Last night, Stratasys signaled its intent to be as important a part of the 3D printing/additive manufacturing conversation in the media as it has been in practice. Its Manufacturing the Future Summit began with dinner at a restaurant, in which reporters from the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Popular Mechanics joined my colleagues and I in the trade press.
As we discussed the value of 3D printing with Stratasys executives, including CEO David Reis, it became apparent that — after the merger of Stratasys and Objet, and the more recent acquisition of MakerBot, the company was ready to share its vision of 3D printing’s future with the world.
I asked Reis whether he was concerned with HP CEO Meg Whitman’s recent prediction that HP will have some type of 3D printing offering in 2014 and that it wants to lead the industry. While Reis acknowledged HP’s deep pockets and vast distribution network, he indicated that building professional-quality 3D printers is not something that should be dismissed as easy to do. He also said HP could have bought Objet years ago for a song before the now combined company’s market cap was so high (Stratasys’ market cap is now about $4.25 billion), but it missed the opportunity.
Opportunity abounds in the additive manufacturing market, but Reis said he is leery about trying to move in too many directions at once. He said Stratasys has to choose a path for the future and decide what kind of company it wants to be, as well as what type of company it does not want to be, “which is just as important,” he added.
Today the Manufacturing the Future Summit will tour the RedEye On Demand rapid prototyping and manufacturing service facilities, and the assembled journalists will hear from some of Stratasys’ customers, including Jim Kor, CEO of KorEcologic, developer of the Urbee; Allen Cronen, CEO of GVL Poly; Matt Hlavin, CEO, Thogus; and Bryan Dods, Executive, GE Power & Water. They’ll explain how 3D printing has accelerated their production cycles, enabled new business models and allowed them to innovate.