In the past several years multiple 3D print companies have emerged and grown, but now they should consider partnering to grow further.
I noticed this first with Stratasys’ work with Siemens. The giant 3D printing company wishes to grow further and this means they’ll have to get far deeper into manufacturing than they have thus far. A majority of their business comes from prototyping activities, but that’s small potatoes compared to what might happen if they were able to deeply penetrate end-product manufacturing itself.
However, that’s an extremely difficult thing to do. While Stratasys has plenty of expertise in 3D printing, particularly in materials, they don’t know a lot about the highly complex and customized manufacturing processes used by industry. In fact, one very senior Stratasys representative told me they “wouldn’t know the questions to ask” about setting up proper manufacturing.
How to solve this dilemma? Through partnerships!
In this case Stratasys has partnered with Siemens, a very large German company that specializes in the automation of manufacturing processes. This company has enormous expertise in almost all aspects of manufacturing, from not only the actual “making” processes, but also tracking, administration and workflow.
But they don’t know much about 3D printing.
That’s where it makes sense for these two companies to partner and share their expertise to enable significant growth. Siemens brings the manufacturing process knowledge, while Stratasys brings 3D printing expertise. It just makes sense the more you think about it.
But that’s not the only opportunity for partnerships in the world of 3D printing. After speaking with a number of companies in recent weeks, it seems there are plenty more partnerships that could emerge.
Here’s an example: I spoke with a French company called Spartacus3D, part of the Farinia Group. This company offers expert 3D print services, particularly in metal. As you might imagine, they own and operate several EOS metal 3D printers, and provide consultation, post-processing and more with clients to ensure their metal 3D printing venture is successful.
One of the reasons you’d be successful with Spartacus3D is that they bring a huge amount of metallurgical expertise to the table. Their group includes a forging subsidiary that has been in operation for over a century! Their knowledge includes all types of metal operations and materials, and they’ve chosen to exploit it through a 3D print service.
But then I’m thinking there are more opportunities here for companies like Spartacus3D, particularly when you see many companies launching new 3D metal printers WITHOUT having such metallurgical expertise. Yes, these companies can put together a machine, but wouldn’t it be better if they were partnered with a firm that has significant knowledge in the area? A company like Spartacus3D could easily partner with the 3D metal printer company of their choice to grow something larger.
I feel this scenario could play out many times with many companies, as 3D printing technology works its way into industry. Where there are 3D printer makers, there are also application experts in each area, too.
Let’s put them together to make better machines, better processes and better results.