What are two technologies that could theoretically decentralize our economy? Bitcoin is one. Kenya just recently added Bitcoin to a list of digital currencies that includes the M-Pesa because it’s a convenient way to work around the centralized banking system. 3D printing is another. If you already have a Makerbot, I bet it saves you a lot of the hassle it would take to run to the store any time you need napkin holders and nobody really mentions those models you sell under the table to pay for your hobby. Now 3D Hubs has announced a partnership with Bitcoin payment services provider BitPay and mobile and point-of-sale payment services provider Adyen to integrate Bitcoin payments into its platform.
If you are one of those unfortunate people who haven’t been able to afford an additive manufacturing machine yet, 3D Hubs will connect you to the nearest one to help you with all your modeling needs. If you go by the 13,382 machines that are already registered on the 3D Hubs network, this is a fairly popular way for owners to earn extra cash from a machine that would otherwise be idle most of the time. As one user put it, “The 3D Hubs community is everything I was told the Internet would be someday.”
A quick search revealed that there are “Hubs” – what 3D Hubs calls its nodes – that are less than an hour’s drive from my location and can print in PLA, resin, wood, nylon, bronzeFill and sandstone. This would be convenient if I need a model in a hurry but my 3D printer won’t handle the material I want.
The Adven/Bitpay/3D Hubs triad plugs the new partnership as one more step in achieving a truly decentralized manufacturing model: “This partnership connects Bitcoin, a decentralized currency, to 3D Hubs’ decentralized manufacturing network, further strengthening the global movement towards decentralized industry.”
Essentially, we will no longer have to put up with shipping products from China because centralized corporations decided to outsource their manufacturing to other countries. That means fewer issues with tainted foreign products coming into the country because inspectors are overworked and underpaid. You can even think of 3D Hub as being a manufacturing job creator if you want. Owners of additive manufacturing machines are being paid to put machines that would otherwise be idle to work. If you need a prototype for your new product, you can simply have the Hub nearest you print one off in whatever material you need and pay for it with another decentralized technology called Bitcoin.