3D Hubs Funded $7M for Distributed 3D Printing Services
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on August 03, 2016 | 5578 views

When it launched in 2013, 3D Hubs was among the first to introduce the world to the concept of distributed manufacturing, with which goods might be produced locally, on demand, rather than manufactured en masse and shipped overseas to be stored in warehouses.

About three years have since passed, and the Dutch-American company has grown to over 25,000 3D printer users and over 40,000 3D prints per month. And on Aug. 2, 3D Hubs will receive a new round of financing totaling $7 million. The latest investment, led by EQT Ventures and followed by Balderton Capital, will allow 3D Hubs to further expand its network of 3D printing services around the globe.

3D Hubs locations all around the globe. (Image courtesy of 3D Hubs.)
3D Hubs locations all around the globe. (Image courtesy of 3D Hubs.)

3D Hubs is currently the largest distributed 3D printing service network, with 3D printer owners and service bureaus spanning 160 countries worldwide. Among the customers leveraging the network’s ability to provide 3D printing services locally are 16 Fortune 100 companies.

While the network began with a number of entry-level 3D printing technologies and some professional systems, 3D Hubs went on to include a much wider array of industrial 3D printing service providers last year with 3D Hubs HD. The latest technology offerings on the 3D Hubs network include carbon fiber reinforcement with Markforged 3D printers as well as metal 3D printing. Now that the company has obtained this latest round of funding, 3D Hubs will have more resources with which to fuel these services.

A metal 3D-printed part demonstrating the capabilities of 3D Hubs’ metal 3D printing service bureaus.
A metal 3D-printed part demonstrating the capabilities of 3D Hubs’ metal 3D printing service bureaus.

3D Hubs CBO Filemon Schöffer explained to ENGINEERING.com how the firm will leverage the funds to enhance its offerings. According to Schöffer, 3D Hubs will make 3D printing more automated through the application of “highly advanced 3D file checks and fixes, as well as smart material suggestions.”

The company is also developing “advanced Hub tools.” Targeted at professional hubs within the network, these tools will include “expert price settings for a wide range of technologies and materials,” such as those included in the 3D Hubs HD series, like PolyJet resins, SLS nylon, carbon fiber and more. This will include the ability to price finishing options, essential for these industrial technologies. Hub dashboards will also be upgraded for enhanced customer relations and file management.

3D Hubs will also be continuing work on the company’s API as a consumer gateway. The API is already used by 3D model sharing sites like Thingiverse and Sketchfab as well as by companies selling products. For instance, Fairphone, which produces smartphones using all ethically sourced minerals and sustainable business practices, leverages the 3D Hubs API so that customers can 3D print smartphones directly through a local hub. As Schöffer said of the API, “While we’re positioning 3dhubs.com as a destination for engineers and designers that want a maximum choice in materials and finishes, our API is becoming the gateway to the consumer.”

In addition to the new funding, 3D Hubs has found itself a new board member with Ted Persson, design partner at EQT Ventures, who will be joining the 3D Hubs board of directors. As Persson said of the recent funding round, “We’ve only seen the beginning of what 3D printing will offer, and 3D Hubs is by far the most well-positioned company we’ve encountered in this space. We are very impressed with what Bram, Brian and the rest of the team have managed to build in just under three years, so when EQT Ventures was invited to support their future journey, we didn’t hesitate.”

According to 3D Hubs, the investors involved in this latest round have been involved with establishing such new marketplaces as Uber, Booking.com and Spotify. If their latest investment pays off, 3D printing may just get the Web 2.0 treatment.  

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