the presented results are relevant enough to the original search.
Yobi3D has made some pretty important advances since it was first introduced a year or so ago. And, as the world of 3D models and 3D printing become larger parts of the lives of the greater population, most folks will surely demand a Google-type tool for finding 3D objects. With Google’s Project Tango about to hit mainstream consumers this summer, there will be even more reason for the 2 billion people on the planet who use smartphones to go searching for 3D content and, thanks to sites like Yobi3D, they’ll have even more resources with which to do so.