Discover Cults, an Eclectic 3D Model Repository
One of the most visited pages on 3dprintingforbeginners.com is our listing of 3D model repositories. As the adoption of 3D printers is growing so does the number of people looking to find unique and interesting objects to print. While Thingiverse may be the most well-known 3D model repository there are less known platforms that are well worth exploring. One such repository is the French platform Cults, that has made a name for itself by featuring hand-picked designers who produce unique and clever designs.
We had the pleasure to meet the Cults founders, Hugo and Pierre, during this year’s Maker Faire in Paris and decided to interview them. Here is what they had to say about their business:
Q: Could you please briefly introduce yourself and your platform, Cults.
A: We are Hugo and Pierre, co-founders of Cults. We come from the world of advertising and digital communication. In short, Cults is a marketplace that connects 3D designers and people who want to print 3D objects. Our platform allows users to download original and premium 3D files for 3D printing. This is the first and main platform of its kind in France.
Q: The number of 3D model repositories is growing at a rapid pace, why did you decide to launch another one?
A: The project started about a year and a half ago, when we discovered this incredible innovation that is 3D printing. So at this time, apart from Thingiverse, there were not many sites like this 🙂 . By looking more closely at how this technology works, we soon realized that there was an issue with 3D files. Indeed, when we tried to create a 3D model we figured out this step was difficult and required a lot of skill. And since not everyone has an artistic soul or the ability to use CAD 3D software, Cults highlights the work of those 3D designers who make 3D printing accessible to all. The fact that many sites have entered this niche, confirms that there is a demand for 3D files that is waiting to be satisfied.
Q: What makes Cults different from other 3D model repositories?
A: Our greatest asset is our positioning. We are offering not only an interface but also a differentiating brand. Cults is a digital tribute to all 3D designers. Cults is an anacycle: read backwards it becomes St. Luc, patron saint of artists and sculptors. Read backwards you can also find the .stl, the universal 3D format. We are differentiating ourselves by developing special collaborations with some of our designers. This cooperation can take various forms. For example, we can pre-test the designs by printing them and providing feedback to the designer. We also support our artists in their Kickstater campaigns, we write press releases for them to promote their work. Finally, one of our strengths is the community dimension of the site, Cults is a place of exchange between 3D printing lovers and makers. Indeed like a social network, through a news feed and followers / following system, site visitors can follow their favorite designers and get notified of their latest creations.
Q: What growth are you currently experiencing with Cults and how do you believe that Cults will evolve in the coming months and years?
A: Currently, Cults has 10 categories of objects: art, fashion, jewelry, home, architecture, gadget, game, tool, and various. We want to strengthen each of these categories by the quantity but also by the quality of models. Our goal is not to have the largest library on the web. Our aim is to build an offer with quality-oriented creation. We wish to promote complex and / or very well thought out 3D models that only an artist can achieve. We want to evolve like an artistic agent of the 3D printing designers. Our mission is to promote their creations in the best way possible.
We are focusing much of our efforts on continually improving our website. Also, we will propose the integration of 3D Hubs system. That way, users can directly find a hub near their home after downloading a file on Cults. We will also implement a 3D viewer, a system for sharing photos of items printed by our community. We are currently testing our own API. This will enable any website (like 3D Printing For Beginners for example 🙂 ) to offer downloads of 3D files from our catalog without having to visit our website. Regarding the physical shop we are more on a long-term approach. The 3D printing market is changing rapidly; we have to stay agile and relevant regarding any developments.
Q: What role do you think that 3D model repositories such as Cults play in democratizing 3D printing?
A: Our role is to give inspiration and motivate people to 3D print all kind of things. We believe that 3D printing will be democratized through the great ideas of designers. That’s why we want to continue to promote exclusive collections such as “Pine Collection” by Isaac Budmen. Isaac is a brilliant artist and writer of “The Book of 3D Printing“. Inspired by a study of nature, it captures beautiful spiral tree seed dressing. The idea behind this art project is to translate the beauty of nature in our everyday objects. The collection includes a series of three 3D designs. They were designed for personal 3D printing and are available in exclusive download on Cults. Right now we are pleased to welcome the incredible creations of Samuel N. Bernier, artistic director of leFabShop. He made a splendid collection of lamps designed for personal 3D printing. The collection is about the cities hosting the international event Maison & Objet. One of the lamps is inspired by the architecture of the Eiffel Tower, another by the light and color of the sand evokes the city of Miami and the last one evokes water and its reflections on the buildings of the Singapore city. These designs are exclusively on Cults. We also had the chance to work together to promote medieval armor for Barbie by the genius that is Jim Rodda.
Q: Some model repositories offer 3D files via streaming rather than via file download. Cults works on the basis of file downloads, will that change anytime soon?
A: Our approach is to provide a range of relevant options to our users. For example, as we are not a 3D printing service provider we refer users, who download files, to trusted partners services for online printing, a FabLab or a local 3D printing service. For designers, it’s the same! We try to offer them the best functionalities on our website. We are indeed looking at setting up a system for streaming 3D files on Cults. We are investigating the technical aspects and impact of this development at the moment. The idea is to cater to the need of some artists: the protection of their works and their copyrights. With this new option, each artist can decide if he’s sharing his creation in streaming or just via direct download.
Let’s talk a bit about you run your business:
Q: How do you select the designers who appear on Cults?
A: Above all, we are big fans of the designers work! Every morning, it’s a real pleasure to discover new ideas and innovations. It’s simply stunning. Our selection is very simple and systematic: for every project that we like, we try to contact the designer. We are creating a real dialogue with many of our designers. Then the virtuous circle snaps because good designers feel naturally attracted to the platform given the quality of creative and talented designers already on Cults.
Q: Most models on Cults have been 3D printed, as witnessed by the photos on the site. How do you check a model for printability and do you do a lot of test prints yourselves?
A: This is actually one of the aspects that sets us apart from some of our competition. We want to ensure that each of the files on our marketplace is printable. To do this, designers are encouraged to share pictures of the 3D printed objects. If it’s not the case, we test the 3D file with our 3D printer, we take photos of the object and then we publish them online.
Q: What 3D printers do you own and use for the test prints?
A: We own a Flashforge Creator X. It’s a good machine, double extruder, with good value for money. This is an ideal printer for those who want to easily learn about 3D printing without breaking the bank.
Q: Designers can post on Cults and they retain 80% of the sale while you take a 20% cut. When are we going to see the first full-time Cults entrepreneur? Is 3D printing already popular enough for designers to be able to live of selling 3D models?
A: We are only at the beginning of consumer 3D printing becoming a wide spread phenomenon. So obviously, none of the designers can currently gain a full-time income by selling 3D models on Cults. Many designers sell both, the finished 3D printed object (on Etsy for example) and the digital file on Cults. So, it is rather a complementary source of income for them. In the future, when 3D printers will spread to more and more homes, we believe that 3D files will be valued. That is why we wanted a platform where artists can promote their work for profit and not just spread their ideas for free. Our commission is very low, it’s just to pay for site maintenance.
Q: What is your favorite model on Cults and why?
A: It’s difficult because we have several 🙂 . We really love “The Cork Pals” made by the Polish UAU Project. We are fond of XYZ Workshop, Macouno, Bard, 3DBrooklyn and of course the French leFabShop. We also love the works of Platonik and WallTosh, they try to re-enchant our everyday objects. The creations of the Italian laboratory Piulab also found great success on our site. Finally Kfir, an Israeli artist bluffing us every time in view of realism, sometimes frightening, these objects. You can check all our favorites in the category “Cults Selection.”
Q: Anything else that you would like to share with our audience?
A: Firstly, thank you very much for reading us until the end! Then, if you enjoyed this interview, you can visit Cults on every support (web, mobile, tablet) and you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram or send us a kind word at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to welcome you!