"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."
What happens when 3D printing becomes commoditized? Aren't we almost at that point already, in which case consolidating around that technology per se wouldn't seem to be a sustainable strategy. Rather, one would have to broaden (or maybe deepen)?
Wow, that's big news in this market. Thanks, Beth, for a very clear analysis. It will be interesting to see what happens in the higher end of the industry I've been writing about (to be covered in a December feature), i.e., the engineering-oriented, low-volume manufacturing area. Similar forces may be at work, and certainly there are similar drivers in terms of size and resources.
Rob: There aren't a whole lot of major players in this segment. The bigs one are Stratasys, Objet, 3D Systems, EOS, and Z Corp, that I know of, and that's straddling both the high-end rapid prototyping sector of the market and the lower end office systems.
I don't think we can say that it's reached a level of consolidation, but 3D Systems, in particular, has been on a buying spree, snapping up niche technologies and smaller vendors. This deal is a pretty big one in this space and from what the players and pundits say, it's all about the company trying to create some scale to grow to the next level. Very interesting, to say the least!
Nice story, Beth. You note that 3D Systems is on a buying spree. Are we seeing widespread consolidation in this market, or is this unique to 3D Systems? Also, where does this leave competition in this market?
Are they robots or androids? We're not exactly sure. Each talking, gesturing Geminoid looks exactly like a real individual, starting with their creator, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University in Japan.
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.