Leading global manufacturing outsourcing service Protolabs has been booming lately. Stocks are at an all-time high (see chart below) and this time financial growth is supported by real economic data, with record revenues for both Q2 and H1 of the current fiscal year. Even more importantly – for us working in the 3D printing industry – is that the company provided a mid-term financial report where it splits different revenue segments (formative, subtractive, additive and sheet metal), thus providing a clear indication of how much 3D printing weights on these record revenues.
Protolabs‘ 3D printing revenues grew by 22% in H1 and 21.8% in Q2. Globally the company provides services using several different industrial grade technologies including both metal (SLM and DMLS), and polymer (SLS, SLA and MJF) additive manufacturing.
Overall, 3D printing represented 11.8% of the company’s revenues in H1 2018 and 12.1% in Q2. In all fairness, it should be said that the weight of 3D printing on overall revenues was slightly more significant in FY 2017 than in FY 2018. However, that is due to the fact that Protolabs added a new business segment in this fiscal year (Sheet Metal) and also to the fact that CNC related revenues – which is the subtractive form of digital manufacturing – grew even more than 3D printing.
By comparison, injection molding (formative manufacturing) revenues – which remain Protolabs’ core business – amounted to $103 million in H1 (and grew 8.7%). This is roughly four times as much as 3D printing, which, however, is not much compared to global manufacturing ratios – where 3D printing still represents less than 1% of injection molding volumes.
CNC machining related revenues (subtractive manufacturing) amounted to $74.5 million on H1, which is about three times as much as 3D printing. Growth in CNC was impressive: +61.5%. Clearly, CNC as a process is a better fit for current demands, but the incidence of 3D printing remains impressive at this early stage of the technology’s evolutions.