For 3D printing startup MXD3D, a website for uploading designs and verifying that these will come out right wasn’t enough. It wanted a place for people to look for stuff to buy and print.
Rather than develop its own shop for 3D designs, the startup has bought three online marketplaces from uFathom, based in Calgary, Canada. MXD3D has already integrated the three sites —
maker6.com, makerpicks.com, and 3Dhippy.com — into its own.
Now, people will be able to select products to buy — say, an iPhone case — and then choose where it’s printed. That’s because MXD3D has established a network of people who can print out products with their own 3D printers.
With the marketplaces, MXD3D becomes more of a go-to destination for people who want to buy, sell, or make 3D-printed things.
“What’s out there now today — you have a marketplace or you have software,” cofounder and chief executive Muhannad Taslaq said in an interview with VentureBeat.
Now his company has both.
Huge tech companies and little startups have been making moves to prepare for a groundswell in 3D printing. Design software company is building a 3D printer. HP Labs has been working on 3D printers. Staples has run a 3D printing trial program.
On the startup side, Shapeways, which runs a marketplace, has taken on venture funding, as has Formlabs, which makes 3D printers.
And a year ago, Stratasys bought Makerbot, a popular 3D printer manufacturer.
In the months to come, MXD3D will aim to take in more money, by establishing a freemium model for services like selling, buying, or printing, Taslaq said.
Over time, the startup wants to work with companies, perhaps by embedding its software into other companies’ websites. So a retailer could upload a product, let a consumer personalize it, and then print out the product on behalf of the consumer.
MXD3D started in 2012 and is based in San Mateo, Calif. It went through the enterprise-focused Alchemist Accelerator program in Silicon Valley. It has raised a seed round of almost $1 million led by Silicon Badia. Ecosystem Ventures and angel investors also participated. Today the startup employs 11 people.