Stratasys, Ltd. vs. 3D Systems Corporation: Which Company Stole the Show at EuroMold?

A showdown between 3D printing giants.

Steve Heller
Steve Heller
Feb 8, 2015 at 9:00AM

In the following video, 3D printing specialist Steve Heller pits Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) against 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) at EuroMold 2014, the world's largest 3D printing conference held in Frankfurt, Germany, in November, to determine, in his opinion, which of the two 3D printing giants had a better showing. Before declaring a winner, Steve compares 3D Systems to Stratasys on new products, EuroMold presence, business strategy, and market share.

A full transcript follows the video.

Steve Heller: Here we are in front of the 3D Systems booth. We're going to do a 3D Systems versus Stratasys showdown. Who showed up? Who didn't show up? Let's get right to it.

In terms of products, I would call it a tie between 3D Systems and Stratasys. Both companies released approximately 10 or more products, between materials and actual 3D printers this year. A notable statistic: Stratasys replaced or upgraded 70% of its revenue-generating products this year. That's an incredible figure.

During the press event that I attended earlier this week, Stratasys highlighted the importance of releasing new products each year. Especially [when] trying to be a leader in 3D printing, it's always about bringing the next, the newest. A huge commitment and focus on R&D was a[nother] huge thing that they highlighted.

3D Systems, you actually can't see it in this frame, but behind me is the ProX 400. It stole the show for them. It is absolutely massive. This machine is bigger than any other metal 3D printing machine you've seen out there.

It has a dual-laser print head and that allows it to have faster throughput, so it's meant for those large-scale manufacturing applications like what General Electric is trying to pursue with additive, where General Electric is working to 3D-print 45,000 of its jet engine fuel nozzles for its upcoming LEAP engine.

Obviously, 3D Systems is catering to that large-scale manufacturer. It's undetermined at this point whether or not GE will be purchasing 3D Systems products for this application, but nonetheless it's definitely a notable event for 3D Systems.

In terms of presence, as you can see behind me, 3D Systems' booth looks really sharp, but Stratasys stole the show this time, the reason being Stratasys had four impressive booths between MakerBot, they had an art installation from Stratasys out front, which was incredible, they also had a booth in the actual manufacturing hall with the more mature subtractive manufacturing applications. They were the only 3D printing presence in the manufacturing hall, so overall I think that Stratasys had more of a strategic win there, just because they're making a statement: Their products are also meant for complementing existing manufacturing operations.

It's not just about 3D printing, direct-printing parts. It's also about figuring out a way to be more efficient on the manufacturing run with your existing technologies. Stratasys making a statement, being in the manufacturing hall, was definitely something big. Their booth, also just as impressive as the one behind me here with 3D Systems.

In terms of strategy, I've just got to give it to Stratasys this time. I think they're more focused than 3D Systems.

3D Systems is aggressively... I'll call it a shotgun approach. They're going to see what sticks. They're acquiring lots of businesses, they're growing their portfolio. They definitely have the most diverse range of printing technologies, but the consequence of that is it's harder to manage all these acquisitions, and it's just not as laser-focused.

They're trying to be the generalist in 3D printing. I think it's obviously working to some extent, given their growth rates and everything, historically speaking, but I really like going to Stratasys' press event and hearing about their focus.

They've got two major 3D printing technologies. That means that their R&D budget can be allocated more effectively per print engine or technology. 3D Systems has seven, so 3D Systems can't allocate as much, dollar for dollar, for each one of their technologies, so they actually have more of a burdensome R&D strategy.

In terms of market share, I've got to give it to Stratasys as well. It came out during the press event: Stratasys sold 54.7% of all industrial units in 2014 so far. Their CEO, David Reis, was quoted saying, "I don't know who number two is, but they're far behind."

That's really taking a shot out there. 3D Systems obviously trying to be one of the market leaders in 3D printing; not being the leader in industrial is definitely something that investors should know about.

Overall, when you look at the whole landscape and everything today, I've got to give Stratasys credit here where it's due. I think Stratasys did outmuscle 3D Systems. I think 3D Systems did have a strong showing, but at the end of the day, Stratasys stole the show.