3D Hubs network could be about to make 3D printing mainstream

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Need to print that one widget you need but don’t have a 3D printer? A new network of 3D print shops could be about to make the new technology go slightly more mainstream.

3dprint

3D Hubs is pretty clever. Rather than have everyone buy a 3D printer for their home, it is instead a website where you can upload the 3D files and go to one of 7000 print locations worldwide to pick up your creation. A bit like how some newsagents will charge you 5p to use the photocopier.

The company has just raised $4.5m of funding in order to do this – and on the website you can browse the 7000 print locations in 140 countries. Each location has details on what sort of printer it is, what it is capable of printing and so on, and will walk you through getting a quote on getting whatever it is you need printed. The company rather grandly claims that the network means that 1bn people are within ten miles of a 3D printer.

Perhaps most intriguingly is that the company is also developing an API – so that conceivably you could soon buy stuff online and rather than wait for it to be delivered, have it printed out near to you instead.

3D printing looks set to change the world – and this could be a step in that direction.

James O’Malley