Barriers to Using, Customizing, and Printing 3D Designs on Thingiverse
Association for Computing Machinery
Thingiverse is the largest 3D design-sharing online community with millions of users. Thingiverse provides a low-barrier-to-entry for exploring 3D printing as users can quickly download premade 3D designs and ask design-specific questions. In this paper, we investigate users' activities on Thingiverse and their conversations by using quantitative and qualitative analyses. Our findings shed light on various barriers in using, customizing, and printing premade 3D designs. The results suggest that although Thingiverse plays a key role in helping users get started with basic 3D printing, there are many opportunities to streamline the design-download-customize-print workflows. In particular, opportunities exist for designers to provide richer metadata, clarifications, and expert tips to help users succeed in printing objects and customizing existing 3D designs.