Should 3D Systems Acquire Formlabs?

By on July 31st, 2013 in Ideas

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We recently noted a pause until September 3rd in the lawsuit between 3D Systems and Formlabs (and Kickstarter) regarding potential violation of 3D Systems patents in Formlab’s Form 1 personal 3D printer, which was massively launched on Kickstarter some months ago. 
Formlabs took quick advantage of expiring basic patents on the initial 3D print technology that 3D Systems grew from over twenty years ago. However, 3D Systems believes that other aspects of the Form 1 violate patents that are still in force. 
The pause, according to court documents, says the parties are involved in “settlement discussions”. One of the possible outcomes is that 3D Systems ends up acquiring Formlabs. Could that really happen? 
Why it makes sense: 
  • The technology used by the Form 1 is extremely similar to 3D Systems’ existing gear
  • 3D Systems could combine their expertise with Formlabs’ platform to produce an even more powerful personal 3D printer
  • Formlabs may be looking to quickly “check out” and capitalize on their massive launch
  • 3D Systems has a habit of purchasing smaller companies to bolster their portfolio of 3D printing technologies
  • 3D Systems may react to Stratasys’ acquisition of MakerBot by making an acquisition to increase their offerings in the personal 3D printer market
Why it doesn’t make sense:
  • Formlabs may have grander plans in mind than simply selling to 3D Systems
  • Formlabs may have an invisible large backer that they believe can support them while they engage in competition with 3D Systems
Then again, they may simply settle out of court. It could be as simple as Formlabs paying a royalty on each machine sold. 
We’ll find out by September 3rd. 

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!