After the “consumer crash” of desktop 3D printing there remains the surviving companies. One that’s far beyond mere “surviving” is Prusa Research.
The Czech-based company was founded by Josef Prusa, who is notable for designing the open source Prusa 3D printer that has proven very popular in the RepRap community. Not only have countless hobbyists successfully built their own desktop 3D printer using the Prusa design, but several companies manufacture and market 3D printers using the very same design.
One of those companies just happens to be Prusa Research itself, which is no doubt the biggest manufacturer of Prusa-style 3D printers in the world today. If you’re going to buy a Prusa machine, why not buy it from the company that invented it?
The machine design was and remains open source, and that philosophy carries through to Prusa Research’s approach to business. While the machine design has undergone several improvement iterations, you can still upgrade the original machine to the current level. I expect this capability to continue until Prusa develops an entirely different machine. This makes a purchase of a Prusa a way to keep up to date on the latest features, like an optional subscription, rather than getting locked into a particular machine and requiring a full replacement later.
It’s important to the industry that Prusa does this, because in a sense, Prusa and the other leading survivors are providing a way to “recover” the reputation of inexpensive desktop 3D printers in the eye of the public. They’re doing so by providing a quality machine with excellent quality prints as well as being very reliable.
In fact, the Prusa i3 models have proven so reliable and high quality that they’re consistently ranked at or near the top of every evaluation list I’ve seen. This alone provides more than sufficient marketing for Prusa Research.
Josef Prusa explained to us that their company now employs 90 people, with about 30 “core” people and the remainder preparing products. The self-financed company has no investors to answer to and thus can grow at its own pace, which seems to be quite rapid.
How successful is their business? It seems incredible, but Prusa told us they are now shipping 3,000 machines per month, an astonishing figure that is likely higher than almost all other 3D printer manufacturers with only a few exceptions.
To put this in perspective, if we assume Prusa’s average sale price is their lowest cost model, the unassembled Prusa i3 MK2 kit, at USD$699, it suggests this company has annual revenue of at the very least USD$25M! And it’s probably more than that due to a portion of the sales being their assembled USD$899 model and increasing orders.
Their growth has been nothing short of ridiculous. Prusa explained that he expected the number of orders to decrease as the order delay time increased. In fact, he says they’ve seen exactly the opposite: the longer the lead time, the more orders they receive!
This has meant the company must spend effort to expand their capacity and thus have recently hired no less than 50 people. They’re also exploring ways to scale up their production much more.
As for what’s next, Prusa hints they’ve got at least two big product announcements likely to come later this year.
Via Prusa Research