We had a chance to sit down with the folks from Aleph Objects, producers of the very popular line of LulzBot TAZ 3D printers to find out the latest.
How popular is their line of 3D printers, which is currently shipping the advanced TAZ 5? According to company representatives, they’ve TRIPLED their sales in 2015 over the previous year, now reaching a startling USD$15M in annual revenue.
This increase is no doubt due to their 2015 introduction of the TAZ 5 and the LulzBot Mini version that provided a way for interested customers to buy a LulzBot at reduced price.
What’s new? They’ve apparently been spending considerable time improving their extrusion systems. A newly designed toolhead (V2) is capable of extruding even more types of plastic materials, and is to be offered in a dual extruder configuration.
Next month they expect to release a dual version of their Flexystruder tool head, which is engineered to print flexible materials very reliably.
What impressed us is that they claim to have now accumulated over one million hours of run time on their current tool head, a statistic that shows how reliable this design is. Of course, reliability is a key selling feature on desktop 3D printers, and thus this number is likely to rise sharply as more LulzBot units are sold.
The other interesting angle Aleph Objects has been exploring is partnerships. They’ve been working with several companies that offer complementary products in an effort to grow and solidify their product ecosystem.
One new relationship is with popular filament producer colorFABB, who join several other vendors in providing high-quality filament options in the LulzBot online store. But it’s more than just appearing in the store; colorFABB, for example, uses TAZ equipment in their massive testing facility, and is able to identify the best 3D printing parameters for use of their filament. These print profiles are captured and then can be distributed to LulzBot customers for use when that kind of filament is loaded. This further increases the reliability and quality of print results.
Recently the company has also begun customizing a version of the popular open source slicing tool, Cura. While Cura originates at Ultimaker, it is a true open source software tool, and as such, Aleph Objects is able to create a customized version for their own use.
Aleph Objects is a very strong supporter of open source software, both in terms of producing their own products and providing options for their customers. So far, this strategy is working, judging by their recent increase in sales.