3D Systems is known globally for its line of personal and professional series of 3D printers, as well as its services for printing almost any item imaginable and their ease-of-use scanning/creation software. The company really isn't known for its creative modeling skills, which is likely the reason behind its recent acquisition of Gentle Giant Studios.
Gentle Giant is widely known for its incredibly detailed models for the toy and entertainment industries, which have been featured in some popular movies including Oblivion, The Lone Ranger, and Man of Steel, to name just a few. They are also one of the leading companies to create officially licensed toy replicas of famous characters from Marvel, the Star Wars franchise, The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, Avatar, and Disney (as well as a host of others).
Gentle Giant uses advanced laser scanning, portable 3D scanning, foam milling, digital sculpting, and LIDAR scanning to capture fine details of the characters, vehicles, and backdrops that look incredibly realistic. The materials used to create the models range anywhere from polymers and PVC resins to ceramics and even edible materials to create their masterpieces.
So, what does 3D Systems want to use the world-recognized company for? According to their recent press release, they intend to use the company to incorporate their technology (like the Borg) and their vast library of digital characters and content towards 3D Systems' consumer production line of on-demand objects and project pieces.
They also intend to join and expand on Gentle Giant's brand recognition to further enhance their 3D printing capabilities for the toy and entertainment industries, which they will continue to endorse, especially for the movie industries. This means that 3D Systems have essentially thrown their hat into the entertainment business and will readily capitalize on the brand recognition of those companies mentioned earlier in this piece, which could be an interesting affair, considering they are one of the leading companies that are capable of rapid prototyping. Will this mean that we will finally be able to order that custom 3D-printed Iron Man suit? Perhaps, but considering the incredible detail that Gentle Giant is capable of, it won't come cheap.
Chances are that their blockbuster movie character lines will be much more expensive than their made-to-order parts for personal projects; however, it will still be nice to be able to do one-stop shopping at the same site for those interested in rapid prototyping and an interest in detailed models.