Aug 16, 2016 | By Alec

Is the 3D printing revolution picking up steam? When glancing at figures and market projections, you certainly get that idea. Especially demand from professional clients (for high quality 3D printing prototyping and even end-use production) has been skyrocketing, convincing experts to change their long term projections. Just last week, the International Data Corporation (IDC) updated their 3D printing spending guide with the prediction that worldwide spending on 3D printing will surpass the $35 billion mark by 2020.

But where is that money going to? For over the past two years, new 3D printing startups and hardware have been appearing in rapid succession – creating a more diverse, if more unstable and unpredictable market. More and more high quality technologies have also been maturing, creating serious competition for those companies that reigned supreme just a few years ago. To find out exactly who the shining stars in the 3D printing industry are, takes a closer look at the 2015 results and plans of some of the biggest names in 3D printing.

3D Systems

As one of the major pushers of the 3D printing revolution from its onset, 3D Systems hardly needs introduction. Leading the way with SLA and SLS 3D printing solutions, they are one of the two industry benchmarks for hardware – the other being Stratasys (and their MakerBot). But 3D Systems do, however, need a new battle plan. Their 2015 full revenues clocked in at $666.2 million – just 2 percent higher than their figures for 2014. What’s more, they have failed to grow quarterly results since the Q2 2015 – a trend that persists until today. While thus not exactly in a crisis, the company has struggled to build on their earlier successes in 2013 and early 2014. During the first six months of 2016, 3D Systems' revenue fell 6.2% year over year to $310.7 million. In the second quarter, 3D Systems' revenue fell 7% year over year, a steeper fall from the 17% decline in the first quarter.

A change is therefore needed, and 3D Systems appointed Vyomesh 'VJ' Joshi as new president and CEO back in April to do so. And he sees opportunities in 3D printing mass production for especially the health care market. “We see clear opportunities for improvements in 3D printers and on demand manufacturing services as we drive operational excellence and focus on providing reliable end-to-end solutions,” he said. “We are building a comprehensive strategy and assembling a world-class team and organizational structure we believe will enable us to deliver exceptional customer value, drive profitable growth and accelerate digital manufacturing.” Mass production 3D printing is thus the new name of the game, but 3D Systems continues to remain one of the biggest and most successful names in the 3D printing market.

Stratasys Ltd.

This trend is mirrored by Stratasys Ltd., the Nasdaq-listed company that grew out of the Stratasys and Objet merger in 2012. Just like their 3D printing solutions and brand power, their figures are comparable to those of 3D Systems with a revenue of $696.0 million for 2015. But unlike 3D Systems, they are actually doing worse than in 2014 – when they realized a revenue of $750.1 million. Earlier this month, Stratasy posted a modest year-over-year revenue decline of 5.6%. Revenue fell to $172.1 million, missing the consensus by $3.7 million.

Also recognizing the need for a change, they appointed a new CEO as well – replacing CEO David Reis with Ilan Levin on July 1. And like 3D Systems, they are betting it all on 3D printing services, mass production and very powerful and accessible software platforms. “We have entered a transformative new phase in our company's development,” former CEO David Reis said when announcing their 2015 figures. “Our goal is to maintain our leadership position in prototyping, while developing a solutions-based business model that targets key vertical markets and emerging applications for end-use parts. We believe our comprehensive new strategy will help grow our markets and is essential for maintaining our leadership position.” While thus still market leaders in every sense of the word, the increasingly diverse 3D printing market certainly had an impact on the ‘Big Two’.

SLM Solutions

But then who is benefitting? As we will see, several metal 3D printing specialists are responsible for a big chunk of market growth. Among them is SLM Solutions Group AG, a Lübeck, German-based provider of metal 3D printing systems. They have been remarkably successful over the last few years, with their 3D printers increasingly finding their way to aerospace, energy, healthcare and automotive partners. In May, even Audi purchased one of their ten-feet tall SLM 280HL 3D printers.

This is also reflected by their figures. Their overall 2015 revenue grew to €66,137 million – nearly double what they realized in 2014. And that trend is continuing over the first six months of 2016, when they processed 56 new orders for a total sales figure of €33.5 million (an 85 percent growth when compared to 2015). “The ongoing, innovative development of our systems is a key source of our further growth. Our aim is to build up the development, production and sale of consumables for laser melting systems,” the company said. While still much smaller than Stratasys or 3D Systems, SLM Solutions is clearly becoming a business to be reckoned with.

Arcam AB

A similar trend can be seen at Arcam AB, the Swedish pioneers of electron beam melting (EBM) technology– which some experts believe has the power to turn metal 3D printing into a mass production tool. Specialists from the aerospace and defense provider Honeywell even singled out this technology for its revolutionary production potential. Among others, they received a big order from GE subsidiary Avio Aero, while various medical implant developers, such as China Beijing Icahn, are also looking at EBM 3D printing for implant production.

This potential is also reflected in their sales, with 42 sets of EBM 3D printers sold over 2015. Realizing a total revenue of 576.1 million Swedish Krona ($68 million USD), they could brag about a net increase of 70 percent over 2015 – almost as impressive as SLM Solutions. “2015 was yet another very strong, eventful year for Arcam. We have worked hard to drive and develop our long-term strategy to put our EBM technology into industrial production. We have developed all three parts of the group: EBM systems, metal powders and contract manufacturing. We have grown considerably and made significant investments in increasing capacity so that we can continue to meet our customers’ increased demand,” said CEO Magnus René.


Slightly less successful over 2015 was prominent US metal 3D printing provider ExOne. A company that has been manufacturing and selling metal 3D printing machines under lease financing deals for several years now, they are also working hard to secure their place in a changing market. They also offer services in the US, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Japan. Over 2015, they gathered $40.353 million in revenues – slightly down from $43.9 million in 2014. At the same time, ExOne (valued at $230 million) is not doing fantastically on NASDAQ either, with a share price of $13.3.

However, the company is seeing plenty of opportunities for their hardware. “We continued to make progress with broader market acceptance of our technology. We are optimistic that more and more of our customers are evaluating opportunities to use our machines in production — the four Exerial machines that we shipped in 2015 are being integrated into customer facilities,” CEO S. Kent Rockwell said of his 2015 figures. “ Additionally, we are working with several of the world's leading automotive manufacturers on evaluation of our Exerial for their series production operations. On the direct printing side of our business, we are making good progress in the development of ceramics, carbon and monolithic metals. We look forward to further development of applications unique to our binder jetting technology.”

Voxeljet AG

Another shining light in the 3D printing industry is German company Voxeljet. Valued at $110 million dollar, they quickly became a leading provider of large-format 3D printers and on-demand component services for industrial and commercial customers. Their remarkable hardware is especially rapidly finding its way into the hands of European and American clients from the automotive, aviation, aerospace, entertainment, machine building and consumer goods industries. Their product is best illustrated by the VX4000 3D printer – the world’s largest industrial 3D printer with a continuous build volume of 4 x 2 x 1 meters, perfect for rapid production of individual molds.

The VX4000 3D printer

With more than 50 3D printers sold over 2015, they gathered a revenue of $26.141 million – an increase of nearly 50 percent when compared to 2014. While the company’s New York Stock Exchange stocks are currently trading at a small loss, the company itself is greedily expanding their clientele – having just entered the Mexican automotive market (one of the largest in the world) with a deal with Latin American OEM specialist ART. Definitely a company that cannot be ignored.

Nano Dimension Ltd.

One of the smaller and youngest companies on this list is Nano Dimension, an Israeli 3D printed circuit board specialist founded in 2012. It’s a very exciting time for the company, who also develops 3D inkjet, 3D software and nanomaterial solutions. While 2015 figures are hard to come by, they have started 2016 off very well – with Q1 revenues of $7.628 million.

The company itself also sees a lot of opportunities. “The first quarter was an extremely exciting time for Nano Dimension, during which the company continued to gain momentum and solidify its position as a leader in the 3D printed electronics industry. A standout moment from the quarter was the company's listing on the NASDAQ in March. In addition, the company filed for several new patents to advance its proprietary technologies and announced a new collaboration with Tel Aviv University,” said CEO Amit Dror. And as their DragonFly2020 3D Printer is expected to make a huge splash, a lot is happening over in their Israel HQ. Valued at $55 million already, Nano Dimension is a name that we will be hearing a lot more in the near future.


Meanwhile, Materialise is doing very well and cannot be ignored at all. The largest provider of high quality 3D printing services in Europe, they are working hard to expand their international footprint – in part through Europe’s largest 3D printing factory, which the company is planning to build in Poland over the next few years. Their success is also reflected in their revenue, which reached €102,035 million ($113 USD) over 2015 – a 25.4 percent increase when compared with 2014. These excellent figures were partly realized by a strong performance in the Materialise Software and Materialise Manufacturing segments, as well as the purchase of OrthoView in late 2014.

Especially the company’s fourth quarter was a huge success (responsible for €28 million of that year’s revenue), and the company is currently building on that momentum for 2016. “We executed well on our strategy throughout 2015 and turned in an especially strong fourth quarter, reflecting Materialise’s increasing prominence as the software and services backbone of the 3D printing ecosystem. During the fourth quarter, all three of our business segments achieved revenue gains as well as positive EBITDA,” Executive Chairman Peter Leys commented. “We are pursuing a number of exciting initiatives for 2016, all designed to strengthen Materialise’s position as the leading enabler of 3D printing applications. Additive manufacturing is being adopted by new and substantial players, and we are proud to be at the forefront of this growing industry.”

Sigma Labs

Another promising, but much smaller company is Sigma Labs. The company was formerly known as Framewaves, but became a subsidiary of that company in 2010 – enabling them to fully focus on metal 3D printing. Despite not being around for very long, they have already started collaborating with companies such as Boeing, GE Aviation and Honeywell Aerospace. While the 2015 revenue total of $1.235 million shows that this company still has a lot to do, the potential is definitely there.

What’s more, 2016 could become a major growth year for them, especially if the signs from late 2015 are anything to go by. More than half of all their 2015 revenue was realized in the year’s last quarter, and the company is working hard to continue that trend. “We are pleased to announce that, due to an acceleration of orders, our fourth quarter revenue was the highest in the Company’s history,” said Mark Cola, President & CEO of Sigma Labs. “Our business development efforts are clearly gaining traction, and – due to demand – we have extended our Early Adopter and OEM Partner programs past the end of 2015. Last year marked the highest level of sales for Sigma Labs, but we believe the best is yet to come, as we focus on further growth and a path to profitability in 2016.”

Shining 3D

But 3D printing is by no means just a western affair, as is illustrated by the success of Chinese company Shining 3D. Of course everything in China is done on a bigger scale than here in the west, and Shining 3D is a perfect example. Founded in 2004, they have very quickly grown into a huge and promising enterprise. Offering the full range of 3D services from 3D scanning and 3D printing to software, 3D design and material development, they are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. Recently opening a 25,000m2 3D printing HQ in Hangzhou, China, they are selling thousands of 3D printers while their EinScan 3D scanning equipment is already being distributed in the U.S. and other overseas markets.

This is also reflected in their revenue streams, which are growing. Over 2015, the company already raised 190 million RMB in revenue (or approximately $28.6 million USD). And with their international market presence expanding rapidly, Shining 3D could lead the way in Chinese 3D printing efforts.

BrightChina (eSUN 3D)

But they are by no means the only Chinese 3D printing company, with filament manufacturer eSUN 3D (part of BrightChina) growing into a huge player in their own right. Founded back in 2002, they are particularly known for producing filaments from an ecological point of view, with green solvents and sustainable production, and have become China’s leading PLA manufacturer. Headquartered in the Shenzhen City Science Park in Xiaogan City, they are producing tons and tons of 3D printable material for both the domestic and international markets. Last summer, they also released ePC, a transparent, fire-resistant and environmentally-friendly 3D printing filament.

These successes are also reflected in their revenue numbers, which reached 93.29 million RMB (approximately $14 million USD) in 2015. That number is only expected to grow over 2016, in part thanks to the important achievement of being added to the New OTC Market list of the NEEQ stock exchange – making investment a whole lot easier, more flexible, and giving the company a lot more growth opportunities. “We believe that the 3D printing market will grow explosively over the next five years. Things like big data, cloud computing and many other information and communication innovations will be integrated into 3D printing,” they said. And eSUN 3D is clearly going to be a part of that future.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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johnharris wrote at 8/16/2016 2:05:27 PM:

nice article.

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