3D Systems Returning To Consumer 3D Printing?
I just noticed that 3D Systems seems to be selling some 3D printing systems through Amazon Prime Day.
Amazon Prime Day (or “Days”, as it seems now), is a special period that occurs once a year on the massive online retailer, where countless dramatic sales are posted. Often items are reduced by 20-60%, making for some great savings if you happen to need something in particular.
The catch is that you must be an Amazon Prime member to participate. It’s a way to encourage Prime signups, which provide Amazon with a steady revenue stream and another way to market products to customers. For vendors it’s a way to sell more products, albeit at lower costs, but also a way to clear out inventory before holiday season begins.
While by far the majority of Prime Day items are household staples, like towels, toilet paper and cleaning supplies, you can also find discounted home electronics, sometimes including 3D printers.
Amazon Prime Day 3D Printers
Several 3D printer manufacturers are taking advantage of the big sale event, including Creality, Monoprice, Dremel, AnyCubic, Snapmaker, Robox, and many others. 3D printers from these already-low cost manufacturers temporarily have even lower prices.
You’ll also find tons of spare parts, accessories, expansion kits and more. There are also plenty of deals on material; I’ve seen 1kg spools of PLA going for as little as US$15. But then again, cheap filament is usually not the best idea.
But put all that aside, that’s not what I want to talk about. Among the enormous pile of sale items on Amazon Prime Day is one very unusual item: the 3D Systems FabPro 1000 3D printer.
The FabPro 1000 is a desktop SLA 3D printer, using the exact same technology as their larger industrial versions, and can use a variety of photopolymer resins as material. The FabPro 1000 was announced in late 2017.
The Amazon Prime deal is to obtain this device for only US$2,599, which also includes a cleaning & curing station. They’re also offering a 50% discount on all their associated materials — but just for Amazon Prime Day. That seems to be a pretty good deal, although you will have to pay the regular price for 3D Systems materials going forward.
This is what is puzzling to me: Amazon Prime Day is essentially a consumer-level 3D printer sales event. There are no industrial/production-level 3D printers for sale on Amazon, let alone Amazon Prime Day.
What’s even more puzzling is that 3D Systems formally exited the consumer space when they abruptly shut down their Cubify consumer division in 2015, and since that time they’ve had zero involvement in the consumer / DIY / hobbyist space.
3D Systems Desktop Strategy
Have they changed their strategy? What are they up to here? Some ideas:
They’re looking to reduce inventories of the now two-year-old FabPro 1000 to make room for a new, improved desktop SLA option yet to come.
They want to sell a bunch of FabPros to folks who don’t understand the required ongoing cost of 3D Systems materials as a revenue pickup.
The FabPro 1000 may not have been selling well through their standard resellers and instead they are trying out Amazon.
The numerous powerful SLA-style desktop options these days are putting pressure on FabPro 1000 sales and they are trying something different.
Or perhaps something else.
The truth is that the desktop resin 3D printer world is quite different today than it was three or so years ago when 3D Systems decided to embark on developing the FabPro 1000. Whether any of the above is true or not, 3D Systems likely should update or replace the FabPro with something more compelling in that market niche.