hubsschool2There are those people who believe that everyone will one day soon own their very own 3D printer, while others don’t believe the at-home ownership numbers for 3D printers will ever challenge that of traditional 2D desktop printers. More than likely, it will take at least a decade before a majority of homes in the United States and Europe even consider owning one of these machines. Fact is, 3D printers are cool, they are useful, and they do some really amazing things. However, for the most part, 3D printer owners don’t use these machines anywhere near as much as they use their 2-dimensional counterparts. As things stand today, the 3D printers that one can afford for their home, as well as safely use, can only print in a variety of plastics, and this limits the scope of projects that can be undertaken.

This is where a company called 3D Hubs comes into play. Launching back in April, they have quickly become the go-to “hub” for those looking to either make a few extra bucks by allowing others to print on their personal 3D printer(s), or those looking to use a 3D printer but don’t want to spend thousands of dollars or more to purchase a new machine. I remember talking with co-founder Bram de Zwart in April at the Inside 3D Printing Conference in NY, and walking away rather impressed by the idea and the business plan that he and his partners had come up with.  Little did I know that they would have become so big, so quickly.  The company, which recently received $4.5 million in Series-A funding, also has partnered up with some rather large companies, such as Autodesk, and their Spark 3D printing platform.

“3D Hubs is like a shortcut in Mario Kart, it makes sure that you’ll meet your deadline,” explains their website. “Even better, now the first 1000 early birds will get $25 free credit.”

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Now 3D Hubs wants to target students, particularly those in colleges and universities around the world. Today comes news that they are giving away $25,000 in free credit, in the form of 1,000 separate $25 credits. In additional to this, students can earn an additional credit of $10 by sharing 3D Hubs with three of their friends, after signing up for the credit themselves.

“All the economic value, as well as the knowledge of 3D print experts, everything at 3D Hubs, remains inside the local community. Growing these values locally, instead of extracting and centralizing both wealth and knowledge somewhere else, is what makes the difference in the long run. We think our vision of creating local value aligns perfectly well with those of Universities and schools,” explained Co-founder Bram de Zwart.

hubsschool4The idea of this initiative is a great one from both a marketing perspective as well as a business perspective for 3D Hubs. It allows them to get their name out there even more, among those students who make up our future workforce. Getting them acclimated with the 3D Hubs platform will go a long way in ensuring that 3D Hubs continues its growth in the future. At the same time, this provides students with a means for creating unique projects which would not be possible without the use of 3D printing. $25 isn’t a ton of money, but it is enough to help complete a small project, one that just might open a student’s eyes up to the possibilities provided through the use of 3D printing.

Keep in mind that 3D Hubs isn’t limited to only FFF/SLA 3D printers that one would find in someone’s home. There are more and more companies, schools, and organizations putting their industrial level printers up for use as well. These includes some of the large $250,000+ machines manufactured by 3D Systems, Stratasys, etc. The possibilities are endless when it comes to 3D printing via 3D Hubs.

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I’ve spoken to a few people who are both buyers and sellers of 3D printing services on the website. They rent out time on their MakerBots and Ultimakers, while using other hubs to help them print objects that require multiple materials and/or higher precision.

Once the 1,000 credits are all claimed, students can still take advantage of a 15% discount on anything they need 3D printed. What do you think about this initiative by 3D Hubs? Discuss in the ‘$25,000 in credit at 3D Hubs‘ forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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