Ultimaker CEO: Just start printing
By Dzof Azmi July 30, 2018
- Objective is to grow the company’s presence in APAC from 10%-15%
- The hope is to grow the business by 20%-40% in the next two years
IF A company wants to get into 3D printing, the best thing they can do is... start 3D printing. This is the encouragement given by Jos Burger (pic, above), Ultimaker CEO, a market leader in desktop 3D printers.
"(Just) get a few extremely smart guys and ladies on board," he said, "Give them proper roof space, give them budgets to play with and allow them to kick-start 3D printing at the company."
Burger says his company will even help them out by providing benchmarks, performing site scans and implementing lighthouse projects. "If a CEO or anyone else in a company in Malaysia or any other region is interested they just have to contact us."
New offices in Singapore
Naturally, Burger is optimistic about the future. Ultimaker have just opened new offices in Singapore to meet the growing demand in the APAC region.
"APAC currently represents 10%-15% of our global revenues," said Burger, adding that there is a growing demand from enterprise clients and innovative SMEs. "Our aim is to grow the revenues in APEC to at least 30% of our global revenues."
Ultimaker made this decision to expand after NPM Capital invested in the 3D printer maker to provide growth capital late last year.
Hopes are high despite the challenges a new environment brings. "Asia-Pacific is very different from Europe for that matter and even North America," said Benjamin Tan (pic, below), Ultimaker vice president in charge of Asia-Pacific, referring to the diversity between the various markets in this region.
"There would be country-specific strategies to address some of these specific requirements," he clarified.
From prototyping to tooling
Changes would also have to be made to cater for the progress made in 3D printing.
"Four years ago I would surely have said you know it's still very much prototyping but it's a moving target," declared Burger. "What we didn't see coming is that 3d printing is a fantastic opportunity in the tooling market."
Burger is referring in part to the case study done with Volkswagen Autoeuropa who now print some of the tools they need instead of ordering them from a supplier and waiting for them to be delivered. The claim is that this reduces purchasing costs by 91%, and implementation time by 95%. They estimated that by doing this, Volskwagen Autoeuropa saved €325,000 in 2017.
Burger still sees a future where 3D printing can go one step better. "Spare parts, of course, the after-market is the holy grail of everything," he enthused, noting that producers in the automotive industry have to keep 25 to 30 years of components in stock.
"If they can just change that by producing on the fly I mean it will have a dramatic effect on their cost structure."
Burger is confident that Ultimaker will be able to handle whatever the future throws at them by keeping their systems as open and versatile as possible. "The reason why we well-positioned serving all those customers in those different segments is the fact that we have a agnostic platform of hardware software and materials that can help customers in a wide variety of use cases."
"Ultimately our strategy is to give no one a reason not to buy an Ultimaker.”
Education and encouragement
Crucial to the company's strategy for the future is the involvement of education institutions. "For instance, in the United States, 25%-30% of our business are the MITs, the Caltechs, the Harvards and the Yales," he said, He calls them the "breeding ground of engineers" who end up as vibrant advocates of Ultimaker.
It is these advocates that lead the way, the few that show others what 3D printing is capable of. He hopes this would encourage companies to experiment in the area. "They have to because the competitors are doing that."
They payoff for Ultimaker? "We are assuming that we can grow this business at least between 20% and 40% for the next two years."