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Troubled 3D Printer Maker Stratasys Replaces CEO

Stratasys subsidiary MakerBot opened a new factory in July. In October 2015, MakerBot announced its second round of layoffs this year.Stratasys subsidiary MakerBot opened a new factory in July. In October 2015, MakerBot announced its second round of layoffs this year.
Stratasys subsidiary MakerBot opened a new factory in July. In October 2015, MakerBot announced its second round of layoffs this year.Courtesy: MakerBot

Troubled 3D printing and prototyping tech specialist Stratasys has named one of its directors, Ilan Levin, to replace its long-time CEO, David Reis.

Reis, who held the CEO post for seven years, will stay with Stratasys on the board. In a statement, the company credits him with Stratasys’s merger with 3D printer company Objet in 2012—a deal that was supposed to create a $3 billion company.

It doesn’t make mention of his role in the $400 million buyout of desktop printer manufacturer MakerBot one year later. Stratasys recorded a series of writedowns against the subsidiary during 2015, and it continues to limp through a reorganization that included layoffs. Still, Makerbot did manage to reach a credible milestone in April, with the shipment of its 100,000th 3D printer for consumers.

Levin, who will become CEO on July 1, joined Stratasys through the Objet merger. An engineer by training, he was president and vice chairman prior to the companies’ union and has a background in the type of manufacturing technologies that Stratasys champions.

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Stratasys lost $1.4 billion in 2015 while its revenue declined sharply to about half that amount, $696 million. Other printer companies are going through similar troubles like 3D Systems, which misjudged how quickly manufacturers would begin using 3D printing technologies to replace or supplement their manufacturing.

Despite the sector’s travails, companies including HP Inc. (HPQ) and Toshiba (TOSBF) are prioritizing development of 3D printer, which could give the technology more mainstream appeal. But the first of their 3D printers isn’t expected to hit the market until at least late 2016.

The market for 3D printers and the software necessary to create prototypes could reach $20 billion by 2020, according to consulting firm Wohlers Associates.

Stratasys shares (SSYS) rose about 1.8% on news about the CEO switch, closing at $23.20 on Thursday. In January 2014, its shares traded as high as $136.46.