3D Printing

3D Systems Expands 3D Printing Partnership With Canon

Currently compounding various strategic partnerships between 3DP industry leaders with highly successful giants in office hardware and software manufacturers and suppliers, 3D Systems has announced a further expansion of its partnership with Canon Marketing Japan to include the complete range of ProJet professional series 3D printers, the CubeX desktop 3D printer and Geomagic scan-to-CAD software solutions. You’ll recall that Canon Marketing Japan began selling 3D Systems’ products towards the end of last year. This news resides alongside the official opening of 3D Systems centres as part of a partnership with Staples.

The past twelve months has seen a real blooming of commercial interest in supplying 3D printers and 3D printing services. From UPS stores in the US to ASDA in the UK, 3D Systems with Canon to Stratasys’ MakerBot with Microsoft, it has been fascinating to witness the strange almost inverse relationship between share prices for the big names in 3D printing during that time. Back to that in a moment.

The ProJet series from 3D Systems is a wide range of 3D printers that encompass additive technologies such as ColorJet Printing (CJP), MultiJet Printing (MJP) and stereolithography (SLA). Geomagic Solutions software includes scan and design offerings for reverse engineering, product design, medical modelling and so forth. It is pitched as ‘the only software available today with a focus on design-for-3D printing’ – although a quick browse through the annals of 3DPI will show that to be a marketing statement. The CubeX 3D printer is a good desktop machine aimed at quick prototyping for small businesses and independent entrepreneurs, which will make most of the 3D printables that home hobbyists, makers, schools and early home adopters have become accustomed to. 3D Systems is currently pitching to small businesses however.

A year ago share prices just wouldn’t stop climbing, as the mass media put forward all manner of hype, and one too many people promised one to many Star Trek replicator analogies, those prices began to drop approaching the end of 2013 and have continued to dip throughout 2014. The inverse relationship can be seen in the temporary dip in confidence in owning shares in 3D printing companies occurring whilst some of the biggest commercial partnerships and some of the most promising strategies have developed. My personal opinion is that 3D printing corporations old and new need not concern too much about this, most investors think in the very short term, micro-trading is increasingly a game for computer driven analytics and the long term offers so much growth potential for sales in both industry and – to whatever extent the home market does expand – designers and the general public.

Masahiro Sakata, Director and Senior Vice President of Canon Marketing Japan said: ” 3D Systems’ leading products positions Canon Marketing Japan in the best possible position to establish its offerings as the go-to-source and leading provider of 3D printing in Japan. We believe that the combination of Canon’s mixed reality technology with 3D printing brings a new paradigm to 3D business solutions.

To read many of the reports by analysts on trading insight websites their logic regarding technology is almost so removed from reality that there is little wonder the reality of the sector’s performance, potential and prestige are more removed from reality than most niches of the market. A good for instance would be the ‘revelation’ that Organovo has yet to sell any bioprinted organs. ‘Clearly’ headline news for a technology still in development with a market that will only appear in half a decades time…  at the earliest. The quarter four performance of 3D Systems will be scrutinised closely by trading analysts, with the Staples and Canon partnerships in the mind of some, and not of others. It will be interesting filtering through the more bizarre conclusions to get to the sound logic.

Michele Marchesan, Chief Opportunity Officer at 3D Systems enthused: “We are thrilled with the success that Canon Marketing Japan has already had with our advanced manufacturing 3D printers and are excited to bring the rest of our portfolio to Canon. We believe that the addition of our entire portfolio will be meaningful and impactful to our professional Japanese users.”

Ultimately, however, whatever the projections, when it comes to any game of risk, cold hard numbers and consistent sales growth are the foundation of confidence. I would anticipate that the partnership with Canon Marketing Japan will be fruitful. An initial surge followed by a lull then steady and relatively consistent growth. However, time, as ever, will tell.