The 3D printing network, 3D Hubs, has announced the finalization of a significant investment in their concept as the UK's Balderton Capital, a venture capital firm, has plunked down $4.5 million to fund their expansion.
A year after launching 3D Hubs, the Series-A financing round will also see Mark Evans, General Partner at Balderton Capital, join the firm's two founders on the board of directors.
The company's vision is essentially this; make it possible for designers to output their work locally via their distributed network of 3D printers. And with some 75,000 unique 3D models uploaded and over 30,000 prints made in less than a year, investors appear to be convinced that the model is working in practice.
3D Hubs says their network of more than 7,000 has given "1 Billion people access to a 3D printer within 10 miles of their home," and that's an enticing market indeed. A critical element of the concept is the communities which are driven by what they call "ambassadors" or "3D Hubs Mayors ." These Mayors, now some 100 in number, organize local meetups, workshops and presentations to educate and inspire local makers.
According to Bram de Zwart, the CEO and co-founder of 3D Hubs, the philosophy behind his company is all about service and turnaround time.
"We raised this round to accelerate growth with a view to running all global 3D print jobs through our network, hereby propelling the world into the next industrial revolution, a world in which products are made locally and tailored to the individual, suiting personal needs as opposed to the average one-size-fits-all philosophy," said de Zwart.
The company offered their first US office in New York at the New Lab space at the Brooklyn Navy Yards following their startup in the Netherlands, and they say they expect their US team to grow from 20 to more than 30 people over the course of the coming year.
The company says this latest infusion of cash will be used to beef up staff in the New York office, provide additional support, purchase advertising, form new partnerships and build their existing community.
"3DHubs is building a marketplace that we believe will have a radical impact on the way production and manufacturing is done in the near future," Evans said. "The team has proven that 3D printing is moving beyond the garages of enthusiasts and is now a tool available to mass consumers, and they've done this by working with and enabling the growing community of printers, creating a truly collaborative platform for creating new products."
It's thought that 3D Hubs could have a current valuation of nearly $30 million, and for a year-old company, that's not bad news at all.