3D printer manufacturers Stratasys and Objet have merged in a deal that will create a company with an equity value of approximately $1.4 billion, and narrow what was a fairly small cast of players down to an even smaller number as the companies look to take advantage of the growing market.
The combined company, which will retain the Stratasys name, will have dual headquarters in Eden Prairie, Minn., and Rehovot, Israel, and will each continue to operate "as usual," according to Erez Simha, chief operating officer at Objet, who talked to Design News about the business drivers behind the acquisition.
Stratasys' Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology creates functional prototypes and production-class parts via a layered process using engineering-grade thermoplastics. (Source: Stratasys)
"The rational behind this merger is it allows scalability, allowing us to grow faster compared to growth as two standalone companies," Simha says. "Our products and technology are complementary so we can offer our customers solutions for a much broader range of applications and for a wider range of vertical industries."
To be sure, there doesn't seem to be that much overlap in terms of what technologies both companies are noted for. Stratasys' claim to fame is Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), an additive manufacturing technology used to create functional prototypes and production-class parts via a layered process using engineering-grade thermoplastics. Objet is known for its PolyJet Matrix technology, which uses a dual-jet process, allowing for the combination of materials in different ways.
@Beth, Sorry I wasn't more specific. I meant to say that only this technician was qualified to operate this machinery (the others in the department did not operate this Z-Corp machine). He did many, many other things during the day and operation and maintenance of the Z-Corp machine was only a small part of his day (so a full-time technician was not needed). However, when we wanted to get parts, we had to go through him, so his presence at the office was needed.
In retrospect, it would have been better to train 2 or more on this machine to solve this issue. However, as I mentioned earlier, operating and maintaining the Z-Corp machine was more involved than using and maintaining the Objet printer (so we tended to use the Objet machine more when he was not at the office).
@Greg: So your company had a dedicated techician just to support the 3D printer maintenance? Is that all he or she did? That strikes me as a huge investment that companies need to consider when going down this path.
Yes Beth, well said. To build on your point, for the Z-Corp machine we had a dedicated technician who was specifically trained on operation and maintainence. For the Objet, operation and maintenance was simple enough where any of the engineers could perform these duties. When purchasing these systems, it's good to factor in how much human resource time each type of machine will require.
Not only does smaller and more affordable help design teams with in-house rapid proto-typing, it also helps small businesses, and inventors. I can't wait until I get one, already have several items to print.
I really like Origo's small for kids/everyone 3D printer. I followed the "Origo" link and shared it with several children. I'm guessing this will be on a wish list soon.
@Greg: Thanks for the real world perspective on use of these products and their various strengths. Your point about the cleaning and maintenance of these machines is important. I've talked to other users who mentioned the same thing. While computers and office printers need maintenance, I believe it's a big more extreme with these 3D printers, especially when you're using them as a tool to create functional parts to highly specified tolerances. As you point out, it definitely needs to be a factor in the evaluation process to see if A) your organization has what it takes to support a 3D printer so it can be used effectively, and B) which 3D printer is the best fit for the constraints of your engineering department.
Also wanted to mention Z-Corp's strengths too. We used this process and found it did a very good job of quickly making manufacturing and inspection fixtures for our new product assemblies (in addition to creating the actual components themselves). This process was better for simulating large, rigid parts such as die castings or machined plates.
Due to the dust creating nature of this process, we had to put this equipment in a separate room, away from other delicate machinery. However, the Z-Corp process was a good, cost-effective option when making larger rigid parts. I think their partnership with 3D will also work well and produce some good synergies.
I loved our Objet printer that we had at our company. I agree with A.Peeples, it was tough to beat Objet for the finely detailed and beautiful models that we would get out of it. Also, the material properties were a relatively good representation of typical flexural properties we would see in the final production part. One very important thing to note is the ease of cleaning and maintenance (which I think many people overlook when purchasing 3D printers). As long as the printheads were quickly cleaned after every job, it was very reliable. Also, washing the part down with water after is was removed from the machine was done with relative ease.
Yes, it was expensive and we tried to be prudent when making models...but it was a great machine and served our department very well. Glad to see Objet partnering with another complimentary player.
Stratasys is doing the buying and their Co-Founder and CEO Scott Crump will become chairman of the combined company, but the CEO is an Objet guy--David Reis. The board has four representatives from each company, so ... even though Stratasys bought, it sounds like both are surviving--for now, any way.
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A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is