With over 1.5 million users around the globe, CGTrader is one of the leading marketplaces for 3D models. More than just hosting over 680,000 individual models, the company brings together all manner of 3D designs—from industry, professional design fields and from the maker community—and for various applications, including AR/VR and game development, computer graphics and, perhaps most notably, 3D printing.
We recently spoke to Dalia Lasaite, CGTrader’s Co-Founder and CEO about how 3D printing is playing an important role in the company’s continued growth and how, especially as the technology advances more towards production, it will take on an even more critical significance in the future.
Davide Sher: Can you tell us a little about how CGTrader was born?
Dalia Lasaite: CGTrader was the idea of our co-founder and COO Marius Kalytis, who is a 3D designer himself. He started CGTrader in 2011, aiming to create an alternative to sites that were dominating the industry back then and provide a designer friendly marketplace.
DS: Why do you think it has been so successful?
DL: Our approach to the industry—being primarily designer-focused—is exceptional. Right from the start, we were paying attention to feedback from our users. Our co-founder is a 3D designer, so he knows what designers need. This led to us becoming the most designer friendly 3D marketplace, and the word of mouth helped a lot. Our designer base has grown very strong, and with it the amount and variety of 3D assets that are on the marketplace.
Buyers tell us they come for our great selection of models—we have close to 700,000 to choose from—and the ability to communicate with the sellers directly. It greatly improves their experience and saves a lot of time. For example, if they need some custom modifications to the models, they can approach the sellers directly.
DS: How relevant are 3D printable models in your current business model?
DL: The market for 3D printing models is definitely going strong. On CGTrader, there is a healthy balance of industrial 3D printable models, consumer oriented models and designs that could be described best as maker or amateur models. To make 3D printing even more accessible, we have launched the 3D PrintList – a location based directory of 3D printing outlets, where our customers can print out their designs. The PrintList is still in its infancy, but we hope to expand it greatly to encourage more people to make use of 3D printing technologies.
DS: Is the prevalence of 3D printable models increasing?
DL: CGTrader has grown massively as did the 3D printable model sales, but the share of 3D printable model sales remains constant. We are seeing very promising 3D printing technologies entering the market, which make 3D printing available at competitive scale, price, speed and quality. This brings immense potential to the industry and is something we are excited about.
DS: Can you give us an idea of the types of 3D printable models that are most frequently purchased?
DL: Jewelry is the most popular category of 3D printable designs, especially ring designs. Sculptures and miniatures are also up there.
DS: Do you see more consumer or professional 3D printable models being downloaded?
DL: We see higher sales for “consumer” designs on CGTrader in general. Non-professional customers take no issue with using designs made by others, while professionals require a lot of custom 3D modeling and therefore do most of their design work in-house. Professionals prefer using our 3D Projects section, where they can hire a 3D designer to create custom 3D models tailored to their needs.
DS: How is CGTrader aiming to grow even more?
DL: Over a hundred Fortune 500 companies are already using models from CGTrader, and we’re looking to make that number larger. As we’re attracting large clients, we get more requests for custom models, which is why we are expanding our Freelance 3D Projects section—our community definitely has the talent and experience to do the job. Our designer base is also constantly growing, as we develop and release 3D technologies that help designers save time and make their work easier.
DS: Do you think that 3D printing will be a major driver for CG Trader’s growth in the near and medium term future?
DL: As 3D printing starts offering production-level capabilities, it has the potential to become one of the main drivers of growth at CGTrader. The expanding capabilities of 3D printing technology means that businesses will need 3D models, either stock or custom made—and we are ready to help them.
DS: What are your expectations for the next five years?
DL: We expect growing demand for 3D models in all areas. 3D printing will be adopted at the industrial scale for mass production, which will greatly facilitate its prevalence. There are also many promising digital uses of 3D design.
E-commerce will be adopting 3D models; the first attempts are already live in various online stores. Other industries will also attempt to integrate VR/AR into their business models. Training, education and therapy are just some of the areas where these were tested with great results. There’s also the little known use of 3D models in AI training, where companies are starting to use 3D assets to train visual recognition systems.
DS: What do you think needs to happen for 3D printing adoption to become more widespread?
DL: 3D printing is already widely adopted for prototyping, but it needs higher quality and shorter printing times at the production level. The first technologies capable of this are starting to appear. Once they become more prevalent, there will be a massive wave of 3D printing adoption.
DS: Is the 3D printing industry currently growing as fast as it can?
DL:3D printing had a lot of hype around it, which died off a couple of years ago. Nevertheless, the 3D printing industry has continued to grow. We believe the next shift in growth will happen when businesses realize that it is possible to 3D print products at the production scale. The current lack of attention to 3D printing might limit its growth in the short term, but as the market realizes its potential, the growth of 3D printing will speed up immensely.