3D Hubs is the leading brand when it comes to 3D Model and 3D Printing. Check out more about this exciting business model.
3D Hubs is the world’s largest network of manufacturing services. With production facilities connected in over 140 countries, the 3D Hubs online platform helps product designers and engineers find the fastest and most price competitive manufacturing solution. Founded in 2013, the network has since produced more than 1,000,000 parts, making 3D Hubs the global leader in distributed manufacturing.
The Virtual Assist conducted exclusive interview of Robin Brockötter who leads the position of ‘3D Printing Experts Lead’ at 3D Hubs. Apart from his busy schedule, he is very much active in various CGI communities to help and guide other artists. On a recent note, he was in judge panel of Hum3D Car Render Challenge 2017. Check out the excerpt of an interview.
Welcome Robin. Kindly share your educational and professional credentials.
Hi Amit, thanks for having me! I obtained my Bachelor in Engineering at The NHTV in Breda, The Netherlands studying Game Architecture and Design with a specialization in Character Sculpting (using ZBrush from Pixologic). After graduating I joined the monetization team at YouTube in Dublin where I educated users on YouTube’s policy and copyright rules.
After returning to the Netherlands I was hired by 3D Hubs as the ‘Head of Customer Support’ which was perfect fit, thanks to my education and previous experience in support. I’ve been working at 3D Hubs for the last 3.5 years, streamlining our support and making sure that we answer all support requests from over 150 countries in the world within 20 hours.
And since I’ve joined 3D Hubs, over 1 million 3D models have been 3D printed through the network.
One of the perks of working at 3D Hubs is that I’m able to print my own 3D models. The following is the ZBrush sculpt which is fan art piece of Super Meat Boy printed in HP Multi-Jet Fusion.
How Bram de Zwart (CEO) and Brian Garret (CTO) got an idea of incepting 3D Hubs?
Before 3D Hubs, both Bram and Brian worked at a large 3D printing company where they often spoke to owners of desktop 3D printers who were very excited to be printing but noticed that they often ran out of things to print, resulting in thousands of idle machines. That’s when the idea of 3D Hubs was born, a website that would easily allow these printer owners to print for designers and engineers that didn’t have direct access to a 3D printer. They pitched the idea to investors and were accepted into an accelerator program which allowed them to quickly setup 3D Hubs and start hiring their first employees.
Please explain how 3D Hubs works.
3D Hubs is the largest manufacturing network in the world. It can be compared to AirBnB or Uber in the sense that we connect customers (users with 3D files) to professional services (3D printer bureaus, CNC service providers). Large format printers just like 3D printers use the CAD technology.
Through our website, customer can upload their 3D models which we then analyse through automated systems in order to detect if the model is suitable for 3D printing on different 3D printing technologies. We calculate the amount of material that’s required to print that specific model and based on the fact that our 3D print services (Hubs) have indicated their own prices per material, per printer, we can give instant quotes back to the customers.
For our other manufacturing services we automatically generate quotes based on the geometry of the file and the technology chosen.
Once the order specifications are agreed on, the order is paid through 3D Hubs and production begins. After the order has been completed and the customer is completely satisfied with the results, the service provider is paid out for their work. He/she pays 3D Hubs in the form of a service fee which is 12.5% of the total order.
How 3D Hubs became world’s biggest network of 3D printers?
We became the world’s largest network of 3D printers in part due to the incredible word of mouth generated by the 3D Hubs community when we first launched and all the 3D printing events that we organized all over the world together with our Hubs. Besides the events, we continuously listened to our users and built the features that made ordering easier for our customers.
In recent years we focused on creating strong educational content that helped us to climb the Google ranks to a point that it’s hard to miss 3D Hubs whenever you search for manufacturing solutions.
How it is different from competition?
The main difference with our direct competition, which are companies that have been in the industry for decades, is the fact that they all manufacture using their own machines and therefore have a limited capacity and shipping can take days/weeks depending on the location of the customer.
Due to the fact that we’re a worldwide network with thousands of manufacturing services, we will always have a location close to the customer so that the part can be manufactured locally. Instead of having to wait for the part to be delivered the customer saves both time and costs.
How 3D Printing and direct manufacturing is evolving economic growth?
Unfortunately my understanding of global economics is a bit limited seeing as I’m merely a 3D artist so I might not be the best to answer this question but I will say that through advances in additive manufacturing we will slowly be able to change the way manufacturing is done. As we all know, China produces a massive amount of products that have to be shipped all over the world. With 3D printing we’ve already started to bring part of production closer to the end user.
During my years at 3D Hubs I’ve seen amazing prototypes printed that would traditionally have taken months to produce. The brilliant thing about 3D printing is the fact that you can easily change your design and just print again. Instead of waiting weeks or months between iterations of your product it now only takes a matter of hours.
Please share various statistics of 3D Hubs, related to 3D Printing all around the globe.
This is where I’d like to introduce you all to the 3D Hubs Trend report. We actually just released one for the first quarter of 2018. Within the trend report you can find the highest rated 3D printers, most used 3D printing techniques and materials.
I can share that in New York and London together, 4.6% of all 3D prints are made in these cities. And finally, as of the moment that I’m writing this, there have been 1,235,518 parts printed through the 3D Hubs website.
What were the biggest challenges, faced and resolved so far?
I think one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced so far was the fact that 3D printing was and still is, quite new to people. Before I joined 3D Hubs my knowledge of 3D printing was quite limited and I had no idea of the different 3D printing technologies and material available so I totally understand that the amount of choice can be overwhelming to newcomers for 3D printing.
Over the years we’ve made a lot of improvements to the website and we’ve created a wide range of resources to educate our users. To name a few we’ve created:
- The most extensive 3D printing Knowledge Base
- The 3D Printing Handbook
- Comprehensive overview of all the available 3D printing technologies
Check out the visual representation of an overview of all the 3D printing technologies available in the market right now.
What do you think about future of 3D Printing?
3D printing is the future, I have no doubt about that. We’re in a pretty early stage and there’s a lot of room for technological advances in the field of additive manufacturing. The replicator from the Star Trek universe is still far away for the moment but it really would not surprise me if 3D printing will evolve into something that will be quite close to what we currently consider to be science fiction.
In the next couple of years we’ll see the prices of more advanced technologies drop significantly due to the fact that patents from the 70’s are expiring and there will be a lot of competition on the market which is a very healthy development.
Following is the 3D printed parts created using direct metal laser sintering.
Let us know about future plans.
3D Hubs will continue to offer 3D printing and be the first to offer new technologies when they become available. At the same time, 3D Hubs is evolving into a platform for all kinds of manufacturing processes, not just 3D printing. At the end of last year we’ve started to offer CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) milling through the website as well which was often requested through our feedback form and it has taken off by storm.
I believe this is it, thanks again Amit.