3D Systems recently announced it would discontinue producing and selling its smallest and least expensive desktop 3D printer, the Cube 3. Although generalist media reported the news with a little too much malicious satisfaction (predicting the demise of consumer 3D printing), the news comes as little surprise and will have very little effects on the 3D printing consumer market as we now know it.
First lets set things straight. 3D Systems manufactures high-end professional 3D printers that offer seven different technologies at prices that range from €5,000 to over one million. Only two of 3D Systems’ 3D printers use filament. First, the Cube Pro, which won’t be discontinued and is considered a low-end professional systems (with triple extrusion and nylon printing capabilities). Second, there’s the Cube 3, which is the newer version of its innovative Cube system. Also, it’s one of the machines that most helped to start the consumer market.
Cube 3: Great Printer, But The Competition Is Fierce
Like the Cube Pro, the Cube 3 came from one of 3D Systems’ many acquisitions, and it was used as the central platform for its Cubify network. It is a superbly engineered machines with a price (less than $1,000) that is way too low to make profits. 3D Systems intended to earn from its closed filament system (also superbly engineered) and a wider adoption of its closed software and 3D model network.
This did not happen. The numbers of the consumer market today are still too small for large companies such as 3D Systems and Stratasys. However, they are large enough for the many startups developing excellent consumer-ready, low-cost 3D printers (like BeeVeryCreative, Zortrax, XYZ Printing or Ultimaker).
Although its stocks fell further after the announcement, 3D Systems is now going back to do what it does best: professional grade high-end 3D printers.
Whatever else is in the works, we are going to find out at CES this week. This time, around 3D Systems should, at least, rethink its marketing strategy.
License: The text of "3D Systems Discontinues Cube 3, Nothing Changes" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.