Metal Additive Manufacturing: Don’t Tell Me, Show Me

Since 3D Systems commercialized stereolithography thirty years ago, 3D printer manufacturers who invented their own proprietary technology predominantly followed the same business strategy: selling their printers to customers. Until recently, it was the norm for established and rising 3D printing players, both in metal and polymer additive manufacturing, to follow the same path. However, companies with proprietary technology are now seeing an alternative. Instead of telling customers how disruptive their machines can be, just be the disruptor.

 

Decades of an industry following the same business strategy has exposed the inherent difficulties in selling printers, especially metal printers, to end-users. First, customers will need to find the budget for a printer costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, alongside consumable printing materials that cost hundreds per kilogram. Then, the customers will need to train employees to operate these printers and how to prepare and finish any 3D-printed parts; if the customer doesn’t have the internal resources for this, they will need to hire skilled labor. Lastly, to make the most of any 3D printer, customers need to understand how to identify applications where 3D printing offers the most value-add and how to design for these opportunities. Overall, these factors make convincing customers to invest in 3D printing, especially metal additive manufacturing, a difficult decision to make. That is not to say the metal printer install base is not growing, but that this increasingly popular business model fits into a growing industry that IDTechEx forecast will reach $18.5 billion by 2032 in their latest report, “Metal Additive Manufacturing 2022-2032: Technology and Market Outlook“.

 

https://www.3dprintingprogress.com/articles/26567/metal-additive-manufacturing-dont-tell-me-show-me

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