Nice guys finish first: Cubeforme vs. Just3dPrint

Oceans of pixels have already been spilt in covering the Great Free Model Heist of 2016 and I’m late to the game as usual (what with a 3D printing Kickstarter underway and all), but I’ll bring it up again because I’d like to draw a bright line of contrast between the moustache-twirling mendacity of Just3Dprint and the 3D printing paladins over at Cubeforme.

To recap: A quartet of marketing-school bros decided that offering outrageously-priced prints of freely available 3D models on eBay without crediting or compensating the original designers in any way was a viable business model. Just3DPrint defended themselves against the subsequent outrage with some hamhanded quasi-legal jiggery-pokery and, in doing so earned the ire of the 3D printing community and attracted the gaze of MakerBot’s legal department besides. Nice.

The hullabaloo has since died down and, with any luck, these gentlemen will fade into 3D printing history and pursue careers for which they are better suited, like price-gouging senior citizens out of their pharmaceuticals. Enough about them, let’s move on to Cubeforme.

Cubeforme found an alternative business model using the same wellsprings of free 3D printable content, but where Just3dPrint did everything wrong, Cubeforme is doing everything right.

A primer on Cubeforme: the company selects one designer a month, prints a few of their models, and ships the prints to subscribers along with some liner notes about the designer. They’re all about the end user unboxening experience: the colorful packing material is even matched to the colors of the 3D prints therein. BONUS! 10% of every order goes back to the original designer.

Their first box was “The Jim Rodda Adventure,” a title that the lovely and talented Mrs. Zheng3 thinks is hi-larious. It contains a couple of my designs: Robber Rex, Finger Shark, Zheng’s Diminutive Defender, and the Micro Ballista. It’s a fun little bundle of 3D printed mayhem.

jim rodda adventure

(Cubeforme > Just3DPrint). Here’s why:

  1. They asked permission. This is HUGE. In a world where 3D content is often free for the taking, CubeForme took that extra, polite step of asking me if they could use my work. Pay attention, just3Dprint.com. Creative Commons Attribution matters.
  2. I was compensated! I won’t be retiring on what I was paid– these guys are a scrappy startup, after all– but even a token gesture of financial support for someone who’s cranking out free models day after day means a great deal.
  3. They’re nice guys. CubeForme’s principals Kyle and Nick have gone out of their way to promote me and my work, even after their Kickstarter ended. Communication with them has been excellent and they’ve been good pals of mine ever since.

So! If you’re a 3D printing designer, especially one who got rubbed the wrong way by the Just3DPrint debacle, get in touch with CubeForme. They’ll help get your designs out to more people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to a 3D printer.

Not a designer but just want a monthly shipment of curated stuff showing up at your door? Check out Cubeforme here, and use code zheng3 at check-out for 20% off anything designed by Zheng Labs.

Best of luck to Cubeforme in all their future endeavors. This 3D printing startup is worth watching: you read it here first.

What do you think?