What Must 3D Systems Do Next?

By on February 18th, 2020 in blog


As previously announced, 3D Systems will be gaining new leadership in coming weeks and months. 

Whenever a new CEO appears, there could be many changes. In fact, these are expected because that’s often the reason why the company’s board of directors chose to make a change. In the case of 3D Systems, however, their leader, Vyomesh Josi, is retiring. But the opportunity for change is the same. 

Does 3D Systems need to make changes? I think so. They’ve been essentially flat in growth for several years now and seemingly unable to break out of that pattern. A new CEO could bring new ideas to the table to stir things up. 

But what could those ideas be? I have some thoughts. 

Leverage Figure 4

One of 3D Systems’ most notable products recently released is their Figure 4 system. It’s basically a combination automation system and powerful SLA 3D printer that can be configured in multiple ways. It’s possible to create a manufacturing system with the Figure 4 to not only 3D print items, but also to perform several steps of post processing. This could be quite valuable in optimizing workflow. 

We took a close look at the Figure 4 late last year. 

The Figure 4 could be 3D Systems’ crown jewel at the moment, and should be pushed aggressively. I’m not sure if enough prospects are aware of its existence or power, but I suspect that there could be plenty more sales if the right people were reached. 

Unleash the Research

3D Systems has one of the largest R&D operations in 3D printing, and it’s likely they have some interesting things going on behind those closed walls. I recall seeing their R&D department during a 3D Systems HQ tour some years ago. Or rather, I saw the door to their R&D department; I was not allowed inside. Nevertheless, they are no doubt doing all kinds of work on future projects. 

Presumably some of that work in equipment, materials or processes could be ready for deployment or at least further development. 3D Systems should find the best options in that lab and see what can be done with them. 

Streamline Client Interfaces

When I was a 3D Systems client years ago I found it was sometimes tricky to do business with them. Of course, this depends significantly on the quality and ability of the local reseller. However, 3D Systems should consider retuning their interaction systems for both resellers and clients to make business as easy as possible. 

The best way to make something happen is to remove the barriers to it happening. It may be that 3D Systems’ client interfaces could use an optimization to ensure the workflow is smooth and efficient. One of the best ways to achieve this is to sit down with actual clients and observe their interactions, as it’s often the case that customer behavior is not exactly what the system designers had anticipated. 

Continue to Cut Costs

Outgoing CEO Joshi successfully reduced internal costs at 3D Systems, and there is no reason to not continue this practice. 3D Systems is one of the oldest 3D printer manufacturers, and there are no doubt less efficient processes in play that were inherited from the past. These should be identified and simplified. 

Buy Somebody! 

If the cupboards are bare in the 3D Systems R&D lab, then 3D Systems should consider acquiring a smaller company or even startup that holds promising technology. This is particularly so if the technology can somehow complement 3D Systems’ existing product lines, especially the Figure 4. 

3D Systems still has the ability to execute certain acquisitions, and this could be a way to more quickly re-invent the company, should the right technology be available. 

There’s five ideas that could be considered by whoever the new 3D Systems’ CEO might be. 

Via 3D Systems

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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