When Stratasys, Ltd.'s MakerBot Becomes an Expensive Cost of Doing Business

Although Stratasys' (NASDAQ: SSYS  ) MakerBot line of 3-D printers may be geared for consumers, it hasn't stopped a host of businesses -- both small and large -- to enlist Stratasys' reliable and affordable offering. After all, Stratasys' MakerBot line of 3-D printers have proven to be highly effective for product designers and businesses to quickly turn out conceptual models and prototypes at an affordable operating cost, assuming the volume of models and prototypes being produced remains relatively low. However, for $48 a kilogram, it doesn't make much economic sense for high-volume designers to take advantage of Stratasys' MakerBot line.

Instead, high-volume designers looking to save on long-term operating costs may want to look at the professional 3-D printers from Mcor Technologies, which use ordinary paper as its primary feedstock and boast a running cost between five and 30 times cheaper than its competitors. If a company's throughput is high enough, this savings could translate into hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of the device.

In the following video, 3-D printing specialist Steve Heller asks Mcor Technologies CEO Conor MacCormack the point at which its paper-based 3-D printers make financial sense over Stratasys' MakerBot.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Steve Heller: I want to talk about the market where you're best positioned, which I believe is conceptual models and early prototypes. In that market, a lot of consumer printers -- say, the [Stratasys] MakerBot printers, MakerBot Replicator -- if I'm a design firm, and let's say I have 20 engineers, why would I choose... your Mcor IRIS runs about $50,000 or so, is that right?

Conor MacCormack: A little less, yes -- $45,000.

Heller: ...versus buying a fleet of [Stratasys] MakerBots for my engineers. What is the selling point for using your product for an early prototype, a conceptual model, versus [Stratasys] MakerBot?

MacCormack: The way I view it is very simple. 3-D printers are like a tool in a toolbox. There are going to be circumstances where people don't need to have color, they don't need to have the really, really low cost, they're not concerned about the green. If that's the case, they might want to go over to -- and they do -- some go over to other technologies.

But really, when you add color, color is a big differentiator. That is the biggest driving force why people are buying our printer over anybody else's. You can take a simple product, you put color information on top of that -- another layer of color onto that -- and it just really makes it come to life.

You can get a lot more information with color. Engineers can put finite element analysis on color parts. They can put stress analysis. They can put all these different things onto it. It's not just taking 3-D pictures...

Heller: Not just an aesthetic.

MacCormack: Yes. Actually you can get a lot of information via color.

Heller: You can see the actual stress points of the product that you're trying to create. Very interesting.

MacCormack: Yes. You can print out architectural models and you can show in color what way the light would shine in the morning time. You could have different colors for morning and night time. You can see what way the light shines over. There's a lot more information that color brings to the plate.

Heller: When does it actually become cost effective to go with Mcor over say, [Stratasys] MakerBot, in terms of running cost? How many models to I need to be producing for that to make sense from a business standpoint?

MacCormack: We have a very good ROI tool that enables you to not just say a standard block shape, but actually run real-world parts. We can take parts that you want to make and we can compare that against other technologies, and you can see the return on investment.

Even though our machine is more expensive, because it's 5-30 times cheaper to run, all of a sudden after a certain number of parts you can get your return back. In most cases, it's within the year.

Heller: I saw something that was about... how many hundreds of thousands can you save in how many years? What was that quote?

MacCormack: It's in the hundreds of thousands over the life of the product. If you're talking about 3-5 years of the product, depending on the throughput you can be saving hundreds of thousands of dollars over that life, so you can get that back. Depending on your run rate, you can usually get your return back within the year.

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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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