3D printing service Shapeways has named Gregory Kress as CEO as the company tries to figure out its future. Kress replaces Tom Finn, who served as interim CEO since August 2017, when cofounder and former CEO Peter Weijmarshausen stepped down after a decade on the job.
Since its founding in 2007, New York-based Shapeways has focused on enabling creators to be successful with their 3D-printed products through the development of sophisticated back-end production, distribution, and supply chain fulfillment. This breadth of the network enables Shapeways’ customers to 3D print in over 60 different materials and finishes.
Having accumulated millions of data points from current customers, Shapeways also tries to identify ways in which it can better support creators through the production process: from the conception of an idea, to the designing and packaging, to the first sale and beyond.
With Kress’ hiring, Shapeways plans to implement services that will address both creative and business pain points for creators. It will laterally expand its end-to-end services for current and new Shapeways users to design, make, and, interest permitting, sell their products. Shapeways will also expand vertically, providing production services beyond 3D printing.
3D printers have stalled on their journey into every American’s home. But Shapeways is approaching its 10 millionth product printed, has more than a million community members, and receives 140,000 new design uploads each month.
“I’ve joined Shapeways to help accelerate the growth of the business. Shapeways has always been focused on helping creators bring their ideas to life and I’ll be building upon that solid foundation and scale the tools, features, and products that we offer to our creators,” said Kress, in an email. “We want to support our creators through their entire experience– from bringing their ideas to life through fully integrated manufacturing solutions, to even helping them monetize their designs and create a business if they’d like.”
Kress has 15 years of relevant experience. He most recently served as president and COO of Open Education, where he was responsible for turning strategy into operational and financial success as the business expanded to more than 400,000 students in 25 countries being supported by over 1,200 employees. Prior to Open Education, he spent 11 years in leadership positions across GE.
“We know people have ideas or want products that can be made and sold thanks to advanced design, production, and fulfillment technology — but most of them don’t know where to begin. Without proper support or infrastructure, the entire process seems inaccessible, complicated, intimidating, and expensive,” said Albert Wenger, managing partner at Union Square Ventures, in a statement. “Greg is experienced at growing platform businesses and we’re thrilled that he’ll be applying that deep knowledge and energy to empower creators to realize those design dreams.”
Kress said that Shapeways is expanding its reach to new materials.
“Good momentum starts with the expansion of consumer demand for unique finished goods,” Kress said. “That coupled with significant innovations in 3D printing technologies allows Shapeways to offer some of the most advanced manufacturing capabilities to anyone around the world.”
3D printing went through its own bubble and now that has deflated somewhat.
“Consumers initially had direct experience with 3D printing technology that was still in its infancy. This resulted in a disconnect between their expectations and what was accessible,” Kress said. “Since the initial hype, 3D printing technologies have advanced exponentially and consumers have a better understanding of what applications should use 3D printing. Business to business, or enterprise applications have made significant progress pushing 3D printing technology forward and Shapeways provides unprecedented consumer access to those high-end industrial technologies.”
Shapeways has raised $75 million from investors including Union Square Ventures, Index Ventures, Lux Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Inkef Capital, Hewlett Packard Pathfinder, and Presidio Ventures. The company has 250 employees, and 10 employees are involved in 3D printing every product.
As for the future of 3D printing, Kress said, “We will continue to see huge advancements in 3D printing technology that allow Shapeways to provide more finished goods (as opposed to creators needing to post-process each print). We also anticipate huge developments in printing capabilities for full color plastic and metals, and Shapeways will continue giving consumers access to the highest-quality technologies.”