3D Hubs rebranded today, becoming “Hubs”.
The Amsterdam-based company has undergone a number of dramatic changes in the past few years. From an innovative startup in 2013 focusing on networking desktop 3D printers into a global 3D print service, to a switch in 2018 towards more commercial and industrial clients, and just this year being acquired by giant service Protolabs.
About the rebranding, 3D Hubs, er, I mean, Hubs, said:
“Online manufacturing platform 3D Hubs today announced it has rebranded to Hubs. The new name better reflects the wide range of manufacturing services the company currently offers and aims to strengthen its position as the leader in global outsourcing for custom part manufacturing.”
“The name Hubs aims to reposition the company as one offering a wide range of manufacturing services. Existing users will not be affected by the change. The only difference is web links to www.3dhubs.com will now lead to www.hubs.com. In the future, Hubs aims to expand its global network of manufacturing partners, complementing its service offering to that of Protolabs’ in-house facilities.”
Could the rebranding be a result of the acquisition by Protolabs, who currently rank #2 on our list of the biggest 3D printing companies?
I think not. The name change is indeed very appropriate. Back in 2013 when the company was founded the mere mention of “3D printing” garnered significant attention because it was a “new thing” in the public eye. Then it was all about 3D printers.
However, as Hubs moved into the industrial space that buzz was no longer required. Manufacturing clients knew 3D printers very well, and see them as merely another category of making tool. In fact, these manufacturing clients drew Hubs towards the implementation of non-3D printing tools, such as CNC machining, laser cutting and sheet metal processing.
That is a very different world than one involving only 3D printers and only occasionally involves “3D” activities. While Hubs still provides extensive 3D printing service through their partner network, that technology is now only a piece of their operations.
The name change makes sense.
That’s the current state. But looking forward, the name change might be setting the tone for future activities.
“Hubs” denotes a focus, a connection point between multiple parties. By distancing that concept from “3D”, it may be that Hubs is contemplating implementation of a variety of other services that could be involved in the manufacturing business.
I could see them offering not only new making technologies, but also workflow services that streamline the flow of activity through the “hub”.
They could also offer consultative services as their central position in the activity chain provides them with a wide perspective. For example, if they observe issues with 3D models, they might provide CAD services to help clients.
A “3D Hub” might offer 3D things, but a “Hub” could offer many things.
We’ll be watching to see the next addition to the hub.