Design Catalog?

Also … if you did sell items in the catalog I think it would be cool to have two options for retrieving funds. One could be through paypal or something like a bank deposit and the second could be towards material purchase. I’m definitely not going to purchase all of my materials through Glowforge but I’m sure I will purchase some and it would be nice to build up a credit and get some ‘free’ material


The direction that makes the most sense (to me) given the size of the company, and that domestic (in home/shop) use of a laser cutter is still very new, is to have a completely free and open catalog.

  • Designs, and design knowledge, are barriers of entry to use this technology. If the goal is to sell hardware, free access to designs is going to sell more units.

-Attracting people who already have a laser cutter is basically getting free advertising for the Glowforge, which sells more units.

-Free catalog helps to put a more friendly face on Glowforge. After all, they are stuck with the challenge of not just working on the tech, but the ecosystem it operates within.

-Having part paid, part non-paid is risky and overly complex. A person often overvalues their own design if they have to option to list their own and moderating the catalog would require additional employee resources.

Looking at it, the most time efficient and beneficial solution to Glowforge would probably be have a wild west open catalog and let people put up the silly cat picture equivalent of laser cutter designs. The company and market size are just not mature enough yet for a premium catalog to make much sense.

These are a couple quick thoughts, I hope this is helpful!

I’m curious as to how you’ll deal with the multitudes who’ll be submitting their designs to the catalogue. I like the two tier approach (paid/curated and free catalogues). From a business perspective Glowforge won’t be able to test out all the submissions for workability therefore I’d suggest a fee to submit a design to the paid catalogue. It shows a comittment from the designer and a belief in their design. It would also provide Glowforge with a source of revenue to be able to test the designs and make sure they do indeed work. The free catalogue I would like to see be the wild west (with ratings). Thingiverse is basically unusable as far as I’m concerned, so there’s a prime example of how not to run a free catalogue. While iTunes UI is crappy I think the business model provides a great idea of how to run the catalogues,

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This is all great feedback. Thank you!

The way I’ve been reading this thread it sounds like 2 separate catalogs are being suggested (maybe I’m reading implications that weren’t intended). But that’s overly complex to my mind.

I am an active user/designer at the POD fabric site Spoonflower. Their “catalog” works like this: before you can sell a design you have to purchase a swatch of the fabric to proofing it. Now, I understand the basic difference… Spoonflower is printing the object and selling it to me. But the underlying model makes sense; I’m proofing/proving my work so its not simply theoretical.

While GF is not setting itself up as a POD company (i.e, its not Ponoko or Shapeways), there could (albeit with some expense on GF’s end) be a method for submitting jobs to an authorized GF print queue where complex items could be tested/verified/curated. The submitter might have to pay a fee for materials and an overhead fee for time/expense of using the machine. Once items have passed muster they are given a star/mark/identifier that they work as expected. Sort of the GF Seal of Approval.

In this way there isn’t 2 different catalogs. Just one, but with the addition of an icon that shows that someone other than the creator has tested this in the real world and it works.

(Apologies in advance for any/all typos. And, yes, I know I use parenthesis a lot; I speak with sub-clauses.)

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It occurs to me that there needs to be some serious back-end on the catalog. Especially if it offers users freedom to submit paid and free at their whim.

The primary requirement: An automated comparison to existing catalog entries. Unfortunately… this seems likely to be rather complicated. Though in the end, our files are image files, and image comparison software is remarkably adept at recognizing duplicates. So maybe a first pass automated, with human checking on anything with over a 90% chance of duplication.

The reasons you need to check for duplicates:

  1. Cleanliness - A huge issue with iOS and Thingiverse and other free-for-all catalogs is that browsing them is painful, since you sift through iterations on simple designs. I can imagine seeing thousands of uploads of the living hinge book, which all differ only in what word is etched on the cover, or the precise dimensions of the book (ideally we are able to add/change engravings on anything we download, and re-size at will)

  2. Jerks - Not sure how else to classify this. But jerks exist. Feuds happen. And I can very easily see someone buying a paid catalog item, then immediately uploading it as a free item.

While thinking about the #2 case above, I realized we don’t know the model of the paid catalog…

Do we pay for a design file, which we download and can then modify and freely print as often as we want to? This makes the guy who pays $20 for a nifty cardboard lamp globe which he prints once and puts up in his house pay the same amount as the guy who also pays $20 for that cardboard lamp globe, which he prints a thousand times and sells at craft fairs for years and years, raking in heavy profit.

Or do we pay to PRINT a design only? The file never comes “out of the cloud” for us to modify and personalize. It sends to our GF once, and we better hope the print doesn’t fail, because we will have to buy it again. This of course basically gives the designer of the file a cut of all sales made by a person running a laser cutting business, and doesn’t change the price charged to the person cutting for their own use (so long as they weren’t planning to make presents of extra copies, and they don’t mess up anything).

A modification of the second approach would be that you buy something from the catalog and you have it available for a certain period of time. This allows you to deal with failed cuts and the need to re-run things, and still causes the business runner to pay a bit extra into the pot.

I am not edging toward charging people who run a business and cut multiples of paid catalog items more. Just thinking through how to maintain file security to avoid the guy who uploads a paid item for free. Of course, you cannot really stop such people in any way other than not allowing us to ever have a copy of the file we purchased, because even with a flawless duplicate checking back-end in the GF catalog, they could just upload the purchased file to any other location on the internet and still undercut the original seller.


I am new to laser cutting, but I currently own a Cameo Silhouette (dye cutting machine). Cameo Silhouette has a design store with thousands of different cutting designs with more added each week. You can either buy the designs one at a time (usually 99c each) or you can purchase a subscription. My subscription for example, is $16 per/month and I get $150 worth of designs. Each week they offer a free design to download and they have about 100 designs at 50c each. I have found this to be a very economical way to build a wonderful library of beautiful designs. I believe you can access the catalog by going to the “Silhouette Store.” This might be worth investigating. Thanks Heidi


In terms of a catalog and user submissions, might be a project to look to in terms of functionality, creativity and free/pay storage. It’s got two great apps for mobile devices, one free and one paid. Each has different functionality. The cloud service allows five submissions of your music scores for free. Uploading and storing more scores requires a paid account. I’ve coupled it with the Photoscore app to scan and convert sheet music to playable music. As a clarinetist, it is great to have instant accompaniment. Musescore is open source. If Glowforge’s catalog works is half as functional as Musescore’s user submissions, it’s going to be great. The question of copyright though is huge. Wondering how the digital rights thing will work out.

I am also a Silhouette user. The store they run is great. After a few years of being a subscriber I am finding that I no longer need it; but it is setup wonderfully, is easy to use, is great to have available, and was instrumental in my growth and development with the machine.

Here is a link to it:

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This is something I’ve been thinking about as well. As a designer, I would love to be able to have multiple price points (and licenses) for my designs. For example, if I design a small box, I could sell it at the following price points:

Print Once: $2
Print up to 10 Times: $10
Print Unlimited Non-Commercial (i.e. don’t sell it to others): $20
Print Unlimited Commercial: $200

I don’t know if the design catalog will allow for this, but that it would be a really nice feature, that may attract designers.


@polarbrainfreeze I have a feeling that a pricing model based on the number of times the customer prints would be extremely off-putting and discourage sales. Most marketplaces I’ve run into in the 3D printing space (which is the most comparable market) sell the designs, and what you do with them is up to you.

That said, I’m all for commercial/non-commercial licenses. I’m a big fan of Creative Commons for that.

I can see how users might be discouraged by the “print once” tier. Perhaps in order to not make it off-putting, all the models would be priced at the “unlimited non-commercial use” price point by default. But you have the option to buy it for cheaper to print it just once (or more expensive for commercial use).

I’m thinking about designing strategy game terrain pieces. You may only need one, and be happy that the “Print One” price is only $1. Or you may want to create a whole large terrain and need 100, in which case you’d be happy with the “Print Unlimited” at $20.

If I don’t know how many a typical user needs, I may charge $10. The person who prints one may not buy it at that price, and the person who prints 100 is getting a bargain. This means that I’m only getting $10 from both these transactions, and it may not make it worthwhile for me to create these designs.

In the other scenario, I’m getting $21 from both of the transactions, and everyone is happy (except the “print 100” person who is slightly less happy because they did not get the bargain).

I think it’s all a matter of how it’s presented in the catalog.

This model does work for the entertainment industry. You can rent a movie to watch once for cheap, or pay more to “own” it and watch it as much as you want.

My main concern here is that I would almost never want to cut a design as-is. Starting with a proven design is a great way to fast-forward a project but customizing something is the whole point of having your own laser. Otherwise why not just buy the cut object and save the $2-4k.

The problem, of course, comes when you have modified the original and want to share your changes.

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Modification of designs is one of the reasons I have asked for information on how the catalog works precisely. I know that a lot of talented artists like to put a signature on their work. I respect that, but I don’t want it on the thing I am walking around with. So I always want to remove such extras. As well as often wanting functional changes.

So the question is: Precisely what do we get from the catalog? Ability to press PRINT, or a file we can then modify further? Or seller’s choice?

For the board game, you can still achieve different pricing regimes to a degree, by selling each tile type individually, or a bundle of all the types at a discount. Still a major savings by someone who runs a gaming store and starts selling multiple copies of the game to customers over the person who games on their own and just makes one board for their group.

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I absolutely agree with wanting to make modifications. I will want to do that as well.

But not everyone will want that. Perhaps someone will come into a maker space and want to print one quick design to start with. They may not have the knowledge or desire to modify the design. Why should they pay the same as someone who wants to take the design, make modifications, and print multiple copies.

I am absolutely not saying that we should prevent people from downloading the design, and modifying it at will. What I’m saying is that perhaps, sellers should have the option to ALSO offer the design at a lower price if it means that it will only be printed once, and not have the ability to modify.

Well, that’s a very interesting question. What happens when a designer spends hours making and testing a design, uploads it to the store, asking a specific price, then someone else buys the design, makes a small modification, and then offers it for free for everyone else?

It’s good for everyone else, but really discourages the designers from designing and posting more things. Being a designer, I recognize that I have a particular point of view. But I think it’s important to somehow protect the designer, and encourage good designers to post good projects that have been tested with the GF.

I’m really not sure what is the answer to this. Perhaps GF should have a catalog moderator. And when a designer feels someone else is infringing on his or her design, they could report it and have it reviewed? Any other ideas?

This is where licensing comes in. For example creative commons lets you license your creative works in a way that lets you determine how the work can be used. If they can sell it, modify it, redistribute it, etc.

If Glowforge chooses to go with creative commons licensing in the design catalog they would then have grounds to remove any works that violate an existing CC license in addition to the terms of service of the design catalog.

Maybe a threadless type model where people can submit designs and if enough people buy them, you reward them with a prize and percentage of sales for life?

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The Silhouette store works like this:

  1. The assumption is the all designs are for personal use and, generally, cost either .79 or .99.
  2. Not all are available for commercial used.
  3. If it is available for commercial use and that is why you are buying it (including modifying it) there is tiered pricing. The tiered pricing is standard and not particular to a specific item.

The public is able to access the Silhouette store. This means that the public can know if you are trying to sell them something you purchased. Personally, I wish the store wasn’t so public.

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Yes, I would also rather see the store as private. A lot of us will design things and we want to share it with other Glowforge users only :slight_smile: