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Understanding the 3D Printer Market from a 2D Perspective

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Insiders in the 3D printing industry like to point out how little their technology has in common with hardcopy. That may be true, but why are so many hardcopy OEMs, channel players, and materials vendors entering or evaluating the 3D printing market?

The answer is twofold: First, the way 3D systems and supplies are sold and supported is almost identical to the hardcopy market. Second, hardcopy companies with manufacturing, materials, and channel know-how and infrastructure have a big advantage over 3D startups. Actionable Intelligence's latest report, “Understanding the 3D Printer Market from a 2D Perspective,” explains how hardcopy channel partners can use those advantages to find success in the 3D market.

“OEMs in the 3D market actively seek out hardcopy resellers because they understand the value of those resellers’ know-how and infrastructure,” says Michael Nadeau, the report's author and the senior analyst following 3D markets for Actionable Intelligence.

The report compares and contrasts the hardcopy and 3D markets in terms of technology, channels, and consumables. It then describes the key 3D vertical markets and how businesses in those segments are buying and using the technology. “Most of the 3D verticals are growing rapidly led by manufacturing, education, and healthcare,” says Mr. Nadeau. “All these verticals rely heavily on the OEMs' channel partners for support and advice.”

Entering the 3D market will have its risks, and the report details those challenges and offers advice for managing or overcoming them. “Perhaps the biggest challenge is setting the right customer expectations in a market that is rapidly growing and changing,” says Mr. Nadeau. “Channel partners who play the trusted advisor role well will be rewarded.”

“This Actionable Intelligence report is sorely needed because so many players in the hardcopy market are looking at 3D now,” says Charles Brewer, president of Actionable Intelligence. “It's an exciting opportunity for our clients, and our report will help them make a smooth, informed transition to 3D.”

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Understanding the 3D Printer Market from a 2D Perspective

  1. 1. THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS Understanding the 3D Printer Market from a 2D Perspective
  2. 2. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS ii Legal Disclaimer Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE Copyright © Actionable Intelligence, 2015. All Rights Reserved. No part of this report may be reproduced without the express consent of Actionable Intelligence.
  3. 3. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS iii Table of Contents Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 2D versus 3D Comparison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Markets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 3D Opportunities and Challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 About Actionable Intelligence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Figure 1: The CoLiDo 3D Printer from Print-Rite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Figure 2: Top 7 Hard Copy Firms Filing 3D Printing Patents and Applications . . . 2 Figure 3: Worldwide 3D Printing Industry Forecast 2014-2020 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Figure 4: Makerbot Thingiverse is an online community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 for sharing 3D-printable objects Figure 5: The Airwolf3D HDR printer. Source: Airwolf3D . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Figure 6: The Objet260 Dental Selection printer. Source: Stratasys . . . . . . . . . . 8 Figure 7: Prosthetic hand produced by the CoLiDo X3045, which is shown on the right.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Figure 8: Most Common Commercial 3D Printing Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Figure 9: Overview of 3D Printing Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Figure 10: Overview of the Most Commonly Used Commercial 3D Printing Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Figure 11: 3D Printing Marketplaces for Downloadable Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
  4. 4. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 1 Executive Summary Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE If you believe the pundits and market researchers, nearly every home and many businesses will have a 3D printer within the next five years. That means rapid growth in sales of 3D printers and consumables. The Wohlers Report projects the total worldwide 3D printing market to grow from just over $5 billion this year to more than $20 billion in 2020. According to MarketsandMarkets, the 3D printing materials sector will reach $1.052 billion in global turnover by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 20.4 percent from 2014 to 2019. By 2019, the plastics category—which has the most in common with 2D printing materials—is expected to represent 64 percent of total value ($671 million) and grow at a similar CAGR (20.3 percent), which would place its current value at roughly $250 million. While some might consider these projections optimistic, 3D printing presents a huge opportunity even if the predictions are only half right. But what does that mean to resellers and OEMs of 2D printers and consumables? Let’s face it. People are printing less with their inkjet and laser devices. Companies that produce, distribute, and sell hardcopy products are taking a long look at the 3D market as a way to spur growth. You don’t have to look far to find companies in the hardcopy space that either have made or are in the process of making the transition to the 3D market. You probably know that 2D printer heavyweight Hewlett-Packard will bring out its first 3D device, the Multi Jet Fusion, next year. While other OEMs such as Canon, Epson, and Ricoh have yet to unveil any hardware, they are all promising to release 3D machines in the near future. Most hardcopy OEMs have distribution deals with 3D OEMs like 3D Systems and Stratasys. The major players aren’t the only ones entering the nascent 3D market. Print- Rite, a well-known vendor of aftermarket printer consumables, has leveraged its existing infrastructure and technical expertise to design, manufacture, and sell the CoLiDo line of printers and filaments. Although small compared to hardcopy OEMs, Print-Rite is an example of a company that ignored the differences in the 2D and 3D printing markets and made the necessary investments and commitment to learn what it needed to know to succeed in 3D. The firm is emerging as an innovator in the 3D space and holds 55 patents or patent applications on 3D technologies. Print-Rite is currently the third-ranking firm in the hardcopy market in terms of 3D patents, behind first-place Samsung (107 patents) and second-place Xerox (98 patents), and ahead of OEMs in the 2D industry such as Canon, Eastman Kodak, and HP. FIGURE 1: The CoLiDo 3D Printer from Print-Rite 3D Printing Market Key Facts »» Current Annual Sales: $5 billion »» Projected Sales in 5 years: $20 billion »» Projected Materials Sales by 2019: $1.052 billion
  5. 5. Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 2 Samsung Electronics Numberofpatents 0 20 40 60 80 100 Xerox Source: Actionable Intelligence Print-rite HP Canon Mimaki Engineering Eastman Kodak Faced with a declining hardcopy market and a growing number of vendors with 3D technology touting the opportunities it offers, many in the channels that traditionally sell printers, copiers, and supplies are wondering if they can cash in on 3D. Some have. Case in point: OEM Airwolf 3D hired a former Toshiba executive, Mark Mathews, as president and tasked him with using his experience and connections in the 2D market to build a reseller channel. Many of the 50-plus resellers he has signed have come from the hardcopy market. Actionable Intelligence has put together this white paper as a primer on the 3D printing market for the 2D industry. Our intent is to provide enough information to help you decide whether to explore opportunities in 3D printing and, if so, where you might investigate further. The paper is divided into three parts: 1. 2D versus 3D Comparison: What are the similarities and differences between 2D and 3D printing in terms of technology, materials, and market perspectives? This section also explains the state of the art in 3D printing technologies, materials, markets, and channels. 2. Markets: A look at the size of the 3D printing market and key vertical segments for these devices. 3. 3D Opportunities and Challenges: A look ahead at possible opportunities in 3D for the 2D printing industry. We also identify areas in which a 2D company would have difficulty transitioning. FIGURE 2 Top 7 Hard Copy Firms Filing 3D Printing Patents and Applications
  6. 6. Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 3 2D versus 3D Comparison 3D printing, which is also referred to as additive manufacturing, is not a new technology. Stereolithography (SLA), the first inkjet-based form of 3D printing, was invented in 1984 and became commercially available in 1992. A combination of lower costs to acquire and own equipment, a greater selection of improved and new materials, and a growing base of knowledgeable resellers is fueling interest in 3D among businesses and consumers. The term 3D printing is confusing because it implies more similarities with generating hardcopy than really exist. There are some important similarities between the two, however, that make the 3D market attractive to companies serving the 2D ecosystem. The three key intersections of commonality are technology, channels, and consumables. An appendix at the end of this report further illustrate the differences, which are numerous. Technology: When you compare the mechanisms that actually image and accommodate consumables, there are few similarities between 2D and 3D. Sure, some SLA systems have sourced toner containers from laser printer vendors, and the print heads used to jet binder fluid are identical to those used in conventional aqueous or solvent 2D printers. Print heads used in material jetting are identical to those used in 2D UV-curing printers and phase-change ink jet systems such as the Xerox Phaser and ColorQube products. Specific situations will probably change once the 3D market gets large enough to support development. The strongest similarities the technologies share are the expertise and manufacturing capabilities of companies in the 2D and 3D industries. Designing, building, and servicing 3D printers requires many of the same technical skills required to manufacture and maintain 2D printers, which is why companies as diverse as HP and Print-Rite can play in the 3D space. An engineer who understands how fluids are jetted by the heads in an inkjet printer, for example, will feel right at home developing print heads for a 3D printer and the consumables the 3D heads will fire. OEMs report that technicians with experience servicing 2D printers pick up 3D quickly, and certain hardcopy equipment manufacturers are amassing sizeable patent portfolios for 3D machines. Channel: Dealers who move hardcopy devices share a common ground with the emerging 3D printer channel, and both groups will readily identify the business model employed by the other. As was the case a couple of decades ago for hardcopy equipment vendors, companies in the 3D printer channel are currently making money on the box. Companies marketing 3D devices also recognize the aftermarket revenue opportunities they provide and seek to maximize the opportunities that service and supplies sales offer, just as companies in the hardcopy channels do. Hardware manufacturers like HP and Print-Rite, which have established hardcopy channels, enter the 3D space far ahead of their newer competitors who must establish channels as well as bring new hardware to market. There are some differences in the channels, although perhaps none as great as at the very low end of the 2D and 3D markets. The 3D OEMs that live there sell direct to hobbyists and people experimenting with the technology, and most leave it to the customers to find their own consumables suppliers. Companies selling into the low end of the hardcopy market can rely on a vast network of retailers, including online and brick-and-mortar outlets that can move lower-end units along with the supplies for these machines. While it is still too early for a large low-end 3D market, we have seen some companies make inroads with big-box retailers like Staples, which is currently selling lower-end 3D devices to consumers. Designing, building, and servicing 3D printers requires many of the same technical skills required to manufacture and maintain 2D printers, which is why companies as diverse as HP and Print-Rite can play in the 3D space.
  7. 7. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 4 Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE On the commercial side, the 3D channel will be very familiar to anyone working in the hardcopy market. In fact, many 3D OEMs prefer channel partners with experience in the 2D world because their relationships and knowledge match well with their needs. And unlike a startup focused only on 3D, they know how to run a reseller business and have the necessary infrastructure in place. Specifically, hardcopy resellers have the right kind of sales organizations and are set up to properly support and service 3D printing equipment. Entering the 3D printing market does not require a large financial investment for hardcopy resellers depending on the markets they target. If they sell to companies that can use smaller, less expensive 3D systems-- education, for example--the initial investment can be as low as $10,000 to $15,000. Selling more expensive equipment to companies like manufacturers or engineering firms might require and investment of $100,000 or more. Companies that sell 2D printers, copiers, and office equipment are not the only channel partners in the 3D market. OEMs that have a strong manufacturing presence often partner with industrial equipment resellers. Larger OEMs also have relationships with distributors such as Ingram Micro, who may sell direct to some large accounts and supply smaller resellers. Specialized 3D-only resellers are cropping up everywhere as well, often as hybrid resellers and 3D printing service bureaus. As noted earlier, several 2D OEMs have become channel partners for 3D vendors, presumably until they have their own systems to sell. Konica Minolta and Canon resell 3D Systems printers. Lenovo is rebranding printers made by XYZPrinting. Retailers leading the way with 3D include Staples (3D Systems, Afinia, MakerBot), Best Buy (Leapfrog, MakerBot, 3D Systems), Home Depot (Dremel, Afinia, MakerBot), and Sam’s Club (MakerBot, 3D Systems). Amazon has a wide range of brands, as would be expected. Consumables: Like the devices themselves, materials consumed by 3D hardware have very little in common with toner and ink. Remember that 3D consumables are basically construction materials that need to provide the form, strength, and finish for an intended application. The closest similarity to the 2D printing process is MCor’s ability to color the surface of objects with ink. The binder-jetting mechanisms on powder-based printers have some similarities to hardcopy inkjet print heads. Powder-based 3D materials are produced using polymerization, similar to certain chemically grown toners and for the exact same reason. Because powders used in 3D applications require tiny, uniform particles, they cannot be made using the same pulverizing techniques employed to make ground toners. Although the materials are distinct and unique, companies with the chemical expertise required to manufacture ink and toners are finding opportunities in 3D. As with the hardware, a hardcopy consumables company can adapt manufacturing capabilities and leverage its materials expertise to get a jumpstart in the 3D consumables business. If you have been to one of the large consumables trade shows lately, you know that a number of them are doing just that. The 3D consumables market shares one important aspect with hardcopy: the big hardware OEMs are trying to insulate the highly lucrative aftermarket and prevent third-party vendors from marketing supplies. 3D Systems, for example, houses the filament material used in certain 3D devices in a proprietary cartridge. And it’s common for 3D OEMs to prohibit or limit usage of third-party consumables through their service contracts and warranties. Manufacturers often imply that using third- party supplies could void the warranty, and both resellers and manufacturers often state in their service agreements that they will not support machines that use third-party supplies. We expect to see such agreements challenged as the 3D market matures. Many 3D OEMs prefer channel partners with experience in the 2D world because their infrastructure, relationships, and knowledge closely match their needs.
  8. 8. Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 5 Markets As demand for hardcopy declines, the emerging 3D market is enjoying robust growth. To recap, the 3D printing materials sector is going to reach $1.052 billion in global turnover by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 20.4 percent from 2014 to 2019. By 2019, plastics are expected to represent 64 percent of total value ($671 million), also growing at a similar CAGR (20.3 percent), which would place its current value at roughly $250 million. Source: Actionable Intelligence, based on data from the Wohlers Report 2015, Wohlers Associates Revenue(inbillionsofUSD) $0 $5 $10 $15 $20 $25 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 There are hurdles 3D must overcome before it reaches its potential. Gartner reports that 60 percent of businesses believe that 3D printing is too expensive to implement at present. Factored into the expense is the time needed to produce an object—production volumes need time to scale. The following are a few vertical markets in which hardcopy dealers currently have a strong presence and customers are accelerating their usage of 3D printing: Education: One of the fastest growing markets for 3D printing is education. Many schools with a STEM (Science, Technology, Education, and Math) program, from grade school and up, are launching programs to teach 3D printing and design skills to prepare students for the workforce. The types of applications found in an education environment vary widely. For instance, students might start by producing very basic items such as pencil holders and progress to designing and printing complex parts or artistic designs. Schools want machines that are durable, easy to use, and inexpensive to maintain and that use mainstream technology and materials. They often rely on local resellers for sales, service, and support. All this is great news for firms selling printers and copiers and the consumables used in these machines. Because local school districts and other educational organizations are among the largest generators of hardcopy, 2D equipment and supplies vendors tend to have long-standing relationships with them in place. Hardcopy dealers are finding they have a competitive advantage when selling 3D equipment into the education vertical. FIGURE 3 Worldwide 3D Printing Industry Forecast 2014-2020
  9. 9. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 6 Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE Home/hobby: A cottage industry of low-end 3D printer and materials makers have sprung up to support the so-called “maker movement” that has embraced 3D printing. Individuals purchase inexpensive printers— mostly based on FDM technology—to produce items such as art, replacement parts, toys, or utilitarian objects (tools, dishware, smartphone cases, and so on). Hobbyists are willing to experiment with materials, and there is a wide range available to them because OEMs at the low end typically do not limit where customers can buy consumables. They can even buy their own extruders that create filaments from a wide range of recycled plastics. A key barrier to growing the 3D printing home/ hobby market outside of the maker movement is the skill level required to produce even a simple object from scratch. You need to learn how the hardware works and which materials to use for a given project. Then there’s the process for digitizing the object you want to create. This requires that you either create it using some kind of 3D design software or you digitize an existing object to copy using a 3D scanner. Ultimately, the consumer market will become one where people simply download ready- made designs to print, or they can use online services to have custom projects designed for them. Many are currently available today for free or for a small fee (see Figure 11 on p. 14), and some of these services also host vibrant communities where designs and ideas are shared. These communities are a key driver of innovation in the 3D market. They are constantly pushing the limits not only in terms of what the current hardware can produce, but also how that hardware should evolve. For example, a number of OEM companies have emerged from the maker community, typically launching through crowd funding. Hobbyists and DYIers tend to buy inexpensive (under $1,000) printers direct from the manufacturer, or they can download files from which they can build their own 3D printer using a friend’s machine. While this market is dominated by direct sales and big retailers, resellers should reach out to the local DYI community as they are often a hiring pool for 3D talent. Manufacturing: 3D printers are most often used in rapid prototyping, according to Gartner, where manufacturers test a part or product for fit and function. It is also used to create casts or molds from which products are made by more traditional processes. The value of 3D printing in manufacturing is that it greatly shortens the time from design to having a working physical prototype in hand. Once an initial design for a new device such as a valve is completed, it might take several weeks to have a physical example made by traditional methods. With 3D printing, that valve prototype could be produced within a day. Very few businesses use additive manufacturing exclusively because of limitations on speed, quality, and expense. We are seeing specialized parts production in industries such as aerospace and automotive. At the high end, industrial 3D printers can cost $500,000 or more, and those purchases are made directly through the manufacturer or through a large distributor or reseller. At the mid and low range, however, there is a great deal of opportunity for resellers. Machines here range in price from a few thousand dollars to about $100,000. As they do with educators, most hardcopy equipment dealers have relationships with manufacturers. This makes the manufacturing vertical another great opportunity for potential 3D printer sales. In many cases, According to Gartner Group, 3D printers are most often used in rapid prototyping, which involves manufacturers testing a part or product for fit and function. FIGURE 4: Makerbot Thingiverse is an online community for sharing 3D-printable objects
  10. 10. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 7 Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE hardcopy dealers support their manufacturing customers with a range of hardware, including desktop devices and copiers along with wide-format machines for printing mechanical drawings and CAD output. In these instances, the hardcopy dealer is already a trusted advisor that expands its product offerings to include 3D devices. Service bureaus: Regardless of whether they are manufacturing companies or non-profit establishments such as schools, many businesses cannot justify acquiring industrial 3D printing systems (and hiring the staff to run them) because the systems are too expensive or not needed. When these organizations need to create a prototype or model, for example, they often turn to a service bureau. In the commercial sector, service bureaus currently represent a significant portion of the overall 3D printing market in terms of systems sold and materials consumed. For example, Solidscape recently agreed to supply 1,000 printers to a new service bureau in China. Service bureau customers are typically any business that needs a model or prototype, a cast or mold, a part reproduced for a repair, or a proof of concept. For example, a local design firm might use a service bureau to put its concepts into physical form to show its clients. For that design firm, it might be more cost effective to pay a service bureau than to invest in 3D technology, especially since the service bureau probably has a range of 3D capabilities to meet specific material and finish requirements. In some cases, using a service bureau to 3D print an object offers no advantage in cost, time, or quality. For example, it takes a similar amount of time to create an average architectural model using a 3D printer as it does to create it by hand due to the time the software needs to prep the digital models. Some elements cannot be produced using 3D printing because of their complexity or quality requirements. But the technology is rapidly maturing and 3D printing is offering more and more advantages over traditional production methods. While many service bureaus are unique to manufacturing processes, there is one type that currently offers 3D products, and 2D hardcopy vendors supporting the print- for-pay market know it well—reprographic providers. Certain reprographics providers are now using 3D printing to expand beyond their traditional 2D large format printing business and are creating 3D signs and graphics with text and images. We are hearing that some companies currently marketing 3D machines are also acting as service bureaus. Potential customers looking at 3D machines may, for whatever reason, decide not to make a purchase, but they still need the output 3D machines deliver. With access to the machines printing 3D output in their showrooms, some of the more entrepreneurial dealers are leveraging these machines and acting as service bureaus. These dealers realize that in addition to making money through prototyping, they are building solid relationships with customers who will come back and purchase hardware in the future. There is also a growing number of online 3D printing service websites, such as Shapeways and i.materialise. Some large retail chains and other service providers have also announced their intentions to test the market for 3D printing services. Staples not only sells a range of 3D printer brands, it also provides 3D printing services in stores with Innovation Centers. UPS offers 3D printing services at 56 of its UPS Store locations at this writing. For example, it takes a similar amount of time to create an average architectural model using a 3D printer as it does to create it by hand due to the time the software needs to prep the digital models. Some elements cannot be produced using 3D printing because of their complexity or quality requirements.
  11. 11. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 8 Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE Just as more print-for-pay work has moved online, we expect to see more 3D services bureaus pop up on the web. The opportunity for resellers is with the smaller local service bureaus. The larger national providers will likely deal directly with the OEMs. Architecture and engineering (CAD/CAE): 3D printing is making inroads with architects and engineers as a means to create models of things like specific design feature such as a window frame, single building to shopping malls, or proof-of- concept engineering designs. Let’s say an architectural firm wants to create a model of an office building it designed. Simple parts of that model might be more cost effective to produce by hand--the traditional method. The most complex parts might need to show great detail and a particular finish and would be most effectively produced by a high- quality 3D printing system. Other less detailed parts might be produced using less expensive 3D printers. Like manufacturing firms, hardcopy vendors often sell an assortment of machines to architects and engineers including printers and copiers as well as wide-format prointers and scanners so adding 3D printers to the package is a natural fit. As noted earlier, 3D technology that supports architectural firms is just coming on the market. While in some cases 3D printing creates higher-quality models, the advantage is offset by slow production speeds. For example, architects typically outsource model creation or use junior staff to create them by hand—basically like a craft project. That process could take 30 hours. The preparation time to set up the same model to be printed in 3D, however, could take 50 hours or more. This is primarily a software issue. It takes time to process and translate a CAD image into a format that a 3D printer understands. Industry insiders expect improvements that could reduce processing time to just a few hours within the next year. 3D printing output also often does not yet meet architects’ and engineers’ exacting standards. There is a loss of detail for intricate designs, and getting the desired finish or color can sometimes be difficult. For this reason, an architect or engineer might use 3D printing for specific pieces that are best suited for the technology and use traditional model building techniques for the rest. Healthcare (including dental): Not many local clinics, dentist offices, or hospitals have 3D printing capability on-site, but this could change quickly. As machines become more capable and precise, they are being used to create prosthetics or dental crowns much more quickly and far less expensively than by traditional means. In fact, in its latest earnings report, Stratasys cited “significant expansion” in the dental vertical for its Polyjet sales. More practices are using 3D printing for custom orthodontic products, according to the report. The manufacture of clear braces is already being taken over by 3D printing. With the traditional process, each set of braces is made individually from unique molds. With 3D printing, many braces can be combined from scans and produced in one pass on a 3D printer. Prosthetics is another area that 3D printing is radically changing. The prosthetic hand in the photo, for example, was printed on a relatively inexpensive 3D printer, the CoLiDo X3045. The cost to do so was a fraction of what it would have been with traditional manufacturing methods. FIGURE 6: The Objet260 Dental Selection printer. Source: Stratasys FIGURE 7: Prosthetic hand produced by the CoLiDo X3045, which is shown on the right. FIGURE 5: The Airwolf3D HDR printer. Source: Airwolf3D
  12. 12. Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 9 3D Opportunities and Challenges It is clear that there are opportunities for hardcopy companies to leverage their knowledge, relationships, and infrastructure in the 3D market. The following are some of the key areas. Customers: For the channel and OEMs, there is significant overlap in the hardcopy customer base that is turning to 3D printing in various market segments. It’s not just about having a foot in the door of these segments—it’s also about understanding the customers’ business. Hardcopy vendors find they don’t have a very steep learning curve if they are already selling into verticals migrating to 3D. Hardcopy OEMs considering the 3D market should also look at the customers they already have. Note that even though you might already sell into the right verticals, you probably do not know who the 3D decision makers are for those customers. Hardcopy sales tend to happen through IT or the CIO’s office. An engineering or design department often makes the purchase decisions for 3D. You will have to leverage your existing contacts within your existing accounts to find the best contacts for 3D sales. Your customers will have incentive for dealing with you for 3D system sales. It is much simpler for them if they have one service provider and one contract for both hardcopy and 3D equipment. Service and support: Most of the 3D OEMs are young companies, and their service and support capabilities have not matured to those of a Hewlett-Packard or Konica Minolta. While those vendors might respond to a factory service request within 24 hours, a 3D OEM might take 48 hours or longer. Support and maintenance represents a significant portion of total revenue (25 percent). Hardcopy resellers have advantages that will help them provide good service and support to 3D customers. Service technicians who have worked with printers, copiers, or other office equipment can easily pick up skills needed to service 3D printers. Many OEMs provide service training to resellers. In larger markets, especially ones with good maker communities, you can hire people with 3D service experience from the local talent pool. Just as important, your existing customers know and trust you, whereas a startup 3D reseller will have to take time to build credibility. Leverage that trust to set realistic expectations for service and support. Training: For resellers, retailers, and OEMs, your customers’ learning curve for 3D systems will be significantly steeper than it is for your typical office printer or copier. If they are unsure of how they might apply 3D printing in their business they might be confused by the range of options. This is good news for office equipment dealers who are already viewed by their customers as technology experts. The ability to instill a sense of confidence in customers through training and tutorial material will be a great advantage. Introductory training courses designed to give an overview of 3D printing and its use will to a long way toward making your hardcopy customers comfortable with the technology. It gives resellers an opportunity to address any questions about performance or capabilities and get the customers thinking about the technology in the proper perspective. Walk your customers through the entire application process so they see where 3D technology adds For the channel and OEMs, there is significant overlap in the hardcopy customer base that is turning to 3D printing in various market segments.
  13. 13. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 10 Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE value, and show them where and how they can compensate for the technology’s shortcomings. Infrastructure: 3D printing is a new industry, and any new company just starting out in that industry, such as OEMs, channel players, or materials/consumable manufacturers, will have to build up their infrastructure to be successful. Infrastructure includes facilities, workforce, channel, and supply chain. Resellers in the 2D industry already have this infrastructure. Yes, they will need to retrain staff, adapt some processes, and work with new partners in the supply chain. While such change in an existing organization might not be easy, it’s a lot easier than building from scratch. While each 3D printing market is different, they all have inherent challenges that a customer might object to. A reseller can easily and effectively address all of them by understanding the applications for which its customers will use 3D printing. This will allow them to put the limitations into the proper perspective. With performance questions, for example, which is better: waiting two weeks for a model to be made by traditional means, or 12 hours on a 3D printer? Walk your customers through the entire application process so they see where 3D technology adds value, and show them where and how they can compensate for the technology’s shortcomings. These are the challenges: While each 3D printing market has its own unique aspects, they will all encounter the following challenges. Speed: “Fast” is not a word often associated with additive manufacturing, and it’s not just the printing process itself that is slow. FDM printers, for example, move the print head at a rate ranging from 10 to 300 mm per second. Creating digital models and converting them to files that the equipment understands is also time-consuming. Until speed issues are addressed, additive manufacturing will be limited to custom jobs and small production runs in the commercial market. For the consumer market, slow printing will be a barrier to adoption. For performance, make sure your customers focus on the time spent on the entire process and not just the time on the printer. Also, the technology is improving rapidly. Work with OEMs so you can talk about planned performance improvements. Ease of use: The low end of the 3D printing market has seen significant improvements of late in ease of use, from creating and editing digital files to setting up and using the hardware. Commercial 3D printing products are also getting easier to use, but their higher level of sophistication means you need people with specialized skills to produce the desired results, or you need to retrain designers, engineers, or machinists on the new software and technology. The learning curve for experienced technical professionals, however, is not very steep. By offering training, a reseller can easily show customers that their time to productivity with 3D printing may be faster than expected. Physical volume of objects produced: The maximum size that a 3D printer can handle is limited. At the low end, that means a build area as small as 5 × 5 × 5 inches. Commercial units can handle build sizes as large as 39.3 × 31.4 × 19.6 inches. No matter what hardware is being used, users are also limited to the dimensions available even if the object being produced is less than the available cubic inches. Larger objects can be created by breaking them up into smaller pieces to be assembled, but this adds time and labor to an already lengthy process. Addressing this limitation is a matter of understanding the customer’s application and matching them with the right 3D equipment. You might also have to do a proof of concept project to show that the system can handle their application. There is always a lag time between a technology’s readiness for a market and the market’s readiness for it. As companies and professionals learn more about what 3D printing is and what it can do, adoption rates will rise significantly.
  14. 14. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 11 Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE Cost and quality of materials: With all the different technologies and multitude of materials available for a relatively small number of low-volume applications (compared to 2D printing), 3D printing materials are still very expensive. For filaments, cost is typically given by weight, and prices range from about $19 per kilogram for ABS to more than $150 per kilogram for more exotic materials. Powders can be more expensive, especially those that are metal-based. Titanium, for example, can run from $200 to $400 per kilogram. And for many applications, 3D printing materials do not yet match those used for more traditional manufacturing methods in terms of finish, strength, and durability. This is another area where it will pay for a reseller to be a trusted advisor. Educate your customers on the available materials and keep tabs on new developments. The 3D printing materials market is very dynamic and new options appear almost daily. Match customers with the materials suppliers with the product most appropriate for their applications. Total operating cost: When you consider the relatively small 3D printing market and its low sales volume, cost of materials, and skilled labor expense, the cost of owning and operating a commercial additive manufacturing system can be high. For this reason, many resellers offer 3D printing services in addition to equipment sales. This way, potential customers can not only learn what to expect in terms of a finished product, but get a sense for whether buying 3D equipment is cost-effective. Fear and uncertainty: Nobody wants to invest in a technology that will be obsolete soon or is not right for their application. Many customers are also reluctant to buy from an unfamiliar vendor, especially if they think a similar option will soon be available from a trusted source. These are exactly the dilemmas facing companies that are considering 3D printing systems. They are asking questions such as the following: »» Why buy now if next year I can get a similar system that’s 20 percent faster for the same price? »» With so many options for printing technology and materials, how do I make the best choices for my business? »» Should I buy from a company that’s been in business for less than five years, or do I wait for 3D systems from Hewlett-Packard/Epson/Ricoh/etc.? One final point: the challenges listed earlier highlight the growing pains of a young industry. It will become more settled over time, but with a young market the greatest opportunities are at the beginning of the growth curve, not when it’s stable and peaking. Any company entering the 3D market now should be prepared to be patient. The 3D industry is undertaking efforts to bring stability and consistency to the market. Groups such as the 3MF Consortium is working to define a common 3D printing format that will allow design models to be used across other applications, printers, and platforms. 3MF is supported by Hewlett- Packard, Autodesk, 3D Systems, and many other significant players in the 3D community. Autodesk’ Spark platform provides a way to make it easier for software to prepare, optimize, and deliver 3D models, and it is supported in Microsoft Windows 10. And key standards bodies such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Underwriter’s Laboratory are working with industry groups on 3D printing standards as well. It will take time to learn and know 3D technology and the market as well as you know the hardcopy market. The same is true of the customer base. There is always a lag time between a technology’s readiness for a market and the market’s readiness for it. As companies and professionals learn more about what 3D printing is and what it can do, adoption rates will rise significantly. Groups such as the 3MF Consortium is working to define a common 3D printing format that will allow design models to be used across other applications, printers, and platforms.
  15. 15. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 12 Appendix Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE Printing Technology How It Works Materials Used Key Vendors Stereolithography (SLA) An ultraviolet light beam “draws” the object to be printed on the surface of a light-sensitive polymer, where it is solidified. The process continues on a layer-by-layer basis until the object is complete. Liquid polymers 3D Systems XYZPrinting Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) An extrusion nozzle heats and melts a solid material, typically in the form of a coiled plastic filament or metal wire. It then deposits the material in successive layers, which immediately harden. The nozzle can move both horizontally and vertically via stepper and servo motors. Plastic, metal, or plastic/carbon coiled filaments Stratasys Makerbot (owned by Stratasys) Print-Rite 3D Powder (3DP) Uses inkjet printing technology similar to that found in 2D printers to deposit liquid binder onto thin layers of powder. The process repeats in a cross-section pattern. When the printing is complete, excess powder is removed for reuse. Powder, typically gypsum, and a liquid binder 3D Systems 3DP Unlimited Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) A thermal beam fuses selected areas within a reservoir of powder. A range of pow- dered material Sharebot Sinterit Material Jetting Liquid droplets of build material are selectively deposited into a build tray, where it is cured using ultraviolet light. Wide range of plastics and composites Stratasys Polyjet 3D Wax Printing Uses wax in a direct-write ink-jet system to do rapid prototyping or to create master molds for proof-of- concept castings. Solid wax Solidscape (owned by Stratasys) Selective Deposition Lamination (SDL) Uses paper to build objects layer by layer by successively applying adhesive to a designated area and placing one sheet of paper above the other, with each sheet being cut into the appropriate shape. Ink may also be used to color the object being built. Paper, adhesive, and ink MCor Technologies FIGURE 8: Most Common Commercial 3D Printing Technologies
  16. 16. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 13 Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE Software Type What It Does Examples 3D Model Creation Allows you to design objects to produce and then create a file to prepare for a 3D printer. AutoCAD Solidworks Rhino 3D Post-Modeling Software Three classes of software that prepare your model for printing: • Slicing takes a 3D model and translates it to individual layers that are then sent to the printer for printing. • Support structure is software that generates code that the printer uses to create a support structure for the object being created. • Optimization and printing analyzes the code for the model being sent to the printer to make sure it is rendered as efficiently as possible. Cura KISSlicer 3DPrinterOS Scanning Software Allows you to capture a file from a 3D scanner to copy an existing physical object. Typically comes with the scanner FIGURE 9: Overview of 3D Printing Software Material Description Printer Type Solid plastics Typically sold as a coiled filament. Most common groups are nylon, ABS, and PLA. FDM Liquid resin A photo-sensitive polymer that is either jetted and cured or cured in a vat, in both cases by UV light. Material jetting and SLA Metals Most commonly used in 3D printing are stainless steel, gold, silver, and titanium, typically in powder form. Metal laser sintering (variation of SLS) Gypsum powder Stored in a reservoir where binding material is jetted into it to form an object. 3DP Paper Paper is layered using adhesives and cut to shape. SDL Ceramics Used in powder form with a binder. Porcelain is a common variety. 3DP Carbon Most often found in composites sold in filament form. FDM FIGURE 10: Overview of the Most Commonly Used Commercial 3D Printing Materials
  17. 17. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 14 Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE Marketplace Description URL Autodesk 123D A community where you can share models, apps, projects, and tools. Paid premium membership gives you greater access to resources. http://www.123dapp.com/ Gallery/content/all 3D Part Source Find 3D models for parts and industrial components by form and shape. http://www.3dpartsource.com/ GrabCAD A platform for collaborating on CAD-based 3D models with more than 910,000 available CAD models. https://grabcad.com/ CGTrader A fee-based marketplace where designers and hobbyists can buy and sell 3D designs. http://www.cgtrader.com/ i.materialise An online service bureau that sells ready-made designs. http://i.materialise.com/ Instructables A resource clearinghouse for the maker community that includes many 3D models. http://www.instructables.com/ Create This A fee-based marketplace where designers and hobbyists can buy and sell 3D designs. http://www.createthis.com/ Makerbot Thingiverse Many creative commons (free to use) 3D models and designs. http://www.thingiverse.com/ Yeggi Search engine for 3D-printable models. http://www.yeggi.com/ FIGURE 11: 3D printing marketplaces for downloadable content
  18. 18. © 2015 Actionable Intelligence » THE PRINTER AND SUPPLIES INDUSTRY’S LEADER FOR NEWS AND ANALYSIS 15 About Actionable Intelligence Actionable Intelligence Whitepaper | UNDERSTANDING THE 3D PRINTER MARKET FROM A 2D PERSPECTIVE Actionable Intelligence is the leading source for news, analysis, and research on the digital printer and MFP industry and the original and third-party consumables business. Actionable Intelligence provides clients with customized research and consulting, as well as up-to-date news and strategic analysis on Action-Intell.com, the industry’s leading destination site visited by tens of thousands of printer and supplies executives worldwide. Global printer OEMs, third-party supplies vendors, distributors, resellers, and a diverse mix of other companies rely on Actionable Intelligence to deliver timely and accurate information about the trends shaping the printer hardware and supplies markets. To learn more about Actionable Intelligence, visit www.action-intell.com.

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