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The 3D printing dream has lost a bit of its shine in recent months, especially on the commercial side of things, but a new deal agreed between two big industry names could provide a kiss of life.
Print services provider Danwood this week revealed that it has joined forces with Japanese electronics giant KYOCERA, in a move that both firms say will drive adoption of 3D technologies across the UK.
It’s a development that could have a major impact on research and development processes in the country’s manufacturing, engineering and design industries, with the education sector also set to benefit.
The technology has certainly impressed but demand from commercial buyers has been disappointing, with high prices presumably putting many businesses off. The way that the technology is built and sold to serve such specific manufacturing purposes is also likely to have slowed adoption, as companies wait for more versatile and proven solutions to enter the market.
Context figures show that professional users bought just 13,000 3D printers in 2014, and demand has dropped further in 2015, with growth rates on track to stay below 10%.
For some perspective, 175,000 units were sold for personal desktop use in the same period, with 250,000 sales expected by the end of 2015 – this would mark a growth rate of around 65%. It’s this consumer market that makes up the much bigger part of what analysts expect to be a $16.2 billion market by 2018.
With growth so slow on the commercial side, though, few resellers have stepped up to supply the technology – the vast majority of devices are still coming directly from vendors. It’s this obvious apprehension that makes the deal between Danwood and KYOCERA so important. The former’s position as one of the UK’s largest print service providers should complement its new partner’s technology well.
Danwood’s group strategy and marketing director, Douglas Greenwell, thinks the technology has a lot to contribute to British industry. "3D printing is seeing rapid adoption across the world and the technology has the potential to revolutionise UK manufacturing,” he commented, before saying it could “foster greater innovation, reduce research and development costs and help bring products to the market more quickly.”
Interestingly, the Danwood partnership isn’t the only big announcement to come from KYOCERA this week. The company has also launched a new reseller programme in the UK & Ireland, aimed at helping businesses of all sizes sell its products with more confidence.
The revamp will see a third tier added to KYOCERA’s existing reseller setup, called Alliance Partner. It’s been created with the company’s smaller partners in mind, and provides access to a wealth of technical and marketing support, as well as new training materials.
KYOCERA’s SI and IT channel sales manager in the UK, Moya Kelleher, said the new programme would help resellers of all sizes to “better align their services with the rapidly evolving needs of customers.”