ZHUHAI, China, May 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- To widen the number of possible applications for high-precision desktop printers, Zhuhai CTC Electronic Co., Ltd recently announced the commencement of provision of OEM services for stereolithography (SLA) desktop printers, helping to lower the technology threshold for global FDM 3D printer makers. Zhuhai CTC Electronic has inked agreements with customers in Japan, the US and Germany whereby the 3D printer maker will provide customized software services and cooperate in development of new desktop SLA 3D printers. The move is the first of its kind in the industry. Zhuhai CTC Electronic Co., Ltd, a leading Chinese 3D printing manufacturer, released the world's second high-precision desktop SLA 3D printer in 2014. The company sold more than 25,000 3D printers in 2015, the highest among its China-based peers and achieving a 10 per cent share of the global market.
2016 is turning out to be a 'mixed bag' for consumer-grade 3D printers. The good news is that the sales volume of consumer-level 3D printers has kept growing year by year compared to that of industry-grade printers, while the bad news is that the low barrier for entry among FDM 3D printers, a common type of consumer-grade 3D printer, has led to fierce competition, with unit prices dropping from US$1,000 to US$500 and again to US$200 on Kickstarter. Low-cost models keep appearing.
The market has experienced a serious downturn. 3D SYSTEM announced the discontinuation of production of its CUBE series of desktop printers. Stratasys' MakerBot scaled down the size of its manufacturing facility in Brooklyn, New York following the maker's announcement of gloomy financial results for 2015. A few months later, MakerBot closed down it manufacturing operations and outsourced production to Jadi, as part of its efforts to lower the amount of investment needed to stay in the consumer-grade printer business.
As opposed to traditional FDM printers, desktop SLA 3D printers have maintained a strong momentum. Formlabs Form 2 printers are gaining popularity. Chinese 3D printer leader Zhuhai CTC Electronic recorded an attention-getting gain of 300 per cent thanks to its flagship Riverside SLA 3D printers, further enhancing the firm's leadership in the field. Due to the limited number of applications available to SLA printers as compared to FDM, a number of 3D printer makers were unable to offer equipment with a sufficiently high level of precision to customers.
As for the prospects for SLA 3D printers, He Siyi, head of PR at Zhuhai CTC Electronic, expressed confidence: "Despite low printing stability and quality, FDM printers are only affordable in a less mature market. As the 3D printer market evolves, high-precision SLA printers are becoming the first choice among customers. We are pleased that we have the opportunity to share our 3D printing technology with peers in a bid to contribute to the upgrade of desktop printers."
Ms. He added: "We will continue to provide our partners with core technologies including dot-scan software consistent with SLA, SLS and SLM technologies. We initiated the development work for dot-scan software in 2010. RiverOS, the next-generation dot-scan operating system we launched in 2015, outperforms its global counterparts in terms of features and algorithms."
SOURCE Zhuhai CTC Electronic Co., Ltd.