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Centralized shipping for additive manufactured parts

3D Hubs opens warehouses in Chicago and Amsterdam to grease wheels, makes good on its name

. The world’s largest networked manufacturing services provider takes a further step to leverage its international operations for bulk orders. Shipments will be routed through two warehouses, with quoted prices to include customs and brokerage charges. 3D printed parts remain exempt from this change because 3D Hubs has re-emphasized its commitment to exclusively local manufacturing partners.

3D Hubs provides third-party logistics and design processing to its clients. It maintains a global roster of dedicated manufacturers able to create plastic and metal designs.

The Chicago office, a hub in the centalized shipping network
The Chicago office, a hub in the centalized shipping network

The announcement comes when traditional manufacturing is under pressure from fluctuating demand throughout global supply chains. 3D Hubs already provides a user-friendly online platform for computer-aided design order quotes and entry. Its new shipping policy promises no hidden charges while maintaining lead times.

The new system is two-tiered and based on 3D Hubs’ current production schedule. CNC, injection molding and sheet metal fabrication, which require ample shop space, are shipped through one of 3D Hubs’ new hubs. 3D Hubs institute double quality control by routing manufacturing runs through its hubs. The centralized shipping centers let the company inspect suppliers’ parts before being routed to clients. This innovation enhanced already rigorous quality control standards. 3D printed parts remain exclusively outsourced to local production partners, who then manage shipping and quality control.

3D Hubs has committed, moreover, to twenty-four-hour turnaround time between parts arriving at its centralized shipping centers and shipping to clients. The announced improvements are only available to customers based in the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

3D Hubs is capitalizing on global uncertainty because, as global supply chains re-organize in the post-COVID world, manufacturing borne out of centralized shipping hubs cuts production costs. It also limits the chance of human error and the spread of human-borne pathogens, like COVID-19. Additive manufacturing has already been heralded as a means to fill gaps in traditional supply chains. The 3D printing services offered under 3D Hubs’ platform, moreover, create local opportunities for small manufacturers, which encourages the adoption rate of small-to-large additive manufacturing systems.

These market forces are latent for the time being. 3D Hubs’ announcement establishes the company as a leader in centralized shipping in the manufacturing sector. This competitive advantage may be brought to bear in the coming years as additive manufacturing becomes more diverse.

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Adam Strömbergsson

Adam is a legal researcher and writer with a background in law and literature. Born in Montreal, Canada, he has spent the last decade in Ottawa, Canada, where he has worked in legislative affairs, law, and academia. Adam specializes in his pursuits, most recently in additive manufacturing. He is particularly interested in the coming international and national regulation of additive manufacturing. His past projects include a history of his alma mater, the University of Ottawa. He has also specialized in equity law and its relationship to judicial review. Adam’s current interest in additive manufacturing pairs with his knowledge of historical developments in higher education, copyright and intellectual property protections.

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