It's no secret that 3D printers have enabled today's makers, designers, engineers and artists to create in ways that were never before possible. However, 3D printers are still expensive for many to own, and those who own 3D printers aren't necessarily using them all hours of the day, every day of the week.
How can somebody have something 3D printed without owning a 3D printer and alternatively, how can a 3D printer owner make use of their 3D printer's down time?
3D Hubs connects those in need of a 3D print and those who own a 3D printer (a Hub). Although the platform started with only consumer-grade 3D printers, it has since expanded to include professional industrial 3D printers and anyone with a 3D printer in any location can establish their own Hub. As it exists today, 3D Hubs has become a legitimate manufacturing network for many consumers and businesses with 3D printing needs.
The way the 3D Hubs platform works is fairly straightforward: the customer who needs an item 3D printed uploads their design file to the 3D Hubs website. Based on the location of the customer, a list of local Hubs within close proximity and their associated 3D printers is shown immediately after they upload their file.
Once a local Hub is selected, the customer's file gets sent to the Hub, who then returns a quote for the production of the 3D printed part. If a customer chooses to follow through with the order, 3D Hubs then processes the payment information and the Hub prints the part. Finally, a pickup time for the resulting 3D print is established by the customer and the Hub.
The 3D Hubs network solves the problem of connecting those who need an object 3D printed with somebody who owns an idle 3D printer in a near-seamless experience that also helps build local communities.
For consumers, this also removes the need to have to deal with the high costs and headache of owning and maintaining a 3D printer. For 3D printer owners who have idle time between their 3D printing jobs, this provides an opportunity to get a return on their investment and create their own manufacturing business.
Just as importantly though, 3D Hubs provides a way for communities to come together over a common interest.
In addition to providing an online matchmaking platform, the 3D Hubs portal and community also offers other community-building events and services. Locally, this includes regular meetups and educational events which are organized by local 3D Hubs Mayors (local community leaders). Globally, this includes thought leadership and free resources including monthly 3D printing trend reports, an annual 3D printer buying guide, and the popular Talk social platform. Additionally, consumers can also find a wealth of resources for design support, material selection and more directly from their 3D Hubs profile.
Although the core of the 3D Hubs mission is to connect those needing something 3D printed with somebody who has an idle 3D printer, the philosophy is part of a larger concept called Distributed Manufacturing.
Distributed manufacturing is a form of decentralized manufacturing that uses a network of geographically dispersed manufacturing facilities rather than a single manufacturing location.
One example of how distributed manufacturing is being leveraged on the 3D Hubs platform is through a service that 3D Hubs offers for customers of the Fairphone mobile phone.
When a customer purchases a new Fairphone mobile phone, they receive a voucher for a phone cover (bumper) within the box. When the customer logs on to the 3D Hubs network, they can redeem this voucher by locating a local Hub to have their selected phone cover 3D printed within their neighborhood. Among other benefits, this solution allows a more personalized experience for customers while also helping others in the supply chain to minimize stock and decrease transportation costs.
Find out more by heading over to 3D Hubs (www.3DHubs.com).