"The real benefit is adding scale, which allows for further investment in R&D and marketing and a continued investment in different opportunities. There's a tremendous amount of potential" in the 3D printer space, "but what you have is a bunch of companies that aren't that big," he said. "What the acquisition shows is the expansion of demand for 3D printing beyond the engineer putting two pieces of plastic together at their desk."
3D Systems, in particular, has been aggressively courting what Reichental calls the consumer 3D printer ecosystem. The many acquisitions meant to shore up this segment of its product line include the 3D printer manufacturers Bits From Bytes and BotMill, in addition to 3D content firms like Alibre, a provider of low-end CAD tools.
Both Kawola and Reichental also touted the significance of the expanded reseller channel, which would allow more than 300 dealers to sell both product lines.
Once this acquisition is comfortably under its belt -- it's expected to clear regulatory hurdles and close by the end of 2011 or early 2012 -- 3D Systems will hunker down and focus on turning all of its new assets into customer value.
"Over the past two years, we honed our acquisition integration performance and delivered significant growth and value" from the businesses it has acquired, Reichental said in a press release. "Given the importance of this acquisition, we decided to temporarily suspend the majority of our ongoing acquisition activities and focus exclusively on delivering the full benefit of the available customer and shareholder value."
In addition to the materials and other resources and improved reach, something to consider here is the different types of business that these companies pursue. Low-end desktop printers are one thing, and engineering prototypes are another, especially the fit and form but not function type of model. But high-end laser sintering for small volumes in aircraft and automotive use is quite another and draws different customers.
Sadly, it is typically BAD for the customer when a company makes a lot of acquisitions. This is more even more true if they are mainly aimed at grabbing customers from the acquired companies, vs. aquiring better technology. The reason is that the company becomes more of a monopoly, increases prices, and there is less competition and less diversity in the marketplace.
Yes Kevin, and sometimes its a mixed bag. The Feds fought AT&T's attempt to buy T-Mobile because it would reduce the number of carriers in the mobile phone market. But it looked like AT&T was buying airwave frequencies rather than marketshare. The Feds didn't see it that way. So, in a rare move they blocked the acquisition.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.