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3D Alliances launches the IMPACT initiative

Updated: May 9

It's no secret that the AM industry has encountered significant challenges in recent years. Initially hailed during COVID-19 as a promising solution for global supply chain disruptions and on-demand manufacturing needs, the industry now contends with the rigorous standards of traditional manufacturing methods. Compounded by underperforming SPACs and slower-than-expected adoption of AM technologies in mass manufacturing processes, the industry seeks ways to reposition itself at the forefront of digital manufacturing.

While leading 3D printing service providers are experiencing growth in their business, manufacturers of 3D printing systems are encountering challenges in expanding their operations. A glance at the performance of prominent publicly-traded companies such as Stratasys, 3D Systems, Markforged, Desktop Metal, and others, as well as their revenue forecasts for 2024, reveals that sustaining growth in the future is expected to be challenging.

Revenue vs. forecast - leading 3D printing companies. Image source - 3D Alliances

A channel-oriented industry

The preferred sales strategy of small to large AM companies is based on a hybrid approach of selling both directly and through a channel network, with sales partners typically generating 85%-90% of the total revenue.

Having a robust channel network that comprehends the technology's benefits, target markets, and potential applications is crucial for sustaining long-term growth for a 3D printer manufacturer.

Upon examining the performance of each manufacturer's channel network, a common trend emerges: a small group of channels (Group A) performs exceptionally well, contributing up to 50% of the total revenue of the entire network. The second group (Group B), slightly larger, consists of medium-performing channels generating up to 35% of the total network revenue. Finally, the third group (Group C), the largest in size, accounts for the remaining revenue. These smaller resellers often cover smaller regions or exhibit more opportunistic behaviors.

The channel network performance pyramid. Image source - 3D Alliances

The IMPACT program for AM Companies

The AM landscape comprises companies at various stages of evolution, which can be categorized into five main groups:

(1) Technology development – not yet ready for commercial sales.

(2) Technology maturity – ready for field testing.

(3) Pre-production – selling to selected end-users.

(4) Expansion – initiating regional and global sales.

(5) Driving sales – establishing and managing a global channel network.

For the last two groups (4 & 5), their long-term success hinges on properly planning the process of qualifying, recruiting, training, and managing sales partners. If this process is not well-planned and structured with the right methodology from the outset, their performance will suffer accordingly.

3D Alliances consultancy services for AM companies . Image source - 3D Alliances

The 3D Alliances IMPACT initiative aims to assist 3D printer manufacturers in examining key success factors for sustainable growth, including go-to-market strategy, channel network structure and performance, brand awareness, and lead generation activities. The program helps companies set a plan to optimize each of these elements.

It consists of three main steps:

(1) Evaluation – Analyzing all key success factors and identifying critical gaps.

(2) Planning – Developing a working plan to optimize strategy, structure, and processes.

(3) Execution – Working closely with 3D printer manufacturers and their channel partners to implement the plan.

The path to success

Long-term growth for an AM company hinges on establishing the right strategy, implementing a well-defined working plan with structured methodology, and assembling the right team to execute and manage internal and external tasks effectively. Given the unique profile of each company, external, objective, and experienced leadership can significantly support companies in achieving their most important goal – growth.


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