3D printing marketplace: which one to choose?

Looking for the best 3D printing marketplace ?

Posted By Claire Chabaud on Jul 22, 2015 | 1 comment

Are you curious about 3D printing but lack the skills and time to design your idea? This is not an issue anymore. Thousands of designers and users gather together on 3D printing marketplaces to share and sell their designs. It’s good way to enjoy 3D printing without having to experience design issues.




Different kinds of 3D printing marketplaces are defined by people using them

3D printing services companies, like Sculpteo, receive 3D printing files and print them

Designers create the printable designs on various software (Meshlab, Blender, etc..)

The design skilled users, who are independent and create their own designs

The curious users, who are willing to experiment  the most with 3D printing, want to be part of the adventure but lack some design skills or time to create printable designs

  • We can identify and take a closer look at two kinds of 3D printing marketplaces:

1. Hybrid 3D printing marketplace: These are blooming marketplaces, because they are adapted to suit FDM users.  We believe that their scope of users will soon reach printing services users. You can download printable files for free or for a fee and sometimes you can directly print the design by using  a 3D printing service linked to the marketplace.


2. Free sharing 3D printing marketplace: These platforms specialize in creative commons and public domain files. The designs are free but you must respect the specific copyright attribution decided by the author. There are no printing services linked.




Overlook of the different hybrid 3D printing marketplaces

Pinshape : This platform offers  a friendly interface and a fast growing community. They have weekly staff picks selection to feature budding designers on their platform, and give makers ideas for their next print. They also feature designer each month, which is a good opportunity to learn from some seasoned designers, as well as get inspired.They are currently raising $500,000 on Fundable to boost their community. Their plans sound promising !

As a seller : You can set the amount your want to earn per design listing and they will calculate the final price (30% on top of your set price, in which they take the extra 30%) automatically.


CGTrader : CGTrader is really standing out thanks to two inspiring features. The first one, modelling jobs. This allows you, from time to time, to ask a 3D designer to create a design for you. The second one is looking for inspiration. The CGTrader community is keen on 3D printing but also 3D design, this culture is really strong on the website and it can inspire your next project.

As a seller : They charge 10% of the model price and you get 90% of the royalties.


MyMiniFactory : This platform is based on the same model as Pinshape and offers some amazing features as CGTrader. For instance, MMF Ideas is a “crowdsourced” idea’s platform to test your ideas before you design them. An useful tool to save your time ! If you are learning to design you might be interested by MMF TV where you will find plenty of streaming channels to give you tips and make you discover new things about 3D printing.

As a seller :  Commission on sale of 3D printed objects is determined on a per-designer basis


Amazon : Currently Amazon is offering 3D printed objects. The order is directly made to different 3D printing services such as Sculpteo. You cannot download or customize the file. The target of Amazon is really clear: they want to introduce their customers to 3D printing  in the easiest way possible. Knowing the scope of Amazon’s customers, we are waiting to see what is next!

As a seller : Conditions are the same as on Sculpteo marketplace. The seller benefits from one of the widest possible exposure on the web and touch directly the royalties each time his design is ordered and printed


Overlook of the different Free sharing 3D printing marketplaces

Thingiverse : The biggest platform to find free 3D printing models. The platform has one of the largest communities and has easy to customize designs. It is manage by the FDM printer brand Makerbot and was based at first on the idea of open-sourced files. Nevertheless, they recently changed their focus and decided to switch from makers to a more common target consumer. Some of the previous users decided to boycott this choice and hope a new platform will emerge that’s more suitable for their needs.

As a seller: It is totally free, your designs would be downloadable with no charge.

YouMagine :Based on the same model as Thingiverse, Youmagine has a smaller scope. They offer a really interesting feature with their Open Ideas forum. This site is makers oriented this feature allows different users to collaborate on a same project and to make it succeed as a team.

As a seller: YouMagine is free and based on the principle of collaborative content.

Grabcad : This platform is significant, its main users are engineers. They are gathering all the model they created together to avoid other to spend again time on modeling them again. It might be less interesting for a normal user but if you are looking for a really specific piece  they have 800,000 objects that might be the solution to your prayers!

As a seller: Grabcad is free and based on the principle of collaborative content.

An alternative solution: the Meta search engines: These platforms agregate 3D files coming from multiple websites. They are really convenient for you to compare various designs at the same time.

Yeggi : If you cannot chose between these different 3D printing marketplaces, Yeggi might be an accurate solution to your problem. The platform gathers together all the models in the differents marketplaces. It works as a search engine for your 3D printing models. A good way to compare the 3D printing marketplaces and find out which one is the most adapted to your needs.



We decided to select some criteria to define the adapted platform to your needs

Numbers of designs : To determine the diversity of the models you find. The more designs there are, the more chance you get to find the one you are looking for!

Features: According to your uses, some features can be determined by your platform choice. Also, it can totally change your habits and the way you 3D print.

Communication of the platform: It’s easy for you to find the staff pick or the most trending products. This point is important to determine how easy it is to find the model you want and if the platform is user-friendly.

Category : Is the platform well indexed? Sometimes unusual categories can be hard to find .  It’s important to find a platform that doesn’t offer too many designs because you might get lost, but with too few you cannot get specific enough designs. It is a balance.

Free : Are the designs all free or are the designs charged? Be aware, sometimes charged designs are not really that expensive ( 2euros) and they provide a better quality.

Printable services: Is there any printable service linked to the platform? If you already have access to a 3D Printer this decision is already made for you, because it will be easier for you to 3D Print your file.

Printability of the files: Can you be certain that your file would be correctly printed? As thousands of users are uploading files the majority of website do not check their printability. The risk for you is that your print fails which is a waste of your time and money.

Commission: How much will  the platform charge you to sell your designs on its marketplace?

Sculpteo Pinshape CGTrader MyMiniFactory Amazon Thingiverse YouMagine Grabcad
Designs 60 000 N/C 10000 10000 732 >500.000 8000 880000
Features Printing tools
Fast growing
3D modelling jobs
Looking for
Design Contest
Jobs board
Designers connect
Different stores
Already printed
customer service
Create an app
( Open) Ideas Engineers
Open ideas
Communication No Featured
3D designers
Staff pick
Trending model
No Staffpick
Designer of the week
Category 4 7 9  21 5 10 14 N/C
Free No Yes/ No Yes/ No Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Printing service Yes No Yes Yes Diversified No No No
Printability check Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
Commission Cost of printing Per-design basis 10% Per-design basis Cost of the printing Free Free Free


In the end, the 3D printing marketplaces mainly differentiate themselves from each other with their features. Since its recent creation, we are especially impressed by the development of Pinshape and its community. We are really enthusiast about their Staff Picks of the Week, and their Designer of the Month posts. If you’re curious about what you can achieve with a 3D printer, their Blog is definitely worth a look to get inspired and find designs that you are looking for.

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