Leaders from the industry discuss growth, consolidation, and the future of 3D printing in the AM Investment Strategies 2023.


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A week prior to Formnext 2023, AMR (formerly SmarTech Analysis) organized another AM Investment Strategies roundtable in collaboration with Cantor Fitzgerald. The discussion, moderated by Troy Jensen, Managing Director at Cantor Fitzgerald, featured industry leaders such as Yoav Zeif, CEO of Stratasys; Jeff Graves, President and CEO of 3D Systems; Arno Held, Managing Partner at AM Ventures; Scott Dunham, Executive Vice President of Research at AMR; and Max Lobovsky, CEO of Formlabs.

The event began with an introduction from Sascha Wenzler, Vice President of Formnext, who emphasized the rapid progress of additive manufacturing (AM) and its impact on various industries. Wenzler also highlighted the investment opportunities and transformative potential of AM in traditional manufacturing.

During the panel discussion, the state of the 3D printing industry was a major focus. Despite ongoing growth, the sector is currently facing challenges due to the macroeconomic environment. Mergers and consolidations, particularly the potential merger of several candidates with Stratasys, have been a topic of interest in the industry.

The panelists provided insights into these challenges. Yoav Zeif discussed the industry’s resilience despite low stock prices, while Jeff Graves remained optimistic about the trajectory of the 3D printing industry, especially in the medical device sector. Max Lobovsky stressed the importance of making 3D printing technologies accessible and affordable to a wider user base to drive market growth.

Arno Held highlighted the need for stabilizing and improving the quality output of 3D printing machines to meet the growing production demands of industries such as electro mobility and cleantech. He also called for focusing on delivering tangible value by evolving 3D printing into a true manufacturing technology.

Scott Dunham delved into market trends, sharing data on the growth of the hardware, materials, and print services sectors in Q2. He acknowledged the challenges posed by the macroeconomic landscape but expressed optimism about the industry’s long-term outlook. He also predicted that companies developing high-quality and cost-effective solutions would see an increase in demand over the next 12 to 18 months.

The panel discussion then shifted to the significant YoY growth of materials in Q2, particularly in the metal powder sector. Arno Held emphasized the crucial role of materials in unlocking new applications and verticals in 3D printing. He also highlighted the investment potential in privately-held material and polymer powder companies, underscoring the importance of materials in advancing the industry.

Overall, the roundtable provided a comprehensive view of the current state and future prospects of the 3D printing industry. Despite the challenges posed by the macroeconomic environment, the panelists remained optimistic about the industry’s resilience and potential for growth. Additionally, they stressed the importance of innovation, accessibility, and materials in driving the industry forward.

Changing the Tone: An Insightful Discussion on Consolidation in the 3D Printing Industry

The recent AM Investment Strategies 2023 event was abuzz with discussions on consolidation in the 3D printing industry. As industry leaders, Zeif and Graves, took the stage, the topic of consolidation seemed to dominate everyone’s thoughts. The need for consolidation was emphasized by both speakers as essential for coping with delayed adoption rates and achieving the required scale.

Zeif highlighted the importance of consolidation in leveraging infrastructure across all expenses and enabling synergy across different technologies. With diverse customer needs in additive manufacturing, scale would be crucial in catering to these demands effectively.

Graves echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that as the industry evolves towards more sophisticated customer needs in production environments, consolidation becomes a real need and opportunity. He explained that the shift towards factory environments and the growing need for sales support and upfront application support put a strain on businesses. Furthermore, as customers seek a broader range of applications, companies must invest in various hardware platforms, materials, and software suites, increasing their R&D expenses. Graves believed that consolidation could drive costs down and bring greater efficiencies, leading to profitability.

Troy Jensen, delving deeper into the revenue versus profitability dilemma in the AM sector, questioned why companies like Stratasys and 3D Systems, with substantial revenues, aren’t profitable. Graves shed light on this issue, attributing the struggles to high R&D and SG&A costs required to support a diverse technology offering and global customer base. He emphasized that achieving greater scale through consolidation would bring about efficiencies and ultimately propel companies towards profitability.

Max Lobovsky offered a different perspective, emphasizing the importance of leading in specific print engine technologies instead of cobbling together different product lines through consolidation. Lobovsky argued that concentrating on scale and revenue alone would not guarantee profitability if the product lines were not leading and sufficiently invested in. He highlighted companies like Apple and Tesla, which have focused product lines with fewer SKUs, yet achieve significant revenue and growth.

Scott Dunham added to the discussion by suggesting that a more focused approach, rather than spreading thin over numerous technological concepts, might prove beneficial. He acknowledged the challenge posed by a wide price range in product portfolios and advocated for a deeper focus on specific applications and the right machines for those applications.

The event provided valuable insights and set the stage for what to expect at upcoming industry gatherings, such as Formnext 2023 and the Additive Manufacturing Strategies event in New York in February 2024. These events will continue the conversation on consolidation and explore new technologies and solutions aimed at propelling the 3D printing industry forward.

To stay updated on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry, as well as receive information and offers from third party vendors, be sure to keep a close eye on future developments in this exciting field.

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