Geo Week News

August 21, 2013

3D printer maker continues M&A spree


3D Systems acquires England’s leading 3D printing firm

3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems Corp. (3DS) said Tuesday it has acquired CRDM, Ltd., England’s largest provider of 3D printing, rapid prototyping and tooling services for automotive, aerospace, medical and motorsports companies.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Rock Hill, S.C.-based 3DS (NYSE: DDD) manufactures and markets commercial and consumer 3D printers, printing materials and software services as well as CAD modeling, reverse engineering and inspection software tools.

3DS said it will integrate CRDM’s services to its Quickparts Solutions custom parts and manufacturing services business.

Flush with proceeds from a recent stock offering, 3DS is continuing an aggressive M&A spree it started over two years ago. Tuesday’s acquisition proves the company will continue to expand its footprint in Europe. In June, 3DS made a deal to acquire French 3D printer maker Phenix Systems.

“CRDM is a strategic and geographically important addition to our rapidly growing 3D content-to-print services portfolio,” said Ziad Abou, vice president for 3DS’ Quickparts Solutions.

In April, luxury car maker Rolls Royce approached CRDM to make a scale-working model of their Electric Distributed Propulsion engine for the Paris Air Show in June, where CRDM could show off its capacities of SLA resin builds, SLS nylon builds, finishing, painting and assembly work as well as associated fabricated and machined parts.

 VIDEO: ProJet 3500 Series Professional 3D Printers 

Check out the long list of 3D Systems’ acquisitions in just over two years.

  • May 2011 – 3D Systems begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange, an indication the company is ready to be more aggressive in the marketplace. However, at this point, the company has already acquired in the last couple of months both Freedom of Creation and, which give them collections of printable 3D objects, many of them consumer-oriented, along with Print3D, a start-up aimed at the industrial CAD market.
  • July 2011 – Alibre, Inc. (purchase price not disclosed), a maker of parametric CAD software. With a full suite of solutions that target both the hobbyist and the professional, this is 3D CAD software designed to be both powerful and easy to use, expanding the number of people likely to create 3D objects for eventual printing. 
  • September 2011 – Formero (purchase price not disclosed), a provider of on-demand custom parts services. Basically acquired to create a beachhead in Asia-Pacific – renamed 3D Systems Asia-Pacific.
  • October 2011 – Kemo Modelmakerij (purchase price not disclosed), a provider of on-demand custom parts services. If 3D Systems believes that the use of 3D printing (and scanning) for one-off custom replacement parts and prototypes has a business future, it makes sense to have an arm that provides this service, thus the buys of Formero and Kemo and conversion to non-U.S. headquarters.
  • November 2011 – Huntsman’s stereolithography line ($41 million), print materials and actual 3D printers. Basically, buying up a competitor and adding to 3D Systems’ line. The buy plays to the industrial and medical markets.
  • January 2012 – Z Corporation and Vidar Systems ($135.5 million), including the purchase handheld scanner technology and manufacturing, along with simply consolidating the industry and purchasing a competitor. An early indication the company was looking to really invest in the capture-to-print workflow.
  • April 2012 – My Robot Nation (purchase price not disclosed), a company with software that allows people to design their own robots and other figurines for 3D printing. Basically, if you’re going to have a Cubify, a consumer-oriented 3D printer, you better have some content for people to print. Not everyone can just design their own robot in 3D software (actually, very, very few people can do that…).
  • April 2012 – Paramount Industries (purchase price not disclosed), a company providing direct manufacturing and product development solutions for the aerospace and medical industries. They added industrial 3D printers to capabilities that already included tooling and assembly. 3D Systems got a window into big industries it feels should be using 3D printing for product development.
  • May 2012 – Bespoke Innovations (purchase price not disclosed), a company that targets the medical industry, with technology that allows for the design and print of prosthetics and orthortics. The medical industry has shown itself to be a ripe market for short-range scanning, 3D imaging in general, and 3D printing, and 3D Systems is here making an obvious play to secure a position there.
  • May 2012 – FreshFiber (purchase price not disclosed), a small firm that allows people to buy customized iPhone cases and the like, created with 3D printers. Again, stuff you can print yourself instead of buy from other people, and the kind of customization 3D printing makes much easier. Does this deal make other companies think twice about buying 3D Systems printers to create a similar business, since they’d be competing against their supplier?
  • August 2012 – Viztu Technologies and its flagship product, Hypr3D (purchase price not disclosed), an online resource for users to upload photos and create printable 3D models, not unlike the 123D Catch solution provided by Autodesk, but completely browser-based. If the goal is to make it easier for users to create things they are able to print, this should help them get there.
  • October 2012 – The Innovative Modelmakers (purchase price not disclosed), a provider of on-demand custom parts services, much like Kemo, bought a year prior. Adds to 3D Systems Benelux’s capabilities and builds out abilities to provide rapid prototyping and part replacement.
  • October 2012 – Rapidform ($35 million). Working on this right now, but basically brings software specifically targeting the data capture marketplace. Will they merge this with Alibre? Is Rapidform a competitor to Alibre? These are things to watch going forward. EDIT: Here’s the story on Rapidform, plus an interview with Rapidform.
  • January 2013 – Geomagic (price still unknown). A competitor of Rapidform’s and also vital to the scan-to-print workflow, according to 3D Systems.In late February, 3D Systems acquired Geomagic, Inc., the leading global provider of 3D authoring software including design, sculpt and scan tools used to create 3D content and inspect products throughout the entire design and manufacturing process.
  • May 2013 – Rapid Product Development Group, Inc. (RPDG), a provider of rapid prototyping, injection molding, die casting and fast manufacturing of production parts for the automotive, computer, consumer appliances, medical device and industrial equipment industry.
  • July 2013 – 80 percent ownership stake in France-based Phenix Systems, a global provider of Direct Metal Selective Laser Sintering (DMSLS) 3D printers for a maximum price of $17.32 (€13) per share.
  • August 2013 – VisPower Technology, Inc.’s TeamPlatform cloud-based software and data management platform (no purchase price disclosed) for project design, manufacturing, and engineering teams to share files and collaborate on CAD/3D printing projects. The M&A move signals 3D Systems’ intent to target CAD software giant Autodesk’s market share in the AEC industry with its comprehensive Autodesk 360 cloud-based CAD software suite.

Conclusion? That’s a lot of companies – 18 since the beginning of 2011. Even the best management team is going to have a task in front of them when acquiring that many companies in such a short amount of time. Can 3D Systems possibly be realizing all of the benefits each of them might bring to the table?

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