For a long time now, two major questions have come up around Thingiverse:

  1. How can I print things from Thingiverse if I don’t own a printer?
  2. How — as a designer — can I get paid for my designs on Thingiverse?

Yesterday, MakerBot took a big step forward on both of these questions by teaming up with 3D Hubs to allow visitors to Thingiverse to order prints from local hubs (or their favorite non-local hub) around the world.

Of course, selling these designs wouldn’t be fair without including a cut for the designers also. To help facilitate this, the integration includes the ability to tip the designer. Currently, tips seem to be fixed (and forced) based on what the designer sets.

If you are unfamiliar with how 3D Hubs works, here is a brief overview: Owners of 3D printers around the world can set up a hub. This allows users who want to find a local place to get 3D printing done to order prints from that hub. The hub owner sets their own pricing, based on a startup fee and a cost per cubic millimeter of material. When a customer places an order, the hub owner can review that order and either accept or reject it based on the printability and the customer’s desires. Once the order is accepted, the customer pays for the order as well as a small service charge that goes to 3D Hubs. Money is held by 3D Hubs until the order is complete and delivered.

I have been running a hub for around 6 months now, and have had a really positive experience with using the service.

The Thingiverse integration is currently limited to only a handful of designers, but the plan is to expand the offering to more designers as the system matures. You can learn more via 3D Hubs announcement page.