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An Interview with Bram de Zwart, CEO and co-founder, 3D Hubs
May 12, 2015
As 3D printing continues its explosion, one area that will grow alongside it are depositories of printable designs. And while maybe someday almost everyone that wants one may own a 3D printer, that has not happened quite yet. As we mentioned in a recent posting, MakerBot, arguably the biggest name in 3D printing for a variety of audiences, has partnered with 3D Hubs to make it easier than ever before for those that do not own a 3D printer themselves to get an object printed. 3D Hubs provides users a network of over 16,000 different 3D printers available for use around the globe. To learn more about how it all works, we reached out to the company and were granted an interview with CEO and co-founder, Bram de Zwart. The interview was conducted via email, and the transcript is here below..
1) 1)When was 3D Hubs founded and why? Had anyone had previous experience with 3D printing?
While working at 3D Systems, Brian and I saw that the install base of 3D printers was quickly increasing but at the same time discovered that most 3D printer owners only use them occasionally. 90% of the time their 3D printer just sits around. By unlocking this idle capacity and connecting it to one online platform, we saw an opportunity to bring 3D printing much closer to the end-user.
When we started talking to 3D printer owners, we found out that they were very open to the thought of printing for others, our local 3D printing service 3D Hubs was born!.
2) According to your website, you have partnered with well over 15,000 local printers. How does someone get affiliated with 3D Hubs, or how does your company expand its network?
Before your printer becomes publicly accessible on 3D Hubs, we will ask you to test print our Marvin on either Thingiverse or Sketchfab. If the quality of the test print meets our requirements, your printer will become available and you can start accepting orders.
3D Hubs has now over 16,000 printers worldwide on our platform, allowing 1 billion people to access 3D printing within 10 miles of their home.
3) What are the requirements to be affiliated/be a member of the 3D Hubs community? Is it restricted to certain kinds of printers?
4) How does the pricing structure work for objects? Do you all issue the standards, or is it up to the individual Hubs?
5) Is there a particular audience you are aiming at with your business?
6) When someone uploads a design to your site, is it checked for accuracy and correctness, or do you rely on the expertise of the individuals who uploaded it?
7) We can see from your Materials Guide that users have many different options. Would you say that most of the prints tend to be designed for 3D printed plastics (ABS/PLA)?
The most common 3D prints are made of PLA and ABS, but this is changing fast. New resins and new kind of filaments appear almost on a weekly basis.
8) Where do you think 3D printing will be in the next 5 to 10 years? Will 3D printing/printers become as ubiquitous as inkjets and lasers are today? The real promise of 3D printing is to bring manufacturing closer to the end consumers. It enables products to be made on demand and closer to their point of purchase, with both individuals and companies driving their design and innovation.
9) On your website it indicates that students can get up to a 15% discount on prints. What do you think schools/colleges/universities can do to foster more creativity when it comes to STEM/STEAM education and 3D printing?