Announcing 3Diligent Direct and 3Diligent Marketplace

We are extremely excited to announce the launch of 3Diligent Direct alongside 3Diligent Marketplace.  Please see our press release below, then check out the services overview and related FAQ.

3Diligent Expands Manufacturing Industry Access to 3D Printing with New Service Options for Professional and Industrial Client Segments

Manufacturers Get Instant Access to Nearly 100 Industrial 3D Printing Services for Their Projects; New Offerings include 3Diligent Marketplace Free or Premium and 3Diligent Direct

El Segundo, Calif. – Sept. 28, 20163Diligent, the leading services marketplace for professional and industrial 3D Printing, announced that it is splitting its service in two to better support its growing customer base.  It is retaining its Marketplace and introducing 3Diligent Direct, which provides turnkey support for every step of the 3D Printing process from the request for quote (RFQ) all the way through delivery.

The existing 3Diligent Marketplace will now feature a free and premium subscription level for fast, affordable access to 3D Printing machines and materials.

3D Printing is a high-growth alternative for machining and urethane casting for prototypes or short run production.  However, many businesses prefer to avoid the cost and operations challenges associated with owning industrial-grade 3D printers (which can cost upwards of $1 million and require specially-trained operators) or are turned off by the quick rate of printer obsolescence. These companies have traditionally leveraged 3D Printing service providers, but the rate of industry advancement and variability of pricing and quality from one vendor to the next makes working with local providers inherently limiting.

Two-year-old startup 3Diligent has addressed these issues by developing an online platform for rapid manufacturing.  It utilizes a proprietary algorithm to give manufacturers and product designers instant access to its network of qualified service providers and rapid quotes.

“The market is evolving fast.  Our clients want to stay on the leading edge of technology, and our software-driven, hardware-agnostic approach allows them to do that,” said Cullen Hilkene, CEO of 3Diligent. “We only care about qualifying and onboarding great suppliers, then letting them do top notch work when their capabilities align with the project needs of our customers.”

3Diligent has built a network with more industrial providers and machines than any other service in the U.S., with nearly 300 industrial grade machines representing an annual capacity estimated at $500 million. The company supports a wide variety of printing materials, including resins, plastics, metals, gypsum, and ceramic. For a full list of materials, processes, and finishes available on the marketplace, visit 3Diligent’s online learning center.

The new services announced today are:

3Diligent Marketplace (Free) – Allows manufacturers to submit an RFQ and receive a number of bids from 3D Printing vendors with entry level “prosumer” machines and materials. It is designed for fast turnaround projects and idea vetting – where tight tolerances and specialized finishes are not critical.

3Diligent Marketplace (Premium) – For $99/month, manufacturer RFQs will be shared with outstanding fabricators carrying professional and industrial equipment.  Clients will receive multiple bids for their project, with access to the complete range of materials, machines, finishes, and achievable tolerances available. The pricing of the service is designed to be cost effective relative to 3Diligent Direct for customers completing four or more projects per year.

3Diligent Direct – For manufacturers who have confidential projects, less defined procurement needs, or simply require additional support (e.g., production runs), the 3Diligent Direct service provides project management from start to finish, completely eliminating the hassles associated with managing all the providers needed to optimally complete various printing projects. Client RFQs are reviewed by a 3Diligent expert to identify the optimal partner from 3Diligent’s database of fabricators. With this option, clients receive just one bid. Something about price here – like you said in the FAQ

Regardless of the service chosen, 3Diligent guarantees all parts arrive on time and to the specifications committed to on the platform.

“We are excited about launching these new services, because they allow us to offer a better level of support for our manufacturing industry customers,” said Hilkene. “Whether you are an R&D engineer, a plant manager, or a procurement agent, we have a seamless way for you to access our unmatched breadth of capability.”

All of the new services are available today.  Customers who sign up for a free account at www.3Diligent.com before October 15th will be provided a free 30-day trial and 30% off upgrade code for 3Diligent Premium Marketplace to celebrate the launch.

 

About 3Diligent

The leading services marketplace for professional and industrial 3D Printing, 3Diligent launched in 2014 as a way to connect clients deterred by the cost of 3D printer ownership with carefully vetted vendors to enable rapid, high quality additive manufacturing at competitive prices. 3Diligent uses data science to connect customer requests for quotes with the right set of vendors to compete for the work, then facilitates the transaction, guaranteeing parts arrive on time and to spec. This allows customers to streamline their supplier base and also allows service providers to get more out of their capital investments. For more information, visit http://www.3Diligent.com/.

 

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Contact:

Amber Hack
Senior Account Executive
The David James Agency
805-494-9508
amber@davidjamesagency.com

More Big News from the 3DP World: Carbon gets $80M+ Investment – Commentary

Silicon Valley investors and business partners invest in a CLIP future

Within a week of GE’s announcement it was spending $1.4B to purchase two major players in the metal printing market, we have more big investment news from the 3D Printing world.  This time, the buzz comes from Silicon Valley, and it is Carbon’s announcement that they’ve secured a more than $80M Series C round of financing.  So what do we make of this development?  Who is Carbon?  Why are they getting all this cash?  What do they intend to do with it?  And what implications does this have for the additive manufacturing market more broadly and Carbon’s competitive set specifically?  Below I try to offer a few thoughts on each question.

Who or what is Carbon?

Carbon is an additive manufacturing equipment manufacturer that developed the Continuous Light Interface Process (CLIP).  It manufactures the M1 Printer, which utilizes CLIP technology to create custom parts – currently in a handful of urethane materials.  With CLIP, a focused UV-light projector is shined on a panel at the bottom of a pool of photo sensitive resin.  The image projected on each layer cures that layer of material, then pulls the cured material upward allowing for the next layer of resin to flow into the void to be selectively cured.  CLIP technology is similar in many respects to Digital Light Processing (DLP), another “vat photopolymerization” process that utilizes projected light to “grow” parts.  The main difference, Carbon highlights, is the panel of oxygen it uses to accelerate the pace at which the resin is cured.

It is that speed which helped Carbon burst onto the scene a year and a half ago.  At a Ted Talk, Carbon’s CEO Joseph DeSimone dramatically completed an interview on stage while a latticed ball gradually materialized out of the pool of resin in a nearby M1 Printer.  It was a striking moment – one that captured the imagination of many – especially considering DeSimone mentioned Terminator 2’s liquid metal villain as a source of inspiration for the technology.

Why are they getting all this cash?

From that day to now, Carbon has done a solid job of advancing its technologies, developing promising partnerships, and demonstrating great marketing savvy.  So part of this investment is rooted in execution to date.

The second leg of this is the promise of a 3D Printed production future.

As it sits, 3D Printing is a metaphorical gnat relative to the elephant that is global manufacturing.  As of the latest Wohler’s and Associates estimate, 3D Printing represents around a $5B global market, which is still less than 1% of the $10.5T global manufacturing industry.  But while 3D Printing is still small in relative terms, its growth has been meteoric, at a roughly 30% year-over-year clip for the last half decade.  It also carries the promise that it will not simply displace existing manufacturing applications like machining, molding, and casting, but create new opportunities.  The consensus feeling is that 3D Printing is turning a critical corner from being a prototyping technology to a production technology.  I can attest to this transition – 3Diligent was born because engineering grade plastics and metals for heavier duty applications were coming to market and we believed an online platform to access these emerging technologies and materials seamlessly and on-demand would provide huge value to customers and service providers alike.

Carbon is riding – and on some level doing a significant bit in building – this same wave.

Leveraging DeSimone’s experience as a material science professor at the University of North Carolina, Carbon has developed a number of custom urethanes that they believe are superior to competing resins produced by industry incumbents.  Carbon runs these materials on their M1 machines using parameter sets developed and refined by Carbon based on every part build.   The hope of Carbon and its investors is that combining their speedy hardware, software processing, and material science will roll up into truly functional custom parts that can be built at scale.

This is the same vision being pursued by 3D Systems, Stratasys, HP, and Envisiontec, Carbon’s key competitors in the polymer 3D Printing space.  Notably at this weeks International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago, both Stratasys and 3D Systems unveiled systems geared toward production rather than prototyping.  It remains to be seen whether this investment will get Carbon to true production runs in the tens of thousands of parts first.

What are they going to do with the funding?

An investment in Carbon right now signals that Carbon and its partners believe they are truly onto something, have demonstrated sufficient market traction, and should start investing in a full-fledged build-out of its technology.  The first thing this will likely extend to is a ramping up of their manufacturing capability.  DeSimone anticipates growing from 50 installed units now to 100 by year end and 500 next year.  Scaling up manufacturing – both for M1 hardware and related consumable resins – is a costly endeavor.

Beyond ramping up production, it appears that Carbon also has designs on pursuing global growth.  Whereas it has primarily focused its growth in the United States to date, it seems to recognize that companies around the world are looking to position themselves for a 3D Printed future.  The extent to which Carbon can be the machine of choice that R&D engineers, designers, and plant managers across the world can become that technology of choice has to be top of mind for DeSimone and his team at Carbon.

Lastly, you can assume that Carbon will push some of that capital toward existing operations.  Carbon has offered up a roadmap to extend beyond the five materials they currently offer – that will require material science research funding.  And while Carbon has stated with its subscription model that it should be able to simply perform “over-the-air” updates to keep its machines up to date, it stands to reason that Carbon will continue to explore enhancements to its hardware and explore ways to broaden the application of its technology.  Currently, Carbon’s printer has a relatively tall and thin build chamber, meaning that there are certain part geometries that isn’t currently well equipped to build (e.g., an iPad) without splitting into pieces for assembly.  It’s possible that it will allocate some resources to a future model with a larger build chamber.

What are the implications of this for the industry?

At this time, it’s safe to say that incumbents 3D Systems, Stratasys, and Envisiontec all must recognize that there’s another new kid on the block.  Less than a year since HP signaled it’s going all in on 3D Printing as well with its new Multi Jet Fusion technology, Carbon has secured the funding to really go toe-to-toe with the biggest in the industry.  This investment values the company at over $1B, which puts it within 70% of the market cap for 3D Systems – the original 3D Printing company and inventor of the stereolithography technology that CLIP builds upon – and nearly the same value as Stratasys, the other major publicly traded polymer 3D Printing company.

Aside from the fact that Stratasys, 3D Systems, and Envisiontec face another credible threat for market share beyond the threat that HP poses, my sense is that this doesn’t necessarily serve as a signal for consolidation in the market.  Whereas GE’s deal last week creates a single player in the metal printing market with disproportionate resources, the polymers space remains fragmented with a number of viable players.  I think you can expect these companies – plus some others that are also making a push for this market at a global level (e.g., Prodways) – to continue duking it out for a while before any clear winners emerge.  It’s possible you could see pairing up in an effort to consolidate the market in the face of these new competitive threats – or potentially another purchase from GE (they’re invested in Carbon) or HP.  But because the polymers market is older, the growth is a bit slower, and the battle lines longstanding, the calculus in polymer 3D Printing doesn’t add up in quite the same way as it does in the metals market.

What are the implications of this for you?

If you’re reading this as someone who uses or is interested in using 3D Printing technology, this is good news for you.  Whereas GE’s play in the metals market may deter competitive investment, accelerate consolidation, and potentially deter innovation, Carbon and HP being added to the mix has demonstrably pushed market incumbents to take notice and try to innovate at a faster pace.  The likelihood that we’ll arrive at true production 3D Printed polymer end-use parts – and distributed mass production of custom goods – has gone up with this announcement.

While we wait for any sort of clear leader to be established – if that day ever truly comes – 3Diligent is the perfect partner to support you with our 3D Printing services.  3Diligent was built on the premise that this sort of tectonic shifting in the market was inevitable and likely to continue for at least the next decade, if not longer…the market opportunity is just too big for us not to see more players pursuing innovation breakthroughs and market share.  That’s why we are focused on developing innovative procurement software and developing relationships with service providers that are investing in and developing expertise with these different technologies.  We are pleased to offer 3D Printing services across Carbon, 3D Systems, Stratasys, Envisiontec, and more than a half dozen other brands across plastics, metals, and more.

We look forward to supporting you on a project soon – perhaps with a Carbon printer manufactured with the proceeds from this funding round…

 

Cullen Hilkene is CEO of 3Diligent, “the 3D Printing Partner for Every Business,” an online rapid manufacturing service that supports designers, R&D engineers, and procurement officials across a multitude of industries.  He is an alumnus of Princeton University, the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and Deloitte Strategy and Operations Consulting.  

 

Blockbuster Deal: GE to buy SLM Solutions and Arcam

Major News for the 3D Printing Industry

Major news from the 3D Printing world broke today when it was announced that GE is to purchase Arcam and SLM Solutions, two major players in the metal 3D Printing industry.  We highlighted those companies a year ago in a blog post emphasizing metal 3D Printing as a clear growth spot in the industry as some publicly traded polymer printing giants were cratering.  Arcam is up 57% today and SLM Solutions closed up 40%.  Clearly, GE sees a lot of growth, as the news pushed Arcam’s stock to a price to earnings ratio of 214:1 vs. SLM’s PE Ratio to 342:1.

GE Considerations for the Purchases

While GE buying both companies in a single gambit is impressive and earth moving as far as the fledgling metal printing industry is concerned, that they bought a printer manufacturer is not a major surprise.  GE has been pushing the boundaries of the technology for years, having announced two years ago that it would 3D Print all of its next generation LEAP fuel jet engine nozzles.  With sticker prices over $1M for high end metal machines and the need for thousands of machines to support their growth plans, the $1.4B in acquisitions may be entirely justified by GE’s need to control its supply base.

Other Potential Strategic Implications of the Purchases

At the same time, the move is likely to have significant strategic implications beyond sheer supply chain management for both GE and the industry at large.

Arcam has an effective proprietary choke hold on powder bed Electron Beam Melting (EBM) technology, which is especially valued in the med tech and aerospace industries for its abilities to effectively print titanium.  It is possible, albeit unlikely, that GE will restrict its level of support for competing aviation businesses that have invested in EBM machines.  Instead, GE could could choose to primarily support its own endeavors with the technology and selectively sell machines into the market or not sell them at all.  Whereas Arcam before was clearly motivated to generate profits by selling machines, it’s unclear whether GE’s most profitable course would be to continue doing so or selectively withhold the technology from the market.

With that said, the most likely scenario is that GE simply puts its weight behind refining Arcam technology and marketing the heck out of it.  At an America Makes meeting I attended at GE’s Global Innovation Center a couple months back and on many occasions before, GE spoke of its desire to grow the industry and collaborate with industry participants.  And until probably today, Electron Beam Melting technology was only known to a select set of companies and leading service providers.   GE’s acquisition will likely drive a new level of interest and willingness to buy the technology.  Recognizing that competing EBM technologies will eventually enter the market once Arcam’s patents expire, GE may simply choose to sell as many printers as possible and enjoy dominant market share.

The SLM Solutions investment, in contrast, would clearly seem to be a play for supply chain support.  SLM Solutions battles with comparable equipment from EOS, Concept Laser, and Renishaw especially.  SLM Solutions is well known for offering a relatively open architecture, providing users an opportunity to experiment with different parameters to “dial in” high quality prints.  However, considering that Renishaw and Concept Laser offer similar levels of openness, it wouldn’t seem that this is acquisition offers clear strategic benefits beyond the obvious ones.  The SLM Solutions purchase bolsters GE’s supply chain and provides a solid new product for GE to sell.

Who is impacted?

While time will tell whether GE will continue to actively sell these machines into the market or keep the technologies to themselves as a competitive advantage in developing additive end use parts, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s comments would lend support the former. “We are poised to not only benefit from this movement as a customer, but spearhead it as a leading supplier,” he stated.  If it can be taken at face value that GE is going to push sales of its machines beyond the walls of GE, the news would seem to be a shot across the bow for EOS, Concept Laser, Renishaw, and 3D Systems, which has made a number of smaller metal acquisitions in recent years.  To a lesser extent, it might also be concerning for Stratasys, which does not market a metal printer at this time, but recently invested in metal printing startup Desktop Metal presumably in hopes of getting a piece of the metal printing pie.  GE soon after invested there too.

The plot thickens in the metal additive manufacturing world…

 

Cullen Hilkene is CEO of 3Diligent, “the 3D Printing Partner for Every Business,” an online rapid manufacturing service that supports designers, R&D engineers, and procurement officials across a multitude of industries.  He is an alumnus of Princeton University, the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and Deloitte Strategy and Operations Consulting.