We’re reading an interesting article on Investors.com that talks about the investment potential of 3D printing industry giant Stratasys.
The author, Marie Beerens, seems keen on Stratasys because she sees their recent additions of Objet and MakerBot as “adding complementary systems to its portfolio” and “give Stratasys an even stronger foothold in the 3D space”.
We couldn’t disagree with that, but in retrospect the moves were destined to happen. Stratasys invented filament-based 3D printing many years ago. How long? Long enough that their patent on the process expired a few years ago, leaving an opening for RepRap, MakerBot and many others to begin introducing ultra-low cost 3D printers for personal use.
This, of course, threatened to eat into Stratasys’ lucrative 3D printing business over time. The two acquisitions made by Stratasys fix the problem in two different ways:
- Acquiring Objet enabled continuing use of a patent protected process for some years to come (Objet’s polyjet process is still under active patent).
- Acquiring MakerBot enabled Stratasys to enter, in not a small way, the personal 3D printing market by capturing MakerBot’s huge market share. If someone else is going to use your now-unprotected technology, might as well become them!
Two other interesting tidbits from the Investors.com article: The margin on Stratasys’ 3D printers is 40-50%, while the margin on plastic filament is 65%. We suspect the margin is far higher than that, particularly for Stratasys’ commercial machines. But that margin may decrease as competition grows from new, lower cost filament-based 3D printers.