EnvisionTEC is one of the premier vendors of high-resolution 3D printing equipment, having done so since 2002.
The now fifteen-year old company is celebrating their anniversary, and it’s always a good thing to have a company last that long, especially in the competitive world of 3D printing. However, I suspect there could be some bumps in the road for EnvisionTEC.
Their equipment can produce very high resolution prints due to their resin-based technology. Their initial models, and most of those that followed, used DLP light engines to illuminate and photocure layers of liquid resin. Using this technique, their equipment can often hit resolutions as small as 0.01mm, small enough to be essentially invisible.
As a result, their equipment has proven quite popular in certain industries, most notably dental applications and jewelry designers, who use the lost wax technique to transform detailed 3D prints into fantastic metal jewelry.
Over the years EnvisionTEC broadened their product line with a variety of 3D printer models for all scenarios, as well as building an impressive library of resins, again used in all manner of scenarios.
It sounds like a success story, and it is. But going forward, I feel they may have some big challenges to overcome.
The challenge is competition from the increasingly numerous alternative resin-based 3D printer manufacturers. At recent 3D print shows it seems that the majority of the machines being shown are in fact resin-based equipment very similar to EnvisionTEC’s, with some variations in specifications.
But there’s one very major difference between the EnvisionTEC offering and that of their new competitors: pricing. Yes, these alternative suppliers are able to provide more-or-less similar equipment and results at significantly lower prices than EnvisionTEC is used to selling.
This puts EnvisionTEC in a relatively bad position: they’ve built a company over 15 years that is likely accustomed to certain levels of cash flow based on their pricing and revenue, and now they must compete strongly against not just one, but perhaps dozens of capable other parties, all with lower cost bases. Some even have significant funding behind them.
These new competitors may not have the large resin libraries that EnvisionTEC does – at least not yet. But that is something they can easily add over time. And in a world where there are lots of such machines, it’s likely third parties will develop even more interesting resins to use in all the machines.
It will certainly be interesting to watch this competition over the next few years. It may not be pretty for some of the companies involved, but the result will no doubt be more powerful 3D printing equipment available at even lower costs for everyone.