With the seemingly weekly arrival of new personal 3D printers and manufacturers, one has to wonder which companies are “winning”. We’ll take a stab at it.
Based on a number of factors we believe these companies are likely producing the most units these days. In no particular order:
MakerBot: The Stratasys-owned company was perhaps the first big-time personal 3D printer offering and they continue to sell vast numbers of machines, now through an ever-increasing network of resellers worldwide.
Cubify: The 3D Systems personal line includes both introductory and prosumer machines, also sold through a complex reseller network. You can even find them at Staples.
Ultimaker: The European-based company sells a reliable and well-designed product and now provides an associated 3D model ecosystem much like MakerBot and Cubify. But they don’t have a big-pocketed owner, at least not yet.
PrintrBot: Of all the many independent companies, low-priced Printrbot options have been a favorite of many. Money talks, but so does the quality of a product.
Honorable Mention: RepRap is not a company per se, but instead it’s an open source project with many variations. We suspect there are an uncountable but vast number of RepRap machines in operation around the world today.
The secrets to success seem to be: be an early leader; provide a means for non-designers to use your product (hence the ecosystems); get strong financial backing.
You may suggest that these companies don't have the best machines. They probably don't - but they could be among the leaders in unit sales.
Some may say DIY machines are the leader in the field, and perhaps they are, technically. But as far as units go, we suspect the companies above may have produce more. While there are many DIYers in the world, there are far more consumers - and that is the group being addressed by the companies above. At some point the DIY 3D printer owners will be outnumbered by consumers. Is that day today?
These companies seem to be attracting the most attention and consequently the most sales. Is this the end for other manufacturers? We think not; the personal 3D printing space is massive and it’s only just the beginning. There’s room enough for many more manufacturers yet.