Geo Week News

January 3, 2013

3D Systems to buy Geomagic

ROCK HILL, S.C. – Less than three months after its purchase of Rapidform was announced, 3D Systems has announced plans to acquire Geomagic, a firm that competes with Rapidform in the scan-to-model software marketplace, and most recently released Spark. 3D Systems paid $35 million for Rapidform; terms for the Geomagic deal have not been released, but it is notable that Geomagic founder and CEO Ping Fu will join 3D Systems as chief strategy officer. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter, the company said in a press release.

“The combination of Geomagic’s powerful sculpting, modeling, scanning and inspecting software tools with 3D Systems’ portfolio strengthens its 3D authoring platform and positions the company for accelerated growth in the fast-growing, 3D content-to-print space,” the press release reads.

Similarly, at the time of the Rapidform acquisition, 3D Systems CEO Abe Reichental called Rapidform’s ability to ingest point clouds into a parametric CAD environment “a very powerful thing … to combine CAD with 3D scan processing is very powerful. We also believe that some of the inspection capabilities that Rapidform has to offer are also very important as we push our ideation onto the production floor” at manufacturing facilities. (Read more about why 3D Systems bought Rapidform here.)

Michael Raphael, who as head of Direct Dimensions is one of the few resellers carrying both the Rapidform and Geomagic product lines (along with Polyworks, for that matter), pronounced himself “shocked” that 3D Systems was buying Geomagic. “I fell off my chair,” he said.

Much of that shock, he said, stems from his impression that Fu was unlikely to sell her company, especially after relatively high-profile recent acquisitions of her own, such as that of Sensable back in April.

As for what’s in it for 3D Systems, “I think what’s going on is that it’s more about content,” Raphael said, “than it is about printing. I think Abe is moving his company into other areas of the ecosystem, beyond just printing, and the content creation side is probably bigger than the printing side because there’s so much more you can do with content besides just printing it. And there’s so much more demand for content than printing.”

What of the Geomagic brand and products? “You will continue to be supported by your existing resellers and Geomagic sales and support teams,” said Geomagic president and COO in an email distributed today. Further, “We have exciting new products coming to market later this month, and some great promotions around the 2013 product launches.”

How and whether Geomagic’s and Rapidform’s technology might be combined in the future was not something anyone could speculate on, but Cathy Lewis, VP of global marketing for 3D Systems, said in an interview with SPAR that “we don’t think that there’s that much overlap” between the two companies’ software packages, and “we decided that they both bring something unique to the table … we see a lot of great opportunity, and we think both of them have areas of expertise that are very complementary. We think there will be plenty of opportunity created by that.”

She also referenced a broader goal that has been expressed by Reichental in the past, that of democratizing the scan-to-print workflow.

“Our goal,” she said, “is to ensure that the ability to capture and manipulate and print is available to everyone, regardless of the size of the company that you’re running or the home that you’re living in or the student that you’re teaching. Whatever your walk of life is, we think everyone will want to have those tools.”

For a history of 3D Systems acquisitions going back to its May 2011 move to the NYSE (13, all told, including Geomagic), click here

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