2015 has been quite a year for 3D Systems–and, as it happens, the fat lady hasn’t sung yet. As we begin the last week of the year, today 3DS has announced that it is discontinuing production of its entry-level Cube 3D printer, as well as the retail design-oriented Cubify.com consumer platform, which will close down on January 31, 2016.
“The move reflects management’s plans to focus its resources and strategic initiatives on near-term opportunities and profitability,” 3DS explained this morning.
While Cubify users were notified last week via email that changes were coming, today’s announcement seals the deal as the $999 Cube 3D printer will no longer be produced, the Cubify portal will close, and all retail items will be discontinued. The CubePro, however, will remain available, as its applications include desktop engineering as well as education and professional purposes.
“In connection with our ongoing review of our business and industry, we believe that the most meaningful opportunities today are in professional and industrial settings, from the product design shop to the operating room to the factory floor. We are focusing our efforts on enabling professionals and companies to improve their designs, transform their workflows, bring innovative products to market and drive new business models,” Andy Johnson, 3DS’ Interim-Chief Executive Officer & Chief Legal Officer, explained.
The company has clearly been undergoing quite a shakeup in recent months, as rumors have abounded, facilities have closed, stocks have fallen, and the executive staff has changed. 3DS has been in the headlines frequently lately, as the company tries to figure out the best way to move into the future. While an earlier plan seemed based around acquisitions–a lot of them, and often–this did not always pan out the way that employees or businesses would have imagined. With attention seemingly split between consumer and industrial applications, 3DS has been plodding along on a path that hasn’t necessarily seemed to make the most sense to those following their lead.
While the recently introduced Fabricate system for Cube 3D printers seemed to indicate a level of attention to fashion that walked the (Project) Runway, we can only be left to assume at this point that the new platform will be left in the dust with the rest of the Cube and Cubify soon-to-be relics. The remaining inventory of Cube 3D printers will still be sold, and all owners of Cube products will still receive support and, importantly, sale of materials (including the filament cartridges, which are famously, and unpopularly, proprietary), through the main 3DS domain, which will launch a new e-commerce platform.
As focus slides firmly away from the retail side, 3DS will expend its energies on building up the manufacturing side, with industrial applications reigning supreme. It’s no secret that in business the biggest bang for the buck will come from higher-end applications, and 3DS has plenty of that in the work. Back in October, at Inside 3D Printing Santa Clara, 3DS’ Design Director, Scott Summit, presented a keynote exploring the company’s view of “3D Printing Plus,” which brings the technology together in equations such as:
- 3D Printing + Data Visualization = greater information understanding
- 3D Printing + Health Care = improved quality of care
- 3D Printing + 3D Scanning + Health Care = improved medical outcomes
- 3D Printing + Medical Sensing = proactive health care
- 3D Printing + Space Travel = opportunities for long-term life in space
- 3D Printing + Philanthropy = global health challenges addressed
Summit’s talk highlighted the human potential of 3D printing technology–and a lot of what he covered as primary points in that discussion is underscored by management’s shift toward the manufacturing side of the business. While the company has had its troubles, to be sure, we have also seen some truly incredible creations spring from 3DS in many of these areas. Health care, medical training, visualization, and space travel are certainly huge areas of interest and development.
As the company highlighted today:
“Management believes a greater focus on manufacturing applications and delivering new and enhanced manufacturing systems can drive adoption, yield higher returns on investment and increase earnings. As part of this shift away from consumer products, management expects revenue to be impacted by less than 2% and profitability to improve. In addition, management expects to record a charge in the fourth quarter in the range of approximately $19 million to $25 million related primarily to inventory write downs and related purchase commitments.”