3D Systems launched another salvo in its aggressive mergers and acquisition strategy to plug holes in its burgeoning 3D design story, this time buying Rapidform, a provider of 3D scan-to-CAD and inspection tool software.
3D Systems, which has inked more than a dozen deals in the last couple of years, has mapped out a plan to create what it dubs "a seamless, digital scan, design, and print platform" for customers. In its latest deal, the company plunked down $35 million in cash for Rapidform, which is based in Seoul, South Korea. Company President and CEO Abe Reichental said in a press release that the "integration of the Rapidform proprietary products with 3D Systems' extensive portfolio will result in accelerated growth within the rapidly expanding 3D content-to-print space."
Rapidform's family of 3D scanning software includes quality inspection, reverse engineering, and 3D scan data processing tools. (Source: 3D Systems/Rapidform)
So where does Rapidform fit into the picture? Clearly, 3D Systems has an extensive portfolio of 3D printers, on both the high- and mid-range professional end with its own lineup of systems and via its acquisition of ZCorp. The company has built out a low-end 3D printer line aimed at consumers and the so-called DIY and maker market via its new Cube printer launched last January. On the content creation side, 3D Systems snapped up 3D CAD maker Alibre in addition to MyRobotNation, a site aimed at whetting the lay person's appetite for 3D printing by inviting anyone to design their own robot for 3D printing. There have also been a variety of smaller acquisitions fortifying 3D Systems with everything from on-demand custom parts services to technology around medical device and prosthesis design to a company that makes software that lets users upload photos to create printable 3D models.
So where does Rapidform fit in this pieced together technical landscape? Rapidform's XOR reverse engineering software, XOV inspection software, and XOS point cloud solution fill in the 3D scanning gaps in 3D Systems' ideation to production lifecycle value proposition, company officials said in the presentation explaining the Rapidform acquisition. For instance, during the research stage, XOR can be tapped to create 3D models of existing parts that have no 3D definition. During development, the same tool, in tandem with XOS, can be used for iterative prototyping to merge changes in physical parts back to original CAD designs. XOV comes in at the manufacturing stage to handle things like creating functional tooling more quickly and for doing inspection and ongoing quality control work.
3D Systems officials also said the acquisition expands the company's geographic coverage and presence in the Southeast Asia region.