Polymaker’s new distribution deal should vastly expand their reach.
Polymaker is one of several very well regarded 3D printer filament producers. Their materials are top quality and quite varied in type. The company has even been experimenting with several highly unusual 3D printer filaments that address specific problems encountered by 3D printer operators.
One of their recent experiments involved developing a system for easily smoothing 3D prints during post processing by using a unique material that softens when exposed to alcohol vapor. They even made a specialized device to apply the vapor in an optimum manner.
Another recent product from the company is a filament drying system that complements their recently issued nylon materials. It’s interesting to see how they often combine hardware and materials to arrive at functional solutions.
You’d think a company with such innovation would easily take over the market, but that’s incredibly difficult for 3D printer filament companies, most of which are relatively small compared to the highly mature existing plastics manufacturers and distributors.
3D printer filament manufacturers constantly seek distributors for their products. The reason for this is that filament manufacturing is most efficient when concentrated in a single factory. However, that automatically introduces a shipping problem: filament is a relatively heavy product (for its price) and thus is often financially infeasible to ship internationally in small quantities. High-cost shipped filament can’t easily compete with locally made non-shipped filament.
But by making arrangements with a distributor, product can be shipped en masse with economy of scale savings. Thus distributors are the key to success for most filament manufacturers.
Most 3D printer filament distributors are relatively small regional operations with limited scope that combines with the low penetration of 3D printing technology. This constrains 3D printer filament manufactures considerably.
However, Polymaker’s new deal with Nexeo Solutions may be quite a bit different. The Texas-based chemical and plastics distributor is to distribute Polymaker’s C515, C515-FR and SU301 filaments.
These three filaments are all materials from Polymaker’s Industrial line, each with desirable engineering properties, such as flame retardant. The materials should fit in very well with Nexeo Solutions’ client base.
Nexeo, if you don’t know, is one of the world’s largest plastic distributors. They distribute over 23,000 products to 30,000 customers worldwide. Two years ago they entered the 3D print market by introducing a couple of unique filament materials, but now it seems they wish to expand their 3D print portfolio.
The deal allows Polymaker to plug into Nexeo Solutions’ vast distribution network. Polymaker’s products will now be shown alongside other supplies from Nexeo Solutions to all their clients. Nexeo Solutions also has an existing, highly efficient shipping system that could very easily absorb and transport Polymaker’s products at very low costs.
Now a Nexeo Solutions client that already purchases plastic materials from the company would now naturally select Polymaker’s products as they would tend to search for supplies from their usual supplier, Nexeo Solutions.
For Polymaker, this could be magic – they just gained a potential new 30,000 buyers!
If the product volume increase is substantial, it may be possible for Polymaker to lower their prices somewhat to gain even more marketshare. But we’ll see how this turns out over the next couple of years.