Difference between revisions of "Design Sharing Platforms"

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Revision as of 12:01, 18 June 2015

This page is a brief review of online platforms that allow people to share hardware designs. Our interest lies primarily in platforms that help establish a hardware design commons, while there are also platforms that encourage people to sell there designs instead of sharing them.

Platforms that encourage people to organise in communities and share their designs in the form of a commons vary much. As a minimum one would expect a hardware design to be available under equal conditions to all, under a free license, and in an editable format (such as is common in that particular sector). If we really talk about a hardware design commons, the platform should facilitate replication and modification. Therefore it should cover decisions that went into the design of subassemblies, how these fit into larger systems, documentation of how to build and use the resulting object, source code etc. And provide appropriate licenses for each type of work: for the designs, documentation, software.

It is clear that most platforms today don't cover all of that, but some more than others. Some are dedicated to a specific domain, like electronics, or space development. Some platforms are controlled by one company while others are governed more like a commons. These aspects enhance or limit the users' freedoms.

In this page we seek to help users choose the platform that aligns best with ethical values and maximises user freedom. Therefore we build a list of the current platforms and indicate their main aspects. Read also other reviews and comparatives of design platforms, like the one by Matt Maier.


As there are many different online platforms out there, dedicated to hardware designs, we first want to narrow it down a bit. We distinguish those platforms that encourage sharing designs and help people building communities around a hardware design commons, that cover Free/Libre Hardware designs and Open Source Hardware[1]. And - as a reference. we also present a list of other platforms that build markets around the designs. For an explanation of the terms used in the tables, see the legend at the bottom.

Platforms for the Hardware Design Commons

Online platforms for sharing designs
Name Slogan Domain(s) Ownership Sustainability model Software Software license Technical features Encourage sharing Comments
formats rendering API version history friending other features licenses reputation features
Openbuilds Dream it - Build it - Share it 3D, electronics OpenBuilds Part Store Margins on parts sales Unknown Unknown SketchUp, gCode, STL, dwg, obj, jpg, doc, , etc No No follow forums CC Ratings, likes, views, user profile Share a part;

OpenBuilds Store incl FairShare program

Youmagine Share Your Imagination 3D YouMagine 3D BV ? Unknown Unknown STL, AMF, SCAD, JSCAD, OBJ, DAE, OFF, 3DS, PLY yes no follow collections, ideas, comments, direct message, QR print out CC, GPL, LGPL, BSD rate, favourite, # downloads, user profile Partnership with Ultimaker
Open Hardware Repository a place on the web for electronics designers at experimental physics facilities to collaborate on open hardware designs Electronics CERN CBPP/community Chili Project GPL v2 any no yes (git / wiki) no per project: mailing list, git repository, wiki, news, documents, issue tracker CERN OHL, GPL, LGPL, TAPR OHL user profile, activity statistics, highlighted projects community encouraging freedom & openness in electronics
Fritzing Electronics made easy Electronics University of Applied Science Potsdam CBPP/Donations Fritzing GPLv3 Fritzing, Gerber, SVG, PDF, XML, Spice Breadboard, Schematic, PCB, Code no no Forum, Sharing, Autorouting CC BY/BY-SA/BY-NC/BY-NC-SA user profile services for PCB production, parts, ...
Bld3r A 3D Printing Social Network 3D private CBPP/Community Bld3r AGPL Any file: upload / link / torrent no no yes printshelves (to print & printed), comments, wiki free and NC licenses user profile, ratings of user, objects, comments Commons based community
Yeggi Search engine for printable 3D models 3D yeggi UG (Ltd. Germany) Advertising unknown unknown any no no no lists, tag notifications any 3D model from the web popularity search engine
ThingTracker A proposal on sharing designs and projects in the maker community. 3D, electronics, any thing Gary Hodgson c.s. CBPP Specification on Github no license specified any file any license a distributed protocol for a thing network
Open Design Engine Web portal to publish the entire design process for open source hardware projects Electronics, 3D Mach30 Foundation for Space development CBPP/Donations Redmine GPLv2 any file no yes no Wiki, Forum, Roadmap, Gantt, Issue tracker, News Clear distinction between Hardware/Software/Documentation licenses user profile Complete design process, OSHW only
Makeystreet Stuff that a maker would find interesting Electronics, 3D Alex J V (OSHW maker) Unknown Unknown Unknown any document, image or video (upload or link) no yes yes groups, assemblies, subassemblies, insights, forum, private/public projects no license userprofile, reviews, contribution stats governance & licenses should be clarified
Libre3D Libre3D Free & Open Source 3D Informal Community CBPP Libre3D Renderer LGPL SCAD, STL, PDF, Images, Blender, Doc, XLS, ZIP, Videos yes (SCAD, STL, videos) no no contact, showcase CC licenses, GPL, MIT, BSD, PD user profile strong relation w/ RepRap
Ohanda 4x Freedoms = Unlimited & Unconditional Electronics, 3D Informal Community CBPP/Donations Unknown - HTML no no no no any free license producer page trademark protection
Thingiverse Digital Designs for Physical Objects 3D MakerBot Industries, LLC Sell MakerBot printers Unknown Unknown stl, obj, thing, scad, amf, dae, 3ds, x3d, blend, ply, dxf, ai, svg, cdr, ps, eps, epsi, sch, brd yes public no follow collections, customizer, apps, API CC/GPL/LGPL/BSD user profile, likes, made one, watch, remix Shout out QR tag
DIYdrones The leading community for personal UAVs UAVs Chris Anderson/3D Robotics CBPP Unknown Unknown no no yes blog, forums, groups CC BY profile page 3D Robotics store integrated
Wevolver Build Technology Together 3D, electronics company Sells supplies Based on Python/Django Older version under AGPL any no no yes project teams, subassemblies, forking any network diagrams of contributor relations unstructured license info
Instructables DIY How To Make Instructions electronics Company: Autodesk freemium: pro membership + CBPP unknown unknown any no no follow collections, collaboration, forums, groups, faqs CC, GPL, APL,PD and none user profile, favourites, featured, "I Made it"
Hackaday.com Fresh Hacks Every Day electronics Hackaday hackers group ads, store WordPress GPL any no no yes submit tips proprietary blog posts are made by closed group
Hackaday.io electronics Hackaday hackers group CBPP unknown unknown any no no follow "wire" of messages, components, build instructions, team, motivation no license user profile
Solderpad electronics a place to share, discover and collaborate on electronic projects.

Platforms for Design Marketplaces

Here follow just a few wellknown platforms that favour the sale of designs over commons-based forms of knowledge sharing.

Online platforms for sharing designs
Name Slogan Domain(s) Ownership Bus. model Software Software license Technical features Encourage sharing Added value Comments
formats rendering version history friending other features default license reputation features machining service market place
Shapeways Shop Design Sell 3D Company: Shapeways BV Charges for 3D printing Unknown Unknown STL, OBJ, X3D, DAE, Collada or VRML97/2 (WRL)[1] no follow no sharing Twitter, FB Many materials Users can have their shop Not focused at sharing designs but selling products
Ponoko Get Your Product Ideas Custom Made By Our Designers & Robots. Ponoko Ltd Charges for lasercutting and 3D printing Unknown Unknown EPS, SVG, STL, DAE, VRML97 no no no user shop, showroom, contact CC BY user profile, comments yes yes
3D FileMarket A growing 3D Printing Community 3D private Advertising, commissions on model sales unknown unknown no no no non-free peer rating, view and download statistics no models can be purchased (20% margin for platform) Marketplace
Threeding 3D Printing Marketplace 3D Company (based in Bulgaria) Commission & 3D printing Unknown Unknown STL, WRL yes no no printability check, wishlist non-free user profile, peer rating yes yes
Etsy Your place to buy and sell things handmade 3D objects and models private Sales commission unknown unknown no no yes reviews non-free favourites, treasures, comments no yes market place of unique objects
SketchFab 3D
SproutForm Connecting maker communities with brands 3D

To be added


  • Name and URL
  • Slogan
  • Ownership: private (company name), commons, informal community
  • Sustainability model: how is the platform sustained economically? by membership fees, donations, freemium services, ... CBPP refers to the common model of commons-based peer production, based on voluntary contributions
  • Platform software: Name & URL
  • Platform software license
  • Technical features:
    • Allowed CAD formats: STL, GCode, ...
    • online rendering
    • Is there a public API or another tool to open access the repositories data available? (Yes, No, Other (a non-free tool)))
    • version history: is there a versioning system included in the platform?: yes/no
    • friending: enables users to become friends/followers/contacts: yes/no
    • other features: groups/teams, collections, forum, wiki, ...
  • Encourages sharing:
    • licenses: the license options for people to share their designs under
    • reputation features: like user profile, peer rating mechanisms, ...
  • added value:
    • machining services: 3D print, lasercut, CNC, ...
    • marketplace: where users can sell and purchase designs
  • Comments

Blogs, Artciles about this study

See a summary blog at the DiDIY.eu website.


  1. Open Source Hardware (OSHW) is defined by the worldwide community at: http://freedomdefined.org/OSHW and organised in the Open Source Hardware Alliance (OSHWA)