Case Study
Quick facts
3D Hubs (acquired by Protolabs in 2021)
Our Involvement:
Ferdinand Goetzen was the Director of Marketing & Growth and Clement Dumont was the Growth Marketing Manager at 3D Hubs. Together they led the marketing and growth efforts for the company after its pivot from B2C to B2B, with the explicit goal of helping the company achieve an exit.

About 3D Hubs

3D Hubs was founded in Amsterdam in 2013 and quickly became one of the biggest 3D printing platforms in the world. In 2018/2019 the company pivoted from a P2P platform focused only on 3D printing to a B2B proposition providing a range of manufacturing services to enterprise clients. 

Shortly after the pivot, 3D Hubs raised a Series C of $18 million. Ferdinand and Clement were hired as part of a new leadership team that was hired to drive the new b2b proposition forward. 

In 2021, 3D Hubs was acquired by Protolabs for $330 million, one of the most substantial exits in the Dutch tech landscape at the time.

Goals and Context

When Ferdinand and Clement joined 3D Hubs, there was strong validation on the pivot but a need to establish 3D Hubs as one of the leading players in the online manufacturing landscape. 

The biggest challenge was establishing trust in a new technology within a very niche and traditional industry. In addition to facing direct online manufacturing competitors like Protolabs, Xometry and Fictiv, 3D Hubs had to compete with more traditional factories and ‘mom & pop shops’. Building a team of marketing and growth experts who could operate with such a specific audience and market was a key challenge.

Ferdinand and Clement’s goals included expanding into new markets, driving a consistent flow of highly qualified leads for sales and building a powerful brand that would leave behind the company’s P2P 3D Printing legacy.

Key Initiatives

Creating a brand that inspires & builds trust

Looking at the manufacturing market, we saw a huge opportunity to differentiate on brand. Both the traditional and digital players seemed to have more conservative and corporate branding. 

We had the idea to emulate companies like Tesla and SpaceX and get engineers excited and inspired about the potential of their work. 3D Hubs shouldn’t be seen as just a manufacturing service, but as a way to make their innovations come to life. At the same time, we needed to balance “inspirational content” with “trust building” as what we offered was considered new, unusual and potentially risky to more conservative clients.

We coined “Empowering engineers to create beautiful products” as our core brand message and built our identity, messaging and content pillars around that.

We used 3 key mediums for driving our brand: 

  • Video & design content
  • PR initiatives 
  • Customer stories

We built an in-house video and design team with the aim to create high-quality and engaging visual content. The content was designed to appeal to the “inner engineering geeks” of our users whilst still building trust for their businesses through a strong aesthetic and technical detail. 

Customer stories became a key medium for building trust and inspiring potential customers. We not only showed what clients could get manufactured through our service, but showed the end result, i.e. 3D Hubs-manufactured parts saving lives, entering space, etc. 

We also pursued PR initiatives to help put us on the map. We ran competitions where engineering students could win a grant for their innovative creations. When Covid-19 hit, we helped manufacture vital medical equipment to save lives.

Finally, we led the most ambitious rebrand in our industry, rebranding 3D Hubs to Hubs and shifting the website to

Even though we employed a strong brand message and aesthetic, we ensured we built trust and “handled objections” wherever we could. 

The leading brand we created became a cornerstone for attracting and converting leads and got us featured on Business Insider, Forbes, CNN, ZDnet and more. It put 3D Hubs on the map and played a significant role in the eventual exit of the company.

Creating the leading SEO motion in the market

When we joined, 3D Hubs already had a solid SEO presence. Following the pivot, new manufacturing technologies were added to the service offering, presenting a significant SEO opportunity. 

Our strategy was to aggressively go after the most lucrative (and competitive) keywords and create content that actually converts. For every service or technology we offered, we aimed to tap into buyer’s intent with service pages and lower intent through educational guides.

A key challenge was that engineers are a very specific audience. The bar for quality content was very high and balancing quality and ‘rankability’ was key. We solved this by involving our in-house mechanical engineers in creating and proofing content. Another challenge was the sheer competitiveness of the keywords, for which we invested heavily into developing an in-house link building engine.

By the time we left 3D Hubs, SEO was the leading marketing channel for driving leads and opportunities for sales. We ranked at or near the top of page 1 on Google for all keywords that were directly related to our service offering, including “3D Printing”, “3D printing Service”, “CNC Machining”, “CNC Machining Service” and “Sheet Metal Fabrication” – in multiple languages.

Across the website, we achieved a Domain Authority (DA) of 64, 500,000 inbound backlinks and 28,000 ranking keywords.

Launching in new markets

Being founded in the Netherlands, 3D Hubs had a strong foothold in the European market, which was one of our core differentiators. 

As we were in a more traditional industry, where building trust and meeting face-to-face matters, we took a “boots on the ground” approach to market expansion. This is contrary to the market expansion strategy at Recruitee, where we managed all localization centrally. 

To choose new markets, we looked at our own customer acquisition data for a given market, the size / potential of the market, and its competitive landscape.

Once we identified a market with potential, we localized core service pages and ran experiments to validate our ability to apply and adapt our playbooks to the market.

If successful, we localize fully, hiring local experts with deep roots in the industry and localizing our SEO, content, brand and events playbooks to the market. 

This strategy of “lean” and “full” localization allowed us to adapt our core marketing and growth strategies for different regions. 

Within a year, France and DACH became 2 of our leading markets. In our second year, we grew those markets over 200% and 250% respectively. Our dominance in the European market was another of the key factors for the 2021 exit.

Notable Results:

revenue growth in 2 years
-head growth team built from scratch
growth of FR and DACH markets in 1 year
keywords ranking on Google
major PR features, including Business Insider, Forbes and CNN 
HUBS Rebranded 3D Hubs to Hubs.
acquisition by Protolabs in 2021

“Ferdinand & Clement have an incredibly unique holistic view of a Marketing team's responsibility within an organisation. They clearly believe and execute their strategies around this, knowing that Marketing is a team that fundamentally must drive the company mission towards its customers. Their understanding of SEO/SEA, branding, PR, Product marketing and content meant that they could build a multifaceted approach to create a customer acquisition machine increasing our new customer growth significantly.”

Ben Redwood
Former Director of Sales at 3D Hubs