Earlier this year we found 3DPintpoint.me, a brand new service for listing and finding local 3D printers in your community, on Reddit. We had a chance to catch up with the creator about this site and where he thinks the industry is going. Here’s what we found!
Practical3DP: Please tell us about yourself.
Daniel Brooks: My name is Daniel Brooks, and I am from Houston, Texas. I’ve been in various manufacturing, sales and computer related careers for the last 6 years – the most recent being in IT administration for a mid-size software development company.
P3DP: What is 3DPinpoint.me? How did you come to find this problem?
DB: 3D Pinpoint is a website that brings together designers and customers together, which results in both parties getting their desired results. People who own 3D printers can make a profit from listing their 3D printing services, and customers can find someone nearby to print their items. Shipping, of course, is also an option. This reduces overall turnaround time, and prices. Our most successful printers list their services on social networks to draw in the attention from their “Local” customers.
P3DP: How are you different from the other sites out there?
DB: We have 2 competitors – MakeXYZ and 3D Hubs. The biggest differentiator is that we offer a filter by “Industrial” quality, which allows for businesses which extremely expensive high-end printers to list their services as well, and distinguish themselves from a high quality printer such as a Makerbot Replicator 2. MakeXYZ makes you find a printer first, and then upload your print. We’ve chosen to have you upload your print first, and then get a calculated price from each of the listed results.
The biggest difference between 3D Pinpoint and 3DHubs is that anyone on 3D Pinpoint can join without any restrictions, and we are also US based(although we do have quite a few printers in Canada, Mexico, Italy, China, and many other countries) For instance, 3DHubs requires 10 printers in your city to register before you “unlock” your city. We believe that anyone, anywhere should be able to list your 3D printer services. If you are the only printer in your entire city – that’s great! That person can hopefully receive all sorts of print jobs and continue to build up their reputation.
To my knowledge, we have at least 5 $100K plus printers listed.
P3DP: What is the biggest barrier in sharing your 3D printer?
DB: The biggest barrier would be consistency and printability. Most customers just want their things printed in 3D, at the lowest price. They don’t realize the print may not be “printable”. We’ve included links to fix prints on Netfabb.com, which solves 99% of any file upload issues. As far as consistency goes, its hard telling which printer will produce the best result at the best price. Which is why we’ve included the ability to upload images, and also rate your 3D printer to find the best combination of the two.
P3DP: How do I know if a printer can produce my design?
DB: When it comes down to it, its 100% up to the printer owner if they deem the print design to be “printable”. They know their own printer better than anyone, and therefore they have the final say. However, as I mentioned, Netfabb.com can repair the STL ensuring it CAN be printed if the right printer is found. We have a custom invoice option available also, for those who may want bulk prints or custom designs.
P3DP: How does your work make 3D printing more practical or usable?
DB: It opens up an entire world to people who don’t own a 3D printer, can’t afford one, don’t have the time to learn CAD software, or for people who prefer to have a professional they can interact with directly. It supports local businesses, encourages repeat customers, and both Printers and Customers win in this business model.
P3DP: What is needed to make 3D printing easily usable by everyone?
DB: Both hardware and software will need to continue advancing to ensure its usable by everyone. Once printers are sort of “plug-and-play”, and software just “works” and aligns the print bed automatically, more people will be interested in purchasing one. Even though 3D printing has been around for many years, it only recently has become more readily available in households.
P3DP: What are you looking forward to being able to print someday?
DB: I’m really interested to see how far medical advancements will go. So far I’ve seen 3D printed arms and legs, nose, jaws, and much more.
P3DP: What is the coolest thing you’ve ever seen printed?
DB: The coolest thing I’ve seen printed is by a company called Whiteclouds. They’ve created an entire series of Steampunk dinosaurs which are truly amazing. They’ve also used 3D printing to enlarge microscopic organisms and bring them to life. Whiteclouds have also created a scale model of Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whiteclouds
P3DP: What materials would you like to print with one day that you cannot today? What would you build with it?
DB: Concrete and wood. I’ve seen plastics and metals in action, but not concrete or wood. It may be unrealistic, but it would be really cool to see outdoor statues or Gargoyles printed out a 3D printer.
P3DP: What is some of the interesting research that you are following in the 3DP space?
DB: I’m following it all. The newest I’ve seen is 3D printed noses. I really like all of the household decorations, such as light fixtures that can be made using 3D printed than cannot be made any other way. Here is an example.
3DPinpoint.me is a printer sharing service that makes it easy to find a local printer and price your print. You can find more information about 3DPinpoint.me on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.