The list of major players in rapid prototyping and 3D printing is not a very long one. In fact, if you try to count them with your fingers, you wouldn’t need to use both hands. In that tightly packed corner, a new super pact was formed when 3D Systems acquired Z Corp. this January. Another one emerged last month when Stratasys and Objet came together. That leaves essentially two big names — 3D Systems and Stratasys — as the principle movers of the industry. In this podcast recorded, Jon Cobb, Stratasys’ executive VP of global product marketing, and Bruce Bradshaw, Objet’s director of marketing, clarified the reasons behind the merger and addressed some questions on post-merger operations.
What drew Stratasys and Objet together, according to Cobb, was a mixture of similarities as well as complementary differences. “The two companies are leaders in the industry, so obviously putting together the two premiere players make sense … In technology, Stratasys with its FDM [fused deposit modeling] technology, focuses on durable thermal plastic parts. Objet, with its jetting [technology], focuses on fine featured details, good surface finish, and dual materials.” Objet’s jetting technology also supplements the singular jetting process used by Solidscape, acquired by Stratasys in May 2011, Cobb pointed out.
Bradshaw said, “The fact that we have complementary technologies, and the fact that our distribution channels are so solid, there’s room for all our resellers to continue to sell both product lines. We will, over the next quarter or so, train –we’re referring to it as cross-train — each reseller to learn about the other technologies.”
The merger, Cobb said, could offer both companies room for growth in aerospace and automotive industries, specifically in aerospace production. There may also be new markets they persue: “Both companies are just getting into that dental market [digitizing dental fixtures and producing them using 3D printers], and if you add what Solidscape has done … you really start to see us moving into a wide range of dental opportunities.”
“Objet has had very good success” in dental market, said Bradshaw, “but that industry itself is also changing … Digital dentistry as referred to today is changing that market rapidly. And Objet’s technology is known as the leader in that space … Having the technology we have and the Stratasys name behind it is going to take us to the next level.” Objet’s penetration of the dental industry could also pushes Solidscape’s participation further in the same market, he added.
The consolidated product lines will fall into three categories:
- The Idea series, comprising Mojo and uPrint 3D printers (for concept exploration phase).
- The Design series, comprising most of Objet products (for testing design functions).
- The Production series, comprising the Fortus brand (for factory-scale production).
As a tease, Cobb said, “You’ll see some things from us that’ll be quite unique in the market” as a result of the merger.
For more, read managing editor Jamie Gooch’s thoughts on the merger, “Reading Between the Layers of the Stratasys-Objet Merger,” September 12. The complete podcast with Jon Cobb and Bruce Bradshaw is available below: