Official Launch of 3D Hubs — Bringing Paid Work to Idle 3D Printers Around the World

It’s confession time… Although I’ve had quite a few objects 3D printed, I don’t own or have direct access to a 3D printer. But on the bright side, it puts me in the perfect position to try out 3D print services as an impartial observer.

So I was quite excited to see some new developments from Amsterdam based 3D Hubs, which has just announced that with the help of Balderton Capital, they have raised seed funding to scale and expand their business.

Let’ remind ourselves of what it is and how it works?

Well, the premise is devilishly simple. As 3D Hubs says: ”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.”

It really is that simple. 3D printer owners join 3D Hub’s listings in their local geographical area. They decide on how much they want to earn per cm3 plus a set-up fee and then their service is added to the local hub.

As we all know, problems with models can cause all manner of print failures, so 3D Hub provides a 3D model integrity check to ensure the volume is watertight using Netfabb cloud software. If necessary, repairs are carried out on the fly and then the model is sent on to the Hub. 3D Hubs adds a flat fee of 15% to the quote, processes orders and collects payments.

Locations within Europe are considered to be ‘unlocked’ when more than 10 3D printers have been listed, whereas cities outside Europe are unlocked once 20 3D printers are listed. Each unlocked city has an appointed ‘3D Hubs Mayor’ to coordinate and organise community events.

All a customer has to do is hit up the 3D Hubs home page, enter their location, find the hub closest to them, upload an stl file and follow the on-screen prompts.

As Bram de Zwart, CEO and co-founder of 3D Hubs points out: “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.”

This seems like a very promising and sustainable business model for people like me who haven’t committed to a 3D printer purchase yet or for those who only require one-off 3D prints on an ad hoc basis.

Potentially It could also amortise the cost of purchasing a 3D printer, this may prove especially useful when trying to convince your significant other that we “Really, REALLY need to get a 3D printer!

Try 3D Hubs for yourself.