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This Professional 3-D Printer Costs Almost Nothing to Operate

Mcor Technologies, a 3-D printing company based in Ireland, has an entirely different approach to the market. Instead of selling 3-D printers that lock customers into costly proprietary materials, which generate lucrative streams of recurring revenue throughout the life of the printers, Mcor's 3-D printers rely on the standard A4 paper that's found in virtually every office around the world. In a competitive market where companies like 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD  ) and Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS  ) have embraced a glorified razor-and-blade business model, Mcor believes that democratizing access to professional 3-D printing technology is a key stepping stone toward furthering 3-D printing adoption. Because Mcor has chosen run-of-the-mill A4 paper as its primary feedstock, comparable 3D Systems or Stratasys 3-D printers can cost between five to 30 times more to operate.

Two 3-D printed wheel models made from paper. Source: Mcor Technologies.

For customers needing a high-quality professional 3-D printer to quickly turn out affordable models and early prototypes, Mcor's price-to-quality ratio makes a compelling case against competitors 3D Systems and Stratasys. Investors should remember that 3D Systems and Stratasys cater to far more applications beyond early stage prototypes and models. It isn't currently likely that Mcor would negatively affect 3D Systems' or Stratasys' entire operations.

In the following video, 3-D printing specialist Steve Heller asks Mcor CEO Conor MacCormack about the cost to operate its 3-D printer compared to the competition. Going forward, 3D Systems and Stratasys investors should continue to monitor companies like Mcor that offer the potential to disrupt the materials space, especially within the professional and industrial segments, where 3D Systems and Stratasys generate the majority of their recurring revenues.  

A transcript follows the video.

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Steve Heller: How much cheaper, on average, is your product -- using it -- versus the competition?

Conor MacCormack: It ranges, depending on if it's a full-color machine or if it's a part that you just put different colored paper in. It can range between five times up to 30 times.

Heller: Wow.

MacCormack: If it's a white part, or a solid color like a blue or a green, or layers of color, you can get that with just putting layers of colored paper into your paper tray, and it can be up to 30 times cheaper than plastic.

If you want a full bitmapped color, like if you're printing out somebody's face or a landscape, then you're around five times cheaper than the next color printer.

I think the waters are getting cloudy about what happens in color printers. People talk about true color plastic printers, but actually there's only two technologies out there that can print in full color.

The definition of "full color" is that, at any time when the head is moving around, it needs to be able to put down any color. It needs to be instantly changed from one color to another at any time. If your machine can do that, it's true color.

If it's blending plastics or doing something else, it'll be one color to another color, and it will slowly go from one to the other. Something like that could never print out somebody's face or some sort of a landscape, so there's a bit of a definition that needs to be done in the industry.

Heller: Right.

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Steve Heller

Covering 3-D printing at the intersection of business, investing, and what it means for the future of manufacturing. Follow me on Twitter to keep up with the ever-changing 3-D printing landscape by clicking the button below.

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