Essentium is an interesting company with an interesting strategy that we saw appear again yesterday with a partnership announcement.
Essentium is at first glance much like many other 3D printer manufacturers: they design and produce industrial 3D printers, and market them worldwide. But unlike many other players, Essentium seems to have a powerful approach to equipment deployment.
When I spoke with Essentium CEO Blake Teipel a few weeks ago, he explained some of the projects they’ve been working on. One of them involved 3D printing a variety of custom-fit trays for use in the semiconductor industry. These trays are used to hold components before they are robotically installed on circuit boards for example.
It’s an application of 3D printing I had not considered, and one that Essentium is eminently qualified to address, as a number of their staff originated in that industry. It makes a great deal of sense for them to assist in the development of solutions for an industry they know: Essentium staff are probably fully aware of required solutions for the semiconductor industry, and now that Essentium exists, they can develop them.
This, above all else, is the number one factor for success in the world of 3D printing: the ability to match a technology solution with a business problem. If you can’t do that you either have a solution seeking a problem, or a unsolved problem, neither of which are particularly good.
Today I’m looking at a new announcement from Essentium that seems to follow this successful pattern: They have partnered with Vorum, a maker of CAD/CAM solutions for the orthotic and prosthetics industries. Currently, Vorum seems to offer various orthotic and prosthetics products, including 3D scanners, “carvers” (presumably for subtractive manufacturing of orthotics) and “3D Printing”.
I took a look at their 3D printing presentation (which is obviously now out of date) and found it portrayed a rather primitive-looking delta-style 3D printer that, incredibly, was 3D printing an item on a bed coated with masking tape! That is certainly not a suitable 3D printing solution with today’s technology.
It’s no wonder they sought a deal for an improved 3D print technology partner, and I suspect they’ll do well with Essentium.
The deal is to link Essentium’s powerful 3D HSE printing technology and materials with Vorum’s CAD/CAM solutions and their training solution, SurePath. It’s a certainty that many orthotic and prosthetic professionals would frequently need training on 3D print methods.
Here’s the point: Essentium is once again striking directly at the application of 3D printing by partnering with an organization that is deeply embedded in the domain and is providing a variety of solutions to that industry.
I am confident that this will become a very profitable arrangement between the two companies.
It does make you wonder, though, why some other 3D printer manufacturers do not spend as much effort focusing on specific industries. Many companies simply spray their message thinly across a wide array of industries, hoping someone, somewhere will give it a try.
The better strategy is to work with specific industries and develop real solutions that the 3D printer manufacturers won’t have to push to the clients; instead they will be pulled.