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Hubs: From 3D printing to manufacturing

Written by Bram de Zwart



Since we’re making rapid changes to Hubs that also impact the community, we’ve written this letter to give more context as to why we’re transitioning from a peer-to-peer marketplace for 3D printing into a full-blown manufacturing platform.

Since Hubs was founded in 2013, the mission has been to build the world’s largest distributed manufacturing network to create a faster and more sustainable way to source parts. We started out with 3D printing because it was the most accessible technology with machine costs rapidly decreasing and a minimum order quantity of 1. Within the first five years, Hubs’ users have already ordered 1.2 million printed parts and received them on average within two days thanks to the locality and platform automation.

The exponential growth of our recently added CNC machining service has revealed that the opportunity for custom, on-demand manufacturing is much larger than 3D printing alone and our platform can potentially be used for the production of more than 1 billion parts in the next five years. We’re currently implementing two big changes to achieve this scale:

The go-to-place for 3D printing manufacturing

Our 280,000 customers typically use 3D printing in the early stages of their product development and then switch to other manufacturing technologies, such as CNC Machining and Injection Molding, further down the development cycle. We’ve decided now is the time to include these technologies, providing our customers with a single manufacturing platform that supports them throughout all their product development stages. The added value of using Hubs over traditional centralised suppliers will remain as:

  1. We’re building a network of manufacturing partners for each new technology, always giving customers the lowest price or fastest lead-time by intelligently matching them to our partners with instant/idle capacity.

  2. We’re only adding technologies that are CAD-CAM driven, allowing our software to reduce the ordering process from weeks to minutes through real-time quoting and automated Design for Manufacturing analysis.

A peer-to-peer open marketplace turnkey manufacturing platform

Since last year, our offering is fully focused on professional engineers and designers as they have the strongest need for on-demand parts, but we’ve learned that part of this group is hesitant to use our original peer-to-peer open marketplace as there’s no guarantee on the quality and timeliness of parts.

Therefore in an increasing number of countries, we’re inviting a select group of top-performing B2B suppliers to become “Manufacturing Partners”. These partners adhere to the strictest quality standards, enabling us to support customers in even the most regulated industries. To show our confidence in the reliability of the service we’re rebranding it to “Fulfilled by Hubs”.

Combining the quality guarantee of a centralized supplier with the cost and lead-time benefits of our distributed manufacturing network, we’re in a unique position to change the manufacturing industry.
We look forward to working with everyone who will join us on that journey.

Bram and Brian
Founders of Hubs