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500 days of Thingiverse: a longitudinal study of 30 popular things for 3D printing

James I. Novak (Faculty of Science Engineering and Built Environment, School of Engineering, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Article publication date: 19 October 2020

Issue publication date: 28 November 2020

136

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the way object data on Thingiverse changes over time, analyzing the relationships among views, downloads, likes, makes, remixes and comments over 500 days.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 30 of the most popular things on Thingiverse were tracked between August 26, 2018 and January 7, 2020, with data collected about the different interactions at five intervals.

Findings

Highlights include: “#3DBenchy” became the first thing to reach one million downloads during this study. The “Xbox One controller mini wheel” achieved the highest documented download rate of 698 downloads per day. The average conversion rate from downloads to makes for all 30 things was one make for every 474 downloads at the start of the study, declining to one make for every 784 downloads by the conclusion.

Research limitations/implications

With over 1.6 million things on Thingiverse, this study focused on an exclusive group of things that have gained significant attention from makers and does not represent most things on the platform.

Practical implications

Although often considered a novelty or niche maker community, this research shows that things on Thingiverse are achieving popularity comparable to digital music, video and imagery, and a large ecosystem of things has been growing that has implications for designers, manufacturers, supply chain managers and universal popular culture.

Originality/value

This is the first study to track the digital behaviors of 3D printable things over time, revealing new knowledge about how people interact with content and the scale of these interactions.

Keywords

Citation

Novak, J.I. (2020), "500 days of Thingiverse: a longitudinal study of 30 popular things for 3D printing", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 26 No. 10, pp. 1723-1731. https://doi.org/10.1108/RPJ-01-2020-0021

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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