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Design Hardware & Software
Robots Star in 3D Systems' Consumer Push
5/1/2012

My Robot Nation's proprietary, browser-based platform lets average consumers quickly and easily personalize an object in 3D, then order their unique creation as a full-color 3D print delivered to their door.   (Source: My Robot Nation)
My Robot Nation’s proprietary, browser-based platform lets average consumers quickly and easily personalize an object in 3D, then order their unique creation as a full-color 3D print delivered to their door.
(Source: My Robot Nation)

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Rob Spiegel
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Robots strolling in the grass
Rob Spiegel   5/1/2012 8:17:53 AM
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Love that shop of the colorful robots in the grass, Beth. It seems there is a consolidation going on in the 3D printing world. Is that the case? If so, how come?

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Robots strolling in the grass
Beth Stackpole   5/1/2012 8:37:28 AM
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Definite consolidation, Rob. I think part of the impetus is for companies to join forces to get economies of scale to push on market development. A lot of factors are aligning to take 3D printing from a niche market to the mainstream. It won't happen, though without money to promote education, awareness, and distribution of the technology. I think that is the primary driver for some of the consolidation. This particular example is more about 3D Systems buying a variety of technology to support a big push into the consumer sector.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Robots strolling in the grass
Rob Spiegel   5/1/2012 12:37:12 PM
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That makes sense, Beth. I would imagine they're also buying market share in order to reach critical mass on production.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Robots strolling in the grass
Ann R. Thryft   5/1/2012 1:55:30 PM
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Thanks, Beth, great story. Like Rob, I like that shot of robots on the lawn. I wonder if, in addition to technologies, 3D is also buying access to new markets via Robot Nation's distribution and sales networks, as in deals like this in commercial and industrial markets?

Beth Stackpole
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Re: Robots strolling in the grass
Beth Stackpole   5/1/2012 2:22:14 PM
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Absolutely. I think you and Rob are both right. Access to new markets and distribution venues is critical to making 3D printing a mass market technology.

Charles Murray
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Re: Robots strolling in the grass
Charles Murray   5/1/2012 7:55:10 PM
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It was inevitable that as soon as this technology hit a certain price point, it was going to move to the consumer market. I think consumer markets will find applications for this that most of us never dreamed of. It reminds me of the early '80s, when the PC hit the market, and skeptics said, "Why would I need a computer to store my recipes?"

ChasChas
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toys, fishing equipment, golfing equipment
ChasChas   5/2/2012 11:45:03 AM
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Have you noticed how toys, fishing, and golfing are always on the cutting edge of technology?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Robots strolling in the grass
Ann R. Thryft   5/2/2012 1:00:16 PM
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Chuck, you gave me a laugh. I remember that time. However, it was a good question on the part of consumers, since PC companies were actually trying to market to us by suggesting we buy them to store recipes. Meanwhile, the machines were entirely unusable by non-technical people: I used many of the early models and have horror stories from that era. This was before the Mac, which actually did change everything.

Charles Murray
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Re: Robots strolling in the grass
Charles Murray   5/2/2012 9:02:41 PM
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Ann, I remember those days well. I, too, had a few horror stories. I had an old Tandy PC with a word processing tape cassette that slid into a side door. The word processor was called Scripsit and the display for the Tandy was your TV set. The problem was that the TV set sat right next to the computer, causing the computer to get hot and lock up. I lost some long articles that way.  

naperlou
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Content the tricky part
naperlou   5/3/2012 9:54:36 AM
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Beth, the issue of content creation is one that comes up a lot.  I was looking at a gaming software solution for a project that was not really a game.  The game development environment is great, but a lot of the work is creating the objects that go into the game.  Engineering is a creative process by its nature, but it is a problem solving creativity.  There is a different type of creativity that goes into making the shapes that you would want to print.  This could be a useful acquisition.

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