I wanted to know more about how users share and discuss 3D models online.
In my previous work on newcomers to 3D printing I saw many users downloading models from the internet as an alternative to the complex process of learning 3D modeling. As such, I decided to dig deeper into Thingiverse, the largest 3D model sharing website around. We quantitatively analyzed over 23,000 comments and 22,000 designs, and qualitatively analyzed around 2000 comments and 500 designs.
I found a rich culture of help-giving and help-seeking online, with users sharing recommendations for print settings, collaborating to understand design intent, and working together to create new designs. However, I also saw numerous difficulties and struggles, particularly around communicating design intent and customizing designs. In the paper I make recommendations for systems that could allow users to more easily communicate and create end-user customizable designs.
Alcock, C., Hudson, N., Chilana, P. (2016) Barriers to Using, Customizing, and Printing 3D Designs on Thingiverse. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Supporting Groupwork (GROUP '16).