3D Printing

MakerBot’s Thingiverse Comes To Android

MakerBot. No other 3D printing company gets quite such a harsh light shined upon it by myself. Why? In part because of MakerBot’s unique position as a brand-of-choice as part of a Brand America exercise orientated by the USA’s cutting edge military technology branch DARPA, in what I believe could potentially be viewed and reviewed as a pseudo-monopolising prejudice by political institutions. However, MakerBot is also, simply, good at what it does, and Bre Pettis is, frankly, a genius. Whether his genius is primarily at branding, or lies within the technology itself, may be a matter for debate?

Before I do debate it, here is an ‘in brief’ of the excellent features you can anticipate finding in MakerBot’s new Android version of its Thingiverse app:

– Browse featured 3D designs and new and noteworthy items selected by Thingiverse community popularity.

– Scroll through beautiful slideshows of detailed photos when viewing 3D designs.

– Upload photos to share images of your 3D prints, or update your profile and cover images from your phone.

– Like, collect and add a description to photos.

– Share directly from the app to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, email, or save to your camera roll.

– Change your Thingiverse settings, and more!

Thingiverse is the world’s largest 3D printing community and content reserve, with currently more than 160,000 members and 200,000+ downloadable digital designs of free 3D models.

Well over 100,000 3D printables now sit in the possession of Stratasys, one of the two main corporate players in the industry. There are now 100’s of 3D file repositories out there, and I’m tempted to list them in an article sometime soon (no promises) to link to each time I mention Thingiverse to provide an editorial balance to the position of near-monopoly for this file repository.

However, I will say that I believe that Thingiverse got to where it is today because of constant innovation by Bre Pettis and his growing team, and, I believe it stands out far more than MakerBot’s 3D printers relative to its market. With the insight of the new additions to MakerBot’s 3D printer range: the excellent looking huge Z18; very strong fifth generation Replicator that goes some way to quell my fears about the 2/X being a sign MakerBot were drifting towards novelty over true innovation; and puzzling but cute Replicator Mini with it’s 6′ by 6′ by 4′ smaller volume desktop printer… a current product placement is doubtless utterly researched, but personally I’d question the wisdom of anyone at all paying USD$1375 for such a small build area in 2014.

Thingiverse users can now download the Android app, which has the same functionality as the iOS app, launched in October 2013 which has not only become very popular but Apple recently selected the app as “One of the Best New Social Networking Apps.”

“Bringing Thingiverse functionality to the fingertips of our community has always been a goal of ours,” noted Bre. “And now with the Android version of the app added to the already popular iOS version, Thingiverse users can access their favorites 3D models, collect and share them and view them on an Android or iOS device, whether at work or play.”

One really nice feature is that when you print an item from Thingiverse, the app provides an opportunity to take a photo, upload it and associate the image with a ‘thing’ (3D-printable / physible / whichever flavour of term of reference you prefer) from your download history, collections favorites or search.

And as a postscript with this annnoucement, Makerbot has revealed that the iOS 1.1 version of the Thingiverse app has been submitted to the Apple App Store for approval which includes the ability to add photos to designs or MakerBot Digitizer Desktop 3D Scanner (no mention of whether other scanners can be used at this point) scans posted to Thingiverse. It also includes the ability to browse your own collections and favorites in your user profile or browse collections in all user profiles; view and respond to comments on thing detail pages; and receive push notifications when new designs are published.

3D printables on the go — there are no excuses not to!