At the beginning of October, all of Polish media erupted with excitement, as this huge bit of news was revealed: Michał Sołowow, multi-billionaire and one of the three richest men in Poland decided to enter the 3D printing industry by investing a huge amount of cash in native 3D printer manufacturer 3DGence. Even though 3DGence was already one of the most highly-regarded players in the Polish 3D printing market, this news put the company in a completely new light. Thanks to Sołowow’s participation, it’s become obvious that 3DGence will become huge in a very short time. The question is: will the company succeed in becoming as internationally recognizable as its fellow countrymen, Zortrax and ZMorph?
Sołowow took a 49% stake in the company, making him the majority shareholder. Although the value of the transaction is unknown, the amount should at least be to a similar level to that which Zortrax obtained a year ago, during two issues of its bonds (over 7 millions PLN). However, the amount doesn’t really matter. As Sołowow is now the principal owner of 3DGence, you can bet that, if any need arises, the company’s capital can easily be increased.
Currently, 3DGence has one device in its offering, with a rather simple-to-remember name: the 3DGence One. A second machine, the 3DGence Pro, is going to be revealed to the public in the coming weeks. Both machines are designed for more demanding customers, especially industrial users. What characterizes the 3DGence One is a unique, modern design and a number of interesting features, like a ceramic printbed, interchangeable printheads, and auto calibration. Its working area is 24 x 25.5 x 20 cm. And the device is not cheap, costing approximately $3,400.
Since the beginning, 3DGence has run extensive sales activities practically all over the world. Outside of Poland, the company is very active on the German market, and, since January 2015, it has had its own sales office in San Francisco, USA. Moreover, it is the very first 3D printer manufacturer to sign a distribution deal with ABC Data, one of the largest electronics distributors in Europe. ABC Data sells 3D printer through its distribution chain in Poland and its subordinate foreign markets. I have confirmed information that 3DGence printers have already shipped to many companies in the Baltic and Southern European countries via ABC Data.
The company focuses on providing their systems to the industrial sector, in particular to the automotive industry. The 3DGence One prints at the Opel factory, and its unique design has been recognized also by Volkswagen, which used a 3D printer company in its promo video.
All of this sounds very exciting and proves that 3DGence is not a rookie in the industry, but will this be enough to become as recognizable in the world of 3D printing as Zortrax and ZMorph, who are already quite famous? Well, that fame won’t be that easy to achieve…
For the past two years, Zortrax has gained a very strong position in the 3D printing industry, becoming one of the most recognizable low-cost 3D printers. Still not as strong as MakerBot, Ultimaker, XYZprinting, Afinia, or Flashforge, but definitely in the same line as Leapfrog, Felix, and Robo3D – which is quite an achievement for a company from Poland. That may change in the next couple of months with its new machine, the Zortrax INVENTURE, whose market launch is expected at the end of this year. The device will have a relatively small working area (13 x 13 x 13 cm), but will be equipped with a closed and heated chamber, as well as two print heads (the first dedicated to ABS as a base material and the second dedicated to soluble support material).
So far, Zortrax operates flawlessly. It is very active in the media, both in Poland and in the world. The company spectacularly won the headlines three times in the past two years:
- in mid-2013, when it completed its Kickstarter campaign for the M200 3D printer
- in January 2014, when it sold 5,000 M200 units to DELL
- in December 2014, when it won the title of the highest quality low-budget 3D printer from 3DHubs.
ZMorph is the second most well-known 3D printer from Poland. Its popularity is due to two things: it is quite a unique and original device, ensuring 3D printing with many unusual materials (e.g. clay or chocolate), with many special tools (e.g. milling and laser engraving); and the company’s constant travel around the world, visiting all possible fairs, where the company presents its device. ZMorph is constantly on the road and that brings visible effects.
On October 1st, 2014 ZMorph became the country’s very first company to open an official store outside of Poland, in Haarlem in the Netherlands. Now, the company is working hard to establish itself on the ground in the US, spending most of its time on American soil, building distribution channels and showing their device to the public at every possible occasion.
So, what should 3DGence do to achieve a similar fame? Funding is not a problem anymore. The company is perhaps the richest 3D printer manufacturer in Poland, but you need a lot more to break through to the larger market. 3DGence needs two or three really spectacular achievements. Theoretically, the first one could be considered Michal Sołowow’s entrance into the company, but, with all due respect to their outstanding investor, this is only a spectacular topic for the Polish media. If the company develops an effective marketing policy, enforced with equal precision as Zortrax, and travels the world with such excessive force as ZMorph, it may have a real chance to catch up to both of them. From now on everything will be just a matter of the quality of the products offered, as well as the execution of their strategy.
One thing is certain: another strong Polish competitor is entering the world of 3D printing. Be ready… There’s a lot more to come…