Voxeljet files for IPO of ADSs

voxeljet AG, a German 3D printing company known for its innovation in the development of a “continuous” 3D printing method for sand casting, has filed to be listed on the NYSE using the symbol VJET (NYSE:VJET), seeking an IPO of ADSs.  voxeljet AG is the newco with its legal predecessor of Voxeljet Technology GmbH.  In this blog I will refer to the voxeljet as Voxeljet or the Company.   The filing can be found at: http://edgar.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1582581/000104746913009124/a2216674zf-1.htm.  Pipper Jaffray and Citigroup are the underwriters, with Dechert LLP (my old firm!) and Paul Hastings LLP representing.

Voxeljet would be joining 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD), Stratasys (NASDAQ:SYSS), ExOne (NASDAQ:XONE – ) Proto Labs (NASDAQ:PRLB) in the camp of publicly traded advanced manufacturing and rapid prototyping hardware and services providers, as well as Exa Corporation (NASDAQ:EXA), another manufacturing tech company which recently entered the public markets.   I previously blogged about Proto Labs’ IPO here: http://3dsolver.com/proto-labs-sets-range-for-ipo-manufacturing-is-exciting/ and Exa’s IPO here: http://3dsolver.com/congratulations-to-exa-corporation-another-engineering-tech-oriented-company-goes/.  ExOne, about a week ago, completed a follow-on offering of shares where they raised approximately another $65M (and with roughly an additional $100M going to selling shareholders outside of the Company, e.g. investors who held shares prior to the original IPO), see: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1561627/000119312513366634/d594456dex991.htm.

Voxeljet provides large-format, powder binding based, 3D printers to the market.  They claim to have the largest build volume and the only continuous 3D printer currently available today – from their filing:

We believe that our recent innovations in 3D printers will continue to increase customer adoption of our additive manufacturing technology in industrial and commercial applications. Recent key innovations include:

The VX4000 system, which offers a build box of 4,000 × 2,000 × 1,000 millimeters, representing a volume that is more than six times the volume of the next largest commercially available 3D printer. The VX4000 prints at a speed of 75 seconds per layer, yielding a volumetric output rate of 123.0 liters per hour, the highest in the industry. This printer enables the user to print cost-effectively either a single, large-scale part or large quantities of customized smaller parts in a single batch. 

• The VXC800, which we believe is the only continuous build 3D printer currently on the market, has a build envelope of 850 × 500 millimeters, with the third dimension being theoretically unlimited. Unlike other additive manufacturing systems, the VXC800 utilizes a conveyer platform which permits the manufacturing of products that are not constrained by the length of a build box. We believe this process, enabled by our proprietary design, creates new opportunities in the direct digital manufacturing of parts, as this 3D printer can be integrated into our customers’ workflows in a manner that allows for uninterrupted production.

The Company differentiates itself from its competition based on: (1) build box size (e.g. volume that can be printed at one time); (2) volumetric output rate (this is a function of the build box size in two dimension times how fast layers can be created); (3) materials which can be more readily used for industrial and commercial purposes (e.g. implying more of a focus on direct part production and less on prototypes); (4) having a track record of innovation; (5) strong customer relationships and (6) an “extensive” global sales agent network.

Voxeljet #1

As of June 30th, 2013, Voxeljet claims a total installed base of 52 printers.   2012 revenues were €8.7 million up from €4.8 million in 2010, providing for a 35% CAGR and they had a back log of seven printers (representing €5.2 million) which they expected to ship before year end.

Voxeljet #2

Voxeljet #3

Compare the Voxeljet revenue picture and installed base to what ExOne disclosed when it went public in June of 2013.  See: http://edgar.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1561627/000119312513040939/d461168ds1a.htm for the ExOne third amended S1.  Interestingly, Voxeljet has averaged roughly 20% spend on R&D, which is quite high relative to their peer group (but obviously also a function of their revenues).

While the bulk are common to similar companies (e.g. current and technology risk, competitors, need to keep staff motivated, etc.), upon a quick spin of the Voxeljet filing, two things were notable to me in the disclosures.  First, was that certain employees retained rights to patents that they invented or co-invented prior to 2009 – and although those employees had subsequently assigned their patent interests to Voxeljet, there was the risk that the compensation Voxeljet provided would be deemed insufficient and as a result their operations could be impacted (e.g. because they would have to pay more to secure those rights).  Second was the interesting disclosure which I read to mean that Voxeljet has inbound licenses from both ZCorp (now part of 3D Systems) and The ExOne Company.

More details on the licenses are disclosed in the filing as follows:

Voxeljet #4

Voxeljet #5

It will be interesting to see how the market reacts to the Voxeljet offering.

It would seem that Voxeljet’s true compelling market differentiators (at least at this point, and as publicly disclosed) are: (1) the build volumes that they can support (allowing for large single part production or the more rapid production of individual parts within the volume); and (2) their “continuous” printing method (basically orienting the build on an angle, and using a moving conveyor).

On the first (build volume), I am waiting to see how/whether/if Materialise NV (www.materialise.com) chooses to test the public markets with an offering of their own.  Materialise has a full stack of software, hardware and process which would be very attractive to one of the established players – especially given Materialise’s strong concentration on medical and dental processes, as well as their development large build volume 3D printers.  Materialise has grown from a services company, and as a result, they use 3D printing hardware from many manufacturers, but also had developed their own “large format” 3D printers and use them for their own production purposes. See: http://i.materialise.com/info/faq.  I would say “watch this space” as it relates to Materialise.

On the second (continuous production), that along with speed and the use of engineered materials represents the “holy trinity” to truly move 3D printing into direct part production.  While the Voxeljet approach is interesting and novel, I am waiting to see what the market also delivers on true continuous production processes using “real” engineered materials.