When I met up with Lulzbot's VP of Marketing Harris Kenny and James Bruton of Xrobots both were signing the praises of 3mm filament as opposed to the more common 1.75mm 3D printing materials. Harris suggested the fact were seeing more RepRappers move towards the thicker polymers means Lulzbot is on the right path.
Today, Lulzbot's parent company Aleph Objects, Inc. announced an exclusive partnership with Filabits LLC to promote access access to, and adoption of, high performance materials in the desktop 3D printing industry. This partnership comes as the company has seen a dramatic increase in 3mm filament sales for its LulzBot desktop 3D printers, unit sales are up 3.75x year-over-year, while HIPS and specialty filament have grown to nearly half of the company's filament sales in 2015 through Q3.
Aleph Objects' LulzBot line of Free Software, Libre Innovation, and Open Source Hardware desktop 3D printers will now be the exclusive 3D printer of Filabits, a leader in providing small-batch materials from over a dozen major material companies, including NinjaTek, Taulman 3D, and Proto-pasta. Thanks to Filabits' unique business model, for just the cost of one reel of some specialty filaments one can now try more than a dozen different filaments.
"Thanks to years of trail blazing by RepRap developers and hackers, the filament market has achieved critical mass. There are now many companies pioneering new premium materials compatible with Open Source Hardware," explains Harris Kenny, Vice President of Marketing at Aleph Objects. "Filabits is a valuable resource for anyone looking to enjoy this new era in the rapidly growing 3D printing industry and we are thrilled to be partnering with them."
"We are truly excited about our new partnership with Aleph Objects (LulzBot). Not only are their printers regarded as top-shelf, but their focus on Libre Innovation and Open Source Hardware meshes perfectly with Filabits' desire to bring accessibility to printing materials," notes Corey Schlichter, President of Filabits. "To have an adaptable machine suitable for any task will be crucial as we explore new flavors of filament that come along."
This partnership reflects a fundamental shift in the materials segment of the desktop 3D printing industry. For Aleph Objects, the company's share (in units) of HIPS and specialty filament has grown from 0% in 2012 up to 48% in 2015 (through Q3).
Aleph Objects' unit sales of 3mm filament have grown 3.75x year-over-year, thanks to the company's industry-leading partners like ChromaStrand, Eastman Chemical Company, eSUN, NinjaTek, Taulman 3D, Proto-pasta, and CC-Products. The company also recently announced a new partnership with Netherlands-based colorFabb to support additional natural, metal, and co-polyester specialty materials.
The Aleph Objects team cites the high reliability of 3mm filament and robustness of the LulzBot platform enabling greater experimentation with new materials. Overall, filament is expected to make up a meaningful portion of Aleph Objects' revenue mix going forward.