Deep inside Stratasys’ 100,000 word Form 20-F filing is a detailed list of their growth strategy.
By examining their growth strategy, one can then speculate more precisely on what their next moves might be, as well as making sense of moves they’ve already made. But let’s take a look at what they said - and it’s quite long.
Identifying new vertical applications for our proprietary 3D printing technologies. We believe that the proliferation of 3D content, advancements in AM technology platforms and the introduction of improved materials will continue to drive growth in 3D printing. We intend to invest in the identification of new applications (especially DDM applications) for which our proprietary printing technologies and materials are appropriate. In addition, we seek relevant niche applications where AM can provide substantial value, and develop a comprehensive solution to address these opportunities. We also intend to encourage existing and potential customers to identify new applications in part by increasing awareness of the features of our technology and product offerings.
So far they have concentrated on automotive, aerospace and medical applications, but perhaps this means they will seek out entirely new markets that can leverage 3D printing. Which industries will they be?
Increasing adoption of AM manufacturing solutions. We believe that the adoption of 3D printing for manufacturing applications can be accelerated through working intimately with our customers and the 3D printing ecosystem, to reduce the complexity of using our solutions. We are investing in developing professional services capabilities to enhance our customers’ ability to use our solutions. In addition, we collaborate with strategic partners in our ecosystem to streamline the integration of 3D printing solutions into the business processes of our customers.
Expect to see more training offerings for industry, as well as an avalanche of examples. It’s likely they will expand their departments that have been dedicated to supporting particular industries.
Leveraging our global reach to expand the customer base and further penetrate existing customers. We have a network of more than 200 resellers and selling agents around the world and various online channels. We intend to reach new customers and increase sales to existing customers by providing access to new solutions that address customers’ specific needs. These solutions include those offered by our Stratasys Direct Manufacturing service. As part of this strategy we intend to grow awareness of 3D printing solutions for RP and DDM and to develop industry specific sales channels as part of our effort to commercialize a broader range of new DDM applications. Additionally, we expect to significantly expand our online presence and leverage our sales channel to the broader public.
So it’s unclear if they are expanding their sales force and reseller network, but it does seem that they want them doing different things and selling in different ways. This is perhaps their strategy for shifting towards customized solutions that we described earlier.
Driving further adoption through desktop systems. We expect to drive market adoption through increased sales of our desktop systems. These systems are expected to penetrate a broad and largely untapped addressable market, targeting small design teams within large organizations, small and medium-sized businesses, educational institutes and individuals. We expect to leverage our growing Thingiverse community to accelerate adoption. We expect to incorporate certain additional features of our high-end series of printers into our entry-level series over time.
They intend to use their desktop offerings as a lead in towards future purchases of more expensive gear; or otherwise support the more expensive gear. This is a good strategy, as many small firms cannot afford the larger equipment, but could start on the path to 3D printing through inexpensive desktop systems.
Maintaining and extending our technology lead. Our multidisciplinary technological leadership, as evidenced by our more than 1,200 granted or pending patents internationally, underpins our proprietary hardware, integrated software and range of 3D printing materials. We will seek to extend our technological capabilities by continuing to invest in our R&D efforts, which focus on enhancing our 3D PolyJet and FDM printing technologies as well as developing new innovative solutions for 3D printing. In addition, we will continue developing consumables that offer an even broader array of physical, mechanical and aesthetic properties, thereby broadening user applications. We believe that by enhancing our AM technological capabilities and by developing and introducing new materials for our 3D printing and production systems, we will be able to increase both the size of, and our share of, the 3D printing marketplace.
Stratasys spends a huge amount of money on research and development and apparently they intend on continuing to do so.
Continuing servicing our installed base. Today our company has the largest AM solutions installed base in the industry. We consider the relationship with our customers to be a valuable asset, as reflected in our customer satisfaction surveys. We plan to continue nurturing these relationships to enhance the intimacy with our customers, which will allow us to address their needs better through innovative and holistic prototyping and manufacturing solutions of printers and materials, AM printed parts service and advanced professional services.
It’s good to see this is a priority for them, as it is certainly not fun to operate an poorly supported expensive piece of equipment. They are not forgetting their clients, unlike some other companies.
Integrated solutions offering. Due in major part to a series of acquisitions, we have in place an offering of solutions that includes a complete gamut of compatible systems, consumables and services (parts on-demand, professional and expert consulting services that are designed to meet our clients’ needs in an integrated, complete manner. We intend to leverage that as a basis for generating additional sales and revenues from existing customers and attracting new customers.
Expect to see further leverage of GrabCAD and Thingiverse. They’ve recently done some interesting things with GrabCAD as part of their new F123 series announcement, but what will happen with Thingiverse?
Growing through complementary acquisitions. We intend to selectively pursue acquisitions to expand our product offerings, go to market and overall growth and market penetration. Accordingly, we may consider acquisitions and investments in order to effect and accelerate our other growth strategies.
Aha! The company intends on doing further acquisitions, but what will they be? One gaping hole in Stratasys’ lineup is 3D metal printing. They’ve missed out on the most juicy acquisitions recently, as GE has scooped up several vendors. But there are some left and perhaps Stratasys will take one or more of them.
Expert services. We intend to help companies to increase their adoption of 3D printing by helping them to identify new applications for our technology and by developing robust business cases for investment by them in our technology.
This goes along with the strategy above to help clients get more things done with the “new” 3D printing technologies. Remember, this is a mental transformation that is required to occur in each designer in each company and it will take a long time for this to occur.
Enhanced collaboration. Our GrabCAD community, which fosters collaboration among engineers and designers and helps them to communicate ideas and share designs, enhances the likelihood that we can draw from these new collaborations and enhance awareness, and, as a result, sales, of our integrated solutions.
They spent good money acquiring GrabCAD, so they should definitely make as much use of it as possible. While this seems obvious, you’d be surprised at the number of companies who were acquired and subsequently abandoned. Not the case with GrabCAD.
So after reading through all this, one can get a very clear picture of where this company is headed. They cannot surprise us now!