da Vinci 1.0
3D printing on the desktop is a concept the world is now getting used to but even though many tinkerers, educators, designers and children would love a 3D printer of their own, cost and accessibility are still major obstacles.
One company with the power to address these issues has surfaced and has already been identified by leading industry commentators as an organisation of such calibre as to shift the industry as we know it.
Enter XYZprinting. TCT Magazine first encountered XYZprinting in the flesh at International CES 2014. For a company that had not made much of a name for itself in the European 3D printing arena, what stood out was the size of their stand, which rivaled some of the most well-established in the marketplace in terms of square footage - unusual for a business TCT and the wider industry had not covered in much detail. As such, XYZprinting was never going to stay under the radar for long. Indeed, TCT columnist and industry expert Joris Peels chose XYZprinting and its parent company, the Taiwan-based Kinpo Group - a company with 80,000 employees and a revenue of more than $40 billion per annum - as the subject of his latest article, suggesting XYZprinting has the clout to mass produce affordable 3D printers on a scale never before seen.
Senior Manager of Market Development Gary Shu took the time to answer some questions for TCT ahead of the Inside 3D Printing conference in New York in April to give XYZprinting's response to the growing conjecture concerning this company.
He admitted XYZprinting is still something of "a newcomer in the 3D printing space" and that it has not only been busy keeping apace with competitors, but the company’s product development, supply chain integration, manufacturing facilitating, product marketing and brand awareness is now reaching a point at which it feels capable of standing on its own two feet as a genuine rival to those long-established rivals.
"We have seen a very positive reception from the public and the industry as a whole and are pleased that the public views us as a company dedicated to bringing cost-effective and user-friendly 3D printing to the world. We are proud of our team for making all of this happen ... the media attention toward XYZprinting and the entire 3D printing industry is phenomenal," Shu stated.
But what of Peels' article in which he describes XYZprinting as a company that will make "a capable, credible, reliable, cheap 3D printer" that could be sold in WalMart.
"I think Mr Peels was quite right about XYZprinting and our ambition," Shu replied. "But rather than posing a pointed threat toward current players who have been in the business for years, our goal is to utilise our particular strengths and resources to achieve our mission to bring 3D printing technology into people’s everyday life."
XYZprinting's mission is to lower the barrier to entry by delivering the right 3D printing product to the right crowd at "the right price". Shu continued that the cost-effective da Vinci printers - which are priced at €599 + shipping (£495, $852) and due for release in the EU in late April - are aimed at playing a part in achieving genuine mainstream marketplace penetration.
Appearing at International CES in January 2014 was a major step in this direction for the company.
"It was our first year participating at CES and CES 2014 was a phenomenal event," Shu stated. "It was amazing to see the amount of attention and interest that 3D printing got from the media and the event attendees. And, yes, we will definitely be returning in 2015."
There, XYZprinting was awarded Reviewed.com's CES Editor's Choice accolade for the most affordable and approachable 3D printer, which, according to Shu "sums up everything that sets the da Vinci 3D printer apart from the most current competitors in the market".
The da Vinci 1.0 is similar to many desktop 3D printers. According to industry expert Peels, the results "look nice, the system seems accurate" so it can stand up to the competition, but what makes the da Vinci very interesting is its price thanks to the manufacturing capabilities of the Kinpo Group. Moreover, does this mean XYZprinting could be attacking other parts of the 3D technology market with its competitive prices?
The answer is yes. Shu stated the company is indeed looking at developing "a robust product line across a variety of categories, including [the] integration of devices and applications, new printing technologies, material science, software applications and additional technologies" soon to be revealed. XYZprinting indicated that this product strategy will be unveiled in more detail at the New York event.
"3D printing will continue to grow"
Desktop 3D printing is now becoming an increasingly crowded marketplace but Shu believes there is yet more room for growth and that the so-called hype bubble is not yet quaking as its walls approach their elastic limit - that is if there even is a hype bubble.
"The hot topic of investing in the 3D printing industry could cool down one day," said Shu, "however, I believe the business will not die down and 3D printing will continue to grow. If the industry doesn't revolutionise our daily life, as some have promised, I still believe it is a promising opportunity worth pursuing and will have a long lasting impact."
Indeed, when asked what his personal opinion is, regardless of what XYZprinting's line may be, Shu said he believes 3D printing has the potential to become as ubiquitous as the personal computer market.
"30 years ago, the thought of owning a personal computer seemed hard to attain, but that has changed and I believe 3D printing will follow a similar path."