Ricoh gets early slice of 3D printer action

Ricoh gets early slice of 3D printer action

Ricoh New Zealand is looking to steal a march in the local 3D printing market by partnering with major US player Makerbot to bring three of its products here.

Ricoh will offer the Replicator 2, Makerbot's 'prosumer' model pitched at home and small business users; the Replicator X2 which has dual extrusion capability for printing using two colours or materials and can print using more durable ABS plastic; and the Digitiser desktop 3D scanner for scanning existing objects.

Makerbot was set up in 2009 and has an estimated 3D printer market share of 25 percent.

The global market for 3D printing is tipped to reach $8.4 billion by 2020, growing at a compound rate of 23 percent annually. Asia Pacific has been identified as the fastest growing region. New Zealand has a small number of well established 3D printing firms but ownership is largely limited to early adopters, the maker community and education institutes.

Ricoh debated whether the Makerbot partnership was too early for New Zealand, but saw significant growth opportunity, says marketing manager Murray Clark.

"It's bound to get more mainstream and the costs are bound to go down further and the technology will improve. There are a huge number of people who want to create and make things now."

The company has had interest from a range of people and industries, he says. They include architects and designers, along with plumbers, panelbeaters and those in the security industry wanting to 3D print parts.

"There are people from all sorts of industries that I wouldn't have thought would be jumping on this as they are."

Ricoh is offering the Replicator2 for $3790 including GST. Buyers can get it from Makerbot's site for NZ$2678, but that would increase to $3012 with GST and economy shipping adds another NZ$368.

Ricoh also provides local service and support. Makerbot charges NZ$424 for its service plan, which is only available in the US.

As well as Makerbot's PLA bioplastic filament, Ricoh will offer third party filaments in smaller 300 gram rolls, says Clark.

It is also working with Tasman Machinery to cater for a market that wants higher-end 3D printers. Tasman is an Australasian provider of Stratasys' Dimension and Fortus 3D printers.