After Tuesday's big announcement of 3D Systems acquiring Bits From Bytes, we wondered why 3DS chose to acquire BfB instead of the other major hobbyist 3D printer manufacturer, MakerBot. To get answers we asked 3D Systems VP of Marketing Cathy Lewis, who explained the reasons quite clearly:
They have demonstrated execution and achieved the second highest number of shipments across all 3D printer manufacturers in 2009. They also offer two options - the Kit as well as the 3000 which makes the portfolio more appealing to a broader audience.
This reasoning makes a lot of sense to us - BfB has grown substantially recently and obviously has a great team. We're surprised at their volume, however, being the second highest in 2009. We presume that statistic includes the commercial vendors. We know MakerBot has sold over 2000 Cupcakes so far, and is still growing, but BfB must have done more, perhaps substantially more. As for an assembled version, we believe there are many more potential makers who don't have the ability or time to build it themselves. This is a distinct difference between MakerBot and BfB.
We also note that BfB has a very strong presence in the educational market, where its expected huge growth will occur as institutions discover the wonders of 3D printing awesomeness.
All of this simply reinforces the notion that 3DS will pump a lot of energy into the low-end market.