3D Hubs allows owners of 3D printers to earn extra money by helping locals in need of a 3D printer, and their Uber-like structure gives them the flexibility to take jobs at their own convenience. With nearly 25,000 3D printers part of their worldwide network, 3D Hubs is essentially one of the largest 3D printing service bureaus in the world. The massive size of their continually expanding network means that just about everyone on the planet has access to 3D printing technology. Think about that, we’re almost at the point when anyone can have anything 3D printed–if that doesn’t prove that we’re living in the future then I don’t know what will.
For the most part the printer owners who operate hubs on 3D Hubs are individual users with a desktop 3D printer in their home, so if potential customers need a material more advanced than PLA or ABS they are probably going to be out of luck. But recently there have been more companies and 3D printing businesses joining the network, leading 3D Hubs to start offering new services aimed directly at users looking for higher quality prints. 3D Hubs HD is their new circle of industrial quality 3D printing hubs that offer industrial 3D printing services, including PolyJet 3D printers. The new PolyJet materials available can be used for the production of professional quality, end use products and prototypes printed with smooth finishes and durable mechanical properties impossible with standard desktop 3D printing.
PolyJet 3D printing is similar to inkjet printing, however rather than printing drops of ink onto 2D pieces of paper, a PolyJet printer deposits a photopolymer liquid into layers on a printing bed that is cured instantly with ultraviolet light. The finished objects can be handled almost immediately after printing, and can be printed with a layer resolution as low as 16 microns. There are several different photopolymer 3D printing materials available to choose from, ranging from soft and flexible to high-temperature resistant and rigid. Photopolymer materials are also available in a virtually limitless number of color options.
So far there are 359 3D Hub locations all over the world that offer PolyJet technology with a range of six diverse and advanced material options. The Rigid Opaque Plastic material is ideal for realistic prototypes and end-use products thanks to its smooth finish and durability. The Transparent Plastic materials are virtually see through and can be used for prototyping things like eye wear, lighting solutions and large parts that need to be completely see-through. The Rubbery Plastic materials can be used for soft surfaces and parts that need to be flexible.
The Simulated Polypropylene PolyJet material is almost identical to traditionally manufactured polypropylene thermoplastics and can be used in just as wide a variety of ways, including water bottles and other containers, car parts and durable packaging. The Simulated ABS is as close to traditionally manufactured injection molds that 3D printing can get, and is an ideal alternative for creating molds capable of small runs of 10-100 pieces more affordable. And finally the High-Temperature Plastic materials will offer a heat resistance up to 80°C (176°F) and a smooth surface finish that makes it ideal for testing hot air and hot water components and parts.
3D Hubs HD and their new selection of PolyJet 3D printing material options will open up industrial grade 3D printing to a whole new range of consumers. From startups to existing businesses who want to test out 3D printing, 3D Hubs is by far the easiest and least expensive way to access commercial 3D printers. And for the next few weeks 3D Hubs will be offering a pretty major 30% discount to customers trying out their new printing options. You can find out more about 3D Hubs HD here, and more about PolyJet 3D printing here. Discuss these new additions in the PolyJet Materials forum thread on 3DPB.com.