Why So Many 3D Printing Partnerships?

The Matsuura stand at TCT Show 2019 curiously has no metal 3D printers present [Source: Fabbaloo]

There are an increasing number of partnerships in the 3D printing industry, and there’s an interesting reason why.

Matsuura Metal 3D Printers

My thoughts are triggered by something I saw the other week at TCT Show. I noticed an interesting stand for Matsuura, a Japanese industrial giant most well known in the space for producing a hybrid CNC / metal 3D printer.

The Matsuura 3D printer is quite interesting as it can produce essentially finished metal parts within the same job run. It can do so by first 3D printing roughly a few millimeters of metal, and then a CNC milling tool smooths the edges on the most recently deposited metal.

Having seen their stand, as shown above, with their very prominent company logo, I was curious to see whether they had a new machine to display. However, upon approaching the stand I noticed something quite interesting.

, Why So Many 3D Printing Partnerships? Only HP full color 3D prints on display at the Matsuura stand at TCT Show 2019 [Source: Fabbaloo]

There were no metal 3D printers. None.

No signage or documentation about their metal machines was particularly visible.

Matsuura Partnership

What was Matsuura doing? What were these machines on display?

They were HP 3D printers.

The entire display was oriented to sell thermoplastic machines made by HP, but marketed by Matsuura. If you look closely, their signage says “3D Metal and Plastic Printers”. That was about the only mention of metal 3D printing I could see.

What’s going on here? Why is a metal 3D printer company pushing thermoplastic 3D printers?

There are two good reasons for this unusual partnership.

Matsuura Benefits

, Why So Many 3D Printing Partnerships? An HP 3D printer on display in a Matsuura stand at TCT Show 2019 [Source: Fabbaloo]

First, from Matsuura’s side. This company has long been marketing not only metal 3D printers to a worldwide base of clients, but also a number of other industrial machines. Over the years they have created a large client base that trusts Matsuura.

Matsuura no doubt wishes to increase sales, and apparently they believe, likely correctly, that many of their clients could very well use thermoplastic equipment in addition to the metal gear they’ve previously sold to them. By partnering with HP, they gain access to a ready-to-go new product line, complete with thermoplastic materials, training, and sales materials. Easy money!

HP Benefits

From HP’s point of view, this is a continuation of their quest to build a worldwide sales and distribution network. While they entered the market a few years ago amongst great fanfare, HP faced a tremendous dilemma. At the time most of the 3D print resellers were associated with Stratasys under exclusive contracts.

Thus HP had to figure a way around the “Stratasys Barrier”. They’ve tried a number of different strategies, such as making arrangements with some stray non-Stratasys resellers, selling equipment directly, and now, partnering with other 3D printer manufacturers looking for more things to sell.

This is especially good for HP, as it allows their equipment to be exposed to an entirely new set of prospects they would otherwise have no practical way to access. Even better, their equipment is presented by a trusted long-term provider.

As you can see, this is a win-win for both sides. Matsuura gains some easy extra revenue, while HP grows their network. It may look a bit odd, but it makes a great deal of sense.

As pressure to increase revenues washes across a very competitive 3D printing market, expect to see a many more similar partnerships.

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