Looks like 3D Systems is kicking things off in the same way it worked through 2012 – with acquisitions.
While many are still trying to puzzle out the RapidForm acquisition last year, which saw the company bring on board the Korean outfit’s reverse engineering and inspection software, today’s news came as a further surprise.
3D Systems is buying out Geomagic, developers of Studio, Qualify and the newly announced Spark (which sees Geomagic’s point cloud and reverse engineering tools built into the SpaceClaim application). It’s also worth noting that Geomagic also has the results of the Sensable Technology acquisition from last year which brings organic sculpting and manufacturing preparation tools as well as haptic feedback hardware.
The press release states strategic and financial benefits as “Growing reseller channel accelerates revenue growth from combined portfolio and presence”. It also states that there’s a “Profitable razor and blades business with accretive software gross profit margins.”
This leads me to wonder what’s next. 3D Systems has an arsenal of technologies and the various channels for sales available to it. It has a spread of 3D printing hardware and it has a wealth of software technology. Let’s look at the list:
- CAD design software:
- Reverse Engineering software:
- Geomagic Studio
- Geomagic Spark (though this is in Beta)
- Rapidform XOR
- Inspection and Metrology software:
- Geomagic Qualify
- Rapidform XOV
Now. That’s an impressive list by anyone’s account. But what’s missing? 3D CAD. I don’t mean the Alibre stuff. I mean proper, workhorse, engineering and design level CAD that’s not just sold on the basis that its cheap. With Geomagic working closely with SpaceClaim to take Spark to market, you have to wonder if that’s next on the list.
For those already invested in the Geomagic and RapidForm product lines, you have to wonder what the future holds. Two lines of products that compete directly and compete fiercely. In the press release, 3D Systems CEO, Abe Reichental makes the plans clear “We intend to expand the range of our 3D authoring solutions further into new manufacturing and consumer applications and concurrently maintain and enhance the existing Geomagic and Rapidform product lines.”
But what I can’t help but wonder is what’s next? After all, 3D Systems positions itself as a “provider of 3D content-to-print solutions“. What’s missing in that technology stack is 3D laser scanning devices. If I had to put a wager on it, I’d say that Creaform is in the frame. The company has links with both RapidForm and Geomagic, it has a good solid product and it’s 3D scanners used to sold as the ZScanner (though these aren’t available since the 3D Systems acquisition judging by the website). Perhaps there’s room for another player to get scooped up.
Looks like 2013 is off to an interesting start already.