Toronto-based startup Voovo has created the world's first crowdsourced platform for 3D printing services. With only slightly over 100,000 3D printers sold in 2014, a major problem facing the industry today is that most people don’t even own 3D printers.
Voovo provides an outlet for entrepreneurs, engineers, and hobbyists to obtain cheap 3D printed parts and models from a network of both professional and independent 3D printing studios. This allows customers to quickly crowdsource job quotes that independent owners of 3D printers can facilitate.
Job quotes are submitted in a reverse-auction style format to guarantee competitive pricing for the job poster. The platform also enables anyone who has a 3D printer to become a full-service 3D printing studio that can personalize, print, and ship models around the world. Voovo can be used for rapid prototyping or creating physical models of your own CAD files. Alternatively, it can also be used as a printing service for 3D designs found on websites like Thingiverse, TurboSquid, or on Voovo’s own free marketplace.
To begin this process, customers upload the design files they want printed with a brief description outlining their desired customization. Print shops can immediately begin to submit quotes based on the user’s specific request, and can even view the pricing submitted by other print shops. At the close of the auction, customers select the print shop with the lowest pricing, most attractive location, or highest star rating, and will get the model delivered right to their door.
“Professional 3D printing studios are extremely skilled and technically advanced, and can therefore justify charging higher rates. But, not all 3D printing jobs require the same level of skill and attention to detail. Often enough professional printers don’t want the same type of jobs that can be done on a household 3D printer,” states cofounder Chris Gray. “With our 3D printing service auction platform we source 3D printing quotes from around the world to find our users the perfect match for their job type. Then, we leave it up to them to decide what is most important: price, quality, or printer rating.”
“We started Voovo for two reasons — the first was to connect people who have 3D printers with people who are willing to pay a fair price for a 3D printed item,” says cofounder Phillip Raffi. “The second was to help individuals make money by using their 3D printers. After a few months of using our auction, an active user can recover most of what they spent on their 3D printer. We see Voovo as a convenient and cost effective way for even the least tech-savvy people to get involved with 3D printing.”
Working out of the Digital Media Zone incubator at Ryerson University in Toronto, the Voovo team will be pushing to onboard 5,000 3D print shops and host more than 10,000 auctions worldwide in 2015.
Image Credit: Flickr/Jared Tarbell