This is a follow on to a previous thread "more website changes"
Before I add my view I would like to say I have been an Investments and Pensions adviser dealing with companies for years, so I have a fairly good idea of how businesses work.
When we first joined the hubs it was a great experience with lots to explore, enquiries from new customers and a reasonable amount of jobs....that has all stopped now.
The new direction 3d Hubs has taken is designed to increase their revenue by bringing on board commercial companies with the ability to provide enhanced throughput with little risk to themselves. 3D Hubs do not have to buy the machines, maintain them, update them or their knowledge in this changing industry.
Like many other companies, what was once a great idea to help 3d printers get work in a community of like minded people has been distorted by the need/desire for growth and revenue. The difference between the hubs and shapeways is that on the hubs you can find individuals with passion who are prepared to help educate their customers and give them the best 3d print they can. Commercial firms require throughput and I imagine that they are prepared to provide a bigger discount (as they can carry that) to operate their bigger and costly machines.
What will happen is that the HD service will start to suck up all the work and the smaller operators (which the hubs was built on) will get nothing and eventually fade into the background. The value of advice and expertise to customers should not be underestimated and if the hubs lose this I don't know how they will differentiate themselves from a company like shapeways.
I can tell you that since I went on holiday in JULY I have had ONE job via the hubs and this was from another hub who needed an HD part. Eventually our hub will be "allowed" onto the HD part of the site once the big boys have settled in and then we will no doubt be offering discounts trying to get some work and compete with them.
If enquires coming via the hub continue in this way it won't actually matter if your on the hubs or not!