Creative market: platforms for 3D models

Are you looking for 3D printing ready, specific 3D images or low poly? Today you can buy any 3D model you fancy thanks to 3D models marketplaces!

A 3D models marketplace is an online platform where you can buy, sell or share 3 images. You may be a hobbyist, a digital artist, or an engineer: there are many reasons why you could want to buy a 3D model. You may want to 3D print an object but you don’t have any 3D modeling software to create your part. Moreover, you might not have 3D designer skills. Not everybody is able to design a 3D model from scratch or use a 3D modeling software. You don’t have the skills to design or you just don’t have enough time to create your 3D model?

There is a lot of databases offering 3D models for CG projects, video games, 3D printing or whatever you want. But you need to know that all marketplaces don’t target the same users. Moreover, there can be a lot of criteria to choose a marketplace to buy a 3D model: some of them have a large library or want to improve the communication between the members of the community. Other are precisely targeting people who want to 3D print objects, and are ensuring the printability of the file. You have to pay attention to all of these details to make the most of your research for the perfect 3D model.

Most of the marketplaces are selling 3D models created by talented designers that receive royalties on their creations, while platform developers get certain fee from every transaction. Sometimes that fee is so high, that you can clearly see the difference in prices in the marketplace or when purchasing directly from a designer. There are 3D printing marketplaces that offer file sharing free of charge, there are also 3D printing marketplaces that have a built in e-commerce capability. Often, a 3D printing marketplace website offers the possibility for a 3D designer to have his or her own shop-in-shop where the designer can upload suitable files and sell them via the 3D marketplace website. The 3D printing marketplace provides server resources, infrastructure and a guarantee of safe settlement for payments.

Anyone with decent 3D modeling skills can put 3D models up for sale on marketplaces. The principle is simple: when a user downloads a 3D model, a designer gets paid (minus the marketplace’s commission). Although it is not that easy as it may seem. According to the existing data, about 30% of models in the marketplace will never sell. To sell successfully, one has to study the market, the target audience and get sure that 3D models comply with general requirements.

Some marketplaces are more oriented for professional users and other ones are really for curious makers. We are going to take a look at some of the most popular marketplaces.

CG Trader

CG Trader is one of the largest marketplaces. Its community is composed of professional designers. CG Trader allows the buyer to choose between different file formats. One of the great advantages is that the buyer can easily communicate with the designer of the model if he has any questions.


Turbosquid claims to offer high-quality models specially made for professionals. Models are not really optimized for 3D printing, but you still can find some models to 3D print. Turbosquid has an impressive list of high profile clients. As a buyer, you can find practically anything you need via this platform. As a seller, it is difficult to set yourself apart on Turbosquid. This will require a lot of active marketing and a lot of talent.

Cults 3D

On Cults 3D, you can buy anything from basic models to highly detailed and more professional models. The quality of the 3D models is rather good. You can find affordable parts that will really fit your needs. There are some advantages to using this platform. For example, they are offering some discounts to their members.


Thingiverse is a database where all the 3D models are free. Those STL files are specially optimized for 3D printing as Thingiverse is really focused on 3D printing. Thingiverse is also well known to regularly organize 3D design challenges. This 3D file repository has also a very active community interacting in the many discussion groups of the platform.

All of those databases have one specific thing in common: their community. They are all working on the development of their communities composed of professional designers, engineers or makers. Without them, those marketplaces couldn’t be as popular and efficient.

Another thing shared by all the marketplaces is a list of hurdles they have to cope with. The problems faced by the marketplaces are similar for all, though buyers and designers meet different challenges.

The cost of buying a 3D model is usually a tiny fraction of the cost of the labor it would take to model it by oneself or outsource. But some of the time a user can’t really be 100% certain that the model he is buying has the right amount of detail, a clean structure or a specific feature you need for a particular project, and he really has to buy it to look at the actual file. So if it turns out that the model doesn’t fit the purpose, the buyer has to return it, file a refund… and, if he’s lucky, get his money back.

Then, some of the available content is created using whatever 3D software the buyer is using, and some of it is converted from another software. Converted content is always more touchy and prone to issues such as unclean project structure, scale problems or untitled objects, and almost never retain procedural objects and generators, but is still a valid option.

And if we look at that from the point of view of a designer, another problems show up: exorbitant fees at some marketplaces and copyright issues. Nowadays the majority of 3D content marketplaces care more about their business KPIs than community development. The content makers’ royalty rates on these sites are not higher than 60% on average, sometimes, dipping as low as 30%. Royalty rates higher than 70% may be achieved on some platforms, but only on the terms of content exclusivity.

When compared to 2D images, the problem of copyright is rather new for 3D models, and the tools for preventing infringement are underdeveloped. Watermarks can’t be applied to 3D models as the 3D models have different viewing and usage. The search system through 3D databases of intellectual property isn’t developed either. In the absence of an automated monitoring system the databases often fail to protect users from violation of their copyrights. In fact, 3D content marketplaces can only rely on the integrity of their users, because the marketplaces do not provide any incentive system for these actions.

Since the databases can’t guarantee proper copyright protection they are cautious about granting use rights and limit consumers in content usage. Though the licensing options define the terms of use, they barely help to protect content makers’ rights. A failure to protect the copyright of the 3D content creation may result in serious issues.

Cappasity team have studied all the issues mentioned above in order to work out a solution. We believe that our platform will be a gateway for designers as well as for customers. Cappasity platform offers a Sandbox area so that you can try a model before you buy it. Convenient, isn’t it? And we have elaborated several options to convert images — no more incompatibility problems! Moreover, Cappasity has an elaborate system of copyright protection, and the transaction fees are as low as you could ever imagine!

We believe that such a platform may be able to compensate for the shortfalls of 3D content industry and create the conditions to meet the market volume projections.