3D Hubs HD Brings Industrial 3D Printing to Your Neighborhood

3D Hubs has already established itself as the leading network for distributed manufacturing, boasting over 23,000 3D printing hubs across the planet.  These hubs – made up of individual Makers, organizations and makerspaces, and service bureaus – allow anyone to find a local 3D printer to fabricate objects from a huge range of materials on a wide range of machines, both desktop and a handful of industrial systems.  Now, however, the startup has announced the formation of 3D Hubs HD, which takes their relatively small sample of industrial 3D printer users and boosts that industrial capacity even further by adding large and established professional service bureaus to the 3D Hubs network.


In press release distributed today, the company writes, “At 3D Hubs, we’ve learned how inaccessible industrial-grade 3D printing can be – including long lead times, hard-to-reach support teams and high shipping costs. With the launch of 3D Hubs HD, we’re solving this by making it easy for designers to connect with industrial-grade 3D printers in their area.”  Among those HD hubs, which will carry the “3D Hubs HD” badge on their pages, are such leading bureaus as i.materialise, Sculpteo and NRI, who will be in the first group of businesses to provide local industrial 3D printing.

3D printed nylon from 3D Hubs HD

These HD hubs will work in the same way as previous local hubs, with customers uploading a print and working with the business to print it locally.  The difference is that, now, they’ll be able to access the materials and processes that only industrial service firms can provide.  Brian Garret, co-founder of 3D Hubs, explains, “Through unlocking this tier of industrial-grade materials, we are now able to offer an end-to-end solution to our customers both large and small.  By combining affordable desktop production with high-end industrial-grade services, the full spectrum of 3D printing is now becoming accessible.”

3D Hubs 3D printing hubs worldwide

As has been the case for previous developments in the 3D Hubs community, the firm is kicking of 3D Hubs HD with a series of meet-ups, as they unlock HD hubs globally.  To ease into the 3D Hubs HD program, service providers in 37 cities, shown above, will begin offering selective laser sintering of Strong and Flexible Nylon, often used by product designers, architects, and more.  From now until the end of October, customers can receive a 30% discount on objects printed in this material.  And, to teach users just how to design for that material, the first workshop, dubbed “3D Printing for Designers and Architects”, will take place in London on October 28, 2015. After that, more HD materials and processes will be brought online in the next few months.

3D printed nylon Strandbeest from 3D Hubs HD

This is huge news for the future of 3D printing, distributed manufacturing, and 3D Hubs.  In order for distributed manufacturing to play out, reducing dependence on long-distance shipping and the material waste associated with maintaining stock supplies, industrial 3D printing will be necessary for the production of higher-quality products.  While we wait for the costs of such high-tech equipment to drop, as a response to expiring patents, industrial service bureaus will allow those that can afford them to 3D print architectural models, product designs, and more.  In the meantime, 3D Hubs is able to implement the quality 3D printing services offered by such businesses as i.materialise, Sculpteo, and more.

This may be just one of many first steps for 3D Hubs who, as 3D printing technology improves, will benefit from its improvement.  Then, when electronics 3D printing, only now being developed by such firms as Voxel8 and Optomec, is fully realized, anyone anywhere may just be able to log onto the site and have even the most advanced products 3D printed for them just down the street.