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3D Systems Corp (DDD) Q4 2019 Earnings Call Transcript

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3D Systems Corp (NYSE: DDD)
Q4 2019 Earnings Call
Feb 26, 2020, 4:30 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Greetings and welcome to the 3D Systems Conference Call to discuss the results of Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2019. My name is Kevin and I'll facilitate the audio portion of today's interactive broadcast. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions]. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It's now my pleasure to introduce your host, Melanie Solomon, Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Melanie Solomon -- Investor Relations

Good afternoon and welcome to 3D Systems Conference Call. With me on the call are Vyomesh Joshi, our President and Chief Executive Officer; Todd Booth, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; and Andrew Johnson, Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer. The webcast portion of this call contains a slide presentation that we will refer to during the call. Those following along on the phone who wish to access the slide portion of this presentation may do so on the Investor Relations section of our website. Participants who would like to ask questions at the end of the session related to matters discussed in this conference call should call in using the number provided on this slide and in the press release that we issued today. For those who have accessed the streaming portion of the webcast, please be aware that there may be a few seconds delay and that you will not be able to post questions via the web.

The following discussion and responses to your questions reflect management's views as of today only and will include forward-looking statements as described on this slide. Actual results may differ materially. Additional information about factors that could potentially impact our financial results is included in today's press release and our filings with the SEC, including our most recent annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. During this call, we will discuss certain non-GAAP financial measures. In our press release and slides accompanying this webcast, which are both available on our Investor Relations website, you will find additional disclosures regarding these non-GAAP measures including reconciliations of these measures with comparable GAAP measures. Finally, unless otherwise stated, all comparisons in this call will be against our results for the comparable period of 2018. Now, I'm pleased to turn the call over to Vyomesh Joshi, our CEO. VJ?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Melanie. Good afternoon everyone. In 2016, I shared my vision and strategy for how 3D Systems would make 3D production real. It would require customer collaboration and innovation with experience and expertise of our people as driving force. We demonstrated last fall at Formnext in Germany how our digital manufacturing solution strategy has come alive with customers realizing the benefits of our production solutions across a range of industries including healthcare, dental, aerospace, automotive, and durable goods. Our company has a unique ability to architect solutions specific to customers needs through a combination of breakthrough materials, hardware platforms, software and professional services creating a path forward to integrating additive into traditional production environments. As a result, manufacturers are able to achieve design freedom, increased agility, scale production, and improve overall total cost of operations. Our customers are accelerating adoption of additive manufacturing and that journey to moving from no experience to using additive manufacturing as a sustainable competitive advantage is where 3D Systems can help.

Over the last three years, there has been a sharp increase in using additive manufacturing for functional parts. According to E&Y global report, 18% of companies are using additive manufacturing in serial production. So, we are crossing the chasm. We partner with our customers to help them progress through their additive manufacturing journey and accelerate the adoption of additive within their existing production environments. This process begins with the customer's application in mind, designing the best possible solution to achieve their needs and successfully address challenges. Customers are encouraged to begin their additive manufacturing journey by engaging with one of our customer innovation centers. There, a customized production workflow solution will be designed to accelerate the development of advanced applications by providing customers with access to solutions, domain expertise, and state-of-the-art technology. We have been working closely with our customers to find the right production workflows and last year, more than 200 million production parts were produced by our customers using 3D Systems solutions.

Turning to the highlights of 2019, with a commitment to operational excellence, we have been keenly focused on cost structure and cash flow. In 2019, we lowered the operating expenses by 9% driven by cost cutting and improving efficiencies across the organization. We expanded our relationship with Sanmina to include most of our plastic printer manufacturing on top of the existing arrangement for Figure 4 production, which provides us variable cost model while ensuring world-class manufacturing proficiency. We generated $21.5 million of cash from operations in the fourth quarter of 2019 as a result of improvements in working capital including planned inventory reductions. We have stabilized the company and strengthened the foundation on which to scale and grow. We introduced 14 new production materials in 2019 and we now have over 130 3D printing materials available. I'm very pleased that in the second half of 2019, we returned to growth in materials. Our healthcare business is strong and excluding our major enterprise customer, healthcare grew 10% in 2019.

Now, turning briefly to the fourth quarter results. Total revenue in the fourth quarter was $164.6 million reflecting a decrease of 9%. Materials grew 7% over the same quarter last year. GAAP gross profit margin was 43.6% and non-GAAP gross profit margin was 43.8%. We reported GAAP loss of $0.04 per share and non-GAAP earnings of $0.05 per share. In 2020, we are poised to grow profitably. Metals will be a growth opportunity in 2020 and we are on track to begin shipping factory metal platforms in April. Healthcare continues to be an important area of focus for the company and we expect medical device manufacturing, medical simulators, and professional services in our healthcare business to continue to grow in 2020. We have incredible software assets and with our new product introductions and go-to-market enhancements, we will start growing software in 2020. We remain focused on profitability and cash generation. We have built a foundation on which to scale and grow and we are structuring the company to be lean and profitable. Todd will now provide more details on our results for the fourth quarter of 2019. Todd?

Todd Booth -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, VJ. Good afternoon everyone. For the fourth quarter, we reported GAAP revenue of $164.6 million, a decrease of 8.9% compared to the fourth quarter of 2018 and a 7.3% decrease when excluding the entertainment business. GAAP gross profit margin was 43.6% compared to 45.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018. GAAP operating expenses decreased 14.6% to $76.5 million. We reported a GAAP loss of $0.04 per share in the fourth quarter of 2019, the same as in the fourth quarter 2018. We reported non-GAAP earnings of $0.05 per share in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to earnings of $0.10 per share in the fourth quarter of 2018. Printer revenue decreased 22.8% to $33.6 million due to the delay in factory metals printing shipments, the ordering patterns of a large enterprise customer, and the softer macro industrial environment. Materials revenue increased 7.3% to $45 million in the fourth quarter. Healthcare revenue decreased 5.9% to $54.9 million. On demand manufacturing revenue decreased 17.2% to $23 million in the quarter attributable to the decline in the manufacturing activity and the impact to the pipeline from the now resolved government suspension. Software revenue decreased 10.2% to $25.8 million in the fourth quarter primarily due to weakness in the European automotive market and overall industrial manufacturing.

In the first quarter of 2020, we are expecting a typical seasonal decline further impacted by the coronavirus outbreak in China. We reported GAAP gross profit margin of 43.6% in the fourth quarter of 2019. Non-GAAP gross profit margin in the fourth quarter of 2019 was 43.8%. The results were impacted by factory utilization, mix, and inventory adjustments. We expect gross profit margins to remain in the mid-40s range in 2020. GAAP operating expenses for the quarter were $76.5 million, a decrease of 14.6% compared to the fourth quarter of 2018 including a 10.3% decrease in SG&A expenses and a 27.2% decrease in R&D expenses. Non-GAAP operating expenses in the fourth quarter were $66.4 million, a 12.3% decrease from the fourth quarter of the prior year and a 4.2% decrease sequentially. Compared to the 2018 quarter, non-GAAP SG&A expenses decreased 5.7% to $49.2 million, non-GAAP R&D expenses decreased 27.2% to $17.1 million. Non-GAAP operating expenses decreased due to continued focus on reducing cost structure and favorable timing of customer funded research and development. We ended the quarter with $133.7 million of unrestricted cash. We generated $21.5 million in cash from operations and paid down debt by $10.8 million during the fourth quarter. Working capital performance improved sequentially as we reduced inventory by $11.6 million to $111.1 million. While cash use and generation will continue to fluctuate period-to-period, we are very pleased with the cash results for the fourth quarter. With that, I'll turn the call back to VJ. VJ?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Todd. Before we begin Q&A, I want to make a comment about my planned retirement. I joined 3D Systems four years ago and have worked with the team to improve our product portfolio, business processes, cost structure and culture. We made a lot of progress on quality and reliability and our net promoter score improved to 65. We have executed a digital manufacturing solution strategy encompassing the whole portfolio and our customer engagement model including our customer innovation center is guiding our customers through the journey of additive manufacturing with 3D Systems. I feel confident now that we have the right products in place with the right team to execute our growth strategy. I'm committed to working with the Board to find an appropriate successor and will remain involved in the transition. I will take this opportunity to thank all our employees and customers for their loyalty and dedication as we work through the recent turnaround at 3D Systems. I continue to believe that our focus on our innovative production solutions including hardware platforms, materials software and professional services will drive profitable revenue growth in 2020. And with that, we will now open the floor for questions. Operator?

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question today is coming from Greg Palm from Craig-Hallum Capital Group. Your line is now live.

Greg Palm -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

VJ, Todd, good afternoon. Congrats on the nice end to the year here.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Great, great. Yeah, now we feel good about especially, you know, our earnings per share performance and the cash that we have -- the operating cash that we did, $21.5 million. Go ahead, ask the question.

Greg Palm -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Yeah, it was good. I mean I guess I'll start with you VJ. Any way to detail out some of these headwinds you saw in 2019 on the top line, you know, whether that was the lack of metals shipments, the export compliance, lower system shipments in your enterprise customer. You seem pretty confident in the ability to return to growth this year companywide. So I'm just trying to get a sense for what were the company specific headwinds you faced last year?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So I think you talked about all three. So, the first is of course the metals. We had to delay shipments to the second quarter of 2020 and I think as we talked about, you know, we are very confident now that we will start shipping in April. The second one was the enterprise customer. They were building the factory in China. They had really asked for a lot of hardware shipments in 2018, which was not the same level in 2019. So that was the second one. So, now having that behind us, we should be able to now looking at the real growth in our plastics printers also that will be happening in 2020. The third thing is the whole export compliance issue, not only impacted our ODM business but lot of our businesses, especially with the suspension. That's behind us and we should be able to start growing the ODM business with right kind of a focus on the go-to-market that we are having on the ODM business. It is going to be a third very important part. The last one is software, we had lot of headwinds in 2019 in the software business because of the automotive segment in Europe and the overall industrial manufacturing segment was down. So, getting that software now on the growth path with our new product introductions and we have now focused go-to-market under Wayne Davey for healthcare and software will also make a big difference in 2020.

The other important thing that I want to state is our healthcare business, as I talked about, if you take the enterprise customer out in 2019, grew 10% and we will continue to grow our medical device manufacturing business, our simulator business and our Virtual Surgical Planning business. So I feel very good about that some of the headwinds are not going to be there in 2019. Of course, we need to be really prudent and making sure that we continue to focus on our production workflows, the new materials that we introduce with our Figure 4 should also help us and other headwinds like coronavirus. I think we need to pay attention to it, but we believe that we are really very well set up for profitable growth in 2020.

Greg Palm -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Good to hear. Do you have a backlog number for the metals portfolio? I know at one point you had talked about a delay and I think $8 million was the number you gave several quarters ago, but what's the backlog and should we assume that you get a big level of shipments right away in Q2 or will that sort of ramp as the year goes on?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So it will ramp, but clearly, in Q2, we'll start shipping both factory Factory 350 and Factory 500 and the great thing about this is our customers are patient and we were very open with them that we have this issue that we need to solve before we start shipping. So I'm very encouraged by our customers' responses and I absolutely believe we will start ramping starting in Q2, but those three quarters will be very important for the growth. We are not giving any exact number, but it will be a significant growth in 2020.

Greg Palm -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Okay, makes sense. I guess last one and I'll hop back here. You mentioned kind of the typical I don't know if it was you or Todd that mentioned the typical seasonal decline expected from December to March quarters that's range. I mean if I go back and look over the last five years anywhere from 6% to 20%. So what in your mind is a normal seasonal decline from the December to March quarter [Phonetic] and I guess --

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, we don't expect 20%, but I think normal would be as you said 6% to 7%, but you know, we don't want to give exact number because we also need to really understand the impact of coronavirus and that impact probably will happen in three ways. First one, our ODM factory in China, we are not able to operate that. The other thing is we need to really pay attention to the supply chain and some of the product shipments that we have to do in China and other places where we may have a impact because of the supply chain and the third impact, our customers who buy a lot of materials. They will also have an impact because of the coronavirus and I think we need to really understand that. For now, it's not material, but we just want to make sure that we pay attention to that.

Greg Palm -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

So maybe 6% to 7% but build in a little extra conservatism given everything that's going on out there?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

That's right.

Greg Palm -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Got it, OK. Thanks for the help. Good luck.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Todd Booth -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Greg.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question today is coming from Jim Ricchiuti from Needham & Company. Your line is now live.

Jim Ricchiuti -- Needham & Company -- Analyst

Good afternoon. VJ, congratulations on the progress you've made at the company the last couple of years. Question is for you. Just wondering, you gave a good breakout for the healthcare business excluding the enterprise customer for 2019. What was it in Q4? What kind of -- how did the business in the healthcare area shape excluding that customer.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So in Q4, if you take the enterprise customer, it's sort of a decline of 6.9%, we were at 4% kind of decline, but if you take the other printer hardware, we actually grew the business close to 13% in Q4. So the thing that I talked about, the medical device manufacturing, the medical simulator business, and the Virtual Surgical Planning at our growth engine in the healthcare and I think we absolutely believe we will continue having that kind of a growth in 2020 and better.

Jim Ricchiuti -- Needham & Company -- Analyst

Got it. That's helpful. And just on the opex side, you guys have really done a nice job controlling opex. I was surprised to see the decline in R&D. How should we think about -- maybe this is a question for you, Todd, how should we think about opex looking out to Q1. Is there anything unusual in that R&D line in Q4 or is that kind of a basis --

Todd Booth -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

So the way to look at in Q4, we did have some favorable timing. Without the favorable timing, you would look at a 17% decrease and we feel our cost structure is in place. So you should look at that going forward.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So I just think that the most important thing is we are taking R&D down, we're taking the SG&A down, but not that significantly. I think we must invest in innovation. That's very important to us, but I think we got this specific payment that we got and the timing of that in Q4. So I do believe we have done a very good job in our cost structure, but I think we need to really have a right balanced approach, making sure that we invest in innovation.

Jim Ricchiuti -- Needham & Company -- Analyst

Got it and last question for me is, you gave some color on how we should think about the metals opportunity this year. I'm wondering about the overall new product cadence and how you see that unfolding over the the first couple of quarters of 2020? Thanks.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So I think the new products, you know, so our dental business is doing extremely well and we have been talking about that for the last 15 months. We had a big show last week in Chicago and we introduced some new software technology with which you will be able to do stacked printing and we got incredible positive response from the show. So I do believe the dental is definitely a growth opportunity for 2020. The new materials that we introduced in fall of 2019, we are getting a lot of great traction and we are finding our stand-alone and the modular industrial Figure 4 now will also have momentum in the coming quarters. So, metals, we talked about, we talked about the plastics with Figure 4 with the new materials and dental, the other very important part is our software portfolio. We had a very good upgrade in our Control X inspection software. We have a very good product with our Design X product. The other very important thing is our Cimatron and GibbsCAM, we should be able to start also growing in 2020. And the last thing is, with our metals growth, you're going to see lot of growth in our 3DXpert, which is a real very innovative product on the metals side. So I believe all these new product introductions we have done in last six months to nine months should also help us in growing our revenue in 2020.

Jim Ricchiuti -- Needham & Company -- Analyst

Got it. Thanks again.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Jim.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Brian Drab from William Blair. Your line is now live.

Brian Drab -- William Blair -- Analyst

Thank you. Hi everyone, Hi VJ. So, can you repeat what you said. I'm sorry, just on the research and development, there was a payment from a customer or is this a payment in the fourth quarter and how large was that and what do you expect R&D to be going forward?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

I think Todd talked about it. Right now we are showing 27% decline in R&D year-over-year and the payment was such that if you exclude that, it would be 17% decline in R&D.

Brian Drab -- William Blair -- Analyst

I guess, said another way, I mean our R&D has been $20 million to $21 million for the previous three quarters -- I guess $20 million to $22 million, is that kind of the run rate still going forward?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, yes. We must innovate, you know. I don't think that we are trying to really have a short-term approach to this. We got to innovate, we got to make sure that we have a golden opportunity, continue to innovate in materials, software, healthcare, and you know we need to also upgrade our platforms. So I absolutely believe that we have the right balance now and we just need to make sure that we innovate.

Brian Drab -- William Blair -- Analyst

Okay, thanks. And then for the balance of the SG&A outside of R&D, I mean I guess you've been through the whole budgeting process at this point and you know if you're planning if SG&A dollars should be higher or lower than 2019 or flat. I mean is it higher or lower or flat?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I think we got to invest now, our metal platforms, we start shipping in second quarter. We got to really go after that opportunity, it is a huge opportunity. We also need to make sure that our healthcare and software, we put a focused go-to-market organization under Wayne Davey's leadership. I want to make sure that that's a high margin business for us that we look at the opportunity in making that happen. So I think you could think about -- I think we got the right kind of a cost structure. What we need to do now is to get the revenue uplift and using that revenue uplift, I think we should be able to get the right kind of a business model in our mind and we feel that as a percentage of revenue, we need to make sure we look at appropriately the cost structure. Todd, you want to make any comment?

Todd Booth -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

I agree as well. We've taken a lot of cost out as you see from '18 and '19. So we put the cost [Phonetic] structure in place but we invest and grow.

Brian Drab -- William Blair -- Analyst

Does that mean up? I'm sorry just to put a finer point on it, up or flat?

Todd Booth -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

As a percentage of revenue, no, it will not be up.

Brian Drab -- William Blair -- Analyst

In dollars? I'm sorry, dollars.

Todd Booth -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Dollars will depend on the growth.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

It will be up, yeah.

Brian Drab -- William Blair -- Analyst

Okay. Did you just say it will be up, VJ? Sorry.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

What we said was, as a percentage of revenue, will be flat. If the revenue is going to grow, will be slight up.

Brian Drab -- William Blair -- Analyst

Okay, thanks. I'll get back in line. Thank you very much.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is coming from Ananda Baruah from Loop Capital Markets. Your line is now live.

Ananda Baruah -- Loop Capital Markets -- Analyst

Hi, good afternoon guys. I appreciate you taking the questions. A couple if I could, VJ, could you just I guess talk a little bit more about the demand environment, it sounds like stable with sort of some beginning impact from coronavirus that's still challenging to dimension, but is that accurate and then I have a couple of follow-ups?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

No, I think the demand environment as in '19 with all the manufacturing slowdown and the industrial, you know, is still continuing. I wouldn't say that it's stable, but it is similar to what we saw in '19. So I just want to be clear. What I was answering the question because that reflected in our Q4 revenue, right? So based on that if you think about in Q1, what are the other than headwinds, that's what I was talking about coronavirus. So I just want to be clear and there is no confusion on that, but we think that because of our innovation work that we have done and now getting our metal printers and the growth drivers that I talked about, I'm very confident that we will grow our revenue in 2020.

Ananda Baruah -- Loop Capital Markets -- Analyst

And as far as corona is concerned, you mentioned a couple of things, ODM factory in China and some of the supply chain stuff, but wanted to wait to see how that all plays out. Is there any more context you can provide at least --

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

No, I think we are in the same place with everybody else. We are all trying to figure out how -- today, if you ask me, it's not material, but, you know, things could change and I just don't want to predict anything. I just want to make sure I give you the current assessment of what we have.

Ananda Baruah -- Loop Capital Markets -- Analyst

Okay and then last one for me, just with regard to software growth. So it sounds like you're saying that the new products that have been introduced and then that will be introduced including metals themselves will pull software forward and provide [Speech Overlap] --

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

And the go-to-market enhancements we have done, we have put focused go-to-market organization. I think that's a very important part because you know we are engaging with the software channel. We are making sure that we have all that new introductions, we can get the awareness up, we can get the lead generation up. We have made a lot of investments in making sure to drive the pipeline because it's not just about the renewing the maintenance contract. We want to hunt for new opportunities in software and I think that's where our focus is.

Ananda Baruah -- Loop Capital Markets -- Analyst

Got it. That's really helpful. And then I guess just in that regard, can you just refresh our memory -- at least refresh my memory on which of the software modules that you mentioned, which of those are newer or have been refreshed such that the [Speech Overlap].

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Our automotive software portfolio is refreshed, but I'm very excited about our Control X, the inspection software. I'm very excited about our 3DXpert software, which goes with metal business and then the core subtractive software with Cimatron and GibbsCAM, we are also seeing a good traction. So I really think that we have opportunity in Control X, Design X, 3DXpert, so all of our product portfolio. I think the important thing over here was more innovation and then having that focus go-to-market to drive the new licenses.

Ananda Baruah -- Loop Capital Markets -- Analyst

That's really helpful. I appreciate it. Thanks so much VJ.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question today is coming from Troy Jensen from Piper Jaffray. Your line is now live.

Troy Jensen -- Piper Jaffray -- Analyst

Good evening, good afternoon gentlemen. VJ, good luck in the future here. A quick question for you, VJ, I mean in your prepared remarks, you were pretty bullish on just seeing an acceleration in adoption here, but if you look at kind of product growth and kind of revenues, we haven't really seen systems growth for you guys with respect to sales I'm speaking specifically about, so can you just talk about, you know, is it competition, is it ASP erosion. When do you really think we're going to start to see an acceleration in systems growth for your business?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, so I think the first one in my view is metals because we have a very good platform, especially for production workflows. So if you look at our healthcare business, our 350 platform is very, very much in the center of a lot of medical device manufacturers growth plan and with the addition of powder management unit and automation of material handling, we think that we should be able to drive lot of growth especially in the healthcare business. With our Factory 500, aerospace and defense is a very important segment for us and here we are really seeing lot of traction from a pipeline one of view. So I do believe that we should be able to get this big system. These are multi-million dollar systems that we should be able to find traction after the second quarter as I said in my remarks there. So that's for the metals. And then as I said, the associated software for the metals will be a very important for the growth opportunity. The second one, I do believe our Figure 4 with our new production materials, we are getting a much healthier pipeline on both for our stand-alone and our modular and then on the dental business you still continue to grow. So I think that's what we will be able to drive. The last part is our SLA machines, our 800 continues to be a star and that's a high ASP machine, which is very important for us. So I think what you will see high ASP machines like the metal platforms, the 800 platform and then mid-range of the Figure 4 will be the way you have to think about our growth with systems. Now clearly, you know, the market has slowed down and hyper competition is there. So I'm not trying to tell you that it's going to be the growth that we used to see maybe three, four years ago, but I do believe we are set up well for 2020 with the product that I talked about.

Troy Jensen -- Piper Jaffray -- Analyst

Okay. VJ and a follow-up on metals and there is a quarter last year I think Q1 or Q2 where you said there was an $8 million metal order that you weren't able to recognize because of the material delivery platform. Is that still in the pipeline. Is that something that ships in Q2 that's given you confidence?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

It's not all of it, but it will start shipping in Q2 and then we feel very good about the growth that you're going to see in the metals, yes.

Troy Jensen -- Piper Jaffray -- Analyst

Okay, all right. Well, good luck.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question today is coming from Paul Coster from JPMorgan. Your line is now live.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Hey, Paul.

Paul Chung -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Hey, guys, it's Paul Chung on for Coster. Thanks for taking our questions. So, if you could kind of expand on the strength of materials this quarter and then do you see some kind of nice momentum for the next couple of quarters there and then as we think about the metals printer shipments in 2Q, what impact do you see on the materials line more so in the second half of 2020?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So first of all materials growth will not be connected to the metal printers, because you know, our business model is very different on the metals side. In metal side, it's all about the services and support and the software. I just want to be clear. So I don't see a uplift in materials growth because of our metal shipments in 2020. The second thing that I want to talk about is, and I have talked about the materials growth will come back in second half of '19. We grew 3% in third quarter and then we grew 7.3% in Q4 and the main -- there are three main reasons for that. First one that we talked about the installed base growth, and if you remember, we were declining materials revenue in first half of '19 because our legacy materials were declining and we were not getting the uplift from the new products and the new materials and then all the installed base growth that we had. So that has crossed over starting in second half of 2019. So the material growth is coming from the dental, material growth is coming from our enterprise customer because they are continuing to really grow their business, it's coming from the core production workflows like the jewelry, which is a very important segment for us and we need to really be looking at growth coming in 2020, but that will be lumpy because in some quarters, our enterprise customer may order certain value of the materials and then on some -- so I just want to make sure, but I think my view was that whole decline in materials, we should be able to start seeing positive side of the materials growth in 2020.

Paul Chung -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Got you and then on free cash flow. What should we expect for kind of your capex levels in '20 and your kind of expectations from cash from operations. Can you kind of build off the strength in 2020 [Speech Overlap].

Todd Booth -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

So on capex, we had $24 million during 2019. For 2020, it will be up a little bit, but most of our investment in the medical devices and then from a cash generated from operations, we see positive for the full year.

Paul Chung -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Okay. So the working cap benefits not really temporary, it's kind of a structural change.

Todd Booth -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

The working capital levels we're currently at, we feel we're at the right level. So you're not -- it's going to be generating cash from operations going forward.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah, I think it's not a one-time thing, it's a structural thing. The other thing that's very important. We talked about manufacturing outsourcing that we did. We are very happy with Sanmina who we chose as our manufacturing partner. Most of the plastics are now have moved to Sanmina. The transition is going well, because we want to focus on what we are very good at or if there is something which we believe is strategic as for example, materials manufacturing is very strategic for the company and we are going to continue to manufacture ourselves. The places where we have partners who are going to be world-class, we want to really make sure we do the right kind of balance and that will help us also in managing overall how we would look at our supply chain.

Paul Chung -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Thanks and then last question, it sounds like you have some visibility for your metals printer shipments in 2Q, when can we kind of expect some full year guidance when are you going to start to reinstitute that? Thank you very much.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

We are not going to give any guidance, we are going to directionally, tell you how we look at our business and we just, we feel that in this uncertain environment, we just need to make sure we focus on execution and we focus on the revenue growth.

Paul Chung -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Appreciate it. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is a follow-up from Brian Drab from William Blair. Your line is now live.

Brian Drab -- William Blair -- Analyst

Hi, thanks. Just quickly, I'm trying to model gross margin for 2020 and you had about 46% gross margin for the first three quarters of 2019 and then 44% in the fourth quarter despite good material sales. So I mean are we kind of going to be below 45%, above 45%, any thoughts on that?

Todd Booth -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

What we give is mid-40s.

Brian Drab -- William Blair -- Analyst

So 44% to 46%, OK.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So I think Brian, the main thing for Q4 was we had to look at the inventory adjustments that we had to do because of the -- you know, so I think that was the reason. I do believe that for 2020 mid-40s is the right kind of gross margin.

Todd Booth -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

And one thing on the inventory adjustments, we have brought down the inventory a lot in 2019. So when you do that, some of it you take to [Phonetic] some expense.

Brian Drab -- William Blair -- Analyst

I got it. Okay, thanks very much.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question is a follow-up from Greg Palm from Craig-Hallum Capital Group. Your line is now live.

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Go ahead, Greg.

Greg Palm -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Thanks. Just two quick follow-ups. VJ in terms of thoughts on your eventual replacement here, I mean what sort of qualities do you think the Board will be looking for really to bring the company to the next stage?

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

So I think we have had, Spencer Stuart, a world-class firm and we are looking at both internal and external candidates and I think we are a technology company and we must -- to make sure that we will continue to innovate and drive the profitable growth.

Greg Palm -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Okay, fair enough and I guess, Todd, one for you, you've been with the company for almost six months now. I guess any more commentary on what you believe are both kind of near and long-term opportunities for the company and maybe what makes you excited here?

Todd Booth -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Well, I'll point back to Formnext, being there with VJ, he showed me around, our products, our digital solutions, I'm extremely excited about the future of this company and VJ has been a great mentor in my first six months here.

Greg Palm -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Sounds good. All right, thanks.

Operator

Thank you. We've reached the end of our question-and-answer session. I'd like to turn the floor back over to Melanie for any further or closing comments.

Melanie Solomon -- Investor Relations

Thank you all for joining us today and for your continued support of 3D Systems. A replay of this webcast will soon be available on the Investor Relations section of our website. Thank you and good night.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 46 minutes

Call participants:

Melanie Solomon -- Investor Relations

Vyomesh I. Joshi -- President and Chief Executive Officer

Todd Booth -- Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Greg Palm -- Craig-Hallum Capital Group -- Analyst

Jim Ricchiuti -- Needham & Company -- Analyst

Brian Drab -- William Blair -- Analyst

Ananda Baruah -- Loop Capital Markets -- Analyst

Troy Jensen -- Piper Jaffray -- Analyst

Paul Chung -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

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