[rp-ml] Re: Zcorp & the future of innovation

From: G. Sachs <sachsg_at_sbcglobal.net>
Date: Tue Nov 22 2011 - 20:10:39 EET

Ever hear of Intellectual Ventures? They have more than 13,000 patents already
and are creating, or buying at least 2000-3000/ year. Apple and others have just
decided to pay them annual "protection money" rather than risk having them come
a calling. There could easily be 2-3 among those thousands that could eventually
even give even you guys a headache (especially since that's all these guys do
and they don't play nice)! You're just too small potatoes for now - but don't
get complacent, especially given the new patent law changes that favor large
corporations and allow them to patent even what someone else has developed -
without asking permission (if the original developer doesn't file a patent
first) - "first to invent" will now go out the window as far as the courts are
concerned. Better lock up any new ideas you have really tight, file patents on
everything, or publish EVERYTHING, right away. Also, watch for a lot more
Chinese patent filings including on technologies they have managed to "hack"
from us (without anyone knowing)! The small time operator will soon be doomed to
extinction (it'll just become WAY too expensive to be an innovator anymore). The
only people who will become rich from innovation in the future, will be the


From: Adrian Bowyer <A.Bowyer@bath.ac.uk>
To: Jeremy Pullin <Jeremy.Pullin@Renishaw.com>
Cc: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
Sent: Tue, November 22, 2011 9:05:58 AM
Subject: Re: [rp-ml] Zcorp!?

No matter how much 3D buy, they can't stop RepRap. RepRap is not something that
is amenable to control by purchasing.

We think there are now more RepRaps and RepRap derivatives (including Makerbots
etc) in the world (starting to grow from Number One in 2008) that there have
been proprietary 3D printers sold since the technology was invented 30 years

3D own Bits from Bytes and BotMill, both RepRap derivatives, of course. But
trying to buy up all those will be like trying to drink the sea...



On 22/11/11 10:19, Jeremy Pullin wrote:
> 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 to............................how 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: owner-rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi [mailto:owner-rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi] On
> Behalf Of Ed Tackett
> Sent: 21 November 2011 23:47
> To: b@bathsheba.com; rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
> Subject: RE: [rp-ml] Zcorp!?
> As always enlightening.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi [mailto:owner-rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi] On
> Behalf
> Of Bathsheba
> Sent: Monday, November 21, 2011 2:30 PM
> To: rp-ml@rapid.lpt.fi
> 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

Best wishes
Dr Adrian Bowyer
Received on Tue Nov 22 20:11:54 2011

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