Guest Post: Advising Pinshape

Guest Post: Advising Pinshape

Our advisor, John Biehler, talks about his connection to 3D printing and why he chose to advise Pinshape!

A few months ago I was introduced through a mutual friend to Lucas Matheson, CEO and co-founder of Pinshape who recently moved their operations to Vancouver after a successful run in Silicon Valley. Lucas was looking to connect with local 3D printing people and apparently my name kept coming up when he was talking with people around town.


After a couple of meetings with the team of founders, a tour of their platform and lots of conversations, Lucas asked if I’d be interested in being an advisor for Pinshape. After seeing what they’ve got going on currently and in the near future, I said yes. I’ve been looking for an opportunity that allowed me to share my knowledge and experience in the 3D printing community and helping an independent site like Pinshape seemed like a perfect fit.


What is Pinshape?
Pinshape calls itself “the next generation 3D printing community & marketplace for brands, designers and makers. We make it easy to find and successfully print great 3D designs“. One of the challenges with 3D printing has always been trying to reliably print a model successfully. Thingiverse was the first place I found that had a large library of printables but as more people join the ‘3D printing revolution’, the more models are being uploaded that aren’t quite ready for prime time. That’s not a diss, I had to start somewhere too, but it can be difficult to sift through all the files on Thingiverse (and other sites) to find something that is printable on my particular printer.

One thing that Pinshape is encouraging is that when you “upload a print” (similar to Thingiverse’s “make” of a “thing”), you can share your settings in a detailed set of meta data about the print you made as well as a rating of the printability of the model and feedback to the creator:

pinshape make

This is important as it will allow you to sort the Pinshape models by ones that have been made on your printer so you’ll know how to achieve a successful print. This is critical when you’re starting out in 3D printing as all it takes is a bunch of failed prints to help you lose interest. This is got started in the first place – a bunch of us were trying to make our printers work (better).

How is it different than Thingiverse, Youmagine or the other sites for sharing your 3D models?
Two main things differentiate Pinshape from the competition: it’s not owned by a 3D printer manufacturer and it allows designers to charge whatever they want for their models. The first item is important as being an independent site means there is no hidden agenda to sell printers, featuring of their own designs and other shenanigans that the other sites have done. The second item is also important as while I love the open sharing of models that has gone on for years on other sites, a lot of my designer friends have chosen not to share their designs publicly because they wanted to charge something for the model considering all the work that can go into a design. Of course there are other sites that allow for the sale of models. Another unique thing that Pinshape offers designers is the ability to stream their designs without giving up the digital file to the end user. This means designers can offer printable files without giving away their intellectual property. I’d prefer to get the actual file but this is a nice compromise that I hope will entice designers and even brands to share their highly desirable models.

They’ve already had a number of high profile companies partner with them for various design contests. Currently, there is a jewelry design contest with Elle (the folks that make the magazine) with the winner getting to sell their designs under the Elle banner.


Will you still participate in Thingiverse and other places?
Yes. I’ve got my hands in lots of different places and I’m not “going exclusive” but I’m excited to help Pinshape make a better place for designers. It’s been fun being on the ground floor (well, maybe the 2nd or 3rd floor since I haven’t been involved since the beginning) and contribute my ideas to make Pinshape the place to go to.

It’s not perfect yet, but there is a great team working crazy hard to make it better every day. I can’t wait to share more about what’s coming.

John Biehler is a 3D Printing advocate and consultant, technologist, maker and book author. He is also a Pinshape advisor & a co-founder of



Pinshape is a 3D printing community and marketplace where makers from all over the world can find and share their next great 3D print and help each other get the best results from their 3D printers.