Zortrax, the long-time manufacturer of desktop and professional 3D printers, announced a new 3D print service.
They explain the concept:
“Zortrax 3D printing services is an on-demand manufacturing service aimed at both enterprises and individuals. Customers’ designs are fabricated on Zortrax 3D printers operated by a dedicated team of professional 3D printing engineers and shipped to any chosen place in the world.”
The company now offers a variety of different professional 3D printers, ranging from desktop units to the endureal, a device positioned for the industrial market and able to handle any of their 15 high-quality proprietary filament materials. They also provide a resin device, the Inkspire, which can produce high resolution 3D prints in any of nine different resins, including dental-capable materials.
It seems you are now able to request 3D prints on their equipment by merely submitting your design to their new service. They are able to accept input files in any of these formats:
At first this may appear to be a strange move for a manufacturer of devices to “rent them out”. Should not their priority be to sell units?
Not necessarily. There are a number of very good reasons for a move like this. Let’s take a look.
Try Before You Buy
One of the best ways to determine if you prefer a vendor’s equipment is to try it out, and what better way to do so than having your own 3D models 3D printed on the same equipment you’re considering buying? You’d really want to know, especially if you’re considering a large purchase.
It’s better than having a sample print completed, as it is done in a more realistic production environment, and shows the quality that can be achieved if proper operation is applied. It’s in Zortrax’s interest to ensure the prints are excellent quality, as they could lead to a big purchase. It also provides some revenue to Zortrax.
Extend 3D Printing Capacity
If an existing Zortrax client suddenly receives a big order and is out of capacity, Zortrax’s 3D print service could serve as a kind of “overflow” capacity to handle bulges in demand. This allows a client to avoid excess purchases to meet peak demand levels, and also provides some revenue to Zortrax.
Leverage 3D Printing Client Network
Zortrax’s sales organizations have databases of clients and prospects. Each of these could be marketed the opportunity to use the new 3D print services, and thus the company leverages their client information by shaking out some additional revenue to Zortrax.
Make More 3D Printers
Any 3D printing that takes place on Zortrax’s print service would by definition take place on other equipment if the service didn’t exist. Thus the company gets to manufacture more 3D printers than they would otherwise. And once put into service, they provide some additional revenue for Zortrax.
Yes, there’s a bit of a pattern here: all of these reasons ultimately lead to more revenue for Zortrax, and that’s a good thing for them. But at the same time, it also provides benefits for their clients. It’s a good move.
While it may seem like a strange move for a 3D printer manufacturer, it really isn’t. This same practice is undertaken by many other 3D printer manufacturers, particularly the large players. One good example is Stratasys, who operate Stratasys Direct, and they receive all the equivalent benefits as above. 3D Systems does something similar as well.
What is surprising is now many 3D printer manufacturers do not have their own 3D print service.