Who Sells The Best Consumer 3D Printers?
While consumer 3D printing is in the early stages of adoption, there are many product offerings available today. TopTenReviews.com has published their list of the 2013 best 3D printers based on a set of 5 criteria; features, design, included components, connectivity, and support. Each of these criteria were objectively applied to the printers they evaluated which resulted in a relative ranking of the top-10 3D printers which can be seen below.
While half of these 3D printers are manufactured by well known publicly traded 3D printing companies Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) and 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), the other 5 printers are manufactured by 4 private 3D printer companies. These lesser-known private companies are direct competitors of DDD and SSYS in that they sell 3D printers but the extent to which they may possibly be acquired depends on the strength and breadth of their product offerings.
Aleph Objects is a Loveland Colorado-based company that takes an open-source approach to their product offering by offering free software. Their printer is stated to be the first-ever hardware product to receive the Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification from the Free Software Foundation. Little information is available about this seemingly new company though they appear to be ramping up with open positions for a CFO, Supply Chain Manager, and Inventory Manager. The company offers two 3D printers currently.
Minnesota based Afinia was founded in 2009 and is a division of Microboards Technology LLC, a company with a twenty-year history in CD/DVD disc duplication and labeling. Afina positions their 3D Printer product offering against competing products by SSYS and DD by providing a cheaper and longer warranty with better-stated customer support. The company currently offers one 3D printer, the Afinia H.
California based Airwolf 3D strives to “make and sell a superior product and to promote the open-source philosophy in the personal 3D printer community”. They claim to offer the fastest and most precise printer in their price range of $1,695. The company recently moved into a larger facility to support the production of 20 printers per day and currently offers two 3D printers, both of which are in the above top-10 list.
Little information is available about Chinese based MagicFirm except that their Mbot printer bears a name that is strikingly similar to Stratasys’s Makerbot. Not only that, but both the Mbot 2 and the Makerbot Replicator 2 look surprisingly similar;
According to an article by 3D Printing Industry, the Mbot Cube printer by MagicFirm came onto the market in Q3 of 2012.
While all 4 of these private companies seem to be offering quality 3D printers, it seems unlikely that with their limited product ranges any of these companies are being eyed up as viable acquisitions by either SSYS or DDD.
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