Tag Archives: MakerBot

3D Printing: Gaining Insights at IMTS and TCT

As head of global analysis and research at CONTEXT I probably spend more time than I’d like in front of a computer screen. But as any analyst will tell you, staring at online spreadsheets is only part of the job. To really understand the industry you need to meet the key players that work in it. Trade shows are a major part of this so it was great to get out recently to two of the biggest around: The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago and TCT in the UK.

I gained some invaluable insight into the industrial and personal IT space, meeting key executives at some of the biggest names in the business, engaging with prospective customers and presenting to attendees.

3DP on the rise
IMTS is a six-day event only held once every two years, so you know it’s going to be big. This year around 115,000 attendees came to Chicago from all over the globe and the focus for many was on 3D printing (3DP) and additive manufacturing (AM). In fact, AM now has its own dedicated front-and-centre section at the show, highlighting the major $5 billion contribution it makes to the total global manufacturing tech market of around $12 billion.

General Electric’s acquisition of the number two and four metal 3D printer makers – SLM Solutions and Arcam AB – for $1.4bn last month continues to validate this market. As did the firm’s joint $81m investment with several other players in plastics 3D printer business Carbon3D. Much of the show focused on where AM goes next – ie whether AM for plastics, which makes up 90% of unit volume and two thirds of global revenues, can move from being used principally for prototyping to short/mid-run manufacturing. We also heard about the role of 3DP and AM in Industry 4.0, which will certainly be one to watch for the future.

The number two 3DP market player, 3D Systems hosted a full day conference at the show where new president and CEO, VJ Joshi introduced an almost entirely new management team to analysts, press and partners. Apart from discovering that he’s brought many of them with him from HP, where he ran the imaging business for two decades, we learned that Joshi has no interest in the 3DP desktop/personal market, which he sees as a distraction.

Meeting and greeting
I’m glad to say the show was a great success in terms of helping to promote what we do at CONTEXT. At the EOS event at IMTS I joined a one-hour Q&A panel on AM, fielding a healthy number of questions and following up with a bunch of interested attendees informally afterwards. I also had meetings with some of the hottest companies around in the space, including HP, Carbon3D, Concept Laser – number two in metals – EnvisionTEC and others.

There was more of the same at TCT in Birmingham, UK. The show focuses on the personal/desktop as well as the industrial/professional market, so there was time to take in showcases from the likes of Ultimaker, Zortrax, MakerBot and Polaroid. Some key takeaways include the delay of the Mattel printer, the forthcoming shipment of Mcor’s repositioned desktop paper/colour printer and new or increased presence from HP, Ricoh and others. On the industrial side, there seems to be a growing number of so-called “hybrid” machines sold by the likes of Sodick which offer AM and traditional manufacturing in one machine.

3dchris1

According to CONTEXT research I presented at the show, the personal/desktop market grew in 1H16 but contracted on the industrial side as management changes and new entrants continue to make an impact. Metal 3D Printing remains a bright spot in that market side along with power-based plastic printers.

CONTEXT will be hosting a 3D Printing Breakfast event at CES in Las Vegas on Thursday, 5th January 2017. To register or for more information, please contact: Theo Gibbons.

by CC

 

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Global 3D Printing Industry Passes 500K Units Shipped

While the global growth of the 3D printing industry in recent years has been phenomenal, with shipments passing the half million mark during the mid-point this year, 2015 has been a difficult year for both the Industrial/Professional segment and the Personal/Desktop segments.

Q3 this year saw long-time industry players Stratasys and 3D Systems continue to struggle. The former again laid off employees from its desktop/personal printer division, MakerBot, and the latter parted ways with its long-time CEO and president.

Both companies posted weak earnings the quarter, showing declines in total revenues of -18% and -9% respectively. But, as anticipated, various players from the 2D printing markets continue to move closer to full entrance into the market. Canon recently showcased an industrial/professional 3D printing machine at a company event in Paris in order to demonstrate technology that will be available under the Canon brand at an undetermined date. While Canon is still dipping its toe in the water, rival Ricoh has entered the market, introducing an industrial laser-sintering machine co-developed with its fellow Japanese company (and long-time industry player) ASPECT, Inc.

As Hewlett Packard splits into HP Inc and HP Enterprise, HP Inc is using 3D printing as a showcase piece for the new company and there are indications that its MultiJet Fusion (MJF) technology will be brought to the professional market in late 2016. It is also continuing to promote a desktop/personal 3D printer alongside its consumer SPROUT PC to showcase its 3D scanning capabilities and the two are reportedly often purchased together via HP.com.

While major 2D printing brands continue to move closer to the 3D printing market, each has opted to enter on the Industrial/Professional side at the moment with the Desktop/Personal printer market still marked by a hodge-podge of printer offerings from long-time additive manufacturing companies, start-ups and regional brands.  In Europe, for example, players like Spain’s BQ, Germany’s German RepRap, Italy’s Sharebot, Poland’s Zortrax, Dutch Ultimaker and the like tend to do well in their region but none enjoy truly global brand recognition yet.  Even the top brand in the world for desktop printers, Taiwan’s XYZprinting, is hardly a household brand showing the nascent nature of this side of the industry.

by CC

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