Pinshape, one of the largest and altogether best 3D printable model sharing marketplace is shutting down, very likely for ever, on March 31st. Usually I try to find a positive aspect to all news concerning 3D printing because I am confident 3D printing is the future of all manufacturing at all levels. However, this time, there is not much to go on.
The fact that Pinshape is shutting down represents incredibly sad news, possibly more for its users than for the for the very capable people working there. They have gained an amazing amount of invaluable experience in the 3D modeling and 3D printing space that they will certainly be able to leverage on in the years to come.
The users, on the other hand, lose for ever on of the best platforms to share, embed an visualize 3D models. In its official statement below Pinshape correctly blames the fact that consumer adoption of 3D printing has failed to materialize (to use an all too familiar term in 3D printing) and that platforms such as Pinshape have not been able to find a way to successfully monetize on its alreadnyvery large community of over 75K active users.
Other than the fact that these sad events are inevitable in a young industry that is rapidly (and yet too slowly) going from utter chaos to a mature business segment, one thing that should be noted is that th biggest mistake anyone getting into 3D printing can make today is to overexpose themselves financially. You can live off of angel investors and startup for a while but you need to become profitable as soon as possible. In fact you should try to be profitable from the very beginning, even if it means growing a lot more slowly.
This is not to say that Pinshape did not have an amazing project going. Even more financially sound in the long run than many others. But in order to have a working business models you need to be able to endure the thought times and also continue to grow. Not just in user numbers but in cold hard cash. That’s because 3D printing is not virtual like the web. It is physical, work, production. It needs to create a value and it needs to capitalize on that value. Even more so than the Internet. That’s why the boom was so short lived and that is why, now, many companies are going to have to deal with its backlash.
The world of 3D printing has an amazing number of issues affecting its growth: the fact that it is a new and largely misunderstood technology, the fact that it is a tiny industry and yet it is spread out globally, the fact that most of the people that got into it either came from entirely different sectors or had no experience at all. These, incidentally, are also some of 3D printing biggest strength and the features that make it so unique. 3D printing is constantly evolving and changing. Some will be lost along the way but 3D printing must, and will, go on.
This is the official Statement on Pinshape shutting down
To our Pinshape Community,
Sadly, today we are announcing the termination of Pinshape’s service effective March 31, 2016.
Over the past two years, we’ve had the privilege of innovating in an exciting industry. Pinshape’s had an incredible journey and support from so many passionate designers and makers, for which we’re truly grateful. Together, we’ve grown to over 75k+ active users and serve over 1500+ downloads to our community every day.
We founded Pinshape because we believe that access to high quality 3D content is imperative for this ecosystem to grow. Design talent is the blue ocean of this industry and in the coming decades, we believe the democratization of product design will be powerful. Pinshape’s platform was built as a foundation to deliver on this vision.
Ultimately, investor confidence in the consumer segment of the 3DP industry has weakened significantly over the past 12 months. We’ve seen most major 3DP players abandon the consumer segment entirely and shift their focus to industrial applications and opportunities. It’s still unclear to many how end consumers will adopt the technology, and what use cases will prevail to justify further investment.
This past year, we’ve seen former consumer leaders experience significant financial pressure, and pivot away from the space. MakerBot’s revenue was down 55% in 2015, with Stratasys taking massive goodwill impairment charges for the MakerBot acquisition. 3D Systems ended production of it’s $999 Cubify consumer printer and exited entirely from the retail consumer marketplace. Amazon closed it’s 3D printing store, and most recently, Solidoodle annouced its termination of operations.
The value of a 3DP marketplace is obvious in the long term, but for many, the path to monetization isn’t so clear. Part of our challenge was demonstrating a financial path forward. Today, 99.5% of our transactions are free. Given the size of the market, in January 2015, we choose to focus on free, and build the largest community possible to validate our platform and provide confidence we could continue expanding as the consumer segment picked up. Unfortunately, the opposite happened, and the market slowed considerably with signs of weakness.
In terms of our product – the platform, we’ve had nothing short of success. Together, we’ve built one of the most active and trusted marketplaces online. One thing I can tell you without hesitation is that our team worked incredibly hard for you every single day. We have an amazing team who worked for startup wages to be a part of this journey, and we’re super proud of what we’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time.
Over the past 4 months we ran a process to find Pinshape a new home. We failed to attract investment capital to run Pinshape as a stand alone company, and pursued acquirers we felt could continue building on the vision. Ultimately, this process was unsuccessful. In the coming weeks, we will continue to explore options to transition the platform to a new home.
We’ll be taking steps to wrap things up in the next few days, and the website will no longer be accessible as of March 31st. We will be paying out all amounts owing to designers. Please ensure your paypal information is correct. Additionally, please backup any files you own as they will be removed when the site is closed.
From our entire team, THANK YOU for being a part of Pinshape. We will miss you, and wish you all the best!
— Lucas, Nick, Andre, Victoria, Wojtek, Kate, Karen, Lauren, Jibran