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Can I Sell Things from Thingiverse?

Can I Sell Things from Thingiverse? | 3D Printing Spot

Updated by

William Stone

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September 16, 2021

Thingiverse is a great place to find files that can be printed on your 3D printer. Since you are also able to customize or combine designs, many people wonder if that makes the design sellable since they made a creative change to the print.

You can sell some things from Thingiverse if they have the correct license for it. Creators are allowed to select which license they want with their work, and anyone interested in using it must respect it.

Thingiverse has been on the rise due to its free platform that many creators enjoy taking advantage of—being able to exchange designs with one another and making changes to the ones you may want for yourself. If you’re interested in selling things on Thingiverse, keep reading.

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Selling Things from Thingiverse

Yes, selling things from Thingiverse is allowed, but there are rules. Only some things can be sold, and you have to have the appropriate license for selling things that you’ve made using Thingiverse purchase.

Thingiverse has several different licensing options for its creators to use. These are what will usually decide if you are allowed to sell the item or even the rules around doing so. Without one of these licenses, selling is not permitted. Sure, there are still some who do, but this is mostly frowned upon.

This can be something as simple as giving credit to the creator, or even rules around adapting and building onto the work.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons licenses are essential in helping creators, or licensors, maintain the copyright of their work even while allowing others to use it still. Every Creative Commons license will require the creator to receive credit for the work.

Thingiverse offers six different Creative Commons licenses for creators’ work. Many people appreciate the fact that each of these has something called the Commons Deed. This means that it is much easier to review the terms and see what each option includes.

Attribution

The biggest thing to note about this license is it allows the most freedom for those using the creator’s work. If a particular piece of work is under this license, then you would be able to distribute it commercially as long as the creator is credited.

Along with being able to distribute the work commercially, you would also be able to adapt it, however you may want. This includes deciding to remix, transform, or even build upon the original design. You can do any of those and still be able to distribute the work commercially.

Attribution – ShareAlike

This license is often compared to ‘copyleft’ free and other open-source software licenses. This is primarily due to any new work that is created from the original one that will carry the same license. This is the same license that Wikipedia uses, and is recommended for any works that could benefit from similarly licensed works.

Other than that license being shared after the new work is created, this one is very similar to the previous license. It allows for commercial use, along with being able to adapt the work however you like. The most significant stipulation is that you must credit the original creator.

When you make adjustments to the original work, you must make a note of this. This is to let anyone who wants to use your work know that the work was adapted from another one in these ways. This could benefit anyone who is looking at a design but prefers the original better than the adapted version.

Attribution – NoDerivs

This license does not mean that the work itself can’t be adapted or built upon, but it does mean that you can’t use it for commercial purposes if you do. The biggest thing to note about this license is that it protects the creators’ work from being distributed after it is modified.

Some creators would prefer that people only sell their original work, and this license is perfect for protecting them in that scenario.

Although you can build upon the work if you are using it for personal reasons, it is just essential to make note that they can’t be sold after you do so. As with the previous licenses, you must link the work back to the creator if you decide to use it for commercial purposes.

Attribution-NonCommercial

This includes the same stipulations that the first two licenses had, but instead of being available for commercial use, the work would strictly be for non-commercial purposes. Any work under this license will allow you to build on it or adapt it to how you see fit.

Any new work that is created must be credited back to the original creator. This is most common to the basic Attribution license, except it is a non-commercial.

It doesn’t require any work created based on the original doesn’t have to be under the same license. It just can’t be under a commercial license. They must also have their work under a non-commercial license.

Attribution-NonCommercial – ShareAlike

This is the non-commercial version of the ShareAlike license. It allows anyone to build onto the original work, as long as it is under the same license. If the original work is under a non-commercial license, it is typically expected for most people to list any of their work under the same license.

So, this may not be as big of an issue as a work that is under the commercial version.

The main thing creators may dislike about having to put work under the same license as the original is if they would have preferred to do the NoDerivs version or sell it commercially. However, all non-commercial license will not allow work, even if built upon, to be used for commercial purposes.

Attribution-NonCommercial –NoDerivs

This is the most restrictive of all the licenses, strictly allowing the creators to work to be used as-is and non-commercially. The work is allowed to be shared, but it can’t be built upon, and it must always be linked back to the original creator.

Creators who use this license are looking to protect their work as is and to prevent it from being altered in any way. This is usually up to preference, as many creators don’t mind if their work is altered. However, many can find it essential to keep their hard work as is, so they choose this license for the most protection.

Which Creative Commons License Should I Get?

There are several different factors to consider when you are choosing which license will work best for you. The biggest question being, do you want to allow your work for commercial use?

Commercial use means that the work will be sold based on the licensors criteria, which will usually involve receiving credit where it’s due.

The most important part of choosing a license is knowing what the benefits of each are. You should also know how you want people to use your work. This will make it easier to go through the license options and deciding which will work best for your work.

What Is Thingiverse?

Thingiverse is the largest 3D printing design community, run by the company MakerBot. It is a free service that allows anyone to browse through 3D printable files that are posted by creators. Depending on the licensing for the work, you can build or download it.

There is a large community on Thingiverse, and many recommend it for anyone new to 3D printing. It is even more helpful for anyone who may not be as skilled at creating models and would instead download a file over creating one.

Pros and Cons of Using Thingiverse

Using Thingiverse can come with a lot of positive or negative outcomes; this can be either as a creator or a user. Due to Thingiverse being owned by a 3D printer selling company, this can cause a lot of issues in certain areas. However, there is also the fact that many people enjoy the free platform and large community.

Pros of Thingiverse

There are a lot of pros to using platforms like Thingiverse, and many people do enjoy using it for all of their printing purposes. It is a great way to connect with the 3D printing community and find new works that you can download and print at home.

The Community

Thingiverse has a large community behind it, and the largest 3D printing platform available. You can collaborate with other creators or use their work as inspiration when you may be stuck with your own.

Since there is such a large community on Thingiverse, it also has the most downloadable designs available. It is as simple as exploring the platform, finding a work, downloading it, then set it up to print on your 3D printer.

Combining Multiple Works

Thingiverse allows you to find multiple works that you like and combining them to make something new. This will typically depend on the licensing behind the works and making sure they allow you to adjust the design. However, many people enjoy that they can let their creativity flow between works.

Remixing Original Designs

A popular feature used on Thingiverse is the ability to take a design and built on it. You can add features or whatever you may want to a piece to make it fit your needs best. Not only are you able to make these changes, but you are then able to share them with the community as long as you credit the original creator.

Affordable Options

The biggest pro to Thingiverse is that it is free for anyone interested in using it. This could be as a creator or just someone who is looking to download a work to print.

Since MakerBot owns the platform, they can keep it running with minimal ads, and by selling their 3D printers.

Thingiverse is reasonably easy to keep running, according to MakerBot, and is worth it to advertise the benefits of 3D printing in a large community. Having the platform be free for use is one of the biggest pros for most users.  

Licensing Options

Many people enjoy Thingiverse as creators due to the Creative Commons license and the security it gives the creator. It is similar to copyrighting the work as their own, and they can choose the license that allows more or less flexibility for those who want to use it personally. They can even allow commercial use if they don’t mind others doing so.

Cons of Thingiverse

While there are many reasons that people enjoy using Thingiverse, it also comes with just as many cons. The largest con can also be considered the largest pro as well, the price. Having a free downloadable service can cause many issues for creators.

Allows for Illegal Selling of Designs

Thingiverse offers a wide variety of licenses that allows a creator to decide if their work can be used commercially or only as a non-commercial product. However, even with a license, issues can occur where they are illegally sold.

Unfortunately, due to the free download service and public domain, people will often take work and sell it through platforms like eBay. This is illegal if the work is listed for non-commercial use, or it can even be illegal if it is being sold without crediting the original creator.

While you are protected by the license and can have the product removed from these sites, it is still common for creators to find their work advertised. Keep a careful eye out for this; it’s one of the most harmful scenarios among the cons.

Owned by MakerBot

Another issue behind using this service is that it is owned by MakerBot. This means they have complete control over what is on the site, and can also mean they own the work that is posted if they change the terms to state this.

What Does MakerBot do for Thingiverse?

MakerBot is a company that specializes in selling 3D printers for professionals, or even for beginners. They have a wide variety of tools available on their site for not only purchasing printers or materials but learning how to 3D print in the first place.

Along with these, they also have software and apps that can be paired with their printers for easy use. Even with Thingiverse, printing can be much easier when using the same product since it can be linked by following instructions that MakerBot provides.

MakerBot Printers

MakerBot has several printers available, from printers that can be used in industrial settings to ones that are best for personal use. Each printer has the perks that need to be considered outside of just the basic functionality of the printer itself.

Method

Method printers are typically the most recommended and most common printer people will purchase. Three different versions vary in the benefits, but the original is best for anyone merely interested in a personal printer.

This printer is best known for industrial printing, so many engineers will typically choose this one due to the high support behind it. It’s great for making parts for engineering purposes or even for a robotics company.

Replicator Z18

The Replicator Z18 is the MakerBots printer that is best for speed and reliability. It is used most often by professional innovators and is a large printer meant for larger projects. Many enjoy this printer most due to the fact you can print more for cheaper than an industrial printer.

Some of the features include flexible connectivity, featured software, and MakerBot support. Flexible connectivity means that you could send your files to the printer by Wi-Fi, USB, or even Ethernet. It can also be controlled using the MakerBot Mobile app or through MakerBot Print.

MakerBot Print

MakerBot Print is free software that helps ease the process of 3D printing. The primary use of the software is to import a design and make sure the settings are correct for the print that you are wanting. You then look at the preview of the edited version of the print before sending it to your printer.

Replicator – Sketch Classroom

The Sketch Classroom package is excellent for in-class use. It is the easiest to use the printer for both teachers and their students. This printer is used by over 7,000 schools and has little to no setup required once it has been received.

Along with the Replicator printer, there are a few other items included in this package. There is a MakerBot Certification Program for Educators License included as well. Along with that is a guidebook to help give a crash-course on 3D printing.

The program that comes with the printer will make the educator a printing expert with the ISTE seal of approval. It also helps teach the educator how to create lesson plans that include 3D printing for their students.

Final Thoughts

Thingiverse is a highly popular platform with a community that is continuously growing. Because of this large community, it is the most popular place for anyone interested in 3D printing to find work that they can print.

Many enjoy that Thingiverse not only has a wide variety of options for printing but that it is free to use and download these works. The only issue that can commonly run into is selling a creators’ work.

The main issue usually occurs when someone ignores the creator’s license on their work and decides to use it for commercial use despite it. Thingiverse has a lot of pros that people enjoy and continue to go back for, but it is always good to be aware of any issues that can occur with a platform.

About THE AUTHOR

William Stone

William Stone

William has spent 20 plus years in the custom manufacturing industry as a COO, CEO and Owner of various custom product businesses. His experience has exposed him to all types of manufacturing from die cast, die struck, injection molding, CNC machining, laser etching, engraving and of course 3D printing.

Learn more about William Stone

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Can I Sell Things from Thingiverse?

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