3D Hubs is an international printing service that introduces the public to nearby 3D printers. If you’ve purchased a 3D printer, this is a great way to partially earn it back or at least cover your costs. It may seem like a challenge - as over 30.000 printers are already listed - but with these inside tricks about pricing, visual appeal and online visibility, you might come out a winner after reading this article.
1. THE RIGHT LOOK
Expecting to receive an order within minutes of setting up your hub, is kind of unrealistic. You’ll first have to make your hub visually appealing. Go ahead and upload some pictures of your best 3D prints yet, and use a header image showcasing your brand. Feel free to add your business homepage in the visual. Because depending on which business you’re in, 3D Hubs might just help you win over potential clients.
Your ultimate goal may be to earn money, but in order to do so, it is equally important to use 3D Hubs as a branding tool - an extension to your business or private portfolio. Look at it as another online platform to be present on.
2. SCORING THAT FIRST ORDER
The first orders will be the trickiest. After printing the required ‘Marvin’ figure to be able to register, you’ll get one decent review - given by 3D Hubs itself. It’s better than nothing, but it’s still just one. Experienced buyers on 3D hubs know this and already have their trusted printers to order from. The first customers you’ll get, are likely to be new to the system and could very well be content with just one review.
But to get those first orders - and reviews - quicker, consider these tricks:
- Lower your prices temporarily – Check surrounding hubs’ prices with a random STL file, and then lower your price accordingly.
- Call on your friends – You probably have friends or colleagues asking you to print something all the time anyway. Put it to use, and let them order through your hub. You could of course avoid the 3D Hubs fee altogether by printing it directly for the person… But for your hub rating an extra order will make all the difference. We’d advice you to limit this to smaller prints (like a phone case, keyhanger etc) as the fees will be much lower.
Combining these 2 tricks will certainly secure those first orders.
3. THINK LOCAL
The more than 30.000 printers listed should not worry you at all. Many 3D Hubs shoppers like to browse local hubs. As many of them are new to 3D printing or are busy exploring different kinds of printers, they might prefer a local pickup to see the machine or even meet your business.
So don’t expect to ship overseas, as orders will likely come from your own country. You might receive some orders from surrounding countries, but only if your pricing is competitive with shipping included.
4. THE RIGHT PRICE
- Compare yourself to other hubs and know your competitive advantages
Setting the right price can get tricky. The best way to do this, is to upload a STL file and research the lowest prices on surrounding hubs.
Depending on how professional the hub with the lowest price looks like (in terms of branding/pictures/print quality) and what you have to compete against (build volume/resolution/printer type), be sure to set your price the same or slightly lower.
In case the hub with the lowest price can’t compete with most of your features (large build volume/more materials or colours/better surface finish/branding), take it further and set your price even higher.
- Print resolution vs. pricing
Hubs tend to set different prices for different layer heights. Prices for high resolution prints (0.1 mm) are often very expensive. Our Prisma software works volumetric and the layer height only has a very small impact on print duration, which is a great advantage. To set the same price for any resolution or maintaining only a few cents difference in between, may outbid a competing hub and win you an order.
The most common prices come in at around € 0.25 per cm3 with a startup cost between € 4 to € 8 for medium resolution.
For instance: a spool of PLA 750g at € 25 costs € 0.04 per cm3. So counting the hub fee/electricity cost/labour, the margins are still worth your effort.
Keep in mind the printing time vs the price. Setting a lower price might result in getting bigger objects to print and thus longer print times. So be sure to communicate the printing time as clear as possible, as it might exceed the delivery time set.
5. SHARE YOUR HUB
As we all know by now: sharing is caring. Joining 3D hubs means you get to share this amazing 3D printing technology with people who would either like to try it themselves, or who don’t use it routineously. Online sharing has become a part of us, so do share your accomplishments and use them as content on your social channels. Add a ‘3D print through our hub’ Call To Action in your email signature and perhaps mention it on your business card.
3D Hubs is a great way to earn extra cash, but it can also be seen as an extension of your brand’s portfolio. Besides the earnings, you will be able to create an interaction with potential clients. In your next package to send out, why not slip in a flyer or a promotion for your main business? In the end, you can surely expect to cover the material and electricity costs, and partially regain the purchase cost of your device. But the main benefit will always be the visibility you’ll gain in a stylish and contemporary network.