“It is a different ball game,” 3D Systems President and CEO Vyomesh Joshi (VJ) told me.
The company gathered financial and industry analysts together with media in a curated tour of its facility in Littleton, Colorado yesterday as a slew of portfolio announcements emerged showcasing an aggressive launch to market of new 3D printers, 3D printing materials, software, and business strategies and partnerships. While many companies are looking to change the shape of the 3D printing industry, including relative newcomers to the market like Carbon in 2015 and HP in 2016, the company with the deepest industry roots — and patents tracing back to the early 1980s — is not going quiet into the good night of mounting competition. On the heels of a notably disappointing quarterly performance, 3D Systems is arising with figurative guns blazing and is, to mix metaphors, running full-steam ahead.
Throughout the launch event, 3D Systems executives were on hand to demonstrate, illustrate, educate, and discuss the latest introductions and strategies. VJ led the morning’s presentations detailing the announcements, alongside Phil Schultz, SVP and General Manager, On Demand Solutions and Plastics; Kevin McAlea, EVP and GM, Metals and Healthcare; and Herbert Koeck, SVP and GM, Go to Market. Additionally on-site, among many other executives and representatives, were Katie Weimer, VP, Medical Devices, whom I had previously met at the Littleton facility last year and who will be speaking tomorrow at #3DTalk NYC; Patrick Dunne, VP, Advanced Application Development, whom I last spoke with at TCT Show in September and at RAPID this spring; and Carol Zampell, VP, Software, who filled us in on software announcements a few months back. Widely known as the father of 3D printing, Chuck Hull was also present to share his thoughts on Figure 4 3D printing, which arose from his 1984 patent.
Amidst the lively presentations and hands-on facility touring, I sat down with VJ to talk with him directly about this latest launch. With so much to unpack from the veritable mountain of announcements, it was no surprise the straight-shooting CEO had a lot to say, even after speaking all morning.
“What I want to talk about is that 3D Systems is uniquely positioned to address the entire manufacturing workflow end to end,” VJ told me. “To do that, you need to really start with the customer and understand the use cases; help them in moving from prototyping to production.”
He pointed to one of the slides from his presentation, highlighting 3D Systems’ four keys to making 3D production real: productivity, durability, repeatability, total cost of ownership (TCO).
These, he underscored, underlie the basis to the company’s approach to providing viable solutions for its customers. Understanding exactly what a customer needs and then providing the right solution is at the heart of 3D Systems’ strategy. Following closely behind that understanding is the ever-important selection of materials; throughout the day, VJ and the other executives emphasized again and again the critical nature of the right material for the right job, as chemistry is key to the realities of additive manufacturing as a solution.
“First we understand the use case, and the materials. Once you know the use case and the materials, then you figure out with the application engineering what kind of solutions we are going to build. That solution, if you can build on our plastics portfolio or metal portfolio where you can scale up, using the same materials going from prototyping to what I call pilot run to production, then it's a way we will be able to move companies into additive manufacturing,” he explained.
“What we are announcing is not another printer or another new material, it is an approach where we can engage with the customer and offer them a suite of soluti