Largest networked printing company commits suicide for no apparent reason.
3D Hubs started off with a unique idea. At home print enthusiast like I once was could sign up to 3D hubs and list their own printing service, building a networked community of printers all over the world. Someone could send a design file to 3D Hubs, and it would be printed locally by someone who lives nearby. The company has tens of thousands of people signed up to its network and combined they’ve manufactured more that 1.7 million parts. So far only a handful of companies have tried to implement the same idea however none of which have ever taken off and have subsequently failed. 3D Hubs was different from its larger printing bureau competitors such as Shapeways, Sculpteo and i.materialise in that its lead to localising manufacture with very competitive pricing and extremely fast turnaround times.
It seems the company has now pulled the carpet out from under the community that made it what it was, now focusing solely on working with professional print service bureaus and fulfilling orders to business only customer. A radical change, turning its back on the community that built it from the ground up, leaving us all very dismayed and confused. I cannot quite understand the rational for this change, nor understand why they still cannot support the community. There would be no number of reports or projections to convince me otherwise to shut down the one and only thing that makes them unique. Surely if they see better profits in direct B2B sales they could offer two levels of service, One to satisfy the engineers who need a precision thingy-ma-bob and another to service the Star Wars fan who just wants a lightsabre for Armageddon, further more they could run the two services side by side in the same platform as they have already been doing!
It’s unclear how they are going to continue supporting a peer to peer program by effectively ending it. The company has one point it relies on as stipulated in the termination email we all received, “We’ve seen customer order value doubling since January.” I have always been weary of 3D Hubs statistics and would like to highlight the fact that the 3D printing industry is growing in all aspects anyway! More and more businesses are including 3D printing as a standard step in their product development stages instead of it being a “fancy extra”. Not only this, but the cost of advancing printer technology and with a range of different premium materials being constantly developed, it’s no wonder they are seeing increasing order values.
They also state, “it has become more and more essential for 3DHubs to deliver a highly reliable and consistent manufacturing service to our customers”. Are you crazy? Desktop 3D printers are on the cutting edge, rivalling the dimensional accuracy and surface quality of the hugely expensive industrial machines. Just when newer, fancier and more advanced printers are landing in our hands they decide to give up on us? Our desktop printer non-proprietary materials cost up to 30 times less than industry giants. 3D Hubs would have always won a price war against any major print service bureau, until now.
It’s sad to know that my 3D Hubs profile will be dissolved as of 1st October 2018. A profile I spent so much time and effort working towards, and account that’s had so many print hours logged against it, achieving the largest number of completed orders and being ranked #1 in New Zealand will now just be a memory. RIP 3D Hubs, it’s an FB unlike from me. Removed from my web browsers favourites menu and moved into the vast sea of browser history.