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Prototype Hubs – The New Global Manufacturing Hub

A while ago I was contacted by Prototype Hubs to be a part of the beta test team for the new Prototype Hubs website. The nice thing is that they started around the same time I was changing from 3d printing as a hobby to a legit business with 3D printing services, web-shop and as a journalist/blogger in the 3D printing industry. I was already looking into this topic for a while, so I was very excited to start working with the cool people from Prototype Hubs. I was ones a part of the 3D Hubs system, but they decided to stop working with hobbyists in general and are only working with professional 3d printing services, so ultimately I had to quit providing my services through them. Many people (including me) thought that it was a shame that 3D Hubs stopped working with hobbyists and that we did not have a proper option anymore to provide our services on one central site. Luckily the people behind Prototype Hubs came in and started a brand new platform where everyone is welcome, even hobbyists with a small print farm- or CNC cutting shop.

The brand new PrototypeHubs website.

Prototype Hubs Beta test

During the beta test period, users got to test all features on the new website from the registration process to test orders. I have to say that these guys have built a brilliant website and everything worked great from the start. Sure, there were some issues but nothing out of the ordanary. We just had to point out the things that were not working like they were supposed to or when we found links or buttons that didn’t work properly. The only thing I’ve experienced problems with was that I could not find A REAL PROBLEM. All the issues they had were gone before the launch of  the Prototype Hubs website which is awesome. It is always great fun to be part of a test team to be able to help out by providing feedback for new companies like this.

My profile page on PrototypeHubs

What is PrototypeHubs

Prototype Hubs is a new global manufacturing hub for 3D printing and CNC cutting. In other words, a marketplace for manufacturing partners providing their services to a worldwide audience. This can be anything from 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC carving and much more. Whether you need rapid prototyping, 3D printed figurines or a nice wooden CNC cut nameplate for your front door, there will always be a partner available to help you out. You can get instant pricing and select one of the trusted partners for your job. The process is super easy and the best part of it all is that anyone can apply, from 3D printing professionals to makers/hobbyists with one or two smaller 3D printers which is great in my book! So even if you own a three-in-one machine like the Snapmaker Original, or something similar with 3D printer, laser cutter, and CNC carver you can become part of this great new community of manufacturers. Also, Prototype Hubs is the ONLY web-based platform that lets manufacturers list their services and communicate directly with clients.

The Registration Process For Manufacturers

The registration process is easy for both clients and manufacturers. If you’re a manufacturer you’ll need to press Log In in the top right corner of the site or go to the bottom of any page on prototypehubs.com and press “become a manufacturing partner“. This will bring you to a new web page where the “Sign up now” button is located. You’ll need to fill out some forms including your address, what kind of machines you use for your jobs and you can use Stripe to receive payments for your work. Prototype Hubs guarantees your transactions are secure and your uploaded designs remain protected. After completion of the registration process, you’ll need to a few photos of a Prototype Hubs test model for verification. The model needs to be manufactured on the machine you will be using for your Prototype Hubs jobs.

Creating a new client account is a piece of cake too. You can push the Get Started button in the top right corner of the screen, which will bring you to a page where you can choose to start a new 3D printing– or CNC cutting project.

Using The Prototype Hubs Site

Ok, so you now have access to your manufacturing partner account dashboard after logging in. Here you can find the manufacturer’s knowledge base, support links, and you can submit feedback if you like. But the most important thing is your profile setup. This is where you can add, change, or delete your machines, materials, and post-processing. You can edit your public profile here as well and add some pictures of your work. AND…… This is also where you can find your orders! So make sure your profile looks good and check if all your information is displayed correctly so potential costumers feel at home when they find you. The layout of the dashboard is great and it shows your order information and requests. You can see how many new messages there are and the total account revenue in the blink of an eye.

From a client’s perspective, the site is very easy to use as well. Clients will upload their desired files and the files will get checked for faults. Once the files are checked, you can press “configure order” and from the online file viewer screen the client can choose the material, color, infill, and layer height, as well as another technology like SLA instead of FDM. After that process is completed, they can find the nearest manufacturer and send the order so they can find the order request on their client dashboard.

The complete process is very easy for both manufacturers and clients, with all the features I tried working great. I am sure that Prototype Hubs is going to bring many people together. I am very happy to be manufacturer on the site already and I can’t wait to get my first order. It’s great that Prototype Hubs is here for anyone who loves to make stuff and not only for the pros. An Original Prusa i3 or an Anycubic Photon can do a great job at a hobbyist level, you just have to know your machine and materials like with any other type of work. Huge respect for the team behind Prototype Hubs for all the hard work they have put into the concept. I will keep you updated on everything they do in the future and I hope to print something for you sometime.


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Visiting Prusa Research in Prague

This trip was on my bucket list for a while already. Visiting Prusa Research in Prague, the factory where all the awesome Prusa printers and the spools of Prusament come from. I’m a huge admirer of what Josef Prusa and his team did and does for the international 3d printing community and obviously, for the city of Prague. Many people don’t know this but Josef actually started with 3d printing because he wanted to build his own designed add-ons to his Dj set and because he needed a 3d printer for the job he also builds his first Mendel. In 2010 he made his own heated bed and finished the design of the Prusa Mendel, a simpler design of the normal Mendel 3d Printer. In 2011 he had designed and built the second iteration of the machine called Prusa Mendel I2 and in February 2012 the time had come to start his own small business and Prusa Research was founded and the rest is history! From Hanka, the first Prusa Research’s employee to now a large 3d printer and filament manufacturer with over 450 employees. That’s pretty impressive in my book.

In front of the Prusa Research facility.

We (Me and my wife Erica) arrived in Prague early in the morning on Monday, August 26 and because we couldn’t check-in in the hotel until midday so we decided to go to the center of Prague for some breakfast. We took a long walk through the old center and after that, we walked to the Prusa Research building for a picture. It was great to see the headquarters in real life for the first time and after the photos were taken we walked all the way back to the hotel for some well-deserved rest.

The second day we had an appointment with Jennes de Schutter from Prusa Technical Support. I got to know Jennes after I contacted Prusa for a minor issue I had with my Original Prusa i3 MK3 and after that first talk we had on the chat we became friends and had several long conversations about 3d printing related stuff. The crazy thing was that when I told him that we were coming to Prague he shared the news with us that he was going to leave Prague after two great years at Prusa Research. He is born in Belgium and it was time for him to go back and start a new career back home so it was great to meet him in Prague in his final week there. He gave us a tour through the awesome PrusaLab, the incredible maker space with everything available from the Prusa SL1, Prusa i3 MK3, CNC machine, laser cutter, and more impressive tools.

The lab was closed for a renovation during our stay but we could have a tour around the place anyway which was really cool. After the Lab, we went up in the building to the Prusa Print farm where over 500 Original Prusa i3 MK3’s print all the parts for the new machines. The Print Farm is one of the most incredible places you can visit if you love 3d printing (and Prusa Research) as much as I do so a dream came true for me. He also showed us the top-level where Prusa Technical Support is based and all the cool stuff he printed while working there. I’ve seen some amazing prints during my stay and a couple of my favorites were the awesome weaponry Jennes printed.

The cool thing is that next to the amazing 500 printers in the print farm, there are another 400 Prusa i3’s placed throughout the building, and Prusa employees are free to use them whenever they like. Obviously a great way to test new printers and materials too. And with the in-house Prusament production lines there’s always enough material to test and use for awesome projects. They also print many cool things for events like MakerFaire which is awesome. I would be so happy to work in a place like that. It’s like Charlie’s Chocolate Factory but even better.

After we saw the Technical support department it was time for us to leave so we went back to the hotel for some food and went back to visit some beautiful sites in Prague. From Prague Castle to Charles Bridge and from the Jewish Cemetary to Vyšehrad we have seen it all. But thats another story! Also, I highly recommend to visit Prague yourself one day if you haven’t done that already. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to and I want to go back so bad.

On the third day, we had to return to Prusa Research ones again for a meeting with Josef Prusa himself. When we arrived at the HQ we went up to the 3rd floor to meet Josef in his office. We shook hands and he introduced us to his personal assistants and after that, we went for a drink on the rooftop terrace and enjoyed the views for a bit. After that, he gave us another tour through the complete factory and showed us everything. I also finally met a couple of people I got to know during the Prusa SL1 beta testing which was great. We were in contact for quite some time already but never talked face to face. I can’t show you anything more about the tour because some parts of the factory are closed off for the public but luckily the amazing Joel Telling aka. The 3D Printing nerd made an awesome video for his YouTube channel during his stay in Prague for the Prague Maker Faire. He had kinda the same tour so please take some time to check out his video if you would like to know what ive seen. Joel is much better at video’s than me and he’s more handsome too.

Prusa Factory Tour with Joel Telling aka. 3D Printing Nerd

We also went to the studio where the guys at Prusa Research shoot all their awesome content for the websites and social channels. I think you’ve seen the studio on video a couple of times before like myself but being there in person is just something else. Great time for a photo with Jo.

De3DPrintman & Josef Prusa in the studio at Prusa Research

After the tour, we had seen the Filament production lines, SL1 department, Development, PrusaLab, The Prusa i3 manufacturing facility, Technical support and everything else in the building so it was time for us to say goodbye.

We had the greatest time in Prague and the Prusa Research building and I’m sure we will go back next year to visit Prague Maker Faire and our friends over at Prusa Research. We want to thank Josef Prusa, Jennes, Ondrej, Simon, Lubomir, Vladimir and all the other great people who took some time to meet us. You guys are the best at what you do and it was an honor for us to come and have a look at your work. I became even more obsessed with the Prusa brand and have mad respect for these guys.