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Materialise thinking public with F-1 filing

EarningsWe’re used to 3D printer news coming from hardware vendors like Stratasys and 3D Systems. But there are software vendors in this space, too, and the hardware vendors are looking to service bureaus to strengthen their ties with customers — it’s not all printers and materials.

Materialise, which straddles the software/service bureau line, just filed a registration statement signaling its intent for an initial public offering. This is just the first step on the long road to shares trading on the NASDAQ, but it offers some tantalizing glimpses into the company and how it sees the additive manufacturing market. In no particular order, interesting bits from the F-1* filing:

The company said it expected to raise about $125 million from the offering, which it will use to expand its business.

I don’t normally write about analyst’s predictions for things, but when one report comes up twice in two days, it needs to be looked into. Materialise’s F-1 says,

According to the Wohlers Report 2013, the worldwide market for additive manufacturing systems and materials was $1.0 billion in 2012, including software as well as 3D printers and 3D printing materials. The Wohlers Report 2013 estimates that 7,771 professional-grade, industrial systems were sold in 2012 worldwide, where professional-grade, industrial systems are defined as systems costing more than $5,000. The Wohlers Report 2013 estimates that at the end of 2012 a total of 56,856 professional-grade, industrial machines had been sold since the inception of the industry. 

Stratasys cited this research yesterday (on slide 4) to make the point that 3D printing services is a large (and growing opportunity). According to Stratasys, service providers had total revenue of almost $2 billion in 2012, up 15% year/year.

Materealise, then, appears to be growing its services business smack in the middle of the market, and its software business slightly faster. These growth rates are good, especially when compared to some more traditional businesses, but these two citations point out how early we are in the evolution and adoption of additive manufacturing. Fewer than 8,000 professionals-grade printers sold in 2012; perhaps 30,000 companies engaged in 3D printing on their own and many more using service bureaus. I’d say we’re nowhere near the crest of this wave …

By the way, I’ve heard rumors that other additive manufacturing-ish companies are contemplating filing for public offerings. They likely want to get in on the hype surrounding this market and the nice valuations in play right now for 3D Systems, Stratasys and ExOne.

*An F-1 is a Registration Statement, required under the Securities Exchange Act of 1933 when foreign issuers (Materialise is Belgian) want to trade on a US stock exchange. US-based companies file an S-1.

For more on the Wohlers report, go to

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