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3D Printing - 3D Systems
Transcript of 3D Printing - 3D Systems
3D Systems: The Company
3D printing involves a machine which lays down layers of a medium in order to create an end product. While people are often familiar with the plastic extrusion varieties of printers, a variety of media is available. Powdered metals, ceramics or glass can be used and heated with lasers to create objects as strong as those manufactured by traditional methods.
3D printing is set to be a disrupter in today’s marketplace. The loss of economies of scale will change the market for products, especially in terms of valuation and availability. Consumers will no longer require large runs of product to be created, imported from overseas, and then run through distribution channels. They will be able to produce single or multiple copies of items for the cost of materials.
The primary use of 3D printing is in a state of transition. Previously, machines cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and 3D designs required proficiency with computer aided design (CAD) software. In this type of setting, 3D printing was used primarily for prototyping or one-off designs, where the high cost of printing would still be competitive compared to alternative methods to create small run, experimental items.
But today, as the cost of printers and printing steadily decrease, prototyping use will expand to include the creation of low-cost custom items, and also be joined by general manufacture of existing or replacement items.
This will have an impact in several foreseeable ways. Medical items, such as prosthetics, will be a prime candidate for 3D printing. Invisalign, a company which currently produces “clear braces” as an alternative to metal braces, uses 3D printing to create its custom mouthpieces.
Prototyping will be more cost effective, allowing for quicker movement through the product cycle.
These are just a few predictable ways in which 3D printing will effect industry and services. Education must prepare students for the future. 3D printing will definitely have its place in the future.
However, uses of 3D printing for education will not be limited to preparation for occupations. Prototyping will prove invaluable for students to create and test hypotheses in a variety of disciplines: medicine, archaeology, geography, engineering and design could all benefit from fast, inexpensive 3D models. As well the creation of tangible models will extend the understanding of students of any educational level past pictures and descriptions.
Of the three main players in the 3D printer market, 3D Systems has dedicated the most effort in targeting the consumer, along with professional and production purchasers. For this analysis, educational institutions will be considered along the lines of a large consumer; without using the 3D printer for commercial endeavours, it may be difficult to fund the purchase and use of a large scale machine. As 3D printers become smaller and less expensive, they become more accessible to non-commercial users.
Dr. Charles Hull is considered to be the inventor of 3D printing. In 1983, he invented stereolithography, which used thin layers of polymer resin to create a 3D part. In 1986, he founded 3D Systems to provide rapid prototyping solutions for commercial use. He was the president of the company until 1999, at which point he retired to take on the role of Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. Since that time, he’s continued to play various roles in the company, most recently being the Chief Technology Officer and Vice President.
The 3D printer market was estimated at $2.2 billion in 2012, which was an increase of 29% from the previous year. 3D Systems reported revenue of $353 million in 2012 and $230 million in 2011, which is an increase of 53%, far outperforming the industry average and representing approximately 16% of market share.
The high-cost prototyping market is established and can be expected to grow at a steady rate. The true growth will be in affordable, consumer level machines.
3D Systems has released the Cube line of 3D printers, starting at $1299. While still expensive, this amount can fall within budgetary considerations of department heads or school principals. Early adopting front-line administration can make purchasing decisions without it necessarily being at the institutional or board level.
Competition is tight in this market. A major competitor, Stratasys, has purchased consumer 3D printer manufacturer MakerBot which primarily targets consumers. Makerbot sold almost 22% of all 3D printers sold in 2011.
Additional market pressure exists from non-publicly traded organizations. These are often very economical, but lack the polish of 3D System’s commercial products. Brands such as RepRap are respected by enthusiasts, but not yet ready for the mainstream market.
The largest concern is that the market is developing and does not exist at the moment. In order for the market to fully develop, further cuts to cost and further development of user friendly design software will be necessary to take this product to the mainstream.
3D printing costs have dropped to a level which makes it accessible to early adopters. This includes educational institutions. Education by its nature should be an early adopter of predictable trends. Once the early adopters have moved through, streamlined distribution of designing tools and sharing of component designs, the framework then exists for the product to enter the mainstream. With time, costs will drop to cross the threshold from investment to consumable.
3D Systems is poised to take advantage of the demand for 3D printers when it crosses into the mainstream. It is currently one of the most inexpensive fully assembled 3D printers commercially available. It carries the finish level and product backing necessary to be considered for educational use.
3D Systems has also developed apps and software to simplify 3D design, allowing end-users to create custom products with little specialized knowledge. This edge will prove necessary to open up and dominate the consumer market. As well, these user friendly interfaces will provide educational institutions with a stepped introduction to the new technology.
As well, 3D Systems is creating a marketplace, for both printed items and designs created by end-users. This sharing of ideas will accelerate the innovation of possibilities with 3D printer use. Medical use, modelling and prototyping are the predictable uses. Other uses will be limited only by imagination.
The New Media Consortium chose 3D printing as a key technology trend in education to be adopted in 4 to 5 years. 3D Systems is well positioned to lead that trend when the time arrives.
Prezi written and created for ETEC 522 by John Lee
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Pictures are Creative Commons Licensed for sharing, taken from the Flickr streams of: Andrew Craigie, aperturismo, Bods, Creative Tools, cubify, donjd2, Hsin-Cheng Lin, kenteegarden, mercedesfromtheeighties, Pop Culture Geek
3D Systems. (2013) Shop on Cubify. Retrieved from http://cubify.com/store/marketplace.aspx?tb_shop_all
3D Systems. (2013) 30 Years of Innovation. Retrieved from http://www.3dsystems.com/30-years-innovation
3D Systems. (2013) Annual Reports. Retrieved from http://www.3dsystems.com/investor/annual-reports
Bloomburg Businessweek. (2013) Charles Hull: Executive Profile & Biography. Retrieved from http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/people/person.asp?personId=308410&ticker=DDD
The Economist. (2013) 3D printing scales up. Retrieved from http://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21584447-digital-manufacturing-there-lot-hype-around-3d-printing-it-fast
Fast Company. (2013) The Top Nine Consumer 3-D Printers For Every Budget. Retrieved from http://www.fastcolabs.com/3016490/9-consumer-3-d-printers-for-every-budget
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., and Ludgate, H. (2013). NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.
rapidprotovideo. (2013, January 7) Cube 3D Printer. Retrieved from