Two of the biggest names in the additive manufacturing are set to combine forces and produce an expansive global chain of digital manufacturing. Both companies offer custom prototyping services to their customer base. Through their network of manufacturers and suppliers, Protolabs and 3D Hubs offer engineers and businesses the capability to have their computer rendered 3D models produced. This service is an excellent option for companies or individuals who cannot justify the cost of a machine, but still have a need for physical prototypes.
Protolabs is under contract with 3D Hubs to acquire their company for around $280 million. The two companies will utilize the resources of each other’s manufacturers and suppliers across 20 countries all over the world; opening up huge opportunities for customers of this digital manufacturing network.
This merger will possibly rival the Global Manufacturing Network (GMN) of Stratasys, arguably the current leader in digital manufacturing and custom prototyping solutions. Stratasys pioneered their GMN beginning in 2003, and since then have been consistently upgrading and refining the standards imposed on their GMN partners. R&D Technologies located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, is a proud partner of the Stratasys GMN servicing customers across the United States. Similar to Protolabs and 3D Hubs, R&D Technologies offer services to a broad spectrum of customers; ranging from large government corporations to small local businesses.
The ability to access the forefront of additive manufacturing technology can be invaluable to certain professions. Companies like Stratasys who create highly accurate and consistent machinery impose a difficult price barrier for many individuals and businesses. Luckily with the help of global digital manufacturing solutions, customers have access to the end result without all of the commitment that comes with buying a machine.