RE: [rp-ml] Zcorp!?

From: Jeremy Pullin <>
Date: Tue Nov 22 2011 - 12:19:52 EET

To be honest this is nothing new. 3D systems have made their position to
buy their way to world domination for a while. Twenty two company
acquisitions so far and no doubt more to come. The most surprising
element of this is the size of companies that 3DS are now buying. As
business strategies go though every one of us has seen this many times
just think of the way that companies such as Volkswagon and BMW have
gone around snapping up companies like a red neck snaps up road kill. We
have had the same in the metrology market with Hexagon Metrology
attempting do I put this without
getting in the s**t again? Oh yeah 'establish and consolidate market
dominance through acquisition'. Just to be clear here these are
observations and in no way a criticisms.

I have to agree totally with Bathsheba's comments regarding innovation
introductions. As a company becomes larger it has more resource for
development so it would be easy to conclude that more new stuff would be
coming out of it but the truth is that it starts to suffer from 'large
company syndrome' where controls and measures put into place to control
development activities become so large and unwieldy that they suck
resource away from development itself. For example, Jenifer Lopez may
well be a good dancer but just think how amazing she would be if she
didn't have to drag that enormous backside around with her. This is a
problem that might now affect 3DS and their acquired companies ( I meant
large company syndrome there by the way not J Lo's bum)

There are now basically just four options for others the 3D printing
market which are compete, cover yourself in patents, sell out or get
out. Being in an area which 3DS are not in is becoming more and more
difficult as they buy up more and more technologies in more and more
markets. The 'whinge and moan about unfair monopolies or little guys not
standing a chance against the big guys' strategy is not on that list and
so is not a viable option. In a sense 3D systems are growing through the
power of the dollar rather than the power of expansion through business
growth but it is growth nevertheless and a diversification of product
range brings added security from single technology declines. I also
think there is another reason for the need to grow here and that is to
prepare for the entrance of the real big boys into the market HP being
but a single example of this. There may well be companies which in the
additive manufacturing world are considered big but in the big wide
world are still tiny. The $137m paid by 3DS for ZCorp might sound like a
large acquisition in the AM world but would barely cover the monthly
bill for toilet rolls in truly global companies.

Jez Pullin.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Ed Tackett
Sent: 21 November 2011 23:47
Subject: RE: [rp-ml] Zcorp!?

As always enlightening.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Of Bathsheba
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2011 2:30 PM
Subject: Re: [rp-ml] Zcorp!?

On 11/21/2011 10:49 AM, G. Sachs wrote:
> Looks like it (and Vidar digitizers). Boy, that's really consolidating
> the market into 2-3 players. Not really good, is it?

I can see why they wanted to do it, but I agree: this can't be good for
the market.

Stop me if I'm wrong, but what I observe in this field is that technical

innovation takes place when companies are founded or enter the field,
and only then. Since I started doing this in the mid-90's, I can think
of no game-changing innovation that took place in an established 3DP
company. I don't mean incremental improvements, but when a whole new
process is invented, bringing with it new applications, changing the
cost structure, novel material category...something that brings in a
whole horde of brand new uncaptured customers.

Within existing companies the layers get a bit thinner, the support
structure algorithms get a bit better, on a big day a new material is
added. The most exciting thing I remember from an established company
was when ZCorp got color. Stereolithography doesn't seem too different
to me from what it was when I first heard of it 20 years ago. Yes it's
incrementally better, but the fundamentals -- layers, supports, type of
material -- don't get fixed. People who are invested in SLA don't see
these things as problems. Better parts, different parts, must come from

somewhere else.

On the one hand, it's better for the industry if there are small
companies springing up. On the other hand, nobody's going to start a
small company if it doesn't have an exit path, and it's traditional in
this era for that exit path to be "selling out to the 800-lb gorilla".

Gripping hand, RIP ZCorp. I'll miss you guys. I believe there would be

no consumer market today without what ZCorp did: they invented the
cheaptastic concept model.

Personally, ZCorp was the company that looked at my very first CAD model

-- and it was total crap -- and say hey, we're new here too, nothing to
lose, let's act like this is a customer and see what happens.

It's a while since we've done business, but those were great days.

Well, here's to the next big thing. I will bet you a dollar it comes
from a company that, right now, no one reading this knows the name of.


Bathsheba Grossman                            Bathsheba Sculpture LLC
Sculpting Geometry                     
Crystal Proteins                  
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Received on Tue Nov 22 12:20:05 2011

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