Ultimaker defies industry trend to achieve double digit revenue growth during H1 2020

Netherlands based 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker has announced double-digit revenue growth over H1 2020, despite the impact of COVID-19 on customer demand within the wider industry. 

Although many of the more industrial 3D printer manufacturers have suffered revenue declines during H1 2020, Ultimaker has turned pandemic-induced disruption into an opportunity. Due to the unpredictability caused by COVID-19, many businesses have turned to desktop systems such as those provided by Ultimaker, to de-risk their supply chains.

Deploying the lower-cost machines, many of the firm’s clients have brought manufacturing in-house, driving maximum efficiency without having to spend big on an industrial system. According to Jos Burger, CEO of Ultimaker, the pandemic has caused a paradigm shift in manufacturing, leading many businesses to become more aware of the productivity benefits of 3D printing.

“The current manufacturing and supply chain landscape has been altered significantly due to effects of the pandemic, but the growth and expansion Ultimaker has experienced signals the industry’s strides toward recovery and points to the rising adoption of professional 3D printing across the supply chain,” stated Burger.

“We are excited to continue to build on the successes we’ve had this year.” 

Ultimaker has achieved "double digit" revenue growth during H1 2020. Image via Ultimaker.
Ultimaker has achieved “double digit” revenue growth during H1 2020. Image via Ultimaker.

The impact of COVID-19 within the 3D printing industry 

Ultimaker’s latest financial results are broadly at odds with those reported by the manufacturers of larger 3D printing systems, such as Stratasys, during the first half of the year. Citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the buying power of its customers, Stratasys suffered a 28 percent drop in revenue during Q2 2020. 

Industrial 3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems also announced a strategic refocus and a 20 percent staff cut following a similar revenue decline during Q2 2020. The company now plans to focus on its healthcare and industrial verticals and could divest other areas of its business that don’t align with its new strategy. 

Not all large-format system manufacturers have posted revenue losses though, and SLM Solutions reported a 90 percent increase in its revenue during H1 2020. At the time, Meddah Hadjar, CEO of SLM Solutions, said that the pandemic had “re-focused companies on de-risking their global supply chains.”

Even though Ultimaker produces desktop systems rather than larger industrial machines, the company is also taking advantage of this de-risking trend. Building on the positive publicity surrounding 3D printing’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19, Ultimaker has provided firms with a low-cost alternative to traditional supply chain solutions. 

Ultimaker’s “exceptional” first half of 2020

Ultimaker has described its revenue growth as “exceptional,” and 2020 as a “hallmark year” for the firm, but it’s difficult to assess the relative growth of the company without access to its full financials. While publicly-listed businesses are required to report their quarterly results, the privately-owned firm is under no such obligation. 

As a result, it’s difficult to critically assess Ultimaker’s financial performance, while only using statements issued by the company itself. It’s also worth noting that customers may have fewer qualms about the purchase of Ultimaker’s lower-cost desktop machines than a larger investment in an expensive industrial unit during an economic crisis. From what we know, Ultimaker reported year-on-year revenue increases across its business, with revenue growth of more than 30 percent in the U.S. alone. 

Attributing its revenue increase to the “rising trend” of localized manufacturing around the world, the company has continually expanded its distribution network to take advantage of potential opportunities. Ultimaker onboarded six new resellers in the Americas during H1 2020, and implemented a new distribution model in the APAC region to support its go-to-market strategy. 

As Ultimaker continues to extend its reach to attract clients around the world, Burger said that the firm was establishing itself as a leader in the desktop 3D printer market. “We are proud of the momentum we’ve been able to drive,” said Burger. “ I’m also proud of our ability to take over as the leader in the professional 3D printing market despite the unprecedented circumstances.”

A worker carrying disinfection equipment at Budapest International Airport. Photo via Associated Press.
Ultimaker has managed to harness the interest generated in 3D printing by the industry’s response to COVID-19, to drive its revenue growth over the first half of the year. Photo via Associated Press.

Ultimaker’s continually growing product portfolio 

During the instability of the first half of the year, Ultimaker boosted its profitability via new product releases, partnerships, and expanding the applications of its technology. 

In July 2020, the firm released two new business-oriented software solutions: Ultimaker Essentials and the Ultimaker 3D Printing Academy. Ultimaker’s essentials package enables businesses to incorporate 3D printing into their existing workflows, while the academy provides resources for firms to train their employees. Both software solutions have been designed to make Ultimaker’s systems more intuitive and easier to use for new clients. 

The company’s accessibility-based approach has been supplemented by an increase in orders from existing customers. Manufacturing bureau 3D Metalforge, for instance, has recently partnered with Ultimaker to create the largest print farm in Southeast Asia. Comprising 21 Ultimaker S3 machines, the print farm is designed to cater to clients in the defense, maritime, medical, and oil and gas industries.

Elsewhere in its portfolio, Ultimaker’s revenue growth was supported by the continued expansion of the Ultimaker Marketplace during H1 2020. Material manufacturer Lubrizol added three new TPU grade polymers for FFF 3D printing to the service in June 2020, bringing the total number of materials on the platform to 157.  

The company’s commercial success during the first half of the year has also been driven by the growing number of applications of its 3D printing technology. Using Ultimaker S5 systems, industrial equipment supplier ERIKS worked with clients to 3D print parts for specific industry requirements such as food safety standards. Using Ultimaker systems has ultimately enabled ERIKS to set up a ‘Clean Manufacturing Facility’ for food-related parts. 

Building on these “significant business breakthroughs,” the company has stated that it is “best positioned for continued expansion in the second half of 2020 and beyond.”

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Featured image shows Ultimaker’s current line of 3D printers. Image via Ultimaker.