Over the last five years, the number of 3D printing companies has grown enormously.
These 3D printing companies have created a range of products, including: desktop 3D printers; 3D printer slicers; 3D printer networks; 3D printing models; 3D printing software; and 3D printer filament.
Some of them have contributed a huge amount to this new 3D printing technology.
A few have raised millions of dollars in finance, and I know at least one was sold for hundreds of millions.
The future of 3D printing is going to be an exciting one, and it is my belief that it will fundamentally change the world we live in.
So who are these 3D printing companies, and should you be investing in any of them?
Take a look at my list of favourites, and see if you can pick out the next billion dollar business.
3D Printing Companies 1 – Zortrax
Poland based Zortrax has seemingly come from nowhere, to become one of the major 3D printing companies today.
It claims to have over 160 partners, spread across 50 countries.
Given the Zortrax M200’s recent win, of the 3D Hubs best plug and play 2016 category, this statistic seems reasonably viable.
The company has three different 3D printer models, with its 3D printer prices starting from $2,000.
It also has an excellent STL file library, with an especially cool modular arm.
Unlike most 3D printer manufacturers, Zortrax has developed its own 3D printing software.
It will have to be very good to outperform Simplify3D, but given the quality of its 3D printers, the odds are in its favour.
Zortrax also has a good range of materials, including PLA and ABS.
This is definitely a company that is progressing 3D printing technology.
3D Printing Companies 2 – CEL Robox
One of my favourite 3D printing companies.
Ok, I am a little bit biased, since CEL Robox is UK based.
However the British manufacturer is pushing 3D printing technology forward, with its multi award winning Robox 3D printer.
Runner up in the 3D Hubs best plug and play 2016 category, CEL also develops its own 3D printing software and materials.
It might have a smaller build platform than the Zortrax M200, but it also has a smaller price tag.
CEL’s 3D printer price is around $1,400.
The company doesn’t just produce 3D printers either.
It has a really cool workshop complete with an innovative drill.
If you like making things, then I would check it out.
3D Printing Companies 3 – Simplify3D
I have already spoken at length about the merits of Simplify3D.
This is one of those 3D printing companies, that has taken 3D printing software to the next level.
Most people stay with the 3D printer slicer that came with their printer, or go for one of the admittedly excellent 3rd party free options, such as Craftware.
It is in my opinion though, that the $150 spent on Simplify3D, is money well spent.
The quality of your 3D prints will be at the highest level, and the flexibility of the software, with features such as manual support placement, will make post processing so much easier.
The more people that make use of Simplify3D, the more development it will receive and the better it will get too.
I can see a day when it becomes the Microsoft Windows of the 3D printing world.
3D Printing Companies 4 – 3D Hubs
3D Hubs has been in the news recently, after raising $7 million in series B financing.
For those of you unfamiliar with this 3D printing technology company, it connects people who want something printed, with people who own a 3D printer.
To give you an idea of how big this network is, it includes over 32,000 3D printers in over 150 countries.
In fact there are now more than one billion people within 10 miles of a 3D Hubs networked 3D printer.
And people are using it too.
Currently 430,000 parts have been printed, through the 3D Hubs network.
Customer reviews have also been very positive.
Will this success continue, when desktop 3D printers become mainstream and people buy their own.
Time will tell.
3D Printing Companies 5 – LayerTrove
Ok, here comes the shameless plug!
In fairness, it’s not easy to write an article about 3D printing companies, and not mention your own.
Now I know many 3D printer owners like to experiment, and create their own 3D printing models.
However, if you are in the market for completely awesome, tried and tested, printing perfection; give one of our 3D printing models a go.
You might be pleasantly surprised at what your desktop 3D printer can create.
3D Printing Companies 6 – FormLabs
There aren’t many 3D printing companies producing resin based desktop 3D printers.
Formlabs is almost certainly the market leader in this space.
Certainly the 3D Hubs community feel this way, awarding the Form 1+ the best resin desktop 3D printer.
It is quite expensive by fused filament fabrication standards, although very cheap for a stereolithography machine.
The major benefit of this type of process is the resolution.
If you are looking for the last word in precision, then a Formlabs 3D printer would be an excellent choice for your desk.
It’s 3D printer prices start at $2,800.
Formlabs also saved one of my favourite 3D printing companies from extinction; Pinshape.
Now part of the Formlabs ecosystem, Pinshape still operates with full autonomy.
More on that next.
3D Printing Companies 7 – Pinshape
My heart skipped a beat earlier this year, when Pinshape announced its closure.
This 3D printing model marketplace had worked hard to create something special, and news of its closure was saddening and worrying for the desktop 3D printing community.
Was the promise of desktop 3D printing, not going to be realised?
My personal feeling is that, the market leader Makerbot made some wrong turns, and this slowed desktop 3D printings progress temporarily.
Fortunately new players such as XYZprinting, picked up the baton and kept on running.
In fact if you examine the sales figures, desktop 3D printing is looking very healthy with more than 1,000 sold daily.
This figure is increasing too.
Anyway, Formlabs came to the rescue at the last minute.
Snapping up Pinshape, which then announced on April fools day, that its doors would not be closing.
Was it a publicity stunt? I don’t think so.
Either way, Pinshape is alive and well; and that’s a good thing.
3D Printing Companies 8 – Makerbot
The once mighty Makerbot has endured some tough years recently.
As far as 3D printing companies go though, this was one of the pioneers in the desktop space.
I have a Makerbot Replicator 2, and can honestly say it has been brilliant.
Very reliable, easy to use, and produces great prints.
I think the 5th generation machine got off to a rocky start, with faulty nozzles.
I was also disappointed to see prices going up, rather than coming down.
Now owned by Stratasys, the 3D printing technology giant, Makerbot’s financial future is relatively sound.
It’s also worth mentioning the STL file sharing platform, Thingiverse.
Makerbot hit a home run when it set this up, and today it really is a playground for those who enjoy making things.
Let’s hope Makerbot gets back to full health in the near future.
3D Printing Companies 9 – Tinkercad
One thing that puts people off buying a desktop 3D printer, is the fact that they cannot design models themselves.
Of course there are millions of 3D printing models you can download, some of which are excellent quality.
However, it is really satisfying when you print something you have designed on your own.
This is what makes Tinkercad so important.
With absolutely no design experience whatsoever, you can create really simple but cool models.
I’ve played around with this myself, and its easy to use and a lot of fun.
You should definitely check it out.
Now owned by Autodesk, Tinkercad’s future is looking bright.
Let’s hope it paves the way for a new generation of inventors and creators.
3D Printing Companies 10 – ColorFabb
If desktop 3D printing develops in the same way as conventional 2D printing, 3D printing companies producing filament could be very interesting.
Think how much money is made selling printer ink!
Unlike printer ink though, it is much easier to buy and use a 3rd party filament.
I suspect that Netherlands based ColorFabb has found a great niche to occupy here.
It has a large range of 3D printer filament in a variety of different colours.
The pricing seems very reasonable too.
The diameter tolerance on its 3D printer filaments are +/- 0.05mm.
This level of precision will inevitably reduce nozzle blockages.
On a separate note, make sure you are storing your filament in a moisture free environment.
Ignore this advice at your peril.
3D Printing Companies 11 – Carbon
Ok, so Carbon probably doesn’t belong on a list of consumer 3D printing companies.
However 3D printing technology quickly trickles down, and we could see this new process in desktop machines in the future.
If you have never seen a Carbon 3D printer in action, then get over to their website.
Harnessing light and oxygen to produce objects from a pool of resin, you just won’t believe the speed it can print.
And as we all know, speed is a bit of a stumbling block for desktop 3D printing currently.
Pricing is on a subscription basis, and starts from $40,000 per year.
Clearly for the commercial market, I don’t think many consumers will buy these.
Let’s hope the 3D printing technology becomes mainstream soon though.
3D Printing Companies 12 – Ultimaker
Netherlands based Ultimaker has been making all the right moves recently.
It’s desktop 3D printers consistently rank amongst the world’s best.
It’s cura 3D printer slicer is also commendable, and available free of charge to everyone.
Youmagine, Ultimaker’s STL file sharing platform, is behind that of Thingiverse in terms of quantity, but there is some real quality here.
With over 200 global employees and resellers in 50+ countries, Ultimaker is on the up.
At the time of writing, it also has 10 available job openings, if you are interested in a career in 3D printing.
3D Printing Companies 13 – Shapeways
Shapeways is a platform which connects creative designers, with people who want to buy cool, custom products.
It makes this connection using 3D printing technology.
Browse its massive library of wonderful 3D printed goodies, ranging from unique jewellery to custom mounts for your quadcopter.
There are genuinely thousands of things here, that you could not buy anywhere else.
Or perhaps you fall into the creative designer category.
Open your own store and start building your brand in front of a global audience.
I don’t think Shapeways has made any of its designers millionaires yet, but that day will almost certainly come.
3D Printing Companies 14 – Hewlett Packard
Like Carbon, Hewlett Packard is a bit out of place on a consumer 3D printing companies list.
It’s new Jet Fusion is clearly aimed at the commercial market, with a six figure price tag.
I must admit, I was a bit disappointed that HP did not release a desktop 3D printer.
Given its place in the consumer world though, I feel confident a consumer product is likely.
This would be very exciting, as the resources available to HP would push desktop 3D printing technology to a whole new level.
Take a look at the Jet Fusion video on their website, and let your imagination run wild with the possibilities.
Just think what will happen when this technology is cheap enough for the consumer market.
3D Printing Companies 15 – CraftUnique
Last but not least, on my 3D printing companies list, CraftUnique.
It produces its own desktop 3D printers, and also its own 3D printer slicer software.
I wrote an article about its 3D printer slicer software recently, comparing it to the market leading Simplify3D.
Although Simplify3D bettered it on the day, it was a close race.
If you like your 3D printing software to be free, then in my opinion CraftUnique’s Craftware is the best.
Its Craftbot desktop 3D printer also took first place in the 3D Hubs budget 3D printer category too.
A company doing a great job.
3D Printing Companies – Conclusion
There are hundreds of 3D printing companies, and my list would go on forever if I mentioned all of them.
I feel very confident that at least one of these 3D printing companies, will become a billion dollar business though.
Perhaps all of them will!
The future of this relatively new 3D printing technology, is looking more and more exciting.
As with all new technologies, there will be winners and there will be losers.
However my feeling is, 3D printing is here to stay, and it will change the world we live in fundamentally.
Please leave me a comment below, and let me know if this post was useful.
Are there any 3D printing companies you think should be on my list?