This has been a very busy week for 3D Systems. After announcing the signing of a lease for a 200,000 square foot building in South Carolina, and two new acquisitions earlier this week, the company has just announced the opening of a new 30,500 square foot facility in Barbenton, Ohio.
As we have repeatedly stated in past artcles, the materials market within the 3D printing space is an incredibly important area for companies to focus on. The materials which we all print with, have about as much influence on the quality of an object which is being fabricated as that of the printers which utilize them. According to Smartech Markets, the 3D printer polymer market, which is worth approximately $310 million now, is expected to expand almost 5-fold over the next five years to a value of $1.4 billion. This represents a tremendous opportunity for those companies in a position to profit off of these materials.
As usual, 3D Systems is thinking ahead, thus doubling their filament manufacturing capacity with the opening of this new Barbenton, Ohio facility. The facility, which will bring new jobs to the area, and provide the company with an expanded capacity for producing both filaments and the cartridges which house them, has been in the works for some time.
“We’re extremely pleased that 3D Systems selected the City of Barberton as its new home for this manufacturing site,” said Mayor William Judge, City of Barberton, Ohio. “It demonstrates a strong commitment to local manufacturing and creating jobs in our community.”
Additionally, the facility will expand the capabilities of 3D Systems to develop new innovative thermoplastics, including two new materials the company has recently unveiled. One of these is a post-consumer recycled PET (rPET) used within their recently announced EKOCYLCLE Cube desktop 3D printers. The other is for a high quality engineer-grade nylon material, used within the company’s prosumer targeted CubePro 3D printers.
“This new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility will support our expansion and further development of advanced filament-based materials as we meet growing demand for our consumer printers,” said Avi Reichental, President and CEO, 3DS. “The Barberton facility doubles our footprint for filament-based materials manufacturing in the local area and reinforces our commitment to sustainable, local manufacturing.”
The 3D printing materials market is a tricky one with many printers accepting filament from pretty much any manufacturer. 3D Systems, on the other hand, requires special cartridge-based filament, that only they manufacture for use within their Cube line of 3D printers. This is a strategy commonly used by 2D printer manufacturers, to lock in consumers once a printer is purchased. It will be interesting to see if this business model will drive up profits for the company, or perhaps be a turn off for consumers, who may rather have the option of where they purchase their materials from.
Let’s hear your thoughts on 3D Systems’ expansion of their filament manufacturing capabilities, in the 3D Systems filament forum thread on 3DPB.com.