This week Kehlan has a special Q&A with Conor McCormack from Mcor Technologies. Mcor caused a big stir at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week when it unveiled the world’s first colour 3D desktop printer. Kehlan spoke to Conor McCormack.
Conor, there has been a lot of buzz about your colour 3D printer, what’s the story behind it?
Yeah, there has been great buzz from CES and around the world to it as well.
I suppose you can’t really tell the story without giving a little background.
We’re about 10 years old, believe it or not, and before this week we would have been known for producing industrial-sized, high-quality, colour 3D printers.
Our market would have been focused very much on big industrial units for fabrication or prototyping.
We sell that through 80 dealers in 50 countries around the world.
Over the past few years we’ve been working on the technology and refining it for the consumer space.
So, at CES we launched the Mcor Arke which is the world’s first professional, full-colour 3D desktop printer.
It is very disruptive technology for the market and we think it will help to aid the adoption of 3D printing in the public sphere, especially in the areas of education and creative professionals.
Areas where colour is so important to the look and feel of the end design.
The reaction to the product has been fantastic. We spent the past two years on this and about six weeks ago we pulled all our sellers from around the world to a meeting in Frankfurt to unveil this for them.
We have over 2,500 pre-orders for the Arke and we expect that to rise even more over the coming weeks.
Sometimes, when you’re an innovative company, and I’d like to think we are, it’s great to lift your head up from all the work you’ve been doing and gauge the reaction.
We’ve had a fantastic reaction, all we could have hoped for.
So, the printer itself uses paper to make the design, meaning they can be recycled too?
Yeah, so 3D printing is in fact about 30 years old.
We notice more now as consumers in the past five years, but 3D printing has been around for a long time. 3D printers would have been used by very big corporations and manufacturing facilities around the world for quite some time.
It’s only in the past number of years when the move to the consumer market has driven this expansion in thinking around 3D printing.
So, we have a perfect sweet spot with the Arke in that we have a history of fantastic colour printers which we are now bringing into the consumer market.
Because we use paper we have the highest colour quality.
Colour ranks very highly with creative professions and the reason many of them haven’t moved on 3D printers is because the quality of colour just hasn’t been there.
With this we’ve opened up a brand new sector.
We’re calling it our ‘blue ocean strategy’.
A brand new sector of people that haven’t been able to use 3D printing because the price point was wrong or there was no colour.
As of yesterday with the Mcor Arke, that is now rectified.
Has it been price point and colour quality which has held 3D printing back from the ordinary consumer?
There has been a lot of hype in the past few years about 3D printing because of its applications for a lot of industries, especially with the desktop printer side of things.
We identified five key challenges to overcome in order for 3D printing to be ubiquitous.
They are low running costs, high colour, eco-friendliness, price, and reliability.
But what our competitors have done over the past number of years is really just reduce the price of their technology.
So they would come out with a really low priced printer, but the quality mightn’t be that good or reliable.
They probably wouldn’t be that eco-friendly either.
They just reduced the price of their tech, I’m sure you can get some printers for just a couple of hundred dollars or a couple of thousand.
Because of that price drop people said that it would mean every home and office would have one.
However, there was a real sense of disillusionment when people brought them into their office or home and realised that the quality just wasn’t there.
We’ve been in the professional space for a long time now and would be regarded as a provider of printers which have low running costs with photo realistic colour.
Because it’s paper with a water-based ink and a water-based adhesive, it’s completely eco-friendly and reliable.
So we’ve taken the attributes of our machines in the professional sector and brought that over to the consumer market.
I know people use the buzz word of being disruptive, but this really is changing the market for the consumer.
We’re not asking them to choose between reliability for the sake of colour or vise versa.
We’re giving them everything they would want in a 3D desktop printer.
In four to five years most things we deal with in everyday life will have some connection with a 3D printer.
We’ll have to keep up with those latest innovations in order to move on, but the Arke really is one of those game-changing pieces of technology.
Are there more innovations to come in the next few years?
Well right now it’s all hands to the pump for the Arke printer and getting it out to customers.
We’ve announced it and now we have to go execute it fully.
We classify this machine as a generation-two machine.
The first industrial 3D printers we created were our first-gen machines.
We will have gen three and gen four machines but they take time to develop.
It took us two years to bring the Arke to the consumer market, so these things take time if you want to get a great product to the market.
The second phase now is to fulfil orders and get the physical product to people.
So we’re working with Flextronics, a €24bn company, to get those orders fulfilled and shipped.
We’re headquartered in Ireland and we’d like to keep it that way.
We’ve been given the opportunity to move closer to places like Silicon Valley but we’ve remained here.
We feel the workforce and the quality of employee is what has driven the company over the past number of years, so we intend to ensure that remains a focus for us in the coming years.
Taking the company public, as well, is something that we would like to build towards.
Is there a possibility of an IPO?
Definitely, we’re actually doing an IPO-ready programme through the Irish Stock Exchange and Enterprise Ireland at the moment.
It the first programme of its type they have run and it basically just gets you ready for putting your ducks in a row when it comes to taking that next step to IPO.
I would say that the IPO is still a fair way away yet, but we’re certainly educating ourselves on what needs to be done and how to do it.
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