Microsoft APIs May Open a Larger Process Control Market for 3D Printing Technology

On June 26, 2013, Microsoft® announced a set of Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs) designed to help 3D Printer manufacturers at its “Build” Developers Conference. These APIs will help the proprietary software most of these manufacturers require for printer operation work easily, and, perhaps with a richer set of functionality, with other devices and applications running on Microsoft® Windows.

A lot has been written about how these APIs will open a wider consumer market for 3D Printing technology. We don’t dispute this point, but think process control and industrial automation markets will benefit even more from these software connectors from Microsoft®.

Invensys® is a major player in the market for process control applications. A lot of what Invensys calls “real time operations management software” is built to run over Windows. Its Wonderware® product, a leading example of this type of application, provides manufacturers with a method, from a centralized collection of application controls, to manage entire production processes. Wonderware® even runs with SharePoint®. So, if these APIs extend the reach of 3D Printing into process control markets we think the 3D printer manufacturers will capture substantially more exposure to promising markets.

The APIs will also benefit Microsoft®. They capture a position in the highly publicized 3D printing market, which should produce useful public relations and marketing communications opportunities where they can re-brand themselves with a leading edge look and feel. They also benefit from closer proximity to the same process control markets we mentioned above.

Early stage ISVs can profitably play this same game. The burden is on product marketing to select a highly specialized, potentially strategic niche market where it is worth the effort to develop products. Should your market grow, you may be surprised at the big guys who ask for a seat at your table.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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