Who are the French champions of 3D printing?

by bold-lichterman

3D printing is often presented as one of the engines of the next industrial revolution. Beyond the additive manufacturing technique using a 3D printer, this technology has given birth to an ecosystem where different types of companies are developing: manufacturers of 3D printers of course, but also many start-ups. -ups of services related to 3D printing. The adoption of this manufacturing technique is currently growing strongly and many emerging players in an ecosystem on a global scale.

Who are the French champions of 3D printing? What are their strengths to establish themselves among the world leaders in the sector? Here is a complete overview of the main French players in 3D printing, by type of activity.

1. Manufacturers of 3D printers

1.1 Desktop 3D printers

The champion : Volumic

The Niçoise company, launched in 2013 by two visionaries in 3D for more than 20 years, was the first to offer fully French-made desktop 3D printers. Reliable, robust and perfectly suited for professional applications such as prototyping or small series production, the Stream series printers offer a level of quality unmatched in this category, with many well thought out details and features. Real little jewels with a high-end finish, in which Volumic puts all its know-how! The company should expand internationally in 2016 and several technological innovations are being developed near Nice.

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The Stratomaker, from the manufacturer Obro based in Bézier who launched in 2015 on the niche of the consumer 3D printer with this attractive model. The Stratomaker is aimed at beginner users, with its beautiful touch screen and smartphone control.

The DOM Pro of Dood is a 3D printer that could succeed when it comes to market: it indeed offers a very high printing speed, the fastest in its category! No launch date planned for the moment, but it is certain that we will hear about this beautiful machine.

1.2 3D printers in kit form

The champion : Dagoma

Based in Roubaix since 2014, this company is the result of the meeting in Shanghai of two French entrepreneurs with a common project: to democratize 3D printing by designing a machine that is both efficient and very affordable. The bet was successful with the Discovery 200: they succeeded in the feat of offering a high-performance, reliable 3D printer, all for less than € 300!

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DIY 3D printers represent a dynamic market segment in France, with a community of active and passionate users (“makers”). Several French manufacturers are doing well, notably SpiderBot which produces “Delta” type 3D printers in Burgundy, Tobeca (open source 3D printers made in France), 3D Modular Systems or E-motion Tech.

1.3 Industrial 3D printers

The champion : Prodways

This French manufacturer unashamedly displays its ambition to become one of the heavyweights of industrial 3D printers, alongside the American giants Stratasys and 3D Systems. Developed in the bosom of Groupe Gorgé, Prodways recently expanded its technology portfolio through a partnership with the Chinese company Farsoon. This French champion now has all the cards in hand to conquer the world. A great example of industrial success!

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3DCeram, specialist in 3D printing of ceramic materials based in Limoges, or BeAM which offers 3D printers to print metal parts, intended for industrial customers.

2. 3D printing services

The champion : Sculpteo

This on-demand 3D printing service, launched in 2009, allows its customers to have their creations printed on professional machines offering a wide choice of materials and options. Sculpteo’s production centers are real factories where objects are printed and then shipped to customers all over the world. After a fundraising of 5M € in April 2015, Sculpteo is positioned as the world leader in 3D printing on demand against Shapeways, the American competitor. The startup plans to accelerate its international development and double its workforce in 2016, to stay one step ahead of the competition.

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The platform 3D Click Shape, launched by Creatix, is aimed at professionals and offers to put additive manufacturing subcontractors in touch with customers in their region. Still on the model of the sharing economy applied to 3D printing, the Lyonnais of 3DOnD offer a French alternative to the giant 3D Hubs. Their platform connects 3D designers, “makers” wishing to monetize their 3D printer, and customers wishing to have an object printed, all with a general public positioning.

3. Marketplaces and communities on 3D printing

The champion : Sketchfab

Sketchfab is a platform for sharing 3D models online, which can easily be viewed, downloaded and then printed in 3D by users. More than 400,000 3D models are made available to the community and categorized! Originally conceived as a simple 3D model visualization platform (the “3D Youtube”), Sketchfab has since opened up to 3D printing and today offers printable files to download and even for some the option of 3D printing through an online printing service. With a second fundraising of $ 7M carried out in 2015, the French startup seems well on its way to winning the global battle for 3D model marketplaces.

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Many ready-to-print 3D model sharing platforms have entered this promising niche. Cults on the rise: the Parisian startup has just announced a partnership with La Poste to bring printing into post offices and democratize access to this technology. Also to be continued, the market place Makeidea, a project under development by a team based in Caen, which is positioned in the same niche as Sketchfab.

4. 3D software publishers

The champion : Dassault Systèmes

Created in 1981 by a team from Dassault Aviation, the startup has since grown. The publisher of CATIA software is today one of the world leaders in Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. The takeover of SolidWorks in 1995 made Dassault Systèmes a key player in the SME / SMI market. Among its customers, there are big names in the industry such as BMW, Mercedes, Airbus… Dassault Systèmes is part of the alliance of manufacturers and publishers who wish to impose a new universal 3D file format for 3D printing.

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One of the challenges associated with the explosion of 3D printing is to allow design novices to easily create 3D objects. This is the goal that 3D Slash, a startup founded by the entrepreneur Sylvain Huet, behind the Nabaztag project (the famous connected rabbit launched in 2005). By radically simplifying the approach to 3D design thanks to a clear and intuitive interface and an innovative approach (à la Minecraft), 3D Slash could well establish itself as a must-have among mainstream 3D modeling software. Its recent partnership with La Poste alongside Cults will undoubtedly reveal many talents of 3D designers!

5. 3D bioprinting start-ups

The champion : Poietis

3D printing offers many applications in the medical field, especially in the very promising sector of bioprinting: 3D printing of organic tissues that can be used for medical (regenerative medicine) or industrial (cosmetic, pharmaceutical) purposes. ). In this cutting-edge field, the Bordeaux startup Poietis is already asserting itself as one of the world leaders. The company, which relies on 10 years of research in collaboration with the University of Bordeaux and INSERM, has developed an innovative laser bioprinting technique. With the success of their crowdfunding campaign in 2015, and numerous prestigious partnerships, Poietis has the necessary assets to lead the way on a global level and become a benchmark in 3D bioprinting.

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OsseoMatrix produces synthetic bones designed for use as implants in surgical procedures. The company, created in 2009 by Doctor Didier Nimal, has developed a patented 3D printing technique that allows you to 3D print biological ceramic bones. This technology makes it possible in particular to reduce the duration of operations and the risk of infection. Science fiction? The startup OsseoMatrix is ​​nevertheless very real and seems to have a bright future!


France is certainly lagging behind in the highly publicized niche of desktop 3D printers, facing certain European countries which already have several manufacturers with worldwide recognition, such as Zortrax (Poland) or Ultimaker (Netherlands). But we are not lacking in talent and resources!

Beyond the champions listed above, France has many innovative initiatives related to 3D printing. An example ? 3D-constructions, a participatory housing construction project using 3D printing. Add to this the dynamism of the community of “makers” and enthusiasts of all stripes, the rapid development of a network of specialist service providers and resellers in addition to the presence in France of many large industrial groups: France has a breeding ground very favorable to the rapid development of this technology. With the support of initiatives like French Tech, our country undoubtedly has the means to become a major player in 3D printing.

aniwaa-3DAniwaa is a start-up that offers relevant knowledge on 3D printing. Aimed at professionals and individuals alike looking for equipment or knowledge about 3D printing, their service is based on a database that is unique in the world. Aniwaa thus identifies all of the 3d printers and 3d scanners available on the market and works to structure the technical data of these products, to allow users to easily compare them.

Pierre-Antoine is a graduate of EENSHEIT and a Doctor of Innovation Management, and Martin is a graduate of EDHEC. After 5 years at Dassault Systèmes and Google respectively, they launched Aniwaa in 2013, which quickly became a global benchmark in the 3D printing sector.