3D Hubs, a collaborative production platform for 3D printer owners and 3D makers, launched publicly today and announced that the company has raised an undisclosed seed funding round led by Balderton Capital. 3D printing is a manufacturing technology that allows people to print solid three-dimensional objects from digital models by adding layers of material on top of each other. 3D Hubs is on a mission to make 3D printing locally accessible to everyone by “unlocking” the world’s idle 3D printers, facilitating transactions between 3D Hubs (printer owners) and people that want to make 3D prints (makers). 3D Hubs is already Europe’s largest network of 3D printers with over 500 printing locations. 3D Hubs will leverage the new funds to scale its platform globally, expand its team, drive growth and partnerships, and cultivate local 3D communities worldwide that unite 3D printer owners and 3D makers.
“Balderton loves to back entrepreneurs who are making disruptive ideas a reality. 3D Hubs’ ambitions have been global from the outset, and their platform has the potential to revolutionize traditional approaches to manufacturing and retail, making 3D printing a viable option for everyone for the first time,” said Mark Evans, partner at Balderton Capital. “We’ve invested in 3D Hubs because it is run by an exceptional team operating in a space with huge potential.”
How 3D Hubs Works
A 3D printer is much like a local micro-factory that can produce a variety of products with the press of a button. The majority of 3D printer owners use their device less than 10 hours per week, and 3D Hubs harnesses the remaining 95 percent idle time. Printer owners earn money when their 3D printer is not in use, and simultaneously establish social connections within their local 3D maker community. 3D printer owners simply join the Hubs listing in their city to offer 3D printing services in their neighborhood. Each Hub decides how much money it wants to earn, and sets its own start-up price for a 3D print, plus additional fee charges for each cubic centimeter of material used. 3D Hubs performs a 3D model repair check using Netfabb cloud software for each order to ensure the uploaded 3D-model is watertight, automatically repairs it if necessary, and once the 3D-model passes inspection, the order is processed and forwarded to the Hub. 3D Hubs adds a 15 percent commission (excluding any applicable taxes) on top of the price entered for each customer quote, processes the order, and collects the payment.
Cities within Europe are considered “unlocked” once 10 3D printers have been listed, while cities outside Europe are unlocked once 20 3D printers are listed. Unlocked cities currently include London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Antwerp and Copenhagen amongst others. Once a city is unlocked, a 3D Hubs Mayor is appointed to organize community events for 3D printing enthusiasts in their area. Customers use 3D Hubs to locate 3D printer owners in their neighborhood, and then order and pick up sustainable, locally printed objects in a matter of days instead of weeks – something that sets 3D Hubs apart from centralized 3D printing services. 3D Hubs currently supports 3D desktop printers that work mainly with ABS and PLA, and plans to add more options in the near future. View a video demonstration of how 3D Hubs works at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSeGyxs4jJA.
3D Hubs is at the forefront of the burgeoning 3D printing industry, which is expected to have a revolutionary effect on manufacturing supply chains. According to a recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute, “3D printing could generate economic impact of $230 billion to $550 billion per year by 2025, and the largest source of potential impact among sized applications would be from consumer uses, followed by direct manufacturing and the use of 3D printing to create tools and molds.” Some of the world’s largest 3D printer manufacturers, including Ultimaker, Europe’s number one manufacturer of desktop 3D printers, are supporting and promoting the mission of 3D Hubs to their printer owners, calling on them to “Unlock Your City” and join other Hubs who are already making over $500 revenue per month.
“3D printers are becoming more commonplace as pricing drops and quality improves, empowering a new generation of makers and entrepreneurs,” said Bram de Zwart, CEO and co-founder of 3D Hubs. “Much like music did with the rise of the Internet, manufacturing has begun to take an industry-changing peer-to-peer form. 3D Hubs is at the forefront of this trend, enabling anyone with a 3D printer to make customized local goods for their community.”