On demand manufacturing platform 3D Hubs has announced that it is opening new offices in Paris. Marking entry into the French market, the move has been backed by Future Shape, the investment firm headed by Tony Fadell, inventor of the iPod and founder of smart home product brand Nest (now owned by Google.)
Both 3D Hubs and Future Shape will be co-located in the Paris’ largest startup incubator Station F, which opened in the 13th arrondissement in 2017. Commenting on the news, Fadell stated, “3D Hubs would have been an essential resource when we were building the iPod, the iPhone, and Nest,”
“Instead of waiting weeks to get back models & prototypes, now with 3D Hubs’ crucial online prototyping & manufacturing platform, engineers and designers can turn ideas into objects in only a few days, with precision 3D printed, CNC’d, or injection molded parts, and even move straight into volume manufacturing.”
3D Hubs’ rise as a B2B manufacturing platform
3D Hubs was first launched as a P2P platform for people with 3D printers to make things for others. As the 3D printing industry has progressed, attracting more and more professional customers, and as 3D Hubs gained more financial backing, the company began to reposition itself as a B2B service, adding new manufacturing offerings like CNC machining and sheet metal fabrication, and departing from its original business model. The company officially rebranded as a “turnkey manufacturing platform” in September 2018. Speaking at the time of the transition Brian Garret, 3D Hubs co-founder and CPO said, “As the platform evolved from a peer-to-peer 3D printing network into an all-round manufacturing platform, 3D Hubs’ customer base changed,”
“Now, the majority of orders originate from professionals who source parts for larger, high-value engineering projects. These users have become a key part of the business and 3D Hubs’ success depends on the ability to serve these customers.”
Following this rebranding, the company launched a U.S. business entity named 3D Hubs Manufacturing LLC., while still retaining headquartered in Amsterdam.
In its largest funding round to date, led by Dutch growth capital investment firm Endeit Capital earlier in 2019, 3D Hubs raised $18 million in capital from investors. This Series C round brought the company’s total fundraising to date to $30 million. Now, the company is stating it has raised “more than $30 million” so far.
The news of 3D Hubs European expansion has been released in the same week that U.S. competitor Xometry announced its acquisition of Shift, an on demand manufacturing service bureau in Munich, Germany. Competition in the contract production market is rising, with a mix of established and new companies strategically expanding across the world, and launching different services to get ahead. Some of these services, like Xometry and 3D Hubs, are powered by a network of specialist manufacturers. Others, like Minnesota’s Protolabs, undertake the manufacturing of products themselves at dedicated global sites.
A strategic location for European expansion
Future Shape was founded in 2014, and primarily invests early in “deep technology” companies in either seed or series A stage. In addition to finance, the company promises a more “hands on” approach, offering collaborative advice and coaching to those in its portfolio.
Fadell moved the Future Shape team to Station F in Paris in early 2018. The incubator was launched by tech and telecom tycoon Xavier Niel, who also runs investment firm Kima Ventures. By moving to Staion F, 3D Hubs and Future Shape place themselves among the company of approximately 80 startups in high-tech areas like AR/VR, Blockchain, IoT, AgriTech, AI, MedTech and CyberSecurity.
3D Hubs has confirmed that Future Shape invested money in the company as part of its backing. The financial terms of the transaction have however remained private.
3D Hubs’ official statement on the European launch is as follows:
“3D Hubs launch in Paris positions the company to transform manufacturing in France and the whole of Europe. The goal; to produce 4 Million parts for European companies, before the end of 2020.”
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Featured image shows the 3D Hubs team. Photo via 3D Hubs