Fun pirate branding aside, I’m really glad to see the emergence of Pirate3D’s new 3D project repository, appropriately dubbed ‘Treasure Island‘. While consumer-level 3D printers are now a thing, CAD and similar design skills aren’t really something the average consumer really has, currently. Thus, most people, when they get their first 3D printer, end up on Thingiverse to find projects that they can print with their newfangled toy.
Don’t get me wrong – Thingiverse is good. You can see the various things that I’ve found/printed/designed on my profile. However, there are some…..challenges….with Thingiverse. For starters, it’s not curated. The plus side of this is that anyone can upload a design, just as simple as that. There’s no approval process, etc. The downside to that is that anyone can upload a design – you get quite a bit of junk on there that either hasn’t been test-printed, or has a flaw in the design that you don’t discover until halfway through your print.
Of course, the community aspects to Thingiverse help address this, as users can collect, like, etc various projects. There’s also a ‘made’ option, where a user can indicate that he/she actually printed the project, and upload photos of their experience (either in process or the final result). This helps, but there’s still quite a bit that MakerBot could (and should) be doing to fix this.
Enter Treasure Island, from Pirate3D. Pirate3D is another 3D printer manufacturer – their printer is called the Buccaneer, and it’s pretty low-cost, as compared to MakerBot. However, it’s still closed off to tinkering – its body is sealed and it uses a specially sized filament spool, which is annoying and make an unwelcome connection to desktop inkjet printers, with their proprietary ink ‘cartridges’.
Pirate3D has started by saying that a key difference between Treasure Island and Thingiverse will be that Treasure Island is curated. Pirate3D will be screening each submission to make sure it’s a printable design, which will be a big help.
As of right now, they have a lot of catching up to do – Thingiverse has thousands of projects, while Treasure Island has less than 20. Quality might be the key, though.