AMS Spring 2023

Upon Protolabs Acquisition, 3D Hubs Becomes “Hubs”

Inkbit

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After building up a significant business starting in 2013, 3D Hubs was acquired by Protolabs (NYSE: PRLB) in January 2021. As the startup becomes fully integrated into the larger manufacturing service bureau, it has rebranded to become “Hubs”.

The new name is meant to represent the company’s production capabilities beyond 3D printing. 3D Hubs began as a distributed manufacturing network populated by desktop 3D printers, but slowly began to incorporate industrial users. Some community members were disappointed, but the desktop space was growing at a radically slower pace than the industrial segment, despite the huge boost companies like MakerBot and Ultimaker had provided to desktop 3D printing and AM as a whole.

After that, it took on more manufacturing services, including CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication and injection molding, reflecting similar diversification efforts by service bureaus like Sculpteo.

“COVID-19 and the resulting supply chain disruptions have accelerated the manufacturing market’s need to embrace supply chain resilience and efficiency. Hubs has been at the forefront of this movement from the beginning, by creating pricing transparency, a globally distributed manufacturing partner network and smart routing of customer orders within this network. Together with Protolabs, we are now more ready than ever to drive the industry forward and make custom part manufacturing accessible to engineers worldwide,” Bram de Zwart, CEO and Co-founder at Hubs, said.

Now, changing its name to Hubs and its URL to hubs.com, the business has fully morphed from a desktop 3D printing network to an industrial manufacturing service bureau. In turn, it will continue to expand its global network of manufacturing partners, complementing Protolabs’ own in-house production facilities. We’re sure that this rebranding is only the beginning of the changes to take place at Hubs (a name that will take some getting used to). Given all of the activity related to mergers, acquisitions and new technologies, there are surely more reveals on the way.

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