In 2016, Hangzhou-based Shining 3D celebrated its new headquarters facility. In 2017, the company opened its EMEA office in Stuttgart, Germany, officially expanding operations to a second continent as its 3D solutions found further hold in the market. Now Shining 3D is celebrating the grand opening of its new office for the Americas, bringing to fruition a vision of 24/7 service availability with company reach spanning continents and time zones. At CES last year, Shining 3D’s Vice President of Global Sales, Oscar Meza, told me that the Bay Area was “a great place to be” and now, just over a year later, I’m with the company to see its new US-based facility in San Francisco.
Company executives and partners have come together in celebration of the official ribbon cutting, with the chance to see the new facility first hand. At more than 5,000 square feet, the office for the Americas is not huge, Meza noted, but offers a strong foothold base for customers and partners from Canada to Patagonia to access more localized service.
“Today we’re celebrating a very important new step in our path to expansion and to contribute to the market. We see this as a contribution because the company has always had as its main north the vision of introducing excellent technology at affordable prices to make it accessible to the market,” Meza said yesterday in introducing the morning’s festivities.
Shining 3D CEO Li Tao shared his perspective on the 14-year growth of the company, from its founding in 2004 through its newest global expansion. Beginning with a focus on 3D scanning, the company has broadened its reach into 3D digital technologies, integrating 3D printing and an internet cloud platform to round out its offerings: “We had to bring it all together for our customers.”
- Metrology 3D scanners: high-quality scanners for inspection
- Industrial 3D printers working with metal, plastic, and resin materials
- Consumer and prosumer 3D scanners and 3D printers
- Online and offline 3D printing services
- 3D digital dental solutions
Supported through a well-organized business, Li noted that E-Plus 3D, Tenyoun 3D, E-Print and Regenovo Bio-Printer comprise its four subsidiary companies in China focused on, respectively, industrial 3D printers (especially metal), metrology, online and offline 3D printing and service platform, and bioprinting to create artificial skin for drop tests and injury repair.
Business has been growing at a brisk clip for the team, which has in turn been growing to support rising operations. While in 2012 Shining 3D counted 149 employees, in 2017 that number had risen to 752; Li predicts more than 900 team members by the end of this year. Breaking those numbers down, he noted that a full 41% of employees are R&D engineers and technicians, as the company “focuses on the technology side.” The rest of the 2017 figures break down as 28% in sales and marketing, 17% in production, and 14% in management.
“As a Chinese company, still most of our business is in China, 80-85%. We have subsidiary companies in 15 cities, which covers most of the important industry cities in China. Since last year, we started also building our team outside China. Last year, right in this month, April, we opened our Stuttgart office and currently have five people in Europe. Today, thanks for coming with us to celebrate the opening day for our United States office. This office is going to support our customers in the Americas,” Li said.
Continuing to important operational aspects, Li touched next on the importance of software, notably Siemens Solid Edge, which through a simplified design allows more users to embrace CAD, and 3D Systems Geomagic, bringing industrial customers more offerings. He discussed the Shining 3D approach to a digital dental solution, encompassing digitizing a 3D scan, CAD design, and digital manufacturing via DLP and SLA 3D printing to create unique, high-quality dental products.
“The plan in 2018 is to keep on investing in R&D and release new products and upgrades,” Li outlined. “The R&D process uses 20% of revenues every year.”
While he could not yet share an exact roadmap of products that will launch this year, he did continue with additional plans for 2018. The second plan sees the renaming of its Customer Product business unit to 3D Digitizing, as the company has found that “60%, maybe 70%, of our users are professionals, they are not consumers; changing the name is to help them understand the potential of this 3D technology.” Along with the change of name was a change of mission, as the business unit hopes to use the EinScan 3D scanner to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. The third plan for 2018 is to build strategic alliances with software partners on integrating hardware and software for specific applications.
“Most of you know that software is the key to modify, to shape the model into a certain purpose,” Li said to many nods among attendees.
Touching on Geomagic and Solid Edge along with Verisurf, Exocad, and TechMed3D, Li pointed to the importance of software integration. The fourth 2018 plan is “to work with our partners in global business, side by side,” focusing on events and roadshows as well as providing local support for all sales. In 2017, Shining 3D participated in more than 20 workshops globally with “very good results,” and this number is set to rise in 2018 as the company is encouraged to continue more work with partners. The fifth and final stated goal for this year is to enhance the reach of 3D technologies.
“The last plan is we hope to make 3D technology affordable, accessible, and applicable at a large scale,” Li said.
“This is now on the market at a big cost, especially industrial metal 3D printing. We hope we can work with some partners together to make the difficult processes more automatic, even smart — and inspection, scanning, currently on the market is very expensive. We hope to keep investing R&D to make this more cost-effective at a wider level, not just for the users at the top of the industry. This is why we work with our partners, to make it more accessible.”
Ultimately, he laid out, the company’s vision is to create customized products for hundreds of millions of families — for everyone.
“High-technology products are not just for the reach of select customers. We hope to bring good products and services to everybody. Everybody can benefit from these technologies. We hope to use 3D technology to make mass customization into reality. We want to work with you, together,” Li said.
Following the high-level outlook for Shining 3D, Meza returned to speak more directly to the company’s plans for the Americas. Reinforcing the idea of the global strategy to “develop, manufacture, and lead the market with the best and most accessible technology,” Meza explained that the best way to reach its goals is through a presence in each of the most important regions of the world. With a breadth of industry activity, it is important for Shining 3D to stand behind each of its products — and this means offering better, faster support to more users globally, a key benefit to opening the San Francisco location.
“We are keeping our word; several of you attended our global partner meeting in 2017 in Hangzhou. We announced then our plan to open this office. We are delivering today the promise we made then, in September. Officially opening a more than 5,000-square-foot facility — not a huge facility, but one dedicated to our customers in this part of the world. With the opening of this office here in San Francisco, we can truly say that we can offer 24/7 support – with offices in Germany, China, and the US, we cover the major time zones,” Meza said.
- Pre-sales and sales support, including benchmarks, proof of concepts, webinars, lead generation activities
- Product technical support
- Customer support
- Product stock and shipping logistic (order fulfillment)
- Showroom and demo facilities
- And in planning stages, repair and cal/cert services
Meza outlined the structure of sales territories and the team, along with short-term plans as the office fully sets up operations.
Looking longer-term, Meza described the company’s “enviable opportunity to not only accelerate our growth, but to also enrich our lives and experiences.” A major, oft-touted benefit of digital technologies is localization, and Shining 3D is dedicated to bringing its offerings “to the masses,” keeping at its heart a dedicated philosophy of “affordable solutions, yet very strong, very high-end technology.”
“We are truly becoming a multinational and multicultural organization. This company started 14 years ago in China and now we are bringing that experience overseas, building a company with more cultures. Yes, China is still the biggest market, but there’s still another 6.2 billion people out there we want to bring our technology to,” Meza said.
Speaking from experience about that globalization was Sunny Wong, Director EMA and Global Sales Manager. She took attendees on a virtual tour of the new facility, showing it from a bare-bones facility to a more settled space ahead of the facility tour later in the day.
Wong noted that she recalled last year’s opening of the Stuttgart office, where the US expansion was in sight with the promise of making 24-hour service possible, adding:
“Now we are doing it… Sales and technical support here will be a big benefit to our customers. There will be no jet lag in support here.”
In addition to the opening of the facility, the day’s announcements encompassed a new product announcement as Meza introduced for the first time the new AutoScan-DS-EX Pro for dental applications. We’ll have further detail on this new addition to the DS-EX family and its expanded feature list.
Throughout the rest of the day at the Park Central Hotel San Francisco ahead of the facility tour, we heard as well from Application Engineer Sheldon Shi ahead of breakout sessions featuring partner and reseller discussions and a dental focus. Among the presenters through these portions were Will Co of Cokreeate, Joerg Reimann of UFP, Scott Green of 3D Systems, and Philip Tietjen of Siemens PLM Software in the former, and in the latter, a conversational dental training session. These breakouts were followed by demonstrations of EinScan, metrology, and dental scanners, and of desktop 3D printers, ahead of a late afternoon tour of the office.
At the facility, Meza noted that the interior design was custom created to Shining 3D’s specifications and includes office and manufacturing space, as well as future showroom offerings to showcase technologies for existing and potential partners.
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[All photos: Sarah Goehrke]