Sharing is Caring –
Open-Source (adj.) – denoting software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified.
How annoying was it back in school when you were working on a problem or studying for a big test, and no matter how hard you tried you could just not understand the material? Now imagine if when you went to another student that was doing well in that class, or the professor, or even a website for help, and they completely refused, not showing you a scrap of their work or insight. Pretty frustrating, right? Well, this is a situation we see throughout industries and educational platforms, but don’t you worry, there’s an answer for it.
People vs. Profit – not a very nice opposition, but it seems to be the case when looking at some of the technology and applications being sold at ludicrous prices by some of the largest companies on the planet. For a while, the only way to gain access to truly customizable, powerful software tools and applications was to buy one from these companies, or to create one yourself. Let’s face it, not everyone can do that and it severely prevents the growth, education, and productivity of everyone else out there. Thankfully, this is no longer the case.
With the main-stream acceptance of open-source software, websites, and designs, the power has been truly brought back to the people. Need help with learning or developing for a programming project? Check out GitHub, the largest open source community in the world, or any of these other 11 educational websites and open-source platforms. What about the hardware to program onto? Worry not; just pick up some cheap, lightweight tech from the iconic Arduino Company, or even C.H.I.P, the world’s first $9 computer.
As always, we have a solution to your problem: As it turns out, there are many open-source websites where you can download 3D models absolutely FREE, allowing you to use your 3D printer to your needs, without any time put into design whatsoever. Some of the more notable open source 3D file sharing websites are non-other than NASA themselves, allowing you to access 3D models of some of their more interesting discovering and technologies to print right onto your own 3D printer.
The most iconic 3D printing open-source website, however, is by far Thingiverse.com. The brainchild of MakerBot, one of the world’s most popular desktop 3DP companies in the world, the website not only offers tens of thousands of different user-generated and professional 3D files, but also hosts featured collections and specific prints, an online learning resourced dubbed “thingiversity,” and international design competitions to spur on creativity throughout their community. These are all incredible resources that will allow you to print and build as much as you possibly can, effectively increasing your manufacturing and creative potential.
Lastly, for those who are familiar with SOLIDWORKS, Dassault Systèmes (creator of SOLIDWORKS) has a stellar resource for 3D downloadable content called 3D Content Central. Similar to Thingiverse, 3D Content Central has an entire online library and community of 3D designs, specifically made using SOLIDWORKS systems. However, no matter what you use to create, incredibly useful tools and communities are just a click away.