While perusing press releases, I noticed something about 3D Systems featuring one of their software products, GibbsCAM.
GibbsCAM is a sophisticated software system that provides CAM functions; in other words, it translates a 3D CAD model into executable machine instructions for multi-axis CNC machines.
3D Systems acquired the rights to GibbsCAM when they purchased Cimatron in late 2014, which came with CimatronE, a CAD/CAM system focused on mold, tool and die design; and GibbsCAM, which is touted as being one of the more easier to use CAM products in the space.
The products were acquired during 3D Systems’ acquisition binge of the last few years, where countless companies with close or even slight connections to 3D printing were scooped up. Some of said acquisitions resulted in products that were terminated, merged, renamed or ignored, but a few survive, such as GibbsCAM.
Of the products acquired by 3D Systems, GibbsCAM might be the one that is the least related to 3D printing, 3D Systems’ core business. CNC machining is in some ways the opposite of 3D printing: it’s a subtractive technology, not additive. Why keep it?
3D Systems appears to be continuing with this particular product, which is curious to me. They’ve recently cleaned out numerous unprofitable product lines, including their entire consumer division, but a non-additive product remains.
Along the same lines, I had a similar feeling when I saw the company exhibiting a number of medical technologies that also had little direct connection to 3D printing processes.
There are two conclusions here. One is that this product line must be profitable, as there would be no reason to cut it out if it was providing revenue for the company.
The second conclusion might be that the company is seeking increased diversification beyond their 3D printing technology core. They, like the other major 3D printer manufacturers, are facing an increasing onslaught of new market entrants, sometimes with very powerful 3D printing processes. While 3D Systems and the others are the top dogs now, it’s less clear how long this will be the case in the face of such competition.
While the company appears to have stopped their acquisition strategy, they do seem to be continuing with a course of diversification.