Ultimaker reported significant growth in the first half of 2020, a rare reveal of the private company’s financial state.
There are very few publicly traded 3D printer manufacturers on the stock market, and so it’s often challenging to know how well the numerous other companies are doing. In a somewhat vague post, Ultimaker provided an indication of how they have done in this terrible year of 2020. They say:
“In the first six months of the year, Ultimaker experienced double-digit growth year-over-year globally, including over 30% growth in the US alone. This was due in part to disruption in manufacturing from the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a paradigm shift in the global supply chain. Localized manufacturing, reduced downtime and cost reduction have become priorities which coincided with the heightened awareness of professional 3D printing and its impact on productivity.”
This agrees with my observations of changes happening in the manufacturing world. While previous supply chains were oriented around efficiency over all other factors, that model broke down severely during the early stages of the pandemic. Instead today we see a much higher emphasis on flexibility, agility and local production to avoid supply chain catastrophes.
One big piece of that paradigm change is the expanded use of 3D printing technology. While the technology has been in use at many companies for years, it has primarily been in the role of prototyping or perhaps for jigs and fixtures on the “real” manufacturing line. Now companies, forced into re-examining the use of 3D printing by the pandemic, have realized that today’s equipment can indeed produce low volumes of end-use products in many cases.
This has resulted in dramatically increased sales of equipment from some 3D printer vendors.
Which ones? They would be the ones that have already set up mechanisms to allow for smooth use within a large organization. This would include features such as job tracking, cloud management, material management, etc.
In fact, these are all things that Ultimaker has been working on for years, as their strategy is now fully focused on the professional and industrial markets.
With the results announced above, it definitely seems that they have been in the right place at the right time to capitalize on the new increased demand for equipment.
Ultimaker CEO Jos Burger said:
“We are excited to continue to build on the successes we’ve had this year. The current manufacturing and supply chain landscape has been altered significantly due to effects of the pandemic, but the growth and expansion Ultimaker has experienced signals the industry’s strides toward recovery and points to the rising adoption of professional 3D printing across the supply chain.”
While I’m pretty certain that Ultimaker did not have advance notice of the pandemic, they certainly did all the right things to prepare their products and services to address the new requirements and changing market.
I suspect other 3D printer manufacturers have seen sales increases, too, but only if they had done their homework to prepare their offerings for the professional and manufacturing markets.
For the 3D printer manufacturers that have not done so, it seems they have missed out on a massive opportunity.