maker6 Comes at Shapeways and 3D Hubs

With all of the new business opportunities presented by the emerging 3D printing market, it’s likely that many competitors will operate within the same space. So, of course a site like Shapeways would see its own business mirrored by Sculpteo, etc.  What I didn’t expect to see was that crowd-sourced 3D printing would also be taken up by multiple businesses. After 3D Hubs had announced its online directory for user-owned 3D printers across the world, I thought that their site was all that was needed for distributed manufacturing.  When maker6 came along, I was proven wrong. 

maker6 3D Printing 3D Printer

Like 3D Hubs, maker6 is a site that connects clients with 3D printers around the world. You find a 3D printer nearest to you, shop prices and printing methods, and have your model 3D printed.  Unlike 3D Hubs, maker6 extends beyond the printer network and offers design services and 3D-printable files, as well. As MacKenzie Brown, co-founder of the site, told me via their online chat service, maker6 sprung out of CAD Crowd, a marketplace for 3D modeling services. After realizing that 50% of the work uploaded to CAD Crowd was 3D printable, it only made sense to add a 3D printing component to their project, with MacKenzie saying, “So we decided rather than sending Shapeways our designed 3D printable work, we’d start offering local 3D printing to our clients.

bird eggs 3D PrintingAt maker6, not only can you print objects via the distributed network, but you can connect with a designer to help you develop your ideas into 3D models. MacKenzie tells me, “A lot of our clients need help with the design rather than just printing. Over the past year, we’ve put together a network of over 2500 designers that are available for freelance based work. So I’d say we’re focused on providing a higher touch service compared to alternatives (3D Hubs, Shapeways, Sculpteo, etc.).”  He adds that maker6 also gives designers the opportunity to sell their designs, saying, “One of our long-term strategies is also to enable entrepreneurs to open storefronts and products that they’ve designed on their own and printed with a personal printer.” So, what you’ll find on maker6 is an online repository of 3D models that you can purchase and print, either on your own printer, or with the distributed network.

mackenzie 3D Printing Maker6

MacKenzie explains that the company’s goal is to “provide a one stop shop to help clients turn their ideas/napkin sketches into 3D printable products.”  So, in addition to CAD Crowd, which allows clients to launch CAD design contests, they’re working on a number of other related sites, such as Eng-Source.  Eng-Source is for longer term projects in which a client might need an engineer for an extended period of time to help plan architectural, mechanical, structural and/or electrical engineering projects. In terms of maker6, MacKenzie says, “Our long term vision is to allow anyone with a 3D printer the ability to run a business out of their basement by opening an online storefront and sell their products to a global audience.

So far, the maker6 site is only in beta. They’ve been processing orders since December with between 400 and 500 3D printers listed in their directory. Because the site combines the storefront platform offered by Shapeways with the distributed 3D printer network of 3D Hubs and adds in design services, they may have distinct advantages over those other sites. I’m definitely looking forward to where this project is headed.

Source: maker6