3D printing service provider Voodoo Manufacturing has closed down for good. In an explanatory message on its main page, the New York-based startup cites the COVID-19 pandemic as the root cause, stating that a lack of clear end in sight meant the company “couldn’t make it to the other side”.
Founded in 2015, Voodoo had built up a manufacturing system of over 200 3D printers capable of producing thousands of parts a week. Since its co-founders, including CEO Max Friefeld, were all former MakerBot employees, the company already had a sizeable portfolio of FDM systems when it spun off. In 2017, Voodoo received its final seed investment of $1.5M, bringing its total valuation to an impressive $10M. Its mission was to provide affordable manufacturing to anyone that needed it, allowing SMEs and large businesses alike to launch test products without the financial strain.
As soon as the U.S. cases started on their now rapid rise, Voodoo repurposed two of its manufacturing facilities to produce PPE for medical professionals. Through donations and individual purchases, the company managed to 3D print and distribute more than 15,000 face shields across the country using its army of MakerBot FDM printers. This undoubtedly alleviated some of the resource pressure felt by healthcare institutions.
Unfortunately, the pivot couldn’t last as Voodoo’s operational costs were simply too high, leading the company to shut its doors permanently. The fact that Voodoo was mainly operating in Brooklyn, which is notorious for its high property prices, certainly didn’t help its profits. Its heavy investment in professional-grade desktop systems was somewhat a pioneering move. However, increasingly manufacturing companies are seeing the benefits of including desktop systems in their manufacturing toolkit. For example, Jabil, Volkswagen, and others have brought desktop systems in-house, and alongside industrial equipment.
While it is apparent that desktop 3D printers have a role to play in manufacturing, focusing only on such systems does restrict the type of jobs a company is able to take on.
Financial struggles in 2020
Quarter two of 2020 brought with it a near-universal decline in revenue at many companies, and the 3D printing industry was no exception. 3D Systems recently posted its financial results, with a 28% decrease in total revenue compared to the same period in 2019. For the 3D printer manufacturer, this equates to a $45M drop. With it, the company announced a strategic refocus involving a 20% workforce cut in a bit to reduce operational costs by up to $100M.
Earlier this month, 3D printing software and service provider Materialise also posted its Q2 financial results. The Belgian firm reported a 21.8% decline in its total revenue, down from €48.4M to €38.1M. This is in spite of the company’s growth in its software sales, as its manufacturing segment, much like Voodoo, took the brunt of the hit with a 31.8% decrease.
A better indicator would be to look at companies using 3D printing for manufacturing. Looking at Protolabs’ Q2 financial results, its 3D printing revenue saw a decline of only 7.2% from $15.2M to $14.2M. However, unlike Voodoo, Protolabs offers a much more diverse technology and materials range.
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Featured image shows Voodoo Manufacturing’s 3D printer factory. Photo via Voodoo Manufacturing.