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On 3D Hubs’ exit to Protolabs, the largest transaction ever in digital manufacturing

First things first: Huge congratulations to Bram, Brian, Filemon, and the rest of the team at 3D Hubs. It’s been an honor being on this journey with you, and we’re excited for the next chapter. 🎉🎉🎉

Four years after EQT Ventures led its Series B, today Amsterdam based 3D Hubs announces its acquisition by Protolabs (PRLB) in a transaction worth $330m in cash and shares. In effect, this creates the world’s largest digital manufacturing platform, with Protolabs consolidating its market leading position by getting access to 3D Hubs’ global network of manufacturing partners. In the near term, 3D Hubs will continue to operate independently, while working with Protolabs towards a seamless integration and a single, unified platform.

Our journey with 3D Hubs began in 2016, when EQT Ventures first led their Series B round (and later continued backing them in their Series C). EQT Ventures was just getting started back then, so we thought it’d be worth revisiting our original investment thesis and sharing our reflections.

3D Hubs office c/o Rockstart when EQT Ventures invested

Founded in Amsterdam in 2013, 3D Hubs was originally conceived of when the 3D printing revolution and maker movement was still in its infancy. Built as a decentralized marketplace, 3D Hubs offered a novel peer to peer solution, allowing anyone to 3D print parts around the world at their nearest 3D printing “hub”.

This gave 3D Hubs a key advantage in the early days, as they were able to offer the fastest delivery times along with competitive prices and greater consumer choice. The model was an elegant answer to the complexity and fragmentation of the emerging market, lowering the barrier to entry and boosting adoption of 3D printing as the platform scaled around the world.

In fact, this is exactly what happened. As 3D Hubs has grown up, they today have over 200 premium manufacturing partners (no longer limited to just 3D printing) in over 20 countries worldwide. This has led to 6M+ parts ordered through the platform, making it the online leader in rapid prototyping and low volume production.

3D Hubs + Protolabs

Following their growth over the last few years, we couldn’t imagine a better home to take 3D Hubs to the next level than Protolabs. As the emergent leader in the digital manufacturing industry, PRLB has been a key catalyst behind the acceleration of going digital and future proofing of global supply chains in key industries such as healthcare, aerospace, and automotive.

Now with the announcement of this partnership, this will give those industries and other engineering companies a best in class experience, from prototyping all the way to final production, under one single provider. The combined manufacturing capacity, supply chain efficiency, and geographical coverage makes Protolabs/3D Hubs the category leader across the entire on-demand manufacturing product life cycle.

This has been an amazing journey with a lot of learnings along the way — about being born in a strong community, about growing up, riding the tailwind of a technology as it matures, but still respecting your roots… I’m sure there will be opportunities to share more of learnings later.

As the team advances their vision for the future of manufacturing, we couldn’t be more excited of where this will take us next.

Read 3D Hubs’ blog post here
Protolabs’ announcement

Big shoutouts to the whole 3D Hubs team, Balderton Capital, Endeit Capital, Hearst Ventures, DOEN Participaties, Future Shape, Rockstart, Kees Koolen, Arthur Kosten, Stifel, and my colleagues at EQT Ventures who have supported as well.

Remember when we could meet up physically? This is what it could look like.

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Multi-stage VC fund, powering the next generation of founders with the support needed to build global success stories

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Ted Persson

Ted Persson

Ex Product & Design investing in… Product & Design. And Frontier tech and climate and a bunch of other stuff. Partner at @eqtventures.

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