Printables Paid Models

I noticed today that Printables has launched a paid portion of their website. I was aware they had the subscription service available before similar to something like patreon. But this individual paid model tab seems new.

I was just wondering what your opinions are on this change. I find it funny looking back and seeing forum posts from developers discussing how their whole philosophy is to make a site which doesn’t have paywalls. From the looks of it most of the models on the paid tier are pretty good quality at the moment.

The one issue that worries me is that every user is allowed to post 1 model on the paid tier by default and then they have to earn more. What worries me is that this section may begin to be filled up with lesser quality models from people who are just looking to make a quick buck, this could potentially take away from the actual good models which are present on this portion of the website.

But what do you all think? Do you think this is a good or bad decision for the website.


You raise a good point - there are some designers who absolutely deserve to be compensated for their designs - hopefully they have a team behind this paid version vetting and testing these designs to make sure they are worth charging for. So far the paid designs look pretty awesome!

I don’t have any issue with them having a paid section with the way the pay-for-stl market is right now. I would think they need a to pay some pretty good IP lawyers to craft vendor agreements that do not hold them liable for patent, registered design or copyright infringement.

Personally, I’m not a gamer, which is where I think most of the opportunity is for paid pieces which are unique and require quite a bit of time to generate. Now, there is the issue of characters being generated by online tools (which are usually pay sites) so there could be some issues here for Printables hosting stls that are being sold counter to the generating tool agreement and that could place them at some liability.

I know that there are utensils, hooks and other household and workshop items that people offer up for sale and that probably becomes a little more gray because they may be rip offs of other people’s designs or companies’ designs.

There will be issues with people offering designs of replacement parts for existing products. I’m sure many of these designs will copy existing designs or interface with patented, registered or copyrighted parts and this will be problematic.

A big concern will be people who put up designs that incorporate corporate logos or product designs. I’m thinking of a warrior queen that is holding a can of Coca-Cola in one hand and an iPhone in the other.

So, I don’t have any problem with Printables doing this so long as they paid for top notch legal talent to write their vendor agreements so they are not liable for what people will try to make a buck off.

I’d hate to see them close down because Ford sued them because somebody sold a design of a troll and a Mongol barbarian having sex on a '69 Mustang.


it is a quagmire for certain. I in a different thing altogether (photography) have had my copyright stepped on more than once. It sucks. It felt worse than when I got my car broken into.

It is such a hard thing. Open source share and share alike is slowly going. That has pros and cons. To my mind this is just one more facet. I have no issues with paying a good design. They already have the ‘support’ the creater it is just a next level version.

It gets murky when there is a fantastic design for something that is already copyrighted. A marvel character model for example. Did they pay Marvel for the usage? Should they? It’s all complex.

A snow flake space craft from a movie. It is a unique object, new unimagined by the original copy holder. Is that part of the original licence or outside. If the designer makes it free share and share alike, does that make it harder to enforce? or not? If they charge for it, how does that change?

The whole industry is new and these type of questions have unresolved answers. It is going to take major evolution to find the way through this murky issue. I hope that the open source survives it all. I hope it will, it is the fastest way forward. If the original printers were fully and thoroughly copy protected this might not be a discussion.

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Wow, I never even thought about this…

I hope you are right and they practiced proper CYA protocols, I would hate to see my favourite site taken down over something so trivial.

I wonder how free use laws would affect something like this, if there is a figurine that is holding a can of coke I am curious if you could argue that you have adjusted the original IP under free use laws. Even take some of the current designs on the paid sections such as the T-800 animatronic, to me this looks like a clear violation of (universals?) IP. I wonder if the slight adjustments I can see to the design of the circuitry on the head is enough to cover them.