As new companies keep emerging all over the 3D printing space, getting a grip of the industry as a whole might prove to be somewhat intimidating or even aversive for those interested in the sector, but unaware of what the 3DP 1-on-1’s are. This has also opened a window for parties, who understand that the information on all kinds of different 3DP related companies doesn’t need to be scattered around behind individual domains or lucky search engine terms.
One of the first umbrella type of concepts to provide help in this sector is PrintDDD, the 3DP service presenting itself as the yellow pages of the industry. The idea is simple – provide common grounds for businesses working in 3D printing related fields and the consumers who are looking for the services to find each other under a single domain. Category-wise PrintDDD currently consists of 10 different sections, ranging from 3D scanning and printing services to local 3DP tech support and related events.
The UX in general is on a good level. Searching – obviously the most important function of this kind of service – is quite intuitive and can be done via clicking on the banners on the (Google) map, by country or category by using a dropdown or a link list (the last of which actually should provide the user with the respective services on the map rather than on a simple listing). The visual aspect is also in order. But something’s still missing – the actual companies.
Each category currently only provides information on a few potential companies. For example by choosing the manufacturer from the listing, MakerBot is the only one to appear in the results, filaments gives two companies, events four and so on.
A service of this kind is – at least eventually – needed and justified, but could in my opinion at this stage benefit from active ground and marketing work from PrintDDD themselves, rather than relying on the eagerness of the 3DP companies promoting their offering to the users. Most of the companies, whether they be in the filament, hardware or software business, a start-up or even at listed phase, would most likely agree to having their name & information listed on a site such as this – at least with no additional cost. Without knowing the details of PrintDDD’s business model, strategy or funding background the actual possibility to go this route is unknown, but the market in general would benefit from a comprehensive listing of all things 3DP under a single roof. In the end, this would probably help PrintDDD as well to reap what they have initially sown, even if it meant conducting the planting phase as ‘pro bono’.